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sexual partners

We all dread the awkward point of a blossoming relationship, where one person asks "so how many people have you slept with?"

The number of sexual partners each of us has can be a sensitive subject for some people.

Whether you've had over a hundred or have yet to have one, there will always be someone who thinks you have had too many or too few.

So how many people would you want your partner to have previously slept with?

Research by Nottingham, Bristol and Swansea universities, and published in the Journal of Sex Research, showed that the ideal number is three.

Any higher than that, and their interest in pursuing a relationship with that person begins to fall.

This number is the same for both men and women, who feel that three is the magic number when it comes to their lovers past encounters. 

However, those participating in the survey don't live up to their own expectations, with the average woman having 5.81 and the average man having 8.4.

Men surveyed also said that the cut off point of past lovers for their prospective partners was 11. 


Most of us have a solid idea of our 'number' when it comes to how many sexual partners we've had, be it one or one hundred.

But with STI statistics on the rise in Ireland, it's important to be aware of another number too… the amount of 'indirect' partners you've had.

For every one person you've slept with, there's a high likelihood they have their own history of sexual partners too. And when you take into account how many people their partners have slept with, and so on, the number just keeps growing.

So what's the total tally? Well, now you can find out, thanks to the Sex Degrees of Separation calculator developed by Lloyds Pharmacy. Be prepared, because the numbers will shock you.

For example, someone with five male sexual partners in the 20-24 age group is estimated to have slept with a whopping 1,353,301 people indirectly.

And the more partners you've had, the more that number grows:

The formula is based on the Six Degrees of Separation theory, the "sociological idea that we are all connected to each other by only six connections.

In order to give you an estimate of your number, the calculator asks for the number of partners you've had and what age group each was in.

It then tallies how many people those partners are statistically likely to have slept with given their age, and so on for six stages or degrees.

The aim? To estimate how many indirect partners you could have been exposed to sexually.

It's important to note that the calculator is simply a statistical estimate, and serves only to highlight the possible risks of unprotected sex, but all the same it's definitely made us think.


More than three times a week; once a week; once a month, or not at all in the last year: when it comes to sex, there is no 'normal'.

However, we do now at least have a national average. Yes, the country's biggest ever sex survey has been compiled – and the results prove once and for all that we are indeed a nation that loves to get jiggy with it.

Put together by the Irish Times, it noted that close-to half of sexually-active respondents enjoy bedroom action at least once a week. Hurrah!

With more than 12,000 people responding to the survey, it has been revealed that more than a fifth of women aged between 17 and 24 are hitting that magic three-times-a-week target – though just 16 percent of 17-24-year-old males could lay claim to the same.

But having a lot doesn't mean having it with just anyone: a third of 17-24 year-old men have never had a one-night stand, with 37 percent of women also claiming the same (though at the other end of the scale, some 15 percent of men and 14 percent of women in the 25-34 age bracket have had more than five one-night stands).

Indeed, six out of every ten women and more than half of men aged 17-24 have had between two and ten partners.

We're not all that eager to jump into the sack too early either: the average age to lose your virginity is 19.

And just 16 percent overall have had a threesome or group sex.

However, despite such comprehensive research, sexologist Emily Power Smith told the newspaper that people shouldn’t compare themselves to the statistics

“Six months to a year is what we know as the ‘honeymoon period’… It is a physiological fact that we cannot keep producing the same hormones that we did in the beginning.

Therefore we need different skills and levels of communication if we hope to sustain an exciting and satisfying sex life.”