How many partners have you been with? Can you remember everyone?
May 28, 2015 9:52 PM   Subscribe

Tell us how many people you’ve slept with. Our calculator will tell you if that’s a lot. Slate features a sex history calculator. Input your age, gender (male or female) and number of sex partners since 18 and compare results with other participants.
posted by zardoz (260 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite


 
Can I remember anyone?
posted by Segundus at 10:01 PM on May 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Do I want to remember everyone?
posted by louche mustachio at 10:02 PM on May 28, 2015 [26 favorites]


I remember!
posted by rtha at 10:03 PM on May 28, 2015


I'm wondering if anyone who takes this quiz has a way to feel good about their results. I mean, I'm on the high end of what I presume to be a standard deviation from the average for my age, so... good?
posted by Navelgazer at 10:03 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or, at least good for people nervous about internet tests who think in terms of standard deviations?
posted by Navelgazer at 10:04 PM on May 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


> "I'm wondering if anyone who takes this quiz has a way to feel good about their results."

Sure, no problem:

52% WOOOOOOOOOOOO!
posted by kyrademon at 10:06 PM on May 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


The only way to win is not to play a silly game of numbers.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:08 PM on May 28, 2015 [12 favorites]


I've banged more people than 68% of folks my age have. I know it's not a competition or anything, but...

Yay, I'm apparently kind of a skank! I grew up longing to be a skank, and now that I've made it, I'd just like to say thank you to all the people who helped me get here...
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:08 PM on May 28, 2015 [72 favorites]


Okay thank you all for making me feel good about my 72% then.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:09 PM on May 28, 2015


Puttin' the score in Z-score, am I right?

...As you can imagine, my percentile isn't especially high.
posted by teponaztli at 10:10 PM on May 28, 2015 [21 favorites]


52% WOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Me too, kyrademon! Did we date?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:11 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Statistically, we must have!

That's how statistics work, right?
posted by kyrademon at 10:12 PM on May 28, 2015 [15 favorites]


I like how the histogram has huge spikes at 5, 10, and 20 -- amazing how so many people slept with such exact round numbers of partners.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:12 PM on May 28, 2015 [21 favorites]


94%, or 95%, depending.

I've said that I'm genderfucked, but I guess that's more accurate than I'd realized.
posted by you could feel the sky at 10:12 PM on May 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Navel Gazer and teponaztli: long-tailed distribution, which means that the concept of standard deviation may or may not be coherent, or at least the value of standard deviation not finite(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heavy-tailed_distribution).

Scaling exponent for women is 2.54 +- 0.2 and for men it's 2.31 +- 0.2, taking from the nature paper. So variance and therefore standard deviation are not coherent, but mean is, for both women and men.

Regression is incoherent in this domain, but you could rig up either a SIR model or some other critical model (voter model, SOC, forest fire, something like that) to create a histogram. If you can make provably bounded predictions for specific individuals you can get rich (you would also have the mathematics to predict the stock market within provable bounds).

As for myself, I've not had sex.
posted by curuinor at 10:16 PM on May 28, 2015 [55 favorites]


i'm still winning tho because i use the orgasms per hour scale instead

some people say they go by quality instead of quantity on that but they are just jealous

wait one sec my schedule says i have to have one now

... ok i'm back did i miss anything?
posted by kyrademon at 10:18 PM on May 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


Note that if you can look at the loglog plot in the nature paper (I note it's in arxiv too, actually), which I can't reproduce here, you can see that the power law ansatz they are mentioning is a pretty shit fit and I bet weibull test would just have it not necessarily be power law but still fat-tailed. But this network model still means that the SIR model is a uniquely good one for studying STI spread especially.
posted by curuinor at 10:19 PM on May 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


That's actually very interesting. I mean, not this Slate thing, which just seems like a really great way to compare-bedpost-notches-but-not-really-but-kind-of. But I'm taking a survey-level stats class and I've been really into it - now I'm looking up what a scaling exponent is, and I'm supposed to be doing a goodness-of-fit test on airline flight data.

Actually, on a cultural level, I'd be interested to know how people fudge their own self-reported data, intentionally or unintentionally.
posted by teponaztli at 10:22 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


it doesn't believe me

this test is very judgmental
posted by poffin boffin at 10:23 PM on May 28, 2015 [9 favorites]


I've banged more people than 68% of folks my age have. I know it's not a competition or anything, but...

Yay, I'm apparently kind of a skank!



1) It's not a competition.

2) You're not a "skank" no matter how many people you have banged.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:24 PM on May 28, 2015 [12 favorites]


3) no I am not giving the exact percentage because it is not a competition but the test didn't believe me either.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:26 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


which gov't agency is that parses the data from all these online quizzes? or is it just corporations that reap the value of learning your inner person as revealed in a quiz like "Which 80's Teen Heart Throb Is Your Spirit Guide?" or " What Type Of Jedi Lover Are You?".

P.S. i broke the chart for men my age (and maybe everyone). i guess they only account for heteros. the largest number of partners they allow is far below my level of achievement (and attractiveness) from younger days.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 10:26 PM on May 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


that brag was not humble
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 10:26 PM on May 28, 2015 [34 favorites]


Unless by "banged" you mean something having to do with explosives and then there is another word for that entirely.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:27 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Chime in, 90+ percenters! The Sexlord of MetaFilter title is waiting to be claimed!
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:28 PM on May 28, 2015 [10 favorites]


Q4. Would you trade them all, just to have him/her back? (Y/N) _
posted by Space Coyote at 10:32 PM on May 28, 2015 [16 favorites]


I actually really don't like that this exists, because I spent many years as a painfully shy person who compared myself to other guys and felt like I wasn't much of a man because I wasn't sleeping around. I mean, thank God this didn't exist when I was 21.

I made a joke about my percentile in an earlier comment, but I'm actually really sorry I did. There's a ton of shame associated with being a guy who doesn't sleep with tons of women, and even if you know it's bullshit, it's still there.
posted by teponaztli at 10:34 PM on May 28, 2015 [21 favorites]


Pfft, chime in 99+ percenters!! Can we start a group that's not part of a 12-step program?
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 10:34 PM on May 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Funny, I was asked this exact question an hour ago while filling out a survey for a longitudinal study that the American Cancer Society is conducting. So when I saw this post, I was all, "HEY I ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER!"
posted by not_on_display at 10:38 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


My score is a lot lower than it would be if I was able to include my pre-18 years.

That's actually really depressing, now that I think about it.
posted by bibliowench at 10:41 PM on May 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


Sheesh, I wish I could go back and tell my high-school, horny as hell, dateless, wallflower self, "Don't worry, one day you'll find out that you've fucked more people than 75% of your peers!"

7 fuckees = 75%? i am amazed.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:44 PM on May 28, 2015 [10 favorites]


As soon as I knew about sex (which was in like 4th grade or so) I decided that 5 people was the perfect number of people to have slept with before finding a life partner. For some reason I just figured that was a good amount of exploring to do and that if I could, I wanted to be able to compare all 5, pick the best one, and then marry that person. Well, those 5 have all come and gone and ain't none of them gonna be my husband or wife. My inner 4th grader now thinks I lack resolve and my only comfort is knowing that in failing that particular self-instated litmus test I will eventually surpass my current score of 62% on this quiz which apparently makes me statistically superior or something.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:45 PM on May 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Enter your stats into our new calculator, and, based on your age and gender, it will tell you exactly which percentile you fall into when it comes to how many partners you’ve hopped in the sack with.

But why would anyone care which percentile one falls into? Nothing about this calculator is sex-positive as far as I can tell.

Have you banged fewer than your cohort? So what! Banged a lot more? So what! I just don't get it. I feel like this calculator is useless.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:47 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


As a gay dude of the decidedly-non-marrying kind, this didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. But I was curious to see the graph for other guys in my age range anyway.
posted by mykescipark at 10:48 PM on May 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


I feel so inadequate right now.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:53 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just noticed this survey and came here to collect the thoughts. Definitely not sex-positive. But I had some fun playing with the numbers. The cohort below and above my age group are less "experienced" than us... So... I'm sure we can find a social reason for that in the history books.

No internet, more time out and about (sharing beds) compared to the younger group. Let me think of a justification for the older group. Be back after I do my "science".
posted by MyMind at 10:57 PM on May 28, 2015


One hundred million! Oh, wait, magazines don't count?
posted by Fnarf at 10:58 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


At first I was like how is that 85%, but then I remembered not everyone is gay.
posted by Conspire at 11:06 PM on May 28, 2015 [10 favorites]


YES! I have more game than 90% of other women ages 25-to-29! And I have an emasculating fetish so TAKE THAT, PATRIARCHAL SOCIETY. I will destroy you one or several partners at a time! Also, FUCK YOU, guy from high school who told me "no guy will ever want you to put a dildo in his butt!"
posted by picklenickle at 11:09 PM on May 28, 2015 [46 favorites]


I'm shocked. I mean, I'm really conservative about who I have sex with, and don't do it unless I have deep feelings for the other person. And I have long term relationships - 8 years, 9 years - and long periods where I don't have sex at all (measured in terms of years). So I thought I was going to be really low, like maybe 30%.

75%. Really? And I may have forgotten a couple.

No wonder the boomers are making such a mess of things. We're obviously not sleeping around enough.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:10 PM on May 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Why are you supposed to start counting up people starting at age 18 and not earlier? Asking for a friend.
posted by rosebuddy at 11:16 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


"My score is a lot lower than it would be if I was able to include my pre-18 years."

I ignored that requirement because I don't understand its relevance. Is it a legal requirement? I don't get it. But that would have eliminated a full third of my sex partners, and I'm above the mean for my age.

In addition to the long tail -- which is pretty important -- one thing that's noticeable in the results for my age grouping and which I know from previous such studies (though I don't see it mentioned in the linked paper) is that for both men and women, at least in North America, the distribution is bimodal.

So the mean is really a very unhelpful metric in this context. Instead, it makes more sense to compare yourself to others in your mode. What I've seen from past studies is that the two modes peak for both men and women (with some differences between genders and orientations) at somewhere around 10 partners and then, surprisingly (because of the distance), way over around 28.

I think this causes a fair amount of miscommunication and judgmentalism (I think the judgmentalism is always wrong, but it's even more wrong when it's based around a false assumption). My personal experience is that the people in each of these modes tend to assume everyone else is, too. So for the folk in the lower mode, hearing about someone who is quite average in the higher mode will seem like someone who is promiscuous, though by their group's standards, they're not. And the opposite, where people in the higher mode will think that the people in the lower one have had a weirdly low number of partners.

There's some obvious variables which might account for the bimodalism, such as marriage. But my experience and observation is that it's more broad than that -- it's a kind of (mostly) invisible matter of temperament.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:16 PM on May 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


This was actually an interesting exercise. I did have a hard time coming up with an accurate number, not necessarily because I was ever some kind of Lothario, but having been with the same partner now for almost 15 years, I'm having to reach pretty far back in the memory bank. Easy to remember long term or semi long term partners, not as easy to remember every 2AM bar hookup. This was kind of like trying to remember the names of all of my old college professors or trying to list all of my coworkers at my first job.
posted by The Gooch at 11:27 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Somewhere out there is a copy of Catullus with names written at the tops of the pages that could help me answer this question.

Instead I had to guess. It didn't believe me.

Also, check your books before donating them....
posted by susiswimmer at 11:41 PM on May 28, 2015 [17 favorites]


97% for women 30-34, which makes me feel really weird considering that I've been with my current partner (and him only) for the past 5 years. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
However, I've never had a partner complain, and never had anyone not call back, so I guess I'm doing something right. And I'd wager that something right is communication.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 11:41 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


26th percentile.

