What’s Your Number? Most People Lie About How Many People They’ve Had Sex With

A third of Americans have lied to a significant other about their number of sexual partners, according to new research.

Weird Sex Myths Debunked

A study of 2,000 Americans who’ve had sex revealed that of those who’ve fibbed their number (32%), 42% were men and 23% were women. 

Now that we know that a whopping third of us are telling this white lie, let’s dig into why. Well, 21% held back the truth because they thought their partner would judge their real number, while 17% percent thought their partner’s number was too different from their real one so they chose a fake number closer to their partner’s.

It’s no wonder that so many are hiding their “number” since it came out as one of the most uncomfortable topics to discuss with a significant other. The survey commissioned by LELO and conducted by OnePoll found that other tricky conversation topics were past sexual experiences (also 45%) and sexual preferences (33%).

Of those respondents currently in a relationship (75%), two in five have not shared their “number” with their partner. When asked why they’ve held their number back, almost half (48%) confessed they’d be worried about their partner’s reaction to it.

Results found 61% of men were losing sleep over their partner’s possible reaction to their number, while only 40% of women felt the same. Still, 58% of respondents in a relationship opted to disclose their number with their significant other. 

But how quickly did they disclose these details? A third of respondents shared their digits within six months and 40% dished it in the first three months of the relationship. Almost a quarter shared their number just because their partner told them theirs. A 22% confessed they tell their S.O. everything, while one in five disclosed it simply because they were asked.

It’s a real leap of faith to share something so personal with a partner since 60% think there is a stigma that makes them hesitant to discuss their sexual preferences and kinks. In spite of that, 75% think there’s still a negative stigma lingering around women’s sexuality and sexual freedom.

lelo suvey infographic

Sara Kranjčec Jukić, Brand Manager for LELO, said, “The fact that 60% of the respondents are hesitant to share their kinks with their partner isn’t as surprising as we’d like to think. Unfortunately, society’s general attitude towards sex and pleasure skews our perception of what we can and cannot share with our partners. While there is a negative stigma surrounding kink, it’s mostly due to the lack of public discourse about it. Were we to talk more often and more openly about sexual preferences and human sexuality in general, a lot of people would have a lot less difficulty accepting themselves and, in turn, sharing these thoughts with their partners. Sharing something like this with a partner can only deepen the intimacy of the relationship.”

The data showed promising results that Americans are slowly becoming more open about their sexuality. Almost three in four (73%) think conversations about sexuality have come a long way to being more open in the past five years alone.

Respondents named the topics they think are the most important to have a chat with their partner about and sexual preferences was number one with 59%. Consent was in second place with 53%. Forty-one percent want to open up about what their partner can do better in bed but only  34% want to hear constructive feedback about their own skills in the sack. 

Sara Kranjčec Jukić, added, “Open communication is the only effective way to achieve a healthy and fulfilling sexual and romantic relationship, everything else is just a temporary fix. It’s important to remember that your partner is not a mind reader and unless you voice your needs, some of them will remain unfulfilled to both partners’ dissatisfaction. But before all of that, the most important thing is to take the time to know and accept yourself. With 59% of the respondents putting sexual preferences as an important topic to speak to their partners about, I’d say we’re on the right track. I just wish we would get there sooner. This is why LELO takes time to educate everyone who will listen. Our sexual well-being is an important part of our lives and it shouldn’t be disregarded because it’s a “touchy” subject.”

Top Uncomfortable Topics to Discuss with Partners

  1. Number of sexual partners 45%
  2. Past sexual experiences 45%
  3. Sexual preferences 33%
  4. Kinks 32%
  5. What they can do better in bed 27%

Top Important Topics to Discuss with Partners

  1. Sexual preferences 59%
  2. Consent 53%
  3. What they can do better in bed 41%
  4. Kinks 35%
  5. What I can do better in bed 34%
  6. Number of partners 31%
  7. Previous sexual preferences 30%

Written by: Donna Turner

Donna is a Volonté contributor and freelancer who lives in San Francisco with her understanding husband and not-so-understanding teenage sons. Her work has been published in The Journal of Sexology and she is currently writing a book on love languages.

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