It’s a question almost everybody asks, yet nobody truly wants to know the answer: So, how many people have you slept with?
It’s no secret that asking your partner his or her “number” is a very slippery slope. My partner, who I must assume thinks I was a virgin when we met, isn’t interested in knowing how many people I’ve previously dated past yet I’ve lurked every single one of her exes on social media. But because my own experience with the topic isn’t representative of most, allow me to defer to new research that is, courtesy of Superdrug, which polled 1,000 Americans and 1,000 Europeans on this very tempestuous subject.
Woman are likelier to decrease the number of previous sexual partners whereas men increased theirs. Feign surprise. The ideal number most people are comfortable with is eight previous partners, which isn’t half-bad. In reality, most men and women fall below that number. On average, women say they’ve slept with seven people in their lifetime while men have slept with six. Because of this, one could assume that any figure beyond eight would be considered too many, but men and women are far more generous in that regard. Women insist 15 sexual partners is “too promiscuous” whereas men cite 14 partners. On the opposite end of the spectrum, both men and women found that two sexual partners was “too conservative.”
According to the majority of respondents, the ideal time to pose the question is one to four months in. A surprising amount–roughly 10 percent–choose to never disclose this number.
The average number of past sexual partners in America is seven, with Louisiana boasting the highest volume of sexual partners with 16. Utah hosts the lowest figure with three. Unsurprisingly, the survey also revealed that the more sexual partners a person had, the likelier they were to have contracted an STI.
But just because this research has established a national average doesn’t mean these results should be taken personally. If you’ve slept with more or less, so be it. There’s no shame in your game. Last week, we reported that, on average, the frequency of sex decreases as one ages. We were charmed to see how many people shared their own number with their age in the comments section, which included a wonderful missive from a 62-year-old woman who mentioned she has sex every single day. You go, girl. As long as the sex is safe, legal and consensual, one should never feel shame about sex. If it works for you, it works for us.