If this were an academic standardized test, my mother would be very disappointed.
posted by qcubed at 11:49 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


15% and proud of my choices.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:52 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, what's the logic for making it start at age 18? On average, most Americans become sexually active somewhere around age 16.5, so it's cutting off valid data if the metric under investigation is lifetime total partners.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:53 PM on May 28, 2015


Let me get this straight: I'm 42, I've spent approximately 22 of the last 24 years in long-term, monogamous relationships (1.5 years, 2.5 years, 3 years, and 15 years) and I've STILL been around the block more than 90% of women my age? How is that possible?
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 11:55 PM on May 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


In addition to the long tail -- which is pretty important -- one thing that's noticeable in the results for my age grouping and which I know from previous such studies (though I don't see it mentioned in the linked paper) is that for both men and women, at least in North America, the distribution is bimodal.

Is it? I always thought the mode was 1, and that's what the graphs are showing me.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:56 PM on May 28, 2015


augh now i'm gonna have to open my sexualpartners.xls file to get an accurate count

j/k it's a google doc
posted by NoraReed at 11:56 PM on May 28, 2015 [28 favorites]


So, just out of curiosity w/r/t everyone who is above the 26th percentile...

...how do you deal with the whole, "oh my god other people are probably filthy and have germs" problem?
posted by qcubed at 11:58 PM on May 28, 2015


everybody needs to stop bragging
posted by philip-random at 12:00 AM on May 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


I thought it was supposed to give you a percentile, but it doesn't for the higher end, it seems. It just says "You've done the deed with more people than basically all of your peers." That's fine, but not very... precise.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:01 AM on May 29, 2015


...how do you deal with the whole, "oh my god other people are probably filthy and have germs" problem?

Alcohol.
posted by peeedro at 12:02 AM on May 29, 2015 [17 favorites]


qcubed: "So, just out of curiosity w/r/t everyone who is above the 26th percentile...
...how do you deal with the whole, "oh my god other people are probably filthy and have germs" problem
"

By taking appropriate precautions and then chilling the fuck out, I guess.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:04 AM on May 29, 2015 [16 favorites]


Alcohol just makes my neuroses worse. And I suppose it's probably not sensible, this thing, anyway.

Blerg. The human body is so weird and fleshy and prone to grossness.
posted by qcubed at 12:04 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Let me get this straight: I'm 42, I've spent approximately 22 of the last 24 years in long-term, monogamous relationships (1.5 years, 2.5 years, 3 years, and 15 years) and I've STILL been around the block more than 90% of women my age? How is that possible?

palmcorder_yajna, I'm guessing it's that A. Other women are not reporting accurately because there is nothing scarier than sex-loving women, who tend to be feared (thus slut shaming) or B. The threat of being slut-shamed prevents women from having lots of sex or C. We are among the gals who really like sex. I was in a monogamous marriage for 25 years but you can't tell from where I fall in the results. Apparently, folks my age, at least, aren't having as much sex as I thought...
posted by Bella Donna at 12:05 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


You don't get above the 26th percentile if you think, "oh my god, other people are probably filthy and have germs" so it's not a problem. More importantly, as Joakim Ziegler said, one takes appropriate precautions.
posted by Bella Donna at 12:09 AM on May 29, 2015


Bella Donna, you're probably right, but then again, the numbers seem really low for men too, and men are (according to conventional wisdom) supposed to usually exaggerate their numbers. I don't know, maybe people are having less sex than I think. The numbers for women also seem really low compared to (warning, anecdata) the numbers I've heard from women I know well. Maybe people with similar attitudes cluster together, so that people who have a lot of sex tend to only know other people who have a lot of sex, and the other way around.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:13 AM on May 29, 2015


More importantly, as Joakim Ziegler said, one takes appropriate precautions.

Maybe I should stop insisting that any potential partner enter an autoclave before every instance. Might be overkill.

It's weird. I don't mind if other people get it on, but it seems to be a strange stumbling block for me. Sex-positive near-asexual or something.
posted by qcubed at 12:18 AM on May 29, 2015


Alcohol just makes my neuroses worse.

It's a great antiseptic and only stings a little.

Uh... You mean you drink it?
posted by andrewdoull at 12:21 AM on May 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


As for the whole numbers thing, I'm one of those weirdos whose number ends in a 9 so I was the first reported in my age group and I'm hoping that figure is rounded up to 3 now.
posted by andrewdoull at 12:22 AM on May 29, 2015


"Bella Donna, you're probably right, but then again, the numbers seem really low for men too, and men are (according to conventional wisdom) supposed to usually exaggerate their numbers. I don't know, maybe people are having less sex than I think."

Again, I think this is best explained by the distribution being bimodal. I've seen this discussion play out so many times -- where someone in the ~10 range is amazed at all the people in the ~28 range, and all the people in the ~28 range are amazed at all the people in the ~10 range.

The amazement comes because the mode you're in about this does not have a strong correlation with the totality of your other demographics. But it is pretty likely that a large number of your sexual partners are in your mode.

So you're going to have within the context of your sexual partners a lot of feedback saying that you're average. But if you find yourself in a conversation with some friends (or family), there's a good change that you'll be amazed that other people have had as few/many partners as they've had.

And then think about what happens when you combine the bimodality and the long-tail -- it's not that hard for someone at just to the right of the peak of the upper mode to be in a high percentile among the entire population while still being pretty average for that mode. And you can be on the rightward side of the lower mode and still manage to be above the 50th percentile for the entire population, too. So surprises all around for people who are actually, within the proper context, pretty average.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:25 AM on May 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


I got 99%.
Took a few tries though.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:40 AM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


38 years old, and I'm genuinely surprised by the low end spike in number of sexual partners - there must be a lot of men reporting 0/1/2 partners. I'm not sure if I'm surprised this is the case, or surprised that the men are self reporting this number.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 12:42 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


1) It's not a competition.
2) You're not a "skank" no matter how many people you have banged.



1) Which I said. The rest of it was a joke. Jeez.

2) Yes I can so call myself a skank, for Pete's sake. I'M RECLAIMING THE WORD.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:58 AM on May 29, 2015 [25 favorites]


I don't even know how to measure this. What do they mean? I'm a sex party, casually throwing it around, used to do cruising back in the hanky code days, did CL cruising in the early 2000s, have several Grindr type apps I use, kind of guy. I'm certainly not getting as much casual sex as I was back when I was in my 20s and much hotter than I realized... but I mean... damn, there's a lot that's gone on.

Or do they literally mean "how many people have you slept with", as in awakened in bed next to... because that's only, like, 10.
posted by hippybear at 1:15 AM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


I had to make a list. I do not remember most of the names, so there is a list by description: "that guy from the Train", "luke or maybe Andrew".
On the one hand this is making me sad that there was not of meaningful people.
On the other hang... Gosh I really do have fun. 84% 😊
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 1:22 AM on May 29, 2015


You're not a "skank" no matter how many people you have banged.

Why would she be a legless lizard anyway? Really, it's unfair to bang on legless lizards, they're delicate, and I think they're endangered species. I remember I used to see then in the park, slithering through the grass-

Uh, Rosanadanna, you're talking about skinks. We're talking about skanks.

OH.

Never mind...
posted by happyroach at 1:28 AM on May 29, 2015 [9 favorites]


Man. I am surprised by, and saddened for, the 20+% of women in their late 20s who have only had one sexual partner.

I am here for you, ladies
posted by Pizzarina Sbarro at 1:37 AM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Man. I am surprised by, and saddened for, the 20+% of women in their late 20s who have only had one sexual partner.

I am here for you, ladies


I am friends with this couple that met at age 14, and now they are teachers and shit with 3 gorgeous kids. They haven't even KISSED anybody else (born & raised in SoCal!). And I always rag on them about that, but when I see your skeezy comment above, I'm thinking they won.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:48 AM on May 29, 2015 [24 favorites]


I'm certain I'm forgetting people. Even still I'm a slut. Woo hoo!
posted by persona au gratin at 1:52 AM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


And a corollary: holy crap I've been through a lot of breakups.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:54 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I scored in the 90th percentile, just counting the men that I've had sex with, but I forgot to count the women (I mostly identify as straight but I have had sex with women as well), so I added them in and moved up to the 95th percentile. I have a friend who kept a log, and who had some pretty busy years back in the day. I plugged in her number (she is no longer sexually active) and it returned "You have slept with more people than pretty much anyone in this age group". She'll be so proud when I tell her.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 1:55 AM on May 29, 2015


If I could time travel back to tell my younger self one thing, it'd be: keep a log!
posted by persona au gratin at 1:59 AM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


The good news is 88% so go me I guess, but the bad news is it made me remember how bad my decision-making and self-esteem sometimes were in my 20s so now I feel a bit conflicted. I mean I feel a bit squicked out but then I also love to do well on tests so I guess it was worth it even though oh god that time with that dude what the hell was I thinking
posted by billiebee at 2:42 AM on May 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


4th percentile awwwwww yeah
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:55 AM on May 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


I wonder why the "after you were 18" qualifier? I get a 42 with 7 and a 49 if I include the adolescent stuff. I thought I would score much lower. And the process of remembering those trainwrecks increases my resolve to not date until my son is older, so thanks for the post. I can't pick for shit.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 2:55 AM on May 29, 2015


Metafilter: On the one hand this is making me sad that there was not of meaningful people. On the other hang... Gosh I really do have fun.
posted by Segundus at 2:56 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


And all these years I thought I was an under-performer...who woulda thunk...!
posted by HuronBob at 3:11 AM on May 29, 2015


97%. This is awesome. Finally, I've over-achieved. I remember a report card I got in high school that read 'LLama does moderately well without much effort' and here we are. Look at what I can do when I set my mind to it.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:11 AM on May 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


the bad news is it made me remember how bad my decision-making and self-esteem sometimes were in my 20s so now I feel a bit conflicted.

Truthfully this is a big part of it for me as well and my peers were all pretty drinky and promiscuous so it didn't seem all that odd. Also I didn't 100% settle down until I was 35 so I had more sheer years to rack up numbers than I would have if I had married at 25. If I were going to go back in time I wouldn't have slept with half of those people, and actually just going through a few of the names in my head I was going, 'Nope. No. NO WAY. No. Him?'
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:18 AM on May 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Silly as it sounds - and I certainly know better, intellectually - but I live my life with a constant low-level anxiety about my utter humiliating failure as an adult / man / sexual being. I tried this out with a sense of dread, and while my percent wasn't very high, as expected, I still felt heartened by it - I'm more or less "normal", whatever that means, even though my brain is always tricked into thinking everyone else is having way wilder / sexier / cooler experiences than me and I'm the only human on earth missing out because I'm uniquely broken or whatever. So that's nice. Brains are weird self-defeating things sometimes, and numbers can help us align ourselves with reality.

(The number of "90%!" "I got 95%!" "Hah, 99% I win!" type comments here have kinda brought me back down, but hey I'll deal.)
posted by naju at 3:22 AM on May 29, 2015 [13 favorites]


wow- my percentage was much, much higher than I expected. #latebloomer
posted by emd3737 at 3:23 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I thought the "since age 18" part was weird too. I mean, I've been with my sweetie for a long while now and I got a lot of my skanking out of the way in my teens. If we're counting from first-ever bang onwards I suspect you'd see some very different numbers.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:24 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


39%. I'm not really surprised given that I was too shy to talk to girls until I was about 22 and have subsequently been married (twice) for most of my adult life. My stupid brain was never very good at telling me that when a woman says, "hey do you want to go out sometime?", that I should say yes instead of mumbling something incoherent and running away.
posted by octothorpe at 3:33 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]




Male, 45-49, 2%. Just over 10% of my cohort has only been with one person. Happy to report, I still am.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 3:39 AM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


....97%. Not embarrassed by that score, but not boasting either; the raw number isn't big.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:45 AM on May 29, 2015


The right number of sexual partners to have had is the number of sexual partners that is right for you. I really think that people ought to dial back a bit on saying that a certain magnitude is good (even though I totally understand this in the context of societal sex-negativity, especially about women, and pushing back against the notion that a low number is better) because pretty much anyone can feel pressured and have insecurities about having too few or too many partners and so anything that ends up sounding normative pushes on those things.

