So how many partners is too many partners?

From something that came up in a related thread-

The whole how promiscuity is viewed being rather skewed, as in:

He screwed every cheerleader in school.


She slept with the whole football team.

Some of the responses got me thinking. How many is too many? If your partner (or a prospective partner) told you that they had slept with 5 people, would that be too many? How about ten? Twenty five? Fifty? One hundred? Two?

I am unsure what other people’s normal sex lives are like. I recall one 16yo who was hugely popular mentioning that he had slept with nearly 35 women and girls by that age. At the time I found that difficult to believe.

I have also spoken to women who have only slept with 3 men.

To answer this, one needs to have a definition of what determines ‘sex’ as well, and that has also varied by definition.

I am a 35yo straight male.

I have had intercourse that was completed by ejaculation with aproximately 35 women. That does not include many, many more that I had wonderful encounters with that other people might term sex.

Would that scare you away or would it intrigue you? I have never had an STD.

As far as I can tell, more women lie to reduce numbers than men over the age of twenty lie to increase them. Taking my most recent few partners into account, without having heard numbers from them, I would expect that they have been with many more people than I.

What number would be too many, and would you want to know?

I prefer not to ask, really.

It doesn’t matter to me. At my age (50) someone with NO sexual past would be a bit creepy.

We’ve had threads like this before, and the answer to the OP’s question strongly depends on whether you’re gay or straight.

If the number was equal to or larger than the number of days the woman has lived beyond age 16, I might consider her too easy.

I think too it depends on if your attitude about sex is healthy or not.
There’s nothing wrong with having an extensive sexual past…BUT there’s a huge difference between being a “Spur Posse” type who only has sex so they can add another notch to their belt and having about ten or eleven intimate partners in your past.

If I had to pick between a woman who had slept with 20 men and one who had slept with 0, I’d go with the first one. Too many is less of a problem than too few IMO. I don’t like rookies.

Popped in to say bigamy is one spouse too many. Which also happens to be my definition of monogamy…

Since you’re asking for opinions, I’m going to move this over to IMHO.

twickster, MPSIMS moderator

Apparently, the trend for both straight and gay people is that most people will have a limited number of sexual partners (up to 10 in a lifetime), but there are a few individuals who have a lot more sexual partners, thus making the average number of partners much higher. So the median is a better indicator here then the mean number.

This cite says seronegative gay men have, on average, a lifetime number of sexual partners of 921 (mean) and 143 (median).

I couln’t find the numbers for straigt people easily.

The OP’s 35 partners would be a bit high for me, straight woman in her forties. Anything over 15 would, I guess. Not really a dealbreaker, but certainly a red flag; would I be just another notch in the bedpost?


Why 15? Is this just a completely arbitrary number, chosen because it “seems like a lot”, or is there a reason?

Oh, completely arbitrary. At 42, my own number of partners approaches (depending on how you count) the vicinity of 12, and I guess I would consider someone with more then that number “a lot”.

I either refuse to answer the question or I lie and drop the number significantly. Based on this thread so far, I am a total slut.

However, I lost my virginity at a rather young age and my average works out to maybe 2-3 partners a year. I’ve gone years and years without being with anyone, so that average might actually be down to 2 per year since I’ve been sexually active. Men look at me with revulsion and the term “hot dog down a hallway” comes up, although I really don’t think I’ve been any more promiscuous than anyone else who is single and my age.

But whatever. People judge. So I lie.

We’ve certainly had this conversation before, and it goes rather predictably. Personally, I tend to think it’s the sort of thing that emotionally mature people don’t really concern themselves with. The question smacks of high-school caliber sexual ethics, and I’m certainly not interested in dating anyone with that sort of worldview.

I heard the term ‘slut’ defined (perhaps on these boards) as ‘having slept with more people than me.’ So for some people I imagine ‘too many’ is whatever their own number is +1.

Numbers mean little to me, unless they’re 0 or spectacularly high (and even then, accounting for age and a few tequila-soaked spring breaks often makes them much more boring, when you break it down). I care more about the circumstances surrounding them – whether someone is a serial monogamist, if they started having sex really young and why, if they’ve learned a lot from their partners or feel shame about them, whether it was all consensual, if they’re tested regularly, that sort of thing.

I don’t want to know numbers, and I wouldn’t date (or continue to date) anyone who had to know mine. And actually, I don’t know mine off the top of my head, so if someone is concerned about numbers already, they’d probably drop me like a hot potato anyway just watching me sit there with pencil and paper figuring it out: “Let’s see… there was Joe, David, Carlos… Oh! I forgot that one guy… what was his name? He was either before or after David… And what “counts” as sex, by the way?”

I’m more concerned with a partner’s attitudes toward sex: Do they view it as a positive thing, in general? How much commitment do they feel it requires? Are they giving or selfish? How do they feel about monogamy? How do they define cheating? I’d also want to know certain specifics like whether they’ve ever been a prostitute or done porn, whether they have or ever had an STD, and so on.

The thing about numbers is that they only reflect how someone acted in the past, and not how they feel about that past or whether they intend to continue acting in the same fashion.

I refuse to lie about it, because I refuse to perpetuate any ridiculous notions about what is a typical or “appropriate” amount of partners to have.

I also refuse to answer the question.

I don’t keep a spreadsheet, so I don’t know exactly how many partners I’ve had, but if I told you a ballpark figure, most people would probably think it’s too high. I think it’s too low.

If some guy that I was dating pressed me on this issue, I’d dump him. It’s none of his business. And his number is none of mine–unless it’s very low, in which case I’d approach things differently.

So Dogzilla–why do you even answer the question?
ETA: Very good points by **Cat Fight **and Heart of Dorkness.

IF I were dating and someone asked I would have to make up a number. I would be afraid of being thought odd with such a low real number.

I don’t recall having been asked the question in a serious way in many many years, but if a guy did, I think I’d probably say “Why don’t you tell me a number you’re comfortable with, and I’ll let you know whether there’s any point in both of us continuing to be here.” :wink: