Impossible Not to Wonder: What Is the Average Number of Sex Partners?

We know our own number and we also wonder about those around us. Maybe our best friend has told us his or her number. But apart from that, figuring out what is the average number of sex partners a person has during their lifetime is next to impossible.

Asking directly is not only considered rude, but it also doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get a straight answer. The only way to get a real sense of what the actual number might be is via an anonymous survey. Even then, it sometimes requires being honest with yourself.

Why Does It Matter?

The era of placing moral judgment to the number of sexual partners a person may have during their lifetime is dwindling out. This may be more or less the case depending on where you are in the world and what is your cultural background. But, the trend is there and it’s for the best that it is the case.

Women with a higher number of sex partners are rejecting the unjustified burden of promiscuity. The historical impact of this stigma is immeasurable. Similarly, men are discovering that a higher number of sex partners doesn’t equate to a higher value or sexual prowess. Double standards are familiar to every person on the planet. It’s not just a gender thing. It holds different standards across racial and socioeconomic lines.

Mating for Life

Maybe it is hard to grasp that after sexual liberation, there are still people who chose to have one sex partner in their life. It used to be the norm, but now it’s peculiar even. Maybe because it is more of a choice now that it makes such a decision unusual. People used to marry young and marry for life, without much autonomy about it. This implies that they knew only one person sexually during their life.

But, even though we have more freedom of choice now and we feel judgment-free, it doesn’t mean it’s all for the best. Some studies indicate that having one sex partner your whole life may be the road to happiness in a relationship. Either way, this is a valid choice, like any other.

Paradox of Choice

Choices are complicated. Not having any choice can really affect a person’s mental state. This also applies when it comes to choosing sexual partners. But, having too many choices, or even feeling like there’s much to choose from, can interfere with mental and emotional stability.

The fear of missing out on something or someone can drive up the average number of sex partners one person has. And other forms of fear can lead to refraining from sex and bringing the average to much lower numbers. 

Defining Sexual Activity

What sex is can be a confusing matter. Regardless of all the definitions out there, it’s unlikely that two people will have an identical understanding. Some people do not consider things like “making out” to be engaging in sexual activity and some do.

Even things like oral sex do not register as real sex for some. And there are other ways that the lines of definition get even blurrier. So, how does anyone find out what is the average number of sex partners people have?

The Actual Numbers

Depending on the gender or cultural background, we either hide or inflate the number of sex partners. Still, according to research, the global average number of sex partners is 9. The national average varies from country to country.

Turkey is in the “lead” with 14.5 sexual partners. And the country with the lowest average is India, with a total of 3 sexual partners. Among the countries with higher numbers are Australia with an average of 13.3, New Zealand with 13.2, and Iceland with 13. China and Vietnam are right above India’s average with 3.1 and 3.2 sexual partners.

When Is the Number Relevant?

Removing judgment or moral significance from the number of sex partners a person can have leaves that number with informational value. This is particularly important when dealing with Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).

It’s prudent and advisable to disclose as much as you can of your sexual history with a new partner. This doesn’t necessarily mean listing the names of every partner you had sex with. But, it does mean sharing that you have or haven’t an STD or agreeing to be tested for one.

Honesty Is the Best Policy

It makes us feel vulnerable when someone asks us what is the average number of sex partners we had thus far in life. And it is an uncomfortable question to ask. Sex is a natural part of life and we shouldn’t attribute shame to it.

Keeping things clear and honest helps with preventative health measures and it is also empowering. Ultimately, the average number itself doesn’t matter nor does it define anyone’s life. 

Compatibility Is Key

You really like someone and they are kind and thoughtful but sexually you just don’t match. That is not something to discard easily. You can work on sexual chemistry but only to an extent. And finding the right partner most often looks a lot like a process of elimination.

It’s a cliché, maybe, but everyone has to find what works for them and not allow arbitrary numbers and averages to be guidelines for their sex life. Some people will find the perfect partner in high school and stick with them for life. While others will have numerous sex partners and never settle for one.

Statistics Rarely Show the Real Picture

And the real picture is what sex represents to people. How much space does it take up in their lives? And what story does the average number of sex partners tell? That is not something that can be placed in the framework of statistics.

That is something each individual carries within themselves as a part of their unique identity. The average number of sex partners is just that – the average. Personalities, tastes, and proclivities differ vastly. And cultural properties mold us from region to country to continent.