And that really is bad because I categorically deny any and all such claims that some magnitudes are better than others, inherently. Zero partners is good and healthy when it's good and healthy, and five-hundred partners is good and healthy when it's good and healthy. And anything can be pathological. Sex can be a lot of things and how we approach sex and experience our sexuality is our own personal decision, no one else's.

I've been sex-positive for a long time and, for me, sex-positivity means allowing people to make their own individual decisions about their sexuality, and celebrating those decisions whatever they might be (excluding things that are harmful to others). It isn't that more sex is better for everyone, it's that whatever sex is right for you is the right sex for you -- style or quantity or frequency or number of partners or whatever.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:46 AM on May 29, 2015 [33 favorites]


It isn't that more sex is better for everyone, it's that whatever sex is right for you is the right sex for you -- style or quantity or frequency or number of partners or whatever.

I entirely agree with this statement.
posted by hippybear at 3:48 AM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


According to this chart over 25% of women 30-34 have only had one partner, which explains why I got 42% when I actually thought I was on the low, low end. Are we sure this article didn't get posted to a True Love Waits forum somewhere, and people showed up to skew the results?
posted by lollymccatburglar at 3:54 AM on May 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


This thing is definitely not calibrated for gay men like myself. The highest number on the chart is lower than the level of uncertainty in my answer.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 4:06 AM on May 29, 2015 [13 favorites]


Meh, I'm in my thirties and I have only had one sexual partner IRL. No need to feel sad for me. I was emotionally unready in high school, started datIng Muddude early in college, and didn't really feel the need for anything more. Shouldn't sex positivity mean I don't get prude-shamed?
posted by muddgirl at 4:11 AM on May 29, 2015 [32 favorites]


What a shitshow of poor science reporting. The Slate piece's link to the "report" actually links to a Washington Post blog. That piece's link to the "survey" actually links to an announcement and summary of the actual article, which was posted before the article itself was actually available (date on the summary is May 5; it says the article itself was scheduled to be posted within a day of the summary, at least). I'll have to go back and check the dates on the other two pieces. The Washington Post blog says that average number of partners by age 25 (which is the only number it reports, and not broken down by any sub-category) is 8 for Millenials, 10 for Gen-X, and 11 for Baby Boomers (and something lower than 11 for the generation before them). Will try to find the actual data/article and report back.
posted by eviemath at 4:18 AM on May 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


I like how the histogram has huge spikes at 5, 10, and 20 -- amazing how so many people slept with such exact round numbers of partners.

I entered a ballpark figure because every time I try to figure this out, (which is about every other year) I end up forgetting someone until the next day. Also, the number varies depending on how I'm defining sex this week. My definition is in the queer, "head, shoulders, knees and toes (knees and toes)" school of thought which is not how most people define it.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 4:26 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wish my number were higher, because sex is awesome, but on the other hand I probably wasn't emotionally equipped to handle having a bunch of partners when I was young and I wound up very happily married, which is what I always wanted anyway, so I can live with it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:27 AM on May 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


Slate article: May 29. WaPo blog article: May 6 (and it basically cribs the abstract of the article).

The original journal article seems to be publically available.

The Slate article apparently went back to the original General Social Survey and did their own data selection and analysis, however.
posted by eviemath at 4:48 AM on May 29, 2015


How has this music video NOT been posted yet, 100 comments in?!
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:53 AM on May 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


the skink appreciation society just wanted me to point out skinks aren't actually legless unless they are a delicious Scottish soup.
A contribution to the thread that makes me feel marginally better about some things.

posted by glasseyes at 5:06 AM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Kind of interesting to fudge the age number. I've been in a monogamous relationship for a while now; if I put in my age from the start of that relationship, I get a higher percentage than if I put my current age, and about double the percentage as when I forecast my age 20 years down the line. That could mean that people double the partner account in that time and my position on the graph will slowly decay unless I get back out there, or it could indicate that people 20 years my senior were enjoying themselves pre-AIDS. Or both.

The presentation is neat, but I'd be curious to see it animated over birth year; I wonder if the tall bars would start hopping rightwards around, say, 1955, and then leftwards past, say, 1975.

(It's also neat how you can derive people's ages upthread when they give their percentage and partner count.)
posted by postcommunism at 5:07 AM on May 29, 2015


In addition to the long tail -- which is pretty important -- one thing that's noticeable in the results for my age grouping and which I know from previous such studies (though I don't see it mentioned in the linked paper) is that for both men and women, at least in North America, the distribution is bimodal.

I'm just guessing, but I suspect that this is not just temperament or desire, but also just a basic sorting between people in long term monogamous relationships and people who are dating. If instead of being married I had gone out with just one person a year for that same time, my total would be up into the other bimodal peak, for example.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:07 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm really surprised - I'm in my late 30s, and apparently 5% of women my age are virgins, and 25% have only slept with one partner. I met my husband when I was 20, and I am still in the sluttiest 10% according to this. Where did they find all of these people with even fewer partners? This is skewed by weird American Bible Belt technical-virgins, isn't it? Because I'm pretty chaste by UK standards.
posted by tinkletown at 5:08 AM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Not that I have more than a vague grasp of what 'bimodal' or 'percentile' or 'long tail' mean in real life though.
posted by glasseyes at 5:11 AM on May 29, 2015


Uh oh. Bet nobody seeing the middle aged fat matronly chick at work knows I'm in the 1%. But really, what is it with the rest of the participants? Do you* not crave sex? Do you have to have a relationship or the promise of one? Man, if I waited for that, I'd never get any. Am I doing something wrong (that there is so many, that they never come back). This is performance art, and I don't mean anything by it. How could I possibly be that far along the curve?

* you is hypothetical, k?
posted by b33j at 5:13 AM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is skewed by weird American Bible Belt technical-virgins, isn't it?
I dunno about that. Loads and loads of people of all genders aren't getting as much sex as they would like. And loads of people are shy, or don't like intimacy, or aren't that into the physical side of life.
posted by glasseyes at 5:13 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Welp, I'm officially off the charts.

That's what he said.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 5:14 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


93% and what? I always felt like I was at the low end of my peer group wrt sexual partners. And I've been married forever, and I spent most of my early 20s in a monogamous LTR.

I guess I just went for it all in a couple of years. Huh.
posted by gaspode at 5:15 AM on May 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


I've never been sure how to rank orgies. Do you count everyone, or apply some kind of qualifying filter? The calculus of copulation isn't binary.

I'd also like to see some kind of Hertzsprung–Russell diagram of the results. Which sequence are you in? How does it differentiate by age, colour and mass?
posted by Devonian at 5:23 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I like how the histogram has huge spikes at 5, 10, and 20 -- amazing how so many people slept with such exact round numbers of partners.

I'm more curious about the right end of the distribution on the male 30-34 histogram: there are only visible values at multiples of five (35, 40, 45, 50), except at 49. An inexplicably high number of people answered 49. Was 50 just too high of a psychological barrier? Are there 50 guys who locked themselves into the same sex dungeon on their eighteenth birthday, in 2001?
posted by Mayor West at 5:28 AM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


This doesn't seem very accurate. I plugged in a bunch of numbers in descending order, from 150 partners on down for a female, age 50. When I got to 5 partners, it was 59% more than peers. That can't be right.
posted by gt2 at 5:31 AM on May 29, 2015


A few years ago I read an article on this subject and was surprised by how high I was in the percentile rankings. It doesn't seem to me that I've had all that many partners. Plus, life is long! They add up.

I noticed that the upper end of the range was 55, which I suppose captures most people. But I have a number of friends who would exceed that significantly, most likely joining the folks up-thread whose numbers weren't believed.

I hate the "how do I stack up" and "is your sexual history as impressive as you think?" framing. Who exactly are we trying to impress? Is there some sex-partner contest going on? I have a kid who just turned 14, so we're having a lot of talks about sex, drinking, drugs, and so on, and I keep telling him things like, "It's perfectly normal for teenagers to try alcohol and pot. It's also perfectly normal not to." It's the same way with sex. It's perfectly normal and OK to have lots of sex partners, and it's perfectly normal and OK not to. I find the statistics interesting but would really like to see us, culturally, break this habit of casual judgment.
posted by not that girl at 5:35 AM on May 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ha, yeah. It won't let you put in a four-digit number.
posted by not that girl at 5:39 AM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Interestingly(?), the number of men who report as virgins holds exactly constant at 4% between the mid-late-20s and early-30s age brackets.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:54 AM on May 29, 2015


There is a simpler way to think about this; most people fit on a scale somewhere between the Pope and Wilt Chamberlain (at least according to publicly available data). Probably closer to the Pope, but that is really none of my business. And anyway, self reported numbers can be unreliable.
posted by TedW at 6:00 AM on May 29, 2015


What they're not telling you is that we Slate Plus subscribers can look up everybody's number of reported sex partners by name.
posted by escabeche at 6:07 AM on May 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


This whole thread reads like a thinly veiled pretext for a Metafilter orgy.
posted by echocollate at 6:30 AM on May 29, 2015 [10 favorites]


More than 27%. So I'm moderately choosy and/or physically repellent.

This, of course, also relies on a Clintonian argument over what constitutes a "sex partner." Does oral count? Does manual stimulation count? Brief groping in a Denny's parking lot? As a friend once put it when constructing a Who's Slept With Who In Our Social Circle chart in college, is "penetration required?" To apply the Mojo Nixon rule ("if there's jism, it's sex,") are orgasms required? Do I need an independent witness to confirm each partner and a visit to a notary?
posted by delfin at 6:33 AM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Je ne regrette rien!
posted by drlith at 6:34 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


wait one sec my schedule says i have to have one now

... ok i'm back did i miss anything?
posted by kyrademon at 10:18 PM on May 28 [2 favorites +] [!]


Flagged for inappropriate use of the edit window!
posted by chavenet at 6:37 AM on May 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


And why stop at actual physical contact? Phone sex has "sex" in the name -- does it count? The existence of the webcam opens up several cans of worms, metaphorically and otherwise. If someone sends me a video and I use it for its intended purpose, is that one on the toteboard or not?

I prefer the old world where the only statistic I had to keep in mind was my Kibo Number.
posted by delfin at 6:38 AM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Shouldn't sex positivity mean I don't get prude-shamed?

I'm....not seeing that anyone is being prude-shamed in here.

I also chalk my number up to the fact that I'm 45 and have never married, through some combination of bad luck and bad timing. There were two points in my past at which I would happily have done so, though, except the gentlemen I happened to be with weren't conceptually down with the idea (read: one wasn't the marrying kind, the other guy ultimately just had weird commitment issues). And at either of those points, the number would have been lower.

But it didn't happen that way, and I'm not married. But I'm also not a nun. So....there you are.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:39 AM on May 29, 2015


I'm....not seeing that anyone is being prude-shamed in here.

Not to speak for muddgirl, but I am assuming she was referring to the comment just above hers suggesting that the numbers for women were too low to be believed and possibly came from a high percentage of women who have taken purity vows participating in the survey.
posted by The Gooch at 6:47 AM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm....not seeing that anyone is being prude-shamed in here.

No, I don't think that those of us who are virgins or have only had sex one or two times were called out by name as prudes (did it honestly occur to anyone that, going by these statistics, many Mefites are virgins or have a low number of sexual partners?), but a few of the comments do seem to imply that there's something wrong with people like me. The fact that I've had one sexual partner is just that - a fact. It's not saddening, as one poster here put it. It doesn't make me a "weird Bible-belt technical virgin" either.
posted by muddgirl at 6:51 AM on May 29, 2015 [22 favorites]


There's no need for skewing by "weird bible-belt technical virgins". People with exciting sex lives talk about them. People with less exciting sex lives don't. If you only ever hear people discussing sex with lots of partners, you naturally grow to assume that that's the norm, because the the quiet low-partner-count folks aren't represented.

