Asking your partner how many people they’ve slept with is always a weird question. A lot of people are curious about it, but will the come to regret asking? How many lovers is too many and why do people lie about the numbers of partners they’ve been with?

We live in the most sex positive time yet, even more sex positive than the swinging 60s in which everyone was apparently at orgies. With online dating and apps like Tinder, casual hookups are easier than ever. The social taboos on sex before marriage has also decreased significantly.

Yet there’s still one thing that bothers a lot of people. The number of partners a person has been with. We might not like to admit it, but for a lot of people, there’s a number that’s just too high for them to accept. How many lovers is too many? Another interesting question is, is that number different for men and for women?

How many is too many?

The answer to this question varies wildly between people. Some don’t care about the number. Some think more than 10 is too much. Others have a special method, such as half of your age or exactly your age.

Women have admitted that when asked, they find the magic answer to be 10. It’s not too high to be seen as promiscuous, but high enough to show experience. A lot of women confess they will answer 10, even if the number is 10x more.

“You should only admit to having had less than 10 partners to your next sexual partner lol that way you won’t come off as being easy.”

—Emily

Men on the other hand have a tendency to brag, especially to their male friends. Quite a few believe that their number should be higher than their partner’s. This is because if your partner has had more lovers than you, you might compare yourself to them and feel intimated or inadequate. There’s an element of power play involved.

Men and women

There is a huge difference between how people see men and women. The general consensus more partners make men studs but makes women sluts. There’s a huge double standard at play.

“The more people you sleep with, the better you are at it. And that usually just goes for guys. If you’re a girl, that’s something completely different.”

—Tom

Men have always been applauded for having more partners. Casanova’s name is used as a compliment, after his accomplishments with the women. Warren Beatty confessed to sleeping with over 12,000 women. Men who have slept around are constantly written about in media, without the moral judgement.

So why is there a double standard? Some have tried to explain it in evolutionary terms. “The Selfish gene” explains that men want to spread their genes around as much as possible, whilst women want only the best genes to impregnate her.

Although I believe there is a biological link, it doesn’t explain why we continue to have that biased. We now have birth control making these fears redundant.

Another theory is religion, which holds women to much higher standard than men. Sex before marriage was and still is seen by some as a sin. In Christianity The Virgin Mary is put on a pedestal and worshiped, a female figure who has never even had sex.

Whatever the reason is, it’s an outdated social concept. We should be working towards a more equal acceptance, and a more positive look on sexuality overall.

  • NeilW

    I grew up with the double standard – Men: Whahay, Jack the Lad, Women: Scrubber, Slapper, “No better than she ought to be.” It is ingrained in me to be judgemental: I am conditioned to jump to judgementalism as a first reaction, and I hate it. Yet, paradoxically, it also applies in much of porn – just look at the way women are referred to as bitches, sluts, whores, cumbuckets etc. Absolutely vile.

    I’m sure that evolutionary imperatives are at the root of these perceptions, but society has built “moral” strictures on top of them. Strip away morality – which really should have no place in sex other than “Don’t hurt/harm people” – and substitute education, and any discussion over the number of partners disappears.

    The related subject of sexual jealousy might also provide a topic for thought: problem pages (and the divorce courts) suggest that this is enormously destructive.

    Harriet, please carry on raising these issues – it is important to discuss and educate, and challenge preconceptions, especially this damn double standard and the way it causes such harm. I can’t describe how furious I am at finally realising that one of the most beautiful things we, as human beings, can participate in, has so long been labelled “sinful” by society’s powers-that-be, so that they can control we poor plebs.

  • peterpowers99

    Is 150 too many?