New Study Finds the ‘Magic Number’ of Past Sexual Partners

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A new study found there is, in fact, a “magic number” of previous sex partners that may make you more attractive to a potential significant other. British researchers found both men and women prefer to date someone who has had three previous sexual partners.

The study, published in the Journal of Sex Research, found that most people are wary of dating virgins, but they also thought someone with a sexually promiscuous history was unattractive.

The study surveyed 188 people — 104 of whom were women — about their preferences for their partner’s sexual history. Researchers found that men were less picky when it came to the number of previous sexual partners if they were only looking for a romantic fling.

Researchers also discovered women were totally turned off by men who had more than six sexual partners, while men disliked women who had sex with more than 11 people.

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“A prospective mate with an overly extensive sexual history is statistically a poor bet as a faithful, committed long-term mate,” the study found.

For both genders, those who were looking for long-term relationships ideally wanted their potential significant other to have had two past partners or flings, but no more than three sexual partners.

“Contrary to the idea that male promiscuity is tolerated but female promiscuity is not, both sexes expressed equal reluctance to get involved with someone with an overly extensive sexual history,” said Dr. Steve Stewart-Williams, a psychologist involved in the study, The Independent reported.

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However, the men participating in the study were more willing than women to date a virgin or someone with a low number of sexual partners.

Surprisingly, the participants in the study — whose ages ranged from early to mid-thirties — didn’t even meet their own standards. The average number of past partners that volunteers had was 5.8 for women and 8.4 for men.

Danielle Tarasiuk
Danielle Tarasiuk is a multimedia journalist based in Los Angeles. Her work has been published on AllDay.com, Yahoo! Sports, KCET, and NPR-affiliate stations KPCC and KCRW. She’s a proud Sarah Lawrence College and USC Annenberg alumn.