I'm in my 30s with a single partner (4%!), and you really don't need to feel sad for me. My sex life is exciting to me, but I don't talk about it much, because "Yup, still having great sex after 15 years with the woman I've been with since high school" just isn't very interesting to anyone other than us.
posted by Turbo-B at 6:57 AM on May 29, 2015 [15 favorites]


j/k it's a google doc

*Dusts off copy of ClarisWorks*

Jeez, it's been a while, hasn't it?
posted by schmod at 6:58 AM on May 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Interesting. I'm 40, and apparently I have "done the deed with more people than 97% of my peers."

Honestly, I don't think 11 partners is all that uncommon?
posted by Annabelle74 at 7:00 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Interesting discussion. Like muddgirl and Turbo-B, I've had one sexual partner. I grew up in a very conservative and religious household where premarital sex was heavily discouraged, and I wasn't ready as a high schooler, anyway. I met my wife in college. Married in my mid-20s, now in my early 40s. I suspect there are a fairly substantial number of people who fit this general profile.
posted by cheapskatebay at 7:01 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've done better than 60% of my peers. Who'd've thunk it?
posted by jonmc at 7:01 AM on May 29, 2015


"Yup, still having great sex after 15 years with the woman I've been with since high school" just isn't very interesting to anyone other than us.

Not true! I would like to hear more about your sex life! This goes for all of you, really.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:03 AM on May 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Not true! I would like to hear more about your sex life! This goes for all of you, really.

i enjoy the sexual intercourse with my fellow humans. i enjoy sex positions and performing sex acts as well as receiving sex acts. i like to move tongues near other human tongues and make sounds and fluids. i am definitely a human with sex parts. i like to see nudity and be nude because i am a human with skin
posted by NoraReed at 7:08 AM on May 29, 2015 [27 favorites]


In my mid-20s I had to retcon my entire sexual history when, during a very frank and very drunk discussion, a friend of mine told me that by the standard of 'sex' that I was using to count sexual partners, no two women had ever had sex.
posted by griphus at 7:12 AM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


> This goes for all of you, really.

Only one partner, and in a previous lifetime at that.

But after Cleopatra, why bother with anyone else?
posted by jfuller at 7:13 AM on May 29, 2015


I think bragging has its place.

Outside of Metafilter, the purity expectation for women is still in full force, and one way to fight that is for women to be publicly proud of the sex they're having, showing that it's totally fine for anyone to enjoy a lot of sex. Yay sex!

I see it along the same lines as gay pride - be proud, flaunt it, tell the busybodies that you're not going away, you just don't have to feel sorry for me for being straight.
posted by Turbo-B at 7:16 AM on May 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


And why stop at actual physical contact? Phone sex has "sex" in the name -- does it count? The existence of the webcam opens up several cans of worms, metaphorically and otherwise. If someone sends me a video and I use it for its intended purpose, is that one on the toteboard or not?

I think "teledildonics" is likely Ted Nelson's greatest contribution to the English language.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:21 AM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


But the other side of that coin is that it's OK to not have sex, for lots of reasons that don't have to do with cultural expectations, religion, or prudery. I honestly had no problem with the bragging in this thread until it started to cross over into baseless assumptions. I did grow up in a culturally and religiously conservative environment, and surprise surprise a lot of teens and adults were still having extramarital sex. Just, I wasn't.

Personally, my introversion seems extend to the bedroom. I find most human contact to be exhausting, including sex. I'm lucky I met MuddDude who's basically the only person I can stand in larger doses.
posted by muddgirl at 7:25 AM on May 29, 2015 [15 favorites]


I suspect there are a fairly substantial number of people who fit this general profile.
"One sexual partner" is typically the mode, yes. It isn't nearly the median and it isn't even in the ballpark of the mean, which is probably one reason why everyone's surprised: with fat-tailed distributions like this one, you can't just treat the definitions of "average" as practically-interchangeable anymore.

The other reason was pointed out up-thread: sampling bias. The Friendship paradox applies to other types of social graph too.

On a less helpful note: there's been no jokes at all in this thread about the data's big spike, its twin peaks, or its fat tail?

I'll show myself out.
posted by roystgnr at 7:30 AM on May 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wow, that's just annoying as hell. Trying hard to be cute, Counting on toes, Hiring Private Detective. Plus, why does the counting start after age 18? Instead of that twee, coy nonsense, instead of perpetuating Puritan crap, how about being sex-positive? If you've had 1 sex partner, I hope you've had lots of (responsible) sex, and I hope the sex was pretty good. If you've had lots of partners, compared to your gender or age cohort, same. (Responsible) Sex is great. If you enjoy (responsible) casual sex, carry on. If you prefer not to have a variety of partners, carry on.

Not one of us, and especially not any women, but also not any men, needs to justify the number of partners we've had or not had. The person I know who was a virgin for a pretty long time? had a fucked up childhood and weird ideas about sex that took a long time to get anywhere near resolution. The person I know who would claim maybe 3 or 4 partners, but who has had more? is terrified of being judged. I know people who married young, and only sleep wiht their spouse, and they're happy. That's great. Me? There's partners I maybe regret, but what I really regret is never having had sex with George Clooney.

How have we not evolved further than this, for cryin' out loud?
posted by theora55 at 7:32 AM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


It won't load for me.

Yes, the punchlines just write themselves.
posted by gimonca at 7:34 AM on May 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


2% — because I'm lucky enough to still be married to my bestest friend, some 30 years on, and we still have the raging hots for one another. We're heading into our fifties and get it on at least once a week, and practice has made perfect, so odds are we're having more and better sex than most everyone. I feel kind of sorry for all the boasting about numbers of partners in this thread; it rings hollow — nothing can be better than what my wife and I have.

Good luck to everyone. I hope you get what you want or need.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:42 AM on May 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


I am short, ugly, and socially awkward and somehow still managed to come in at 47% - I call bullshit.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:44 AM on May 29, 2015


I am asexual, but before I realized that I wasn't just a freak and maybe I just hadn't found the right woman yet, I had a lot of sex. I thought I had to. So, despite being asex, I'm actually in the 90th percentile. Weird. I am a freak after all.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:48 AM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


2% — because I'm lucky enough to still be married to my bestest friend, some 30 years on, and we still have the raging hots for one another. We're heading into our fifties and get it on at least once a week, and practice has made perfect, so odds are we're having more and better sex than most everyone. I feel kind of sorry for all the boasting about numbers of partners in this thread; it rings hollow — nothing can be better than what my wife and I have.

See? This is awesome! This is one of the really great ways that people's sexual histories play out! It's exactly why I hate the framing that sets it up like it's a competition and people who have sex with more people are winning. It's not a competition; it's a snapshot of human diversity. It's a game that everybody can win. And everybody can learn from the other people playing it.

As my kids get older, I really want them to understand that it's OK to be the kind of person who has sex with a lot of people. And it's OK to be the kind of person who has sex with only a few, or only one, person. And it's OK to be the kind of person who doesn't have sex with anybody. I want us not only to accept but to celebrate all these different ways that people understand themselves and relate to the world.

There are no freaks! There is no shame! Up with human sexual diversity! *waves pompons*
posted by not that girl at 7:54 AM on May 29, 2015 [11 favorites]


ITT: 40% bragging about their high number, 40% bragging about their low number, 20% language-policing. Good times.
posted by sfkiddo at 7:59 AM on May 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


This reminded me of a problem I routinely encounter dating in my late 30s. I'd make a conservative estimate that 75% of the women I go out with ask how many sexual partners I've had. Usually it's easy to tell from tone/body language/general knowledge of their tastes and sensibilities what they hope or expect to hear, which is 99% of the time not the honest answer. Finally I reached a point where I politely refuse to answer the question, and if they aren't satisfied, tough. Do others have similar experiences? How do you handle this situation?
posted by echocollate at 8:02 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


This whole thread reads like a thinly veiled pretext for a Metafilter orgy.

Hardcore fucking taters.
posted by Mayor West at 8:05 AM on May 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


I feel kind of sorry for all the boasting about numbers of partners in this thread; it rings hollow — nothing can be better than what my wife and I have.

But this is just more of the same "My way is the right way, everything else is inferior," just from a different direction. Why feel sorry for people who are directly telling you that they're happy with their sex lives? You have the right sex life for you, and that's great! Other, more people in this thread have the right sex life for them, and that's great too! We're all great! Yay!
posted by Turbo-B at 8:05 AM on May 29, 2015 [11 favorites]


I lied. Let me do it again.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:07 AM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is one of the really great ways that people's sexual histories play out! It's exactly why I hate the framing that sets it up like it's a competition and people who have sex with more people are winning.

Or the assumption that few partners overall means a less experienced/less savvy lover. Granted, having more partners can expose one to a wider variety of tastes, but I'm not convinced it necessarily deepens or widens one's sexual fluency as a general rule.
posted by echocollate at 8:08 AM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Metafilter Orgy: Hardcore Fucking Taters
posted by qcubed at 8:08 AM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


I feel kind of sorry for all the boasting about numbers of partners in this thread; it rings hollow — nothing can be better than what my wife and I have.

Aw, c'mon. You're doing the same thing as all the people who always march around discussions about women who choose to forgo childbearing to yammer about how our extremely personal decision means we'll never have the opportunity to understand true love or life or meaning or whatever. People who feel the need to chime in like this are saying in no uncertain terms that you think you know better about our own lives than we do -- why? It's equal parts patronizing and weirdly defensive. The sex life of any other person on earth has absolutely nothing to do with you or yours unless or until they intertwine, so you really don't have any right to appoint yourself the judge of hollowness and/or braggadocio -- let alone inferiority -- in our behavior.

Trust me, we folks with comparably "high" numbers (ugh, there is no such thing as a high or low number) don't need an ounce of pity or tongue-clucking. I've been seriously horrified by long-term monogamy and the prospect of not being 'allowed' to sleep around since I found out what sex was; spending the rest of my life going to bed with the same person over and over again is -- no exaggeration -- my actual nightmare. But you won't find me crowing about how the experiences of y'all single-partnered folks "ring hollow" to me or how my experience is so much "better" than yours, because everyone is different and I'm very happy that you've all found the set-up that works best for you. tl;dr - You do you, boo.

Finally I reached a point where I politely refuse to answer the question, and if they aren't satisfied, tough. Do others have similar experiences? How do you handle this situation?

Kind of, because I just tell them. It's such a great way to know whether or not you should go to bed with someone. If a dude wants to act all fussy or het up about the number of partners I've had, especially after he specifically and pointedly asks me to tell him what that number is, he's certainly not going to be counted among them anytime soon.
posted by divined by radio at 8:12 AM on May 29, 2015 [13 favorites]


Do you* not crave sex?
Yes, a lot. More than any man I've dated, actually, and still today even though I'm post menopausal. And yet:

Do you have to have a relationship or the promise of one? Yes, absolutely.

I've never regretted the sex I didn't have, but I have occasionally regretted the sex I did have.

All this bragging about high scores is odd to me, someone who needs to have a relationship to want to have sex with someone (and one that I see as being long term.) I see a high number of partners not as a good thing, but as a sad thing, because to me it means a person hasn't found the one person who is their be-all and end-all, so that they don't want to have sex with anyone else ever again.

I realize that a lot of you don't feel that way. I just thought I should point out that some of us do.

Signed,
Someone who still can't believe she managed to score 75%. And who realized that she actually did forget at least one person.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:21 AM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


If a dude wants to act all fussy or het up about the number of partners I've had, especially after he specifically and pointedly asks me to tell him what that number is, he's certainly not going to be counted among them anytime soon.

