Are Women Who Have Had Five or More Partners Promiscuous?

How many partners must a woman have had for men to consider her promiscuous?


This article, written by Chiara Atik, was originally posted on


Are women who have had five or more partners promiscuous? They are according to AskMen’s Great American Male Survey–an even lower threshold than last year.

Remember how last year we were horrified when 41% of American men surveyed by AskMen said that women become sexually promiscuous after sleeping with 10 men — which at the time was the lowest possible option?

The results of the 2010 survey broke down like this:

At What Point Does A Woman Become Sexually Promiscuous? 
Never? 14%
When she sleeps with her 10th partner? 41% 
When she sleeps with her 20th partner? 34%
When she sleeps with her 50th partner? 14%
When she sleeps with her 100th partner? 3%

Well, this year, AskMen changed the survey, adding a lower option: When she sleeps with her 5th partner. And, would you believe it, given the lower option, the men surveyed voted that thatwas actually the tipping point into promiscuity.

Let’s think about this for a second:

The average American woman loses her virginity at 17 years old. So that’s one sexual encounter.

So the average 30-year-old American woman will have been sexually active for 13 years. This means that, in addition to the initial sexual encounter, if a woman has sex with 4 partners over the course of  13 years, she’s considered promiscuous. That’s about 1 sexual encounter every three years.

Come on, men! Having sex once every three years does not a promiscuous woman make! We’re still waiting for AskMen to add a question about at which point guys themselves become promiscuous. Never?


Read a response to this post “At What Point Do Men Consider Me Wanton?”

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  1. 9 in mytjoruMen and women define emotional ecounters with membrs of the opposite sex ina totally different way than they do for sexual encounters. For any given encounter between a male and a female, there is no way to reliably predict how each person would even classify the encounter – without knowing each person’s capacity and ability to recall the details of a past event irrespective of every other interpretation postulated.

    Where consistency and validity matter most is in a court of law – but even in court, where the phrase “a shadow of a doubt” is one that has no universal concrete meaning or standard of reference, and is used with such impunity that to even hint at just how imprecise it is would be tantamount to committing blasphemy on the Day of Judgment.

    Yet, it is used every day in every criminal case brought before a judge and jury in every corner of our country. Remarkably, there has never been a challenge raised as to its meaning in any particular case.

    So, it’s a word or phrase that everyone knows but really does not know.And, it may be the case here with the word, promiscuous. A word with a subjective meanng, but not a concrete one. One sexual

  2. Supra deluca says:

    Promiscuous person = someone that is living a promiscuous life.
    Is she/he living a promiscuous life right now? No? So she/he LIVED a promiscuous life – she/he WAS promiscuous once, but not anymore.

    Most people are not promiscuous forever. What shows someone is promiscuous is their current sexual life, right now in this moment of their lives.
    It is about a state, and not something that is on you forever. Americans (and alike) should really think about stoping thinking about sex as if it were something that spoils the person (well, mostly women) and leaves the person always stigmatized, “less” than they were before each new partner. That is illogical.

  3. The fact that this question is being posed against women only really says a lot. And your argument “defending” higher numbers “not being too big of an issue” is a veiled sexist cop out. If it were asked of men, there would be no formal number considered too high to call him a slut or “promiscuous”- the term you intend while insinuating the former.

  4. It’s the quality of the relationship, or lack of, that goes with the sex that matters. So to leave out context is inexplicable. The poll has to accurately measure what it purports to measure. Promiscuity with women carries a very charged moral judgment with it that makes it very hard to extrapolate anything useful from a discussion arranged in this manner. Unless they were just trying to maniplate some shocking result for discussion.

  5. They had to have understood the question to include the caveat “at the same time.”. In that case, I prefer the term “precocious”.

  6. Well then, in that case I consider every men with less than 500 partners still an inexperienced, boring, useless virgin who should stick his cock into pies not vaginas.

