The future of sex is unevenly distributed.
The data, culled from between about 27,000 and 33,000 Americans (there were different numbers of responses available for different questions and years), showed that millennials appear to be having sex with fewer partners than the last couple generations were — specifically, “Number of sexual partners increased steadily between the G.I.s and 1960s-born Gen X’ers and then dipped among Millennials to return to Boomer levels.”
Has Tinder Really Sparked a Dating Apocalypse? by Jesse Singal (2112 words).
This reminds me of a pervasive problem in the study of penis lengths (very important research! Shut up!): as soon as you rely on self-reporting, the average penis length skyrockets.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we could chalk up most historical variation in the number of sexual partners to the outliers and to dynamics in self-reporting (in one era downplaying your experience make you look good, in another it’s exaggeration). The number for most people has probably been roughly the same for a long while.
My guess? I’d wager that the body of the bell curve would be 6-12 people over the average lifetime. In times when people had less experience prior to marriage, both sexes probably made up for it through the occasional affair.
If you don’t believe me, you really should strike up more conversations with your grandmother. Gossip about dead people can be surprisingly juicy. “Oh, him. He lived with two women for twenty five years." Dramatic pause. “He was a very happy man."
So, my bet that the median is somewhere around 6-12.
The media vastly overestimates the value of having inexperienced sex with a multitude of strangers. One thing you discover when you actually try it is that a lot of people are really bad at sex.
Preferring to have regular sex with a small set of people who, over time, learn what turns you on or off and what you respond to sexually is probably the optimal strategy for maximising your sexual pleasure over time.
Just my guess, of course. YMMV.
(Note that I didn’t mention monogamy at all. Having a longterm sexual partner (or several of them) doesn’t require monogamy. It only requires trust, understanding, empathy, and equal standing.)