Yea, totally. One of my best lovers had three partners total prior to me (her voluntary accounting), and I've had some terrible lovers who self-reported as prolific, so I don't have high confidence that promiscuity equals skilled and attentive. I couldn't care less how many people someone has fucked, but if we're going pants off I do expect a full and honest account of their sexual health (and expect to give my own).
posted by echocollate at 8:23 AM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Finally I reached a point where I politely refuse to answer the question, and if they aren't satisfied, tough. Do others have similar experiences? How do you handle this situation

Honestly, I find that being concerned about somebody's partner count, past a certain age, is kind of...immature?

By that I mean - when I was around 18 or so, the number count of a potential sexual partner seemed really important since those of us in the age bracket were generally either within our first couple years of being sexually active or not yet sexually active at all, so whether someone had been with 0-5 people or some much higher number seemed like a really big deal in terms of comparable experience.

Once you reach a certain age though, when you can safely assume that any romantic partner is unlikely to be a virgin, it seems kind of silly to care. Beyond really nosy curiosity, what difference does it make if someone you have a carnal interest in at 35 has been with 7 partners or 12?
posted by The Gooch at 8:28 AM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've had some terrible lovers who self-reported as prolific

Makes sense. If they were lousy in bed, they wouldn't get a return invitation.

My percentage is at 60% for my age group, and I'm not ashamed or delighted, but I am surprised it's so high for what I thought of as a fairly low number. Apparently my Gen X cohort had less sex when we were young than I thought.
posted by immlass at 8:34 AM on May 29, 2015


Beyond really nosy curiosity, what difference does it make if someone you have a carnal interest in at 35 has been with 7 partners or 12?

People make all kinds of assumptions about values and interests based on sexual proclivities, and not necessarily of the whore-prude variety. For example, someone whose preference is to reserve sex for an intimate, loving relationship may be looking for the same in a potential partner, in which case the question of number of sexual partners is a (albeit awkward) way of getting at fundamental compatibility without having a frank and open discussion about one's own values, which is its own kind of shady to be honest. But it happens.
posted by echocollate at 8:39 AM on May 29, 2015


Also, does oral only count?
posted by jonmc at 8:43 AM on May 29, 2015


> nothing can be better than what my wife and I have.

Well, for you and your wife, I suppose, but thanks for the superior sneering - I'm sure attitudes like this don't contribute at all to inaccurate reporting of sexual activity in anonymous surveys.
posted by rtha at 8:43 AM on May 29, 2015 [15 favorites]


Wooo! 97% and proud of it! Not that there weren't some I look back on and think, "well... maybe could have skipped that one..." But mostly this is reassuring. My philosophy has always been, "As far as I know, you only live once. If you're not in a committed relationship, why deny yourself lots of fun (just take some basic safety precautions of course)?" Now that I'm happily married I've got lots of adventures to remember, but no lingering questions or anything left to prove/ check off the list.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 8:44 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


My "number" has been static for 20 years, so I remember what it is, but when I try to go back and think of each person, I've forgotten three of them. I wonder who those guys are.
posted by Daily Alice at 8:46 AM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


My percentage is at 60% for my age group, and I'm not ashamed or delighted, but I am surprised it's so high for what I thought of as a fairly low number. Apparently my Gen X cohort had less sex when we were young than I thought.

Yeah, this is where I'm thinking all the cracks about "what, were they talking to Purity Vow people or something" came from - my own raw-number figure is pretty low, but even so it puts me at 97% more partners than other 45-year-old women. I didn't see the "purity vow" cracks as shaming - it's more like, we probably all have a ballpark range in our heads for what the average "raw number" is, and this study is suggesting that that average raw number is way off and that just seems weird. (For instance - would you say someone having 15-20 partners by their 40's would be way more than average? I don't think so, but apparently in this study it is.)

I appreciate that it may have come across thusly, but my read on those jokes was more about the sort of shift in assumptions there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:46 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, does oral only count?

This was actually the most interesting point to me, and made me reflect on how much the patriarchy still affects my thinking. It's been a long time since I've tried to count sex partners, and my initial thought (since in this way I haven't updated my thinking much since high school) was only to count penis-in-vagina sex with men, then I realized that no, that's super homophobic, I have had physical experiences with women that are definitely sex, and then I realized that I've done the same or similar stuff with men and not counted THAT as sex, and the whole difficult question of how to calculate this, something I haven't really properly considered in like ten years, came crashing down on me.

I know that the patriarchy affects everything, but it's always crazy when you find an outpost in your own head.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:51 AM on May 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


In conclusion, number of sexual partners is a land of contrast.
posted by Kwine at 8:55 AM on May 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


At first I was like how is that 85%, but then I remembered not everyone is gay.

This also raises a major issue with the calculator - most straight people are probably going to only count PIV, possibly anal as well. Most gay folks will have a presumably much broader array of activities they would consider "sex," which is going to make these results significantly less valid. (I almost said "useful," but I'm not sure there is a use for these results.)
posted by Navelgazer at 8:57 AM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


(And, on non-preview, I see the conversation has already gotten there.)
posted by Navelgazer at 8:58 AM on May 29, 2015


Interesting assumptions in this thread --
  • that having more sexual partners means one is having more sex in general
  • that having more sexual partners means one is having better sex
  • that having more sexual partners means one is generally happier in life.
No doubt those are true for some (e.g., the commenter who said there's a ton of shame associated with being a guy who doesn't sleep with tons of women), but I wouldn't say they're universal or even true for most people.
posted by BurntHombre at 9:00 AM on May 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm very low, but I wish it could have been higher because then I'd be able to think of myself as attractive. The actual squelching procedure is by-the-by.
posted by colie at 9:01 AM on May 29, 2015


Ok people run your numbers again but this time include tulpas, grapefruits, and sex teratomas
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:01 AM on May 29, 2015


that having more sexual partners means one is having more sex in general

Is anyone actually making that assumption? The amount of sex you have and the amount of sex partners you have seem fairly unrelated. I'm married and have been since I was young, so my partner number is low, but I have lots of sex. If I were single, I would probably not have very much sex. On the other hand, plenty of single people do have lots of sex. I'm not sure there's a connection one way or the other.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:05 AM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Eh, 15%, which I'm now happy with. I wasn't happy with where things stood prior to my first sex at 31, and I could stand to be one-partner-fewer, but I've been very happy with my only partner of the past 13 years.
posted by Four Ds at 9:06 AM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Middle aged gay dude here.

Just the last twelve months puts me off the chart. I'm counting all the hookup blowjobs, so . . .

Plus take into consideration that a monogamous relationship is not my goal. Maybe a polyamorous open relationship? No interest whatsoever in giving up casual sex.
posted by yesster at 9:07 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


This also raises a major issue with the calculator - most straight people are probably going to only count PIV, possibly anal as well. Most gay folks will have a presumably much broader array of activities they would consider "sex," which is going to make these results significantly less valid. (I almost said "useful," but I'm not sure there is a use for these results.)

I've had kisses that did more and went further than PIV.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:12 AM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


More importantly for our respondents, the question of what exactly counts as "sex" looms heavily. We spoke with social psychologist Marianne Brees to get a sense of how, exactly, most people define it.

"In navigating the wild and wooly world that is sexual contact," said Dr. Brees, "it can be difficult to create discreet categories. For example, does hand stuff count as sex? What if you two are doing it to each other? What if you're doing it only to yourself, but side-by-side? What if you're doing it in separate rooms, but then agree afterward to walk into the other room, where you might accidentally step on some fluid that came from the other person? Does the nature of the fluid count? Perhaps semen counts, but spit does not? What about sweat? If that's the case, you've had sex with anyone who used the leg press before you in the gym!"

Dr. Brees pulled up a picture of a leg press. "You see, right here," she said, pointing to the seat. "This is where one of our respondents sat, mere minutes after James sat there. Our respondent - who we'll call 'Brayvid', for anonymity's sake - looked at a picture of James and told us he had never had sex with that man, but thanks to science, we now know that merely by sitting in the same chair, they absolutely did. And it was hot, great sex, too. Because Brayvid and James are, to be perfectly honest, within the 99th percentile of being attractive."

"More interesting is the discovery we made about what we're calling 'The Kerplunk Situation'. One of our respondents - a woman we'll call 'Tramey' - initially reported having sex with a lady named Claudia whom she met on Tinder. But as this diagram shows, neither of them climaxed, and both of them found the situation unsatisfying and kind of boring."

Here Dr. Brees opened a manila folder containing the diagram: a frowny face with the word "Boooo" written in Garamond beneath it. "Claudia borrowed Tramey's copy of Green Day's album 'Kerplunk' as she left the next morning, and still has it. Tramey is happy to part with it, because really, who even uses physical media anymore? So we can see that between Tramey's dissatisfaction, her loss of Kerplunk, and her ambivalence about ever getting Kerplunk back, they very clearly did not have sex. Claudia can safely discount this encounter in her final tally."

"And finally, what are we to make of smells? Any inhalation of scent means that molecules are entering a person, which, science shows, is a type of sex. Have you ever smelled a madeleine?" Dr. Brees paused while our science correspondent stammered a slow yes.

"Well, then you've had sex with that madeleine," Dr. Brees told us. "Moreover, if you've even remembered that madeleine, that was another instance of sex. But the most interesting discovery we made is that Marcel Proust was writing about this process as far back as 1913, which is over fifty years before we had assumed the first sex occurred! From this, we can conclude that if one has read Proust - ANY Proust, no matter how little - one has, technically, had sex. One is a huge sex-master, in fact."

While most of our respondents had not read Proust, a few have indeed dabbled in it. But is it enough Proust to compete with children from China? Stay tuned for part two of our series: Sex-Havers And Slackers: The Millenials Who Aren't Reading Enough Proust.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:14 AM on May 29, 2015 [27 favorites]


>Is anyone actually making that assumption? The amount of sex you have and the amount of sex partners you have seem fairly unrelated.

I agree they're often unrelated, which is why it's curious to see several comments that seem to place "having lots of sexual partners" and "not having much sex" as opposite ends of a continuum.
posted by BurntHombre at 9:21 AM on May 29, 2015


Since 18? That leaves out my two most active years.
posted by Splunge at 9:28 AM on May 29, 2015


Not that I have more than a vague grasp of what 'bimodal' or 'percentile' or 'long tail' mean in real life though.

You remember in school, where in addition to the mean and the median, you were supposed to learn a seemingly-pointless additional statistic called the mode? If you look at your statistics as a histogram, a series of buckets where you put the data in, the phenomenon where the highest two buckets are really full and the third, fourth, etc buckets are basically empty is a histogram which is bimodal.

It is nearly as easy to get an intuition for a long-tailed probability distribution. But you must contrast with the Gaussian.

A Gaussian distribution is a representation of a process which has a characteristic scale with errors. For example, the size of a 2x4 from a factory, or human height, has a characteristic scale - you will basically never, probabilistically, get a 2x4 that's 200 feet long or a human who's 200 feet high - with errors, deviations, which come independently and therefore aren't too significant.

A long-tailed distribution does not have a characteristic scale, but it often has structure. If it's a power law, you can think of it as 20% of agents having 80% of the quality, and so on recursively (20% of people have 80% the money, 4% of people have 64% of the money, 0.8% of people have 51% the money, etc), with of course variations in the exact percentages. Actually, this intuition is also pretty fine for lognormal distributions. So it's not a normal distribution, so we lose the ability to use like 50% of the tools of statistics right there.

If you want to think of the causation of the phenomena, then you have to think of positive feedback processes (in addition to a fair menagerie of other causes - fractals, criticality, highly optimized tolerance etc etc etc. Harder to get an intuition about many of them, and nearly all of them are surprisingly connected to positive feedback, which is way easier to understand). Money, for example is distributed in a power law sort of way because of the capitalistic process. You can think of the positive feedback processes inherent in sexual partners pretty easily.
posted by curuinor at 9:32 AM on May 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


85% and I wish I could show this to my virgin, sex-positive and adventurous 18-year old self. She'd be happy we've gotten to have so much fun.
posted by ipsative at 9:33 AM on May 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


louche mustachio: "I've banged more people than 68% of folks my age have. I know it's not a competition or anything, but...