  7. of course they are cause they are usually lying lol they lye low so they won’t seem like whores trust me i’ve gotten girls to tell me the truth and they start having sex young

  8. This is a question I associate with very young men. The fact that it’s asking about absolute numbers, not numbers over a time period, suggests to me that this is a question asked by men who are just becoming sexually active, asking about women who are just becoming sexually active. When looking at the life history of an 18-year old, the number of sex partners could conceivably say something about a person’s personality. When you’re 35 and dating 35 year old women, this question seems pretty immature, like wondering what a 35 year old divorced lawyer and mother of two got on her SAT’s. A 40-year old woman who has lost count of the number is not necessarily all that promiscuous. After a while, even if the number is pretty low, there’s less interest in keeping track.

  9. The study’s fucking useless unless there is context involved, including the age of the respondents.

  10. C’mon guys, even a token amount of introspection should be enough for you to admit that ‘promiscuous’ has nothing to do with the woman and everything to do with YOUR confidence in YOUR ability to satisfy her. That most men chose the lowest number is proof that male insecurity about their ability to impress is just as epidemic as female insecurity about their ability to attract.

    Every man who calls a woman a ‘slut’ is equivalent to an obese woman who calls every healthy woman ‘anorexic.’

  11. I think part of the problem is that this question allows the person answering too much leeway in interpreting the scope of time involved. Someone in their 20’s may be thinking about the women they meet. So a 21 year old with more than 5 is seen as promiscuous. Whereas a 35 year old would have no problem with a woman that has never been married and has had 15 partners.

    So maybe the question should be posed more in terms of a rate, like averaging 1 per year.

    However, promiscuous or not, high numbers start to paint a certain picture regarding commitment. It could even be seen as evidence that something ain’t right and they have so many relationships not because they are promiscuous or afraid of commitment, but because they are nucking futs or a raving biotch so no relationship lasts very long because the man runs after a couple months. That negative view may subliminally cause some people to pick a lower number as simply being a bad sign, not specifically promiscuous.

  12. Well to be fair, the survey said how many sexual partners…not how many times they had sex. The response this article game insinuaded that from 17 to 30 a woman had sex a total of 4 times since their first encounter. False. The survey says (no family feud) # of partners, so therefore she has had 4 sex partners over the next 13 years since her first. Now how many times she had sex with those individual partners is unknown, but if any of them were boyfriends I’d say quite a bit.

    • Exactly, think about the details before you slash a male survey. I agree with this, I mean who says your perspective is right?<@author I believe 5 is a lot, us as humans are and have learn and most believe casual sex is okay, but is it? I am morally offended by it personally, and i have no religious beliefs that mold my morals either. and look at what comes from it, diseases like aids and other stds. Obviously there is a problem here with all humans. I live by a standard much less then 5 as myself am, however this is by choice. Anyone can go out and get laid, but that doesn't mean because you can and want to that its right. Just think about it.

  13. John Wheaties says:

    These questions are really stupid, but if you put a gun to my head and told me to pick a number, I’d say that a woman who has had 100 partners or more is “promiscuous.” But I belong to the school of thought that says there are really only two questions that you’re entitled to ask re: your partner’s sexual history:

    a) do you have children?
    b) do you have any STDs?

    I deserve – and am honor bound to give – honest answers to these questions. Other than that, extensive discussions about sexual histories and “numbers” usually lead to grief IME, and you’re still not even sure if somebody is lying or not. So just concentrate on practicalities.

    • I think if even a women has had 1 partner, that can be claimed as “promiscuous”. in the school yard, having one sexual partner a girl can be labelled a ‘slut’. in an office, sleep with the boss and he might be their first, second or their ever partner and they can be labelled as a ‘slut’.

      I think it is definitely a label based around number of partners but also on certain situations. Basically, women are mean when it comes to other women, perhaps because of jealousy or plain out bullying.

      Men do have it easier with these labels though, thats for sure.

      – tork
      dad blog

  14. Kirsten says:

    I wonder how the wording and format of the question impact the results. Perhaps combined with the age demographic of survey participants (this data was not provided, right?). Do men read the question and interpret it to mean a woman of their own age? For instance, would the question “At What Point In Her Lifetime Does A Woman Become Sexually Promiscuous?” yield different results?

    In short, online surveys provide very little in the way of meaningful data.

  15. It’s not a simple question. Someone who has only had 5 one-night stands is different to someone who has had 5 boyfriends.

  16. Liberal Neil says:

    The article doesn’t properly reflect the results anyway. If only 34% said 5 or less then that doesn’t represent the overall view.

