It’s All a Numbers Game
The Deviant Nerd
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All my friends—even my friends who are girls—have had more sexual partners than me. I’m an eighteen-years-old guy and getting ready to graduate and go off to college and I haven’t been on dates with or even kissed as many girls as my friends have slept with. My friends all think that I should spend this summer beefing up my number, so I’m not heading off to college behind everyone else, experience-wise. Is this a good idea? And how should I go about doing that?
– Is It Too Small?
Pip: Hey Is It,
For a guy playing a numbers game, you don’t actually give me many. You’re 18 and have had x number of partners. I know that x is less than a, given that a is the average number of partners your friends say they’ve been with. And you have 3 months to increase x to equal a, right?
Now, to be honest, I was an abysmal algebra student—so bear with me on this. I’m pretty sure that, if x < a, then in order to figure out how to make x = a by adding 3 months, I need to know y.
As in why do you care if you’ve had more, less, or exactly the same number of sexual partners as anyone else?
It doesn’t actually sound like you do. Looking at your letter, you say that your friends think that your number is too small. Even your moniker asks if your unsaid number is too small.
And the only person who can answer that is you.
You’re eighteen. You haven’t even graduated high school yet. I don’t know what your number is and I don’t know what your friends’ numbers are but there’s a good chance that the measuring system you’re using is a bit off.
I may have been terrible at algebra, but I’m pretty good at my statistics. And current stats tell us that, on average, men typically have 10 partners and women have 7. In their entire lifetimes.
On average, men kiss about 16 people and women kiss about 15. Men will have 8 first dates, 3 blind dates, and 3 online hook-ups. Women will go on 7 first dates, 2 blind dates, and 2 internet-enabled encounters. Men will also have, on average, 6 long-term relationships that last longer than a year, while women will have 5.
And that’s in their entire lifetime. The average person doesn’t even experience their first kiss until they’re 15. And 17 is the average age that people lose their virginities.
You’re 18; you’re just starting out on your sexual journey, how big does your number need to be right now? Chances are good that, whatever your number is—even if it were 0—you’d still be pretty on par with your fellow in-coming freshmen.
So, then, if all those stats are true, how is it that your friends’ numbers seem so high?
There are a couple of reasons.
The less likely reason could be that you just know some statistically more sexually active people. National statistical averages, after all, take a wide range of numbers and average them out, so it doesn’t take into account the high highs and the low lows, just the average. So it’s possible that you know a lot of people on the higher end of this kind of survey.
However, more likely, you know a lot of people who fudge and fib about where exactly they lie on this kind of survey. Remember the statistic about average sexual partners a person has in their entire lifetimes? Well, another survey conducted by Norman Brown and Robert Sinclair found that the women they surveyed reported 8 total partners, as opposed to 7. Which isn’t too far off, right? Except when they surveyed men, Brown and Sinclair found that men, on average, self-reported having an average of 32 partners, as opposed to 10.
You just can’t trust anyone, can you?
After their initial questions, Brown and Sinclair asked their subjects if they’d lied about the number of partners they’d been with. And 5% of respondents admitted that they had. And another 10% said that, while they didn’t think they’d lied, per se, they did know that their answers may have been less than accurate.
So, at the end of the day, what does this all mean? What does that number—what do any of these numbers—even tell you? Do they tell you anything useful about a person? Does the number of partners tell you how good or bad a person is at this terribly complicated thing called dating? Does it tell you anything about how good a person is in bed? What kind of skill as a lover they have? Or is more information needed?
If the relationships you’ve been in—be they one-night-stands, long-term relationships, or something in between—added something positive to your life. Left you feeling wiser, happier, more mature, more loved, more experienced. If they helped you grow as a person. That, more than some number—especially someone else’s number—is a much better measuring stick, experience-wise.
– Pip, Your Resident Deviant Nerd
* If you have a sex, kink, love, or life question for The Deviant Nerd, email Pip at PipJones.DeviantNerd@gmail.com.
And read more about Pip’s story in Brought to You By.