Yay, I'm apparently kind of a skank!



1) It's not a competition.

2) You're not a "skank" no matter how many people you have banged.
"

94%. And I happily identify as a semi-reformed slut puppy...
posted by Samizdata at 9:36 AM on May 29, 2015


When I was 20, I was scared that I'd never have sex with ANYONE. Now at 54, I see that I'm slightly higher than average. GO ME!
posted by SPUTNIK at 9:44 AM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Don't worry, we're not collecting your data.

Oh, well that's a relief, thanks.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:44 AM on May 29, 2015


Not only is my number chart-bustingly high for my age (40), it doesn't even account for the fact that I've been in a monogamous relationship since I was twenty and a half. There was a period in my life where I had one or two new partners a week; a lot of that was driven by emotional trauma, but I don't regret it any more than if I'd taken up rock climbing or oil painting or cataloging the complete works of Proust in that period.

As for the "does oral count?" question -- of COURSE oral counts. A third of my partners were women, they'd be erased entirely if I only counted PIV intercourse. When my friends and I were trying to figure out how to manage our partner count, we decided that what "counted" was any act which, if you paid someone to do it, it would be prostitution. Still a wibbly "know it when I see it" definition, but at least more inclusive.
posted by KathrynT at 9:45 AM on May 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


But really, what is it with the rest of the participants?

I know this is hypothetical, but:

Do you* not crave sex?

Not really, no.

Do you have to have a relationship or the promise of one?

Kind of? Philosophically I don't but in practice, it typically takes me so long to find someone attractive that by the time I think "heyyyy there" we're, you know, in a relationship.

People are different, news at 11.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:48 AM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


FWIW, I dug through the original GSS and it looks like they ask two questions: "Number of sexual partners since age 18 who were male" and "number of sexual partners since age 18 who were female." It asks this regardless of the sex of the respondant. I don't know quite how Salon used this data to generate their graphs - hopefully they added the answers per each respondent to come up with the total, but then how did they code the relatively large minority of people who responded some form of "NA", "Don't know" or a qualifier like "some"?

Also, the GSS data does not top out, as it's self reported. The Salon chart has peaks at round numbers because that's what people appear to report, although a few people appear to be more precise even at higher numbers. I'm kind of skeptical that this data on it's own has high-enough statistical power to generate the data Salon wants to generate. For example, it's strange that they aggregated age data (ie, if I enter that my age is 33, I'm shown a range of 30-34), but they don't aggregate the number of partner data.
posted by muddgirl at 9:56 AM on May 29, 2015


Huh, if we're counting everyone I got naked with for some kind of sexy something, I'm surprisingly far ahead (70%) considering I can't even have intercourse. Actually, I'm totally counting an inch of short-lived penetration while doing every relaxation trick I know a couple weeks ago as intercourse, so, yay, even by that metric I have something! I'm just super excited and thus bragging about this on the internet and I hope no one feels bad because I know that you don't have to have intercourse to have good sex or even have sex at all to be happy but whee!
posted by carolr at 10:07 AM on May 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Something that seems strange to me is the number of people here who have referenced having someone ask them how many partners they've had. Since my adjusted number (to include non-PIV encounters) puts me in the 90's, I guess that makes me pretty "experienced", yet I only recall one person who asked me. And that was my most recent ex. Is this focus on partner count a new thing, or do I just mostly date people who don't care?
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:08 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


*reflectively* I don't think there's anyone with whom I only did oral. I think I just never wanted to settle just for one course, I wanted the whole banquet.

I also was someone who was never even kissed until I was 19, so by the time someone finally made a pass at me I was primed to go zero to 60 at warp speed.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:11 AM on May 29, 2015


Oh, hahaha, I just realized that over the course of several re-counting and readjusting of totals, I managed to skip over my ex husband (and father of my only child) every single time.

Sorry, dude.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:13 AM on May 29, 2015 [13 favorites]


I've had some terrible lovers who self-reported as prolific, so I don't have high confidence that promiscuity equals skilled and attentive.

Ugh, for real. It doesn't help that most of the guys I've been with who've had a similar tally to mine will often go out of their way to state outright that their 'number' means I can rest assured that their sexual abilities are top-notch. But just like with all the dudes who talk up their amazing cunnilingus skills long before we even take off our clothes, it's almost never any good at all. It's usually the polar opposite of good, tbh, which means I've somewhat often found myself considering fleeing the scene under cover of night so I don't accidentally call them out for bragging about talents they don't actually possess.

Plus take into consideration that a monogamous relationship is not my goal. Maybe a polyamorous open relationship? No interest whatsoever in giving up casual sex.

YUP. For me, a "high" number has never been the result of any kind of lonely, weary-hearted, years-long search for One True Love; it just means that I'm always seeing all these super-foxy dudes all over the place, am often curious to see how they are in bed, and am sometimes lucky enough to be granted enthusiastic permission to find out first-hand. There's just way too many foxy dudes in this world for me to feel comfortable agreeing to sleep with one and only one of them forever, no matter how much I might like or even love him on a personal level. It's just not even imaginable to me -- I'm straight-up awestruck by people in purposely, permanently monogamous relationships.

I recently broke a many-years-long long spell of purposeful/self-induced celibacy and it reminded me so strongly of The Toast's Erotica Written By An Alien Pretending Not To Be Horrified By The Human Body (previously) that I just had to stop and laugh a few times. "Jostling occurred for an extended period of time, then silence." Sex is fun and hilarious and delightful but above all it is WEIRD. May you all have lots, some, or none of it with or without the partner or partners of your choosing!
posted by divined by radio at 10:13 AM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


> I dug through the original GSS...

How? I pulled down the .sav file from here, but I can't make heads or tails of it. I haven't worked with SPSS data before, and the headers are all stuff like
'takearms', 'leakinfo', 'spyenemy', 'spyfrend', 'taketrck', 'punarms', 'punleak', 'punenmy', 'punfrnd'
which sounds exciting but also not relevant to the OP.
posted by postcommunism at 10:29 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


What really jumps out at me is that apparently people tend to sleep with each other in multiples of five.
posted by yhbc at 10:34 AM on May 29, 2015


Interesting assumptions in this thread -- that having more sexual partners means one is having better sex

Anecdata:

The most promiscuous person I've ever known personally was a young woman who had one high school boyfriend and then exploded once she hit college. She described a particularly active road trip to me once as "12 boyfriends in 21 days," and when I questioned what constituted "boyfriend" in that context she replied "penetration."

This is not to shame her for that, though I wasn't one of her harem myself. We were better friends anyway, and as far as I know she got through it with no STDs, no pregnancies and no major regrets, so A WINNER IS SHE.

However... she did confide that in that massive flurry of coitus (band name claimed), she had zero orgasms. Nothing ever quite clicked for her in such throwaway encounters; it was as if she was questing for the Magic Sparkly Erection (band name also claimed) that would make everything better and was wading through a pool of contenders that didn't possess it.

My conclusion from all this is that if you happen to find a Magic Sparkly Erection in your travels, treasure it always and wash it every day.
posted by delfin at 10:44 AM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


What really jumps out at me is that apparently people tend to sleep with each other in multiples of five.

Which is even more shocking when you consider how many people have never even had a three-way.
posted by hippybear at 10:45 AM on May 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


The GSS website has some rudimentary extract and analysis tools. I started here by searching for the keyword "partner" which leads to the variables "nummen" and "numwomen". I also selected age and sex of the respondants.

Once variables are added to the "cart" you will be prompted to create a project by registering a free account, and the variables can be analyzed in a number of ways that I'm still playing with.
posted by muddgirl at 10:47 AM on May 29, 2015


Another caveat: surveys of website visitors are not representative of much of anything beyond people willing to answer questions at that website.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 10:49 AM on May 29, 2015


Wow, uh, 96%. I thought I was more normal.
posted by desjardins at 10:51 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Another caveat: surveys of website visitors are not representative of much of anything beyond people willing to answer questions at that website.

But this isn't that, is it? The post claims its drawing its data from the General Social Survey.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:02 AM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Another caveat: surveys of website visitors are not representative of much of anything beyond people willing to answer questions at that website.

They're not measuring you against other Slate visitors. They're measuring you against respondents to the General Social Survey, which is very well regarded and widely used among sociologists. You have to consent to the survey, of course, but it's not self-selecting. Interviewers go door to door. Data nerds can read the sampling methods here (PDF).
posted by desjardins at 11:04 AM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Door-to-door sex interrogator, now there's a job your high school guidance counselor never told you was a possibility
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:07 AM on May 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


I was kind of releaved to find my number was on the high end. On the "sex positive"note, I actually really like emotional intimacy, being held, emotional support and tenderness, and physical affection a lot more than sex, certainly if I'm not in a deeply emotionally connected relationship.

Casual sex for me was always just a traid to get the things I actually did want from guys who thought all that emotional stuff was lame but were like, I guess we can do that if you'll put out. It was really depressing and I'm still just not into casual sex culture or the fact that in my own personal experience there was actively a lot of shaming towards people who liked emotional intimacy and love and connection-- largely women, ironically men were not made fun of for wanting actual girlfriends though. There was so much sexism and hatred of things associated with women's needs and wants in the "sex positivity" of the crowds I was hanging with (liberal toward punk rock occasionally creepy libertarian) i.e. crowds I thought would be more progressive and sort of were but in a way that really served mens interest in commitment free sex a lot more than women's preferred interests in non-mogamous intimacy or even IN the security of monogamous intimacy where if a pregnancy happens there's at least some commitment to be willing to support the child or try a partnership if possible to support each other while parenting- if one happens instead of saying "go get an abortion I don't want to deal with that shit and fuck you if you have a kid after I used you for sex that didn't even give you an orgasm and I decided not to pull out since you passed out drunk and I could"

I'm just sick of "sex positivity" that is framed as women friendly but really is still centered around men's preferences. I like nudy parties and dry humping with clothes on and cuddle piles with groups of people, but I'm not into penetrative/pregnancy risking activities with people who plan to abandon any kids that happen. Women who want to use condoms instead of hbc, who want to cuddle/make out but not have penetrative sex, who want to be friends a long while before having sex, or even who want commitment to help care for children that might happen instead of having sex with an ultimatum to deliver an abortion to your partner with no room for having the right to decide there is an attachment to the pregnancy or that you're not comfortable with an abortion...there is still too much shaming that I see even among guys who think of themselves as "progessive" in my area, but to be fair I'm in Texas and the libertarians here think of themsleves as liberals and progressives because we're that assbackwards.
posted by xarnop at 11:13 AM on May 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


My fault, I misread what the widgit did.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:15 AM on May 29, 2015


15%. Woo?
posted by Chrysostom at 12:13 PM on May 29, 2015


augh now i'm gonna have to open my sexualpartners.xls file to get an accurate count

j/k it's a google doc
"

All your hookups start with "invitation to edit"?

"Silly as it sounds - and I certainly know better, intellectually - but I live my life with a constant low-level anxiety about my utter humiliating failure as an adult / man / sexual being. I tried this out with a sense of dread, and while my percent wasn't very high, as expected, I still felt heartened by it - I'm more or less "normal", whatever that means, even though my brain is always tricked into thinking everyone else is having way wilder / sexier / cooler experiences than me and I'm the only human on earth missing out because I'm uniquely broken or whatever. So that's nice. Brains are weird self-defeating things sometimes, and numbers can help us align ourselves with reality."

Well, so, there's this multi-billion dollar advertising and consumer goods plot to make you feel exactly that, so it's not really surprising. But did you know you could fix it with a Michelob Ultra and some Axe body spray?