    And then different people will take a different view of whether they see ‘promiscuous’ as a negative.

    The key issue is that there shouldn’t be double standards.

  17. Does it occur to no one that the word “promiscuity” stacks the deck? It’s descriptive of a judgment being passed, not of behavior.

    And where’s the to my mind far more fascinating statistic where men pick a similar number for men?

    And finally, will straight people never wise up and realize that words like “slut” and “promiscuous” mean just one thing: that the person using them is frightened by or jealous of someone having more or better sex?

  18. All that means is that a lot of sexually inexperienced guys and guys that are looking for monogamy answered the poll. The women on the other hand are likely judging from their own position, one of more sexual opportunity and without the fear of ending up paying for someone else progeny.

    And you are probably being a little silly accepting that you are what a survey says you are, you are what ever you say you are.

  19. does the raw number really even matter? I’d look more at the behavior associated with sex if I was interested in a relationship with a woman. If its consistent with my own then I’d have no problems whatsoever. I’m not going to hold her to a standard that I don’t live up to. Its also a-ok in my opinion NOT to get involved with someone who’s past sexual history makes you uncomfortable.

    My wife and I were both fairly active before we met. Our numbers are pretty similar but more importantly we had very similar opinions and behavior patterns about sex.. She started younger but I was racking up partners more quickly in and after college. The most important thing was that we were and remain honest with each other. We had the “conversation” at the appropriate time. The night we met I was most definitely interested in a hook up but she told me she was in a relationship (albeit a failing one) so it wasnt going to happen. She wouldnt even give me her phone number. I respected that about her. 6 weeks later when we saw each other at another party she was single, as was I. 15 years, 3 kids, and more than the usual amount of tumult (mentally ill parent, nearly lost a child to severe birth defects, etc) later we’re still together and very much in love.

  20. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    Insane idea. Get off of it.

  21. Just another so-called-expert trying to promote his website. It’s so sad because theres a lot of men out there that really need help and this isn’t helping in any way, shape or form.

  22. Black Iris says:

    It seems relevant that a large percentage of the guys who answered the survey said they were single in response to other questions. So maybe they were on the young side.

  23. Dee – i disagree. I most certainly have the right to judge anyone I want. As long as I do not treat them badly, it is MY business what I think of them. When it comes to this subject, and I am looking at a woman with the intentions of a relationship, you can bet I am going to judge her based on how promiscuous she has been.

    And at 41 I have had 5 sexual partners, so I have no issues with feeling like a hypocrate. I practice what I preach.

  24. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander….Whatever man has a right to do…woman has that SAME RIGHT!……Which means WE ALL have the right to make personal choices as we see fit. Who you date/marry/have sex with is YOUR PREROGATIVE.

    We also have a RESPONSIBILITY to not LABEL other people based on our wants and needs, likes and dislikes.

    MEN: A woman is not promiscuous no matter how many lovers she has had….that is a LABEL you are foisting upon her based upon your personal opinions. You have a right to not be with them, but you do not have the right to judge or denigrate them.

    WOMEN: A man is not a LAZY, STUPID LOSER just because he does not fit your expectations. That is a LABEL you are foisting upon him based upon your personal opinions. You have a right to not be with them, but you do not have the right to judge or denigrate them.

    EVERYONE: GROW THE HELL UP!!!! Live how you wanna live, love how you wanna love…and as long as you don’t hurt anyone or break any laws….do what you wanna do. xo

    • van Rooinek says:

      “…. A (wo)man is not promiscuous no matter how many lovers (s)he has had….”

      “Promiscuous” is a factual description, not a personal opinion. Literally, more than one makes you promiscuous, according to the definition of the word. See item 3 below:

      Definition of PROMISCUOUS
      1: composed of all sorts of persons or things
      2: not restricted to one class, sort, or person : indiscriminate
      3: not restricted to one sexual partner
      4: casual, irregular <promiscuous eating habits

    • “A woman is not promiscuous no matter how many lovers she has had. . .”

      So, if a women has sex with 7 strangers every night for 30 years, she’s not promiscuous? Then who is promiscuous exactly?
      Further, why shouldn’t people be free to hold their own opinions, whatever they are? What’s up with the thought police?

