Sex3 minutes

Sexual Partners: Is 12 The Magic Number?

Laura, 2 May 2019
Sexual Partners: Is 12 The Magic Number?

It’s the elephant in the room of many budding relationships and a source of countless hours of speculation, entertainment and gossip; just how many people has she/he been with? Our dating experts at Match have gone out into the field to reveal the preferences of men and women across the country!

Key Findings:

  • Twelve is the optimum number of previous sexual partners for British singles looking for love (a minimum of three, and a maximum of 23)
  • Men are happy for new partners to be more experienced: an optimum number of 15, compared to 10 for females
  • Brits are less permissive than the Danes, Spaniards, Germans and the French, but more liberal in their attitudes than Italians or Dutch

Our research found that British singles would be happy for a partner to have been with up to 23 previous sexual partners, and a minimum of at least three. Any lower or higher than these numbers is perceived as a turn-off, making twelve the optimum number of previous partners.

We uncovered an interestingly wide discrepancy in the preferences of males and females. Women believe their ideal partner should only have had 10 previous lovers while their male counterparts would be happier for their new interest to be more experienced with 15 notches in their bedpost.
We also reported a similar disparity in the range of partners by sex with women stretching from 3-16 whereas some men would be happy with 4 while others shot up to 27 partners.

Brits were somewhat more conservative in their outlook than their European neighbours. The Danes were Europe’s most permissive lovers, saying that it would take a sexual history of more than 40 partners to put them off someone. The Spanish (27), Germans (26) and French (24) were similarly liberal, but both Italy and the Netherlands had lower thresholds than the UK.


Different regions of the UK also held drastically different views on the subject. Singles in London were seeking those with a minimum of 6 and maximum of 27 previous sexual partners (an average of 16), whereas those in the North East want a partner with no less than two and no more than 14 (an average of just eight).

Match dating expert Kate Taylor said, “Sex is so much more than a numbers game. A small number doesn’t equate to a lack of experience – couples who stay together for longer (instead of changing partners) can often experiment more than those who simply have a lot of one-night stands. But equally, a very high number of partners might suggest a lack of commitment, or someone who loves the thrill of the chase. Whatever your or your partner’s numbers might be, there are 3 simple rules. 1) Get your sexual health checked regularly; 2) Only have sex when you’re absolutely ready; and 3) Don’t demand to know anyone else’s number – it’s a private matter.”


Legendary Lotharios

Giacomo Casanova, whose name is now synonymous with a busy sex life, listed 120 lovers in his memoirs, but his exploits pale in comparison to other reported lotharios. Fidel Castro reported racked up more than 35,000 conquests during his more than four decades in charge of Cuba, while Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias recently claimed to have up to 20,000 notches on his bedpost. Cleopatra is famous for entertaining numerous lovers, including with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, while Russian monarch Catherine the Great was also a notorious man-eater.

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