"In my mid-20s I had to retcon my entire sexual history when, during a very frank and very drunk discussion, a friend of mine told me that by the standard of 'sex' that I was using to count sexual partners, no two women had ever had sex."

It only counts if you're in the room?

"Since 18? That leaves out my two most active years."

Most people don't count being born (because of the incest taboo).

"When my friends and I were trying to figure out how to manage our partner count, we decided that what "counted" was any act which, if you paid someone to do it, it would be prostitution. Still a wibbly "know it when I see it" definition, but at least more inclusive."

So kissing counts?
posted by klangklangston at 12:25 PM on May 29, 2015




I'm in LA, and I never get asked how many people I've slept with. I don't think anyone (that I encounter, at least) cares. But you know, SoCal is a den of sin and all.
posted by persona au gratin at 12:30 PM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


91% higher than my age cohort???? I did not expect that. I am not fussed, but I thought I was average or even under.
posted by Windigo at 12:34 PM on May 29, 2015


Guess I just run with a sexy crowd, busy with having the sex.
posted by Windigo at 12:34 PM on May 29, 2015


klangklangston: I had this going through my head.
posted by persona au gratin at 12:34 PM on May 29, 2015


I counted sex as "one or more people had an orgasm, or tried to, and there was some skin-to-skin (or skin-to-latex) contact with genitalia" (so dry humping doesn't count). This also leaves out stuff like bondage, whipping etc, which can be sexual in nature but aren't, in my opinion, sex. This is my definition, but I'm not saying it should be everyone's.

If I narrow it down to penetrative sex, which cuts my partner count in half, my percentage drops from 96% to... let's see... 88%. Oh. Wow.
posted by desjardins at 12:44 PM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


And - I was in a monogamous relationship for nearly 10 years. People really don't have that much sex? I swear I'm not bragging - it's not like I'm some supermodel or anything. I guess I just thought people my age were more... active. I think I was friends with a lot of liars.
posted by desjardins at 12:49 PM on May 29, 2015


The age cut off seems really odd to. Cutting the count off at 18 cuts my number in half.
posted by Kurichina at 12:54 PM on May 29, 2015


The most popular answer by far in my age group is 1. I find that really odd, considering I'm 54. I mean, I don't know anyone my age who got married young and is still married to them. And I didn't know anyone in high school who waited till they got married.
posted by MexicanYenta at 12:59 PM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


So the "everybody lies" credo seems to be in play here, since my Gen X total (which I've always thought was quaintly, bizarrely low for my cohort) is either "slightly more mileage than average" or "much less lovin' than normal," depending on whether I mark my gender as male or female. As a never-married, I guess I'll either have to get busy screwing my way to a respectable number (by male standards) or shut it down NOW before I look too much like a sad shameless hussy who didn't end up with the love of my life by my early 20s (by female standards). (Insert sarcasm punctuation here.)

And my sample size is quite small (or is it?) and I have never been asked for my number, nor asked (or wanted to know) anyone else's, and always thought that was the normal, polite thing to do. (I do ask about recent testing, safe sex practices, whether or not anyone else is in the picture, etc.) I'd be quite put off, frankly, by anyone who wanted to discuss this, in any context.
posted by blue suede stockings at 1:12 PM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I live my life with a constant low-level anxiety about my utter humiliating failure as an adult / man / sexual being

Well, so, there's this multi-billion dollar advertising and consumer goods plot to make you feel exactly that, so it's not really surprising. But did you know you could fix it with a Michelob Ultra and some Axe body spray?

Sure, but there's something more than that. It's hard to avoid breathless pieces about hookup culture, for example, and easy to assume every single person (and plenty of non-single people) in your cohort are going out and having sex with a new person every weekend. When you go to bars or nightclubs and they're meat markets, you can feel completely out of step with the sexy sex that everyone seems to be having. And then also, sexual empowerment is a really good thing, but it also manifests as the impression that people are having lots of sex and it's great (while you're not). And then specifically being a man living in patriarchy and being judged under patriarchal standards of how masculine you are based on how many women you've slept with, even if you absolutely know better, nonetheless is a kind of low-level radiation by virtue of so many other people looking at you in that way. Etc.
posted by naju at 1:33 PM on May 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


I wasn't boasting. I was shocked. I'd figured that maybe I was a little above average, but to hit 1% ... I know exactly how negatively (I keep coming up with words like excessively, too many, promiscuous) my behaviour can be perceived. It's (like) proof that I'm a slut (skank, whore, town bike). Now, I wouldn't think that of someone else - why do I think it of myself? And why the fuck did I tell all of metafilter how loose I am?
posted by b33j at 1:48 PM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


4%!!! hell yes!!!!! [blows party horn, the paper does not unroll and the sound is a toneless puff]
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:48 PM on May 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


Sleep. That's where I'm a viking!

IRL my stats are pedestrian at best.
posted by Fezboy! at 2:24 PM on May 29, 2015


Metafilter: Where all our sexers are above-average.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:29 PM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think folks really underestimate for how many the magic number is 1 or 2. Makes a "slut" of all the rest of you.

/0.5 with some squinting
posted by ZeroAmbition at 2:31 PM on May 29, 2015


MexicanYenta: "I see a high number of partners not as a good thing, but as a sad thing, because to me it means a person hasn't found the one person who is their be-all and end-all, so that they don't want to have sex with anyone else ever again.

I realize that a lot of you don't feel that way. I just thought I should point out that some of us do.
"

I don't need or want you to feel that my sexual life is "a sad thing", thank you very much, nor am I particularly interested in you "pointing out that some of us feel that way".

Would you tell gay people that "I think having sex with people of the same sex is not a good thing, but a sad thing, because it means you haven't realized how great heterosexual sex is. I realize that a lot of you don't feel that way. I just thought I should point out that some of us do"?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:02 PM on May 29, 2015 [10 favorites]


"Now, I wouldn't think that of someone else - why do I think it of myself? And why the fuck did I tell all of metafilter how loose I am?"

It's ok. You're ok. :)

Weirdly seeing that my number was unusual made me also think, you know I was indeed lucky.
I feel very lucky to have had three somes and wild nights-- often that did not involve sex but were super fun. I miss being openly heteroflexible as a thing, I found a lot more cuddle buddies and spleepover spooning friends who genuinely enjoyed not having penetrative sex among ladies. Granted the larger number of my experiences were fucking awful, to the degree that I have been a hermit for many years now.

But given that I survived, a lot of my wild times, even some of the awful ones,were interesting. I mean I've gotten to watch people OD on three different hardcore drugs in one sitting, then fly back to life miraculously in order to screech curse words at a neighbor, I've gotten to chat with my cousin while he died a horrific, totally punk rock death- GG Allen would be proud... etcetc. I don't know the edgy part of me is still rather fond of my stupid mother fucking dumb adventure some past self. I mean, I loved some messed up people, and I don't regret that I went through hell along with them to know and love them. I don't actually enjoy miserable suffering though.

I'm also relieved as all get up that I turned 80 on my 25th birthday and I have sworn off loud music, drunkenness, sexual adventures, and well you know, the dark side in general. I'm all boring and rainbows and light now--well mostly ... now I only master the dark side so I can eat the punks on my lawn if they get out of line.

Given that I switched gears so much,I mostly now hang out with people who think my past self was a very bad, foolish person that I should be embarrassed to have ever been- but now I think I'm proud that love meant so much to me I wasn't willing to judge people even if they were involved in messed up stuff, I tried to love everyone I met in need,and I reached out to get love from the people who happened to be willing to give it. I'm not ashamed that I wanted and needed love and intimacy so much,it's also a beautiful part of who I am.
posted by xarnop at 3:34 PM on May 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


I am grateful to the one-percenters and high-percenters in this discussion, who stand as proxy for (not many) others who have been helpful and kind with me in that particular way.

Sincerely grateful.
posted by the Real Dan at 4:22 PM on May 29, 2015


88%. The 90s were a strange time.
posted by disclaimer at 4:46 PM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


So kissing counts?

I do not believe that a kissing booth is a brothel, no.
posted by KathrynT at 4:54 PM on May 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


KathrynT: " I do not believe that a kissing booth is a brothel, no."

We can still agree that kissing booths are weird and borderline creepy, though, right?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 4:56 PM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh totally. No question. All kinds of gross. Just not prostitution.
posted by KathrynT at 4:57 PM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


(Although looking up kissing booths on Wikipedia I found out that there are kissing booths with dogs, and I'm totally ok with those.)
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 4:59 PM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh man, like pay a dollar and get to scritch the ears of this labrador and have it lick your face? Man they should have one of those on every corner, that would be amazing.
posted by KathrynT at 5:04 PM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


i have had many experiences with dogs (and cats, for that matter) that are far more satisfying than some of my sexual experiences
posted by NoraReed at 5:41 PM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Let's see. J, J, D, J, B, M, A, I, D, grad student, blond guy, other blond guy, T, P, dude with cat, T, Tj, S, S's wife, S2, D... I feel like I'm missing a few but that's a reasonable list. Call it 21? That's 95th percentile? What did the rest of my cohort do in college? V. confused right now.
posted by which_chick at 6:00 PM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


" But really, what is it with the rest of the participants? Do you* not crave sex? Do you have to have a relationship or the promise of one?"

I'm incredibly picky. It really sucks to be this picky, actually. I wish I could find guys I liked as easily as walking out of my house, and could hop into relationships and be slutty and fun like most people. But 99% of the dudes out there are about as sexay to me as George Costanza and so far I haven't gotten interested in ladies either. I seriously wonder if I'm asexual, except it's not so much that I'm anti-sex as I am "hoo boy, I don't wanna nail the people who want to nail me," especially when they tend to be like this. And blue moons and eclipses and comets happen more often than I find someone I would boink who wants to back. I don't like having a low number either, but there you go.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:57 PM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm at two, post-18. The two people I married. Wasn't particularly intentional, but not particularly saddened by it, either.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:03 PM on May 29, 2015


What really jumps out at me is that apparently people tend to sleep with each other in multiples of five.

Which is even more shocking when you consider how many people have never even had a three-way.


FizzBuzz.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 7:22 PM on May 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Been married and monogamous for 39 years and still I've slept with more people than 81% of my cohort. How odd. Strikes me as pretty meaningless.
posted by Peach at 7:29 PM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


This reminded me of a problem I routinely encounter dating in my late 30s. I'd make a conservative estimate that 75% of the women I go out with ask how many sexual partners I've had. Usually it's easy to tell from tone/body language/general knowledge of their tastes and sensibilities what they hope or expect to hear, which is 99% of the time not the honest answer. Finally I reached a point where I politely refuse to answer the question, and if they aren't satisfied, tough. Do others have similar experiences? How do you handle this situation?
posted by echocollate at 11:02 AM on May 29
"A gentleman NEVER kisses and tells."

(Which reminds me of how much grief the country would have been spared in the 1990s had Bill Clinton only thought to say that to his interrogators...)
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 7:32 PM on May 29, 2015


AsYouKnow Bob: ""A gentleman NEVER kisses and tells.""

Stating a number isn't "kissing and telling", though.

My solution is to tell them the correct number, and if they don't like it, tough. I am who I am, I'm not ashamed of it. I'm also often curious about this in partners/potential partners myself, but it's usually something I ask about after establishing a sexual relationship, not before. Partners' sexual history and experiences (or lack thereof) can be an exciting and sexy topic of conversation, but to me at least, there's no wrong answer.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:38 PM on May 29, 2015


So far no one has ever asked me for a specific number and I've never asked anyone either.
posted by octothorpe at 7:52 PM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't need or want you to feel that my sexual life is "a sad thing", thank you very much, nor am I particularly interested in you "pointing out that some of us feel that way".

