Credit: HBO

Does it really matter how many people you slept with before your current partner?

This is the highest 'acceptable' number of average sexual partners men and women like their other half to have, apparently...

Read any study, any magazine, heck, even read this website right now and you’ll be met with a plethora of information telling you the number of partners you’ll probably have before settling down, how many is too many and how many people you’ve indirectly come into sexual contact with through your own direct sexual encounters (the queasy need not read that one)…

So it should come as no surprise that there’s another study out there dictating the number we should be striving for. The latest, from Dr Ed, tells us that 43% of Europeans never want to discuss their sexual history with their partner which if I’m honest, I get.

It’s not something I’m proud of but I’m definitely the jealous and possessive one in my relationship and the thought of my boyfriend with anyone else quite frankly makes me feel a little nauseous – but I’m also an insatiably curious person and there’s nothing I love more than knowing all the ins and outs of someone’s past. And yeah, it’s a bad combination.

So, while I have never asked my current squeeze’s ‘number’, I’ve come to a sensible estimate in my head that I can happily live with. But, according to this survey, female participants said 10 is the highest ‘acceptable’ number of sexual partners in their other half, while the males surveyed said 7 is their ‘cut-off’ point. Interestingly, the study also said that most people prefer others to have had at least five different sexual partners in their history.

Another study by Superdrug pointed to the fact that those preferences change depending on where specifically you are in the world. For example, Americans felt that seven previous sexual partners hit the sweet spot while they really didn’t like the idea of somebody tallying in at two. Places like Portugal, Spain, Belgium and France in contrast were more interested in people with roughly ten sexual partners, whereas the Netherlands felt that you’d be tipping into sexually promiscuous territory at around eleven.

It turns out that in reality, the average sexual partners count is a little different. A global study of 2,000 adults across the pond in the USA as well as in Europe in general deemed that Americans general have seven sexual partners, while Europeans ring in slightly lower at six. More specifically, Brits had an average of seven sexual partners.

Another study commissioned for the DVD release of Bridget Jones’s Baby went a step further and found specifically that in reality, British women will have eight sexual partners before they settle down with a partner – and that half of those tend to be one-night stands. On average, women had the most sexual encounters at the age of 22.

The problem with reading studies like these is that you suddenly have a bar to compare yourself with. I remember figuring out I hadn’t reached my ‘optimum’ sexual partner number ‘until you meet the one’ and asking myself, ‘does this mean X isn’t the one for me?’

Ludicrous right? Yes, I agree.

Basically what I’m saying is, take these surveys with a pinch of salt. Just because this is the most common number doesn’t make it ‘normal’ or ‘abnormal’ because really, what exactly is normal?

Divulge said number if someone asks you and you’re comfortable with telling them, or, simply keep it to yourself.

Having spoken to a sex therapist about the most important factors to remember in the bedroom, it’s communication that’s key – and that also means knowing yourself well enough to understand what you actually want to know and the repercussions of that choice.

Altering your number is a common phenomenon but that doesn’t make it okay, we shouldn’t be made to feel like we have to undersell (like 22% of men) or oversell (like 1% of women and 4% of men) anything –  and sorry to sound like a Hallmark card here, but really, just be yourself.

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