    • “Live how you wanna live, love how you wanna love…and as long as you don’t hurt anyone or break any laws….do what you wanna do”

      This is moral relativism, utter garbage that collapses under its own rules. It’s like communism: looks good on paper, but turns-out to be just a load of bullshit in practice. This is self-oriented, it’s bunk. Love is about self-sacrifice not self-service and building a bond with another human being. If you want self-service consider a Grande Chai-Latte from the Starbucks down the street. If you break this bond for any reason two people walk away hurt. This is established fact no matter how hard you cover your ears and scream about it. So by your own rules you have a RESPONSIBILITY to commit for life to those you are most intimate with. And it’s just not realistic to be that intimate with more than one person, it’s so painful that Television tycoons have made millions off of this kind of drama.

      • Henry Vandenburgh says:

        Yes, and this is the new shape of fascism. Instead of getting a better and more human social system, we import the same repressive pre-pill sexual norms through a time-warp to make people run around scared. Look, I believe sex is like a sacrament. You are exchanging energy at a profound level with the other person. I never have it drunk or trivially. And I’ve been monogamous for a while, which is not my nature, believe me. Still, I’ve had over a hundred partners. I admit that as a young man, I didn’t treat it as the sacrament I now believe it is.

  25. Linguist says:

    Who is “we” in “we were horrified”? Certainly not most men. American men answered the survey – and they overwhelmingly preferred women with fewer partners. I know I do.

    • …american men who participated in this survey. i’m sure that’s not all american men.
      let’s all just be with people who have similar ideals as we do and not try to force ours on everyone else, K?

  26. van Rooinek says:

    Exclude the following from the number:
    Rape– it doesn’t count as that’s not her fault.
    Remarriage after widowhood– also doesn’t count, that’s perfectly okay.

    Other than those caveats, promiscuity begins at the number TWO.
    Two or more voluntary partners, alive at the same time, is promiscuous.

    For both sexes.

  27. Daryl Lambert says:

    In my opinion it is unfair to have a double standard such as this. Judgements being passed upon others is just a societal fact. Maybe the question should be more specific in what it is asking, add a little timeframe. 5 partners within a month of a person’s frist time? ya, thats a little much for anyone, man, woman, or in between…. but five partners over the span of three years, five years, and so on… thats not necessarily an indicator of promiscuity in my mind

  28. I married my fourth sexual partner and have often wondered if that little experience will come back to bite me someday. However, it is nice to have done some sexual maturing with the man I will be with for the rest of my life. I spent a long time thinking I was getting off by penetration,and lo and behold, that wasn’t really the case. It was a lesson that was hard on both of our egos, but a sex life with toy enhancement is better than one with accidentally-faked orgasms.

  29. I would be interested to see what happens to these results if you take gender out of it and ask the same men. I.e. “At what point does a person become sexually promiscuous?”
    -When they sleep with their: xth partner

    I’m guessing if men weren’t thinking about women in particular, the threshold would be higher.

  30. Anonymous Male says:

    If this labeling even matters, shouldn’t it be defined relative to time instead of an absolute number? If an 80 year old woman has had 6 partners over the course of her life, I’d hardly call that promiscuous. Only three partners but in the space of a single evening? Fair to call that promiscuous.

    This survey clearly points to the youth of its intended audience.

  31. Fred Blee says:

    Who cares about the past? Do you have a good relationship NOW with your woman? Judging someone like this is BS.

  32. Interesting to see that in the UK we gave slightly more sensible results. Also, it’s important that for some people answering the survey, promiscuity would not be bad. I’d describe a sexually liberated man/woman that enjoys having sex as promiscuous in the same way as I’d describe someone who plays tennis three times a week as sporty. However, I do agree that for a lot of people it will be seen as a negative label.

  33. Ummmm. No one said a woman could only have sex once every three years. She can have all the sex she wants, with the same guy in a LTR without being promiscuous. Ans as a man, I think men should be held to the same standard.


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  6. […] From some of the comments on this article, apparently the answer is: yes. […]

  7. […] We ran a post earlier today asking if women who have had five or more partners were considered by men to be promiscuous. According to AskMen, five is the threshold number for promiscuity. […]

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