sex

"I feel judged": 50 Aussie women share exactly how many people they've slept with.

What’s your number?

How many people a person has had sex with is a deeply personal thing. For women, it’s also a number met with double standards that don’t apply to men.

If you’ve only slept with one or two people, you’re frigid. But sleep with 10, 20, 30, 100 people, and you’re promiscuous.

Samantha X on how to have better sex. Post continues below. 

When Mamamia surveyed over 1,000 women aged 18-75 about their sex lives, it became pretty clear there’s no ‘normal’ answer to that question.

We had responses ranging from zero, right through to more than 200.

But what’s more important than how many sexual partners a woman has had is how she feels about that number.

Of the women who spoke to us, some said, bar from one or two one-night stands, they don’t regret how many people they’ve slept with. Others wish their number was lower because they’ve been made to feel ashamed about their sexuality.

A portion of women who said they’ve only slept with one person said they feel like having a low number is daggy and uncool. Some wonder if they’ve missed out on important sexual experiences.

Then, many said they literally never think about their number at all.

To unpack the stigma and shame around female sexuality and a woman’s ‘all important number’, 50 Australian women shared their honest experiences.

1. Zero.

“I’m in my mid twenties and have never had sex, so no previous partners. In some circles, I feel embarrassed to admit this.”

2. One.

“My husband, and I am so thankful we have not had sex with anyone else.”

3. One.

“As a Christian, I chose not to have sex before getting married. I don’t have any regrets.”

4. One.

“I have been having sex with my boyfriend for seven years, and he is the only person I have been with. I am embarrassed to tell people that I’ve only had sex with one person.”

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5. One.

“I feel so lucky that I have been with my boyfriend since I was 18, but I also feel as though I may have missed out on both good and bad sexual experiences.”

6. One.

“I personally don’t think the number matters whether it’s one or 100 or 1,000. But sometimes, I do feel a bit uncool that I’ve only been with one person.”

7. One.

“We have been together for 15 years. We haven’t missed out on anything by only being with one person.”

8. One.

“I married my high school sweetheart so he is the only person I’ve slept with. I love him, but I wish we met later so I could have had a wider range of sexual experiences.”

9. Two.

“I feel like society would say that’s not enough and I was frigid. In all honesty, I was too uncool in high school for anyone to want to have sex with me, but I did find my partner early!”

10. Two.

“I’ve been in two long relationships and haven’t explored further than this. It takes me a while to trust someone, so I don’t think I would do anything differently, but I’m also not going to shout my relatively small number from the rooftops. No one wants to be called frigid.”

11. Two.

“I’m all good with two! The first was a dud (in hindsight) and the second was my now-husband, and he’s great.”

12. Three.

“I was brought up in a conservative family who taught that sex should be between a married couple.”

13. Four.

“Even though my partner doesn’t mind what my number is, I am still ashamed by how few partners I’ve had.”

14. Less than five.

“I’m happy but I wish I’d experienced more. In my first marriage, I got married too young and I wish I’d spent more time being free and single.”

15. Less than five.

“I feel like my number is too low. Have I experienced enough? Am I missing out? I don’t know…”

16. Less than five.

“Sometimes, I wonder what it would have been like to have the freedom to date and have casual sex. I didn’t grow up that way.”

17. Six.

“I feel pressure from society to always be having sex and sleeping with someone. My friends constantly pick on me and question me about it, even though I am happily single. I was in an abusive relationship for seven years and do not yet feel comfortable to date or sleep with anyone.”

18. Seven.

“I’m completely fine with my number, and other than a one-night stand who was a selfish lover, I don’t regret any of them.”

19. Nine.

“I do regret some experiences, but it all adds to who I am as a person. As a woman, I think it is empowering to own your sexual experiences.”

20. More than 10.

“I am embarrassed by some of my sexual encounters. I feel I did it with some people because it was easier than saying no or having to explain why I didn’t want to.”

21. More than 10.

“I’m married, but not long before I met my now-husband, I did think my number was creeping up into the slightly undesirable range if I kept on the way I was. But now, I think of it as having learnt something from each experience so I have the best sex of my life now.”

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22. More than 10.

“I am fine with my number, but I do want to get a few more notches on my belt before settling completely. I don’t want to wonder what if.”

23. 11.

