Am I Too Sexually Experienced for My Age (Or Not Enough?)

What's YOUR number of sex partners? Should you be concerned about it?
What's YOUR number of sex partners? Should you be concerned about it? | Source

by Kathy Batesel

“She’s such a slut!” “Man, that guy gets all the chicks!” “She really needs to get laid.” There’s no doubt that people are judgmental and speculative about others’ sexual prowess. Have you ever wondered what people would think if they knew your sexual history? Here’s a reality check that will help you determine if you’re “gone wild” or “gone mild.”

According to the National Health Statistics Report (NHSR) released by the Centers for Disease Control in March, 2011, approximately 10.4% of women and 27.2% of men have had more than 15 sexual partners by the time they’ve reached 44 years old. For men, the median number of sexual partners over their lifetime was 7, while women reported having had 4 partners during their lifetimes. Um… Houston, we have a problem!

You see, typical sexual encounters involve one male, and one female. If 100 encounters take place, then 100 men and 100 women each had one partner. In order for the 7:4 ratio to make any sense, there must be another variable. Scientists agree that the ratios are mathematically impossible, but don’t know what variable can explain the discrepancy.

If we know that the average number of sex partners should be equal, why isn't it?

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Could it be that most people are kinky folks who have had man-man-woman ménage a trois? Unlikely. A deeper investigation is needed.

“Whatever number men claim should be divided by three, and the number claimed by women should be multiplied by three,” is a statement that reflects a commonly held belief that men inflate their numbers to demonstrate sexual prowess, while women protect their reputations by minimizing the number.

Psychologist Norman R. Brown, a visiting research scientist at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, believes the issue isn’t quite so simple. In web-based surveys he and his colleagues conducted, he attempted to study the issue of honesty in self-reporting. In his studies, women reported an average of 8.6 partners, and men an average of 39.9 partners, but during later questions in the same survey, 21% of respondents said they’d knowingly given an inaccurate number. (Based on the discrepancies between the numbers reported in Brown’s research and those reported by the NHSR, it does appear men inflate their numbers by a much higher percentage than women! Unfortunately, it doesn’t show whether women are minimizing or not.)

Brown concludes that men and women use different methods to recall the number of partners they’ve had. “Men are more than twice as likely to use rough approximation,” a method he says leads to overestimation. When he asked women to justify their responses, they counted off partners by name, which Brown says leads to underestimation.

Another possibility is that some women have a great deal of sex with many partners, but their statistics are left out. Sevgi O. Aral, one of the researchers responsible for obtaining the NHSR data, reports that prostitutes are not included in the NHSR surveys, but he believes the effect would be negligible.

The bottom line is that nobody knows for certain who qualifies as a saint or a slut. Whatever your number is, a person who is crazy about you will think that you’ve got just the right amount of experience, and everyone else will have a personal opinion that’s probably as mistaken as it is judgmental.

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Aw, C'mon, Whisper in My Ear... 11 comments

jellygator profile image

jellygator 4 years ago from USA Author

Honest, I honestly wouldn't worry about it as long as you practice safe sex until you're in a committed, long-term relationship. I've got quite a history myself. I've been direct in saying I've had a high amount of experience. I don't think I've been asked for a number but if I was, I'd laugh it off and say, "I haven't kept track" or "That's for me to know and nobody to find out."

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Honest20071 4 years ago

Sooooo I'm 24 with 32 sexual encounters this is bad I know.I have no clue how I would respond if my bf were to ask me.

jellygator profile image

jellygator 5 years ago from USA Author

Thanks, Paxwill. I've never heard that men will count non-penetrative acts. Do you happen to have source material that I could read?

paxwill profile image

paxwill 5 years ago from France

Men will usually count non-penetrative intercourse in their figures while women may often exclude such encounters. Interesting article, voted up!

Marlena Oechsner profile image

Marlena Oechsner 5 years ago from Wisconsin

So maybe, instead of asking what our "number" is, people should ask about the number of long-term relationships that we have been in.

jellygator profile image

jellygator 5 years ago from USA Author

I completely agree. A female relative, college age, says she will forever have had exactly 8 partners. Also, I know that it's the LTRs that taught me, not the brief flings where the focus is on either novelty or immediacy.

Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 5 years ago from Thailand

Interesting and funny article.

It is quite amazing how much men will exaggerate figures (at least some men) and women will dramatically play down their figures (most lol).

I have a mixed group of friends, and sometimes it amazes me when a woman I know has had MANY partners starts telling someone that they have only had five in their whole life. I think that this is maybe to avoid the man feeling threatened by a very experienced woman. Instead, she plays coy and innocent.

To be fair, experience doesn't normally come from numbers, but more from long-term relationships. A person is more likely to have much more sex during long-term relationship and to learn about satisfying a partner far more than that learned through many one night stands over a year or two.

jellygator profile image

jellygator 5 years ago from USA Author

Revealing only that your number is less than your age sounds like a good idea!

Marlena Oechsner profile image

Marlena Oechsner 5 years ago from Wisconsin

Interesting, but for some people, 8 could be "too high." My boyfriend and I decided not to share our numbers. We are faithful and respect each other, and I don't need to know how many people he's been with (I just need to know that my partner is clean). We each know that our number is less than our age, and I'm fine with that. We can relate and are sexually compatible, so really? What's a number but a number?

jellygator profile image

jellygator 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi Marlena! Thanks for reading.

I agree. I've also heard women should never say they've had more than 8 partners, regardless of how many they've had. I think that some people could decide not to date someone whose numbers are higher or lower than they think is ideal, but who wants a partner who can't relate to them anyway?

Marlena Oechsner profile image

Marlena Oechsner 5 years ago from Wisconsin

Sometimes I think we put too much emphasis on our "number." As long as you feel sexually satisfied (either in your current relationship, as a single, or as a single who has open sex), it really shouldn't matter. I once read somewhere that your number should never be more than your age, but I've always found that a bit bizarre.

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