Sex + Dating

Anyone Who Says They've Slept With This Many People Is Probably Lying

lying about sexual partners
Photodiem/Shutterstock

How many people have you slept with? OK... now how many people do you tell other people you've slept with?

According to recent research, the new perfectly acceptable number of sex partners to have had is seven. That's down a sad three people from the "Goldilocks number" announced earlier this year. But hang on… because the lucky-number-seven study also reported that while most people miraculously claim to have had that exact number of partners, nearly half of all the respondents also admitted to lying about how many people they've been with.

Hm… according to our calculations, that means if someone tells you they've slept with seven people, they're probably full of crap. Here's how it all breaks down.

Lying is unisex

The fact that people lie about their sex lives may come as little or no surprise to, you know, everyone. Perhaps more interesting, however, is that when it comes to the art of sexual deception, the research shows that men and women lie at almost the same rate... well, no, men are about 10% more likely than women to lie about this stuff. But hey: at least it's more equitable than the wage gap!

Women and men lie in just about every sex study.

Double standards are real

It's 2016! But while we may have a woman president come November, the study (and the rest of the world) suggests women are still afraid of being perceived as sluts. According to the numbers, women are 5% more likely than men to decrease the number of sexual partners they've had -- while men inflate their sexual resumés twice as often as women.

Which is just part of the ever-mounting evidence that women and men lie in just about every sex study -- all in accordance with what they perceive as cultural expectations of their gender.

How many is too many?

When it comes to how men and women define promiscuity, the sexes are shockingly aligned.

Women consider men Lotharios if they've bedded 15 people or more. And men start to get judgy of women around partner number 14. Perceptions of promiscuity also varied across the globe... or, at least amongst European and North American countries included in the study.

The French are the most liberal, quelle surprise. In France, you can have up to 16 lovers before new ones start throwing their world-renowned judgment your way. The Italians and the Dutch were most conservative, preferring their SOs to have no more than 12 and 11 partners, respectively. I guess being home to the Vatican doesn't help much with progressive attitudes toward sex. We're not quite sure what's going on in the Netherlands, though.

Deal breakers

Honesty may be the best policy, but only if you're OK being single. Those of you whose sexual histories have an extended BC (before couple!) era, you should know that the chances of getting dumped for being too promiscuous (30% said it's "very" or "somewhat" likely) far outweigh your chances of getting kicked to the curb for not being promiscuous enough (only 8% said they'd be very or somewhat likely to do so).

Yeah, we don't like it either. But hey -- 56% of men and 48% of women don't want to know all these gory details anyway, according to a 2015 "Singles in America" study by Match.com. So maybe it's enough to offer a ballpark number when asked -- and to only reveal the important stuff... like whether you've got a recently clean bill of health.

If you are going to come clean to your SO about your record, it's best to do it within the first four months. That's the time frame the study found is most palatable to men and women. It makes sense; if your sexual past is going to drive you apart, best to have that happen before you get too attached -- or worse, move in. If it's your partner doing the sharing, remember you can rest assured that, should they say that magic number seven, they're almost definitely stretching the truth.

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Julia Reiss is a writer and humorist. She can't disclose how many people she's slept with because her mother reads all her articles. Follow her on Twitter: @thereisspeice.