“I feel like I made poor choices with who I had a sex with because I wanted to feel more attractive and confident, rather than because I had connections with those people.”

24. 11.

“I feel uncomfortable with quite a few sexual partners as I felt like I couldn’t say no. I just felt pressured. Being younger, I basically thought I had no ownership of my true needs.”

25. 11.

“I’m 37, I’ve slept with 11 people, I’ve had three long-term relationships that have amounted to 13 years in total. I’ve never had a one-night stand, and I didn’t lose my virginity until I was 20, so I’ve always felt I made good decisions in relation to sex.”

26. 14.

“It’s a lot higher than the number of people I thought was “appropriate” to be intimate with and I regret some of the people I have shared that experience with.”

27. 15.

“I’m so happy with my number because I feel like I’ve lived and learned, and I would definitely have FOMO if I had never allowed myself to see what’s out there.”

28. 17.

“I have had some friends make snide remarks about my number getting too high. However, I do not regret any of them and am comfortable with my choices.”

29. 18.

“I regret some of my sexual experiences, particularly one-night stands when I was younger.’

30. 19.

“No regrets, but I think my partner would feel this number is too high. We don’t talk numbers.”

31. More than 20.

“I feel very comfortable with my sexuality and don’t allow others to slut shame me into suppressing my sexuality.”

32. More than 20.

“I think myself and other women have every right to enjoy sex with as many or as few people as we’re comfortable with. I’m open and honest, but I know it makes some people uncomfortable. I think by continuing to talk about this, we challenge perceptions and help normalise women having multiple sexual partners. We have needs too.”

33. More than 20.

“I regret a lot of them. They told me what they thought I wanted to hear, just to get what they wanted.”

34. More than 20.

“I do regret some sexual experiences. I have also been made to feel some shame at how many partners I have had.”

35. More than 20.

“I literally never think about it.”

36. 21.

“It’s more than most my friends as I was single for most my twenties. People can be a bit judgemental…”

37. 24

It was all part of growing up!

38. 24.

“I feel guilty sometimes, like a future partner will be turned off by the number.”

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39. 25.

“Yes, it’s given me the ability to know what I like.”

40. More than 30.

“I haven’t had many long-term relationships, nor have I been particularly promiscuous. As a 33-year-old, I think my ‘number’ is completely valid. I’m not ashamed, I’d rather the experience than celibacy.”

41. 30ish

“I’m 21. It’s a high number for someone my age, and a lot of them were bad decisions.”

42. 34.

“I once had a sexual partner ask me what my ‘number’ was immediately after we’d just finished… having sex. I told him the truth and his demeanour changed straight away. After a few minutes of silence, he got up, got dressed and left. I never saw him again.”

43. 36.

“The number of sexual partners you have had has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of your character as a person.”

44. More than 40.

“I don’t really think about my number, to be honest. I’m more confident in who I am and what I want in a sexual partner because of my experiences. It gave me the confidence to speak up and discuss mine or my partner’s needs in and outside the bedroom. Oh, and I also have some seriously funny stories!”

45. More than 40.

“I regret a lot of the sexual experiences from my younger days, because I was usually drunk due to low self-esteem and looking for love in all the wrong places.”

46. 45.

“I did a lot of backpacking in my twenties. Enough said.”

47. 50ish…

“I spent nine months overseas backpacking on my own when I was 19 and it was the first time I ever felt desired by men, so I slept with pretty much whoever asked. Then, in my mid twenties, I went on a lot of Tinder dates that ended in one-night stands. Sure, there are some experiences I don’t like to remember because I worry I could’ve gotten myself into a dangerous situation (I once had to sit in a hospital emergency department in Florence waiting for a morning-after pill, which was stupid). The only sex I’ve ever enjoyed is with my current partner.”

48. More than 70.

“I broke up with my boyfriend at 20 then moved to the city. Living away from home for the first time and being able to do whatever I pleased helped me get over my breakup and develop as a sexual young woman.”

49. More than 70.

“My number is considered ‘large’ which makes me feel judged, even though ideally, no woman should be judged for her number of sexual partners.”

50. More than 80.

“I have no shame in being actively sexual and having had lots of bed mates over the years. I’ve had some great sex over the years and had some terrible sex, too! I am grateful for all I’ve learnt, and if I hadn’t had the experiences, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

Do you think there’s ever a right number of people to have slept with? Tell us in the comments.

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