When your partner asks you how many sexual partners you’ve had, what is your answer? Do you silently count them up in your head and give an exact number? If you’re like most of us, you may take a wild guess and subtract a few from the number before you blurt it out.
A new study shows that you’re not alone. In most relationships, the question eventually comes up: “So….how many people have you slept with?” The fact is, most of us have assumed that not everyone is totally honest about this, but the study backs up that reality. For some people, a high number may be a boast, and they may just randomly answer “dozens” or “hundreds.” However, the majority of people would prefer to not come across as being “that person.” You know, the one who has slept with a village.
42% of men and 23% of women confess to fibbing about sexual partners
The study was commissioned in October 2020, by Lelo, an intimate lifestyle brand. You may be familiar with their intimate adult toys. Interestingly, the study suggests that men are more likely to lie about how many people they’ve slept with than women are. Specifically, 42% of men admit they’ve lied about the number of notches on their proverbial belts, while only 23% of women confess to lying about the number of people they’ve tumbled into bed with.
Why your partner is lying about how many lovers they’ve had
Equally important, the survey shows that a whopping 48% of survey respondents haven’t revealed the number of lovers they’ve had to their partners because they have concerns about how their significant other will react. In fact, for 21% of the people who lie, that’s exactly why they lied in the first place.
In other words, they have a fear of being judged, according to David Bennett, a relationship expert. Bennett adds that there still exists a certain stigma associated with having tons of past sexual partners.
Apparently, many people feel that if their number of sexual partners is close to that of their partner, they’re in the clear. Dishonest daters feel compelled to lie if they suspect their number is too far off from their partner’s number. Because of this, they lie and say that they’ve slept with about the same number of people as their partners.
Selective amnesia and sexual partners
Another thing that happens frequently is that people will selectively omit “mistakes” they would rather forget they slept with. For example, someone may regret that one specific partner or they may mentally delete all the parties of that raunchy threesome that happened on spring break back in college.
In other cases, there may be pain associated with various sexual partners. If someone cheated on their past partners with someone else, it may be mentally easier for them to erase the pain associated with that sexual partner altogether.
In some cases, they may not be deliberately lying, but rather, they could be feeling shame from the incident. And yes, it does happen that people can block out specific incidents.
The problem with lying in relationships
It may seem harmless to fib a little about how many sexual partners we’ve had, but in reality, lying in relationships is harmful on a number of levels. Bennett suggests that lying in a relationship creates a negative ripple effect that can be detrimental to the relationship’s long-term and overall health.
Sharon Gilchrest is a marriage and family therapist, as well as the author of books on marriage and divorce. Gilchrest says that she sees this topic reemerge frequently and it can become a serious problem between couples. Some of the people she sees in her practice claim that they would have reconsidered the relationship had they known how many sexual partners their significant other has had.
Ultimately, if you lie to your partner and they find out, it creates the scenario where they don’t know when they can trust you. In short, honesty is the best policy.