How Many Sexual Partners Is Normal, Really?

Here’s a sad but true tidbit: the majority of the population are still quick to judge others based on how many people they’ve slept with. If the tally’s too high, you’re a floozy. Too low and you’re a prude.

But peeps, it’s 2019 – it’s time we all stop putting people in boxes (and shaming their decisions, for that matter.) Especially since many studies have established there’s actually no ‘magic number’ when it comes to notches on the bedpost.

In a recent study, researchers noted that couples who had only ever slept with their spouse were slightly more likely to be satisfied with their marriages than those with a more impressive count. Contrastingly, a 2004 report out of the National Bureau of Economic Research said just one partner every 12 months led to maximum happiness.

Then, another found three sexual partners to be ideal. (Men in their 20’s considered seven or more as “too high,” although women in their 20s only reached this point at 10 or more.)

In a separate study from the UK health service Superdrug, the men surveyed set their upper limit at 14 and the women drew the line at 15. To confuse things further, the men reckoned less than three partners was too low (they had an average of eight in their lifetime while the women had seven.) Other scientific research concurs with these findings: A 2015 paper in the Archives of Sexual Partners listed eight as the average number for millennials.

But just when you think that’d be it, you’d be wrong: a 2018 study saw men reporting an average of 26 sexual partners before “settling down;” for women, the av was 19. And considering that barely any of the above studies take non-heterosexual people into account, we can only imagine that with all that extra info factored in, the matter would be muddled even more.

The takeaway here? The norm is variable. So as long as you are satisfied with the entries in your little black book (whether frequent few or far between), that’s all that really matters. Promise.

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