I pointed it out because at that point in the conversation, the general attitude here was that anyone who wasn't having lots of casual sex was somehow inferior and/or missing out. But not all of us agree with that assessment.

Personally, I wouldn't be proud of nor ashamed of my ranking, no matter where it fell in the spectrum. I've had sex with the people I wanted to, and didn't have sex with the ones I didn't want to, and that's all there is to it. There's nothing to be proud of or ashamed of in that.

People need to get over using "fuckability" as a measure of anyone's worth.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:40 PM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


MexicanYenta: "I pointed it out because at that point in the conversation, the general attitude here was that anyone who wasn't having lots of casual sex was somehow inferior and/or missing out. But not all of us agree with that assessment. "

You weren't just disagreeing with that, you were actively saying that the sexual life of people who have had lots of partners is "a sad thing". I agree there's nothing to be proud of or ashamed of in the number of sexual partners you've had, but neither is it "sad". The only thing to be sad about is if the number of sexual partners you've had is different from the number you wish you'd had, I guess.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:06 PM on May 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


There are far too many variables for me... like if I'm in a 5 person orgy but I'm not interacting at all with one of them, do I add him to my number? What about that time I couldn't get it up so we just did other stuff, or we started but I fell asleep? Too much math, so I'm just gonna say I'm a virgin.
posted by elr at 11:25 PM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


"klangklangston: I had this going through my head."

Followed by.
posted by klangklangston at 1:48 AM on May 30, 2015


"Sure, but there's something more than that. It's hard to avoid breathless pieces about hookup culture, for example, and easy to assume every single person (and plenty of non-single people) in your cohort are going out and having sex with a new person every weekend. When you go to bars or nightclubs and they're meat markets, you can feel completely out of step with the sexy sex that everyone seems to be having. And then also, sexual empowerment is a really good thing, but it also manifests as the impression that people are having lots of sex and it's great (while you're not). And then specifically being a man living in patriarchy and being judged under patriarchal standards of how masculine you are based on how many women you've slept with, even if you absolutely know better, nonetheless is a kind of low-level radiation by virtue of so many other people looking at you in that way. Etc."

I totally hear you, but the breathless hookup pieces are, if not directly funded by, right next to advertising aimed directly about making you feel bad for the sex you're not having. That "rainbow parties" are part of a consistent trope about The Decline of the Youngs going back to at least Socrates (usually linked with drugs and music) should be understood in the same way that the constant nightly news panics about stranger danger and preteen supercriminals inform our views on crime — it's all the fallacy of misleading vividness. Absolutely zero editors will buy a story about how people are maybe a bit more open about the sex they're having but that there's so much sampling bias and respondent pressure that deriving a norm is pretty much impossible. A few people have a lot of partners or a lot of sex, but they're almost by definition having sex with people who also are likely to have a lot of sex or a lot of partners (or both).

I'm not saying that the constant background radiation isn't there or that it isn't harmful, it's just that I think that part of growing up is learning to discount it. I dunno, my last job was working in a predominantly gay male workplace, and a couple gigs prior to that I was working for a porn publisher. Everyone around me was invested in very different norms for things like number of partners all while I'm in a longterm monogamous relationship, and, at least for me, it was similar to learning to be secure in my other aesthetic tastes — I've spent so much time talking about music with people who don't like what I like that I had to either get over being hung up on that or stop talking about music. No pun intended, but at a certain point you gotta just say, "Fuck 'em," to people who'll judge your taste on this stuff, and recognizing that a lot of that judgment is based in a capitalist system that funds itself through perpetuating feelings of inadequacy is a good first step toward that.
posted by klangklangston at 2:07 AM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


"I do not believe that a kissing booth is a brothel, no."

I have never actually seen a real life kissing booth — I assumed they were a tv trope. I do know men who have paid escorts to just make out with them, as well as smoke cigarettes in front of them, smear peanut butter on them, stomp on marshmallows in front of them, rub their genitals on home furnishings while the john wasn't home…

(I find all this stuff fascinating because it's like learning about jobs that I didn't know existed — like, imposter test takers or people who approve beer labels.)
posted by klangklangston at 2:13 AM on May 30, 2015


I'm not saying that the constant background radiation isn't there or that it isn't harmful, it's just that I think that part of growing up is learning to discount it.

I think this sort of underestimates how toxic these sorts of expectations can be. In an ideal world you wouldn't need to compare yourself to your peers, but in the flesh world we live in unfortunately people make fun of men who haven't had "enough" sex or women who have had "too much" sex (or not enough! because women can't win), and it can have significant negative social repercussions, especially if you're a few standard deviations in the wrong direction. We've had enough AskMe questions from 40-something virgins trying to deal with it for me to think they just need to grow up.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 6:12 AM on May 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


I wanted to add that there is negative social pressure against men who've had "too much" sex as well — garbage about gay men's promiscuity especially.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 6:14 AM on May 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


unfortunately people make fun of men who haven't had "enough" sex

I work in an almost entirely male environment with some pretty crude guys and I've literally never heard someone get teased or joked about because of this except for the one guy in his thirties who was clearly a virgin but was bragging about all the hot women he was supposedly hooking up with every weekend, and he got joked about because of the lying, not the virginity.

There is always a guy in any group who is constantly talking loudly about all the raunchy action he gets, and my experience is that guy will get a bit of jealousy and a lot more quiet disapproval for not settling down, but this is a somewhat conservative area where "family values" is more of a pressure.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:00 AM on May 30, 2015


stomp on marshmallows in front of them

why was this never mentioned on career day at school.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:47 AM on May 30, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'm not saying that the constant background radiation isn't there or that it isn't harmful, it's just that I think that part of growing up is learning to discount it.

Love you klang, but your two responses have come across as 1) explaining to me something I'm already well aware of, combined with 2) a message for me to grow up and get over it. It's coming across as really condescending, when I'm just trying to explain that I understand how things work from an intellectual standpoint, but actually living with our flawed psychologies in a toxic culture is not easy and still feels like a burden. Hell, maybe I just have actual diagnosable anxiety. But the proper response to "Cultural messages are designed to make me feel like a failure as an adult, and that fucks with my mind" isn't "you need to grow up." I don't think you'd tell women who understand how patriarchy is bullshit, but still live with the toxic psychological effects of it, something similar...
posted by naju at 5:11 PM on May 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


The reason I try not to presume about women's experiences with patriarchy is that I don't ever have subjective access to a woman's experience of living under a patriarchy. I do have a fairly deep subjective experience of being a man living under a patriarchy. Sorry that you're getting bad feels from my comments, but you're misreading them pretty broadly by paraphrasing me as saying "you need to grow up." Both you and Elementary Penguin seem to assume that there's no way to deal with toxic gender expectations aside from naive emotional reaction, and that the core of a lot of the pain around stuff like this is solely rooted in gender expectations rather than having gender expectations exacerbate loneliness. AskMe is full of people of all genders and orientations talking about a lack of sexual fulfillment in ways that are often mediated through gender performance but not located in it. I'm telling you to grow up the same way that someone giving the advice to work on being happy with yourself before looking for happiness in a relationship is telling you you're not good enough for love.
posted by klangklangston at 5:47 PM on May 30, 2015


I don't need an online calculator to tell me I was a slut when I was young & single. But 98% more than my peers? Well at least a good time was had by all involved whenever possible.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 5:48 PM on May 30, 2015


"why was this never mentioned on career day at school."

I don't know if there's enough work to make a career out of doing just that — at best, it seems like the hourly pay is around the same you'd get at Quiznos. But hey, free marshmallows.
posted by klangklangston at 5:49 PM on May 30, 2015


klang, you seem to think that I'm talking about any of a number of things I'm actually not addressing. I've never said I feel sexually unfulfilled or lonely or anything - just that there's a sense of alienation and psychological burden that comes from toxic cultural expectations and messages. That's it. I wasn't asking for advice, and I wasn't suggesting that just sitting there feeling alienated is all I can do without handling it in other ways. I wasn't asking for advice either!

It's kind of like:
"I feel alienated for these reasons"
"Well that stuff is largely about advertising/capitalism"
"I understand, but understanding doesn't stop me from feeling alienated"
"Well you just need to discount those messages, it's part of being an adult"
"Great, but again, I was just talking about how I feel alienated despite fully understanding that those messages should be discounted"

I do have a fairly deep subjective experience of being a man living under a patriarchy

Cool, but men are not a monolithic entity. We all experience things in different ways and my experience is not less valid than yours, etc.
posted by naju at 6:09 PM on May 30, 2015


"Cool, but men are not a monolithic entity. We all experience things in different ways and my experience is not less valid than yours, etc."

Are you sure about that? I'm pretty sure we're a hive mind.

"It's kind of like:
"I feel alienated for these reasons"
"Well that stuff is largely about advertising/capitalism"
"I understand, but understanding doesn't stop me from feeling alienated"
"Well you just need to discount those messages, it's part of being an adult"
"Great, but again, I was just talking about how I feel alienated despite fully understanding that those messages should be discounted"
"

More like:

"I feel alienated for these reasons"
"Yes, that's an intentional effect of the system."
"I understand, but understanding doesn't stop me from feeling alienated"
"Dealing with alienation is part of living in a modern society."
"But I still feel alienated."
"Pretty much everyone does. It's intentional."
"But feeling alienated is bad."
"Yes, it's pervasive and harmful, but everyone has to figure out how to mitigate it. You're not alone."
"Don't condescend to me! I don't like to feel alienated!"
¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by klangklangston at 6:42 PM on May 30, 2015


Ha. Well this has gone to weird places, so I'm happy to just leave it at the shrugging guy.
posted by naju at 6:51 PM on May 30, 2015


"I'm telling you to grow up the same way that someone giving the advice to work on being happy with yourself before looking for happiness in a relationship is telling you you're not good enough for love."

Everyone is good enough for love (maybe some from the confines of prison..). Safely sustaining a romantic relationship requires work and skills,but being worthy of love is another thing entirely and I think plenty of people who are pathetic and desperate for love wind up finding a true love and it genuinely works out even though they didn't go nuts obsessing over whether they can become happy enough in themselves to deserve love. Plenty of us find sanctuary in a good partner and are mutually good to each other and it's great. I think it's ok for people to need each other.

And I would rather grow up by challenging the bullshit breaking us down than accepting damaging shit coming at me all the time and just learning to be stoic or ignore the harms.
posted by xarnop at 7:12 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


> nothing can be better than what my wife and I have

Party at five fresh fish's house!
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:45 PM on May 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


"How many people have you slept with?" was a not-unusual question in the dorms in college, in between rounds of "I Never." But not since then.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:53 PM on May 30, 2015


Touché!
posted by five fresh fish at 11:36 PM on May 30, 2015


I work in an almost entirely male environment with some pretty crude guys and I've literally never heard someone get teased or joked about because of this except for the one guy in his thirties who was clearly a virgin but was bragging about all the hot women he was supposedly hooking up with every weekend, and he got joked about because of the lying, not the virginity.

On the other hand, one time not long ago I visited Newport, Rhode Island with my dad and my brother, and as we walked back to the car, a drunk yelled "There's a dick that's never been inside a pussy! That one neither!" at my brother and me. We kept walking as though no one had said anything. What could I say? In my case, the drunk was right.

It would be great if I could believe that disapproval of virginity past a certain age is all in my head, but I can't, and it would be great if I could shrug it off as a matter of preference. It isn't a matter of preference at all, but rather the result of many years of antisocial behavior, misspent time, and bad luck. Even if I can adjust intellectually for the pressures of the society I live in, I can't bring myself to feel secure about that. I wish I could.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:43 PM on May 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


"And I would rather grow up by challenging the bullshit breaking us down than accepting damaging shit coming at me all the time and just learning to be stoic or ignore the harms."

Uh you know that's a false dichotomy, right?
posted by klangklangston at 3:50 PM on May 31, 2015


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