It’s rarely fun to learn of your new lover’s sexual history, but new research suggests that there may be an "ideal" number of past sexual partners in a potential mate that’s viewed as neither too low nor too high. Researchers in England found that most singletons would prefer to date someone who had had three previous sexual partners.

According to a study now published online in the Journal of Sex Research, most individuals are cautious of dating a virgin, but also view sexually promiscuous individuals as unattractive. As a result of quizzing 188 individuals, 104 of whom were women, the researchers found that three was the magic number of previous sexual partners preferred. The more previous partners an individual had, the less attractive they became to a potential mate, The Independent reported.

Read: Height And BMI Affect The Number Of Sexual Partners Men And Women Have

“Contrary to the idea that male promiscuity is tolerated but female promiscuity is not, both sexes expressed equal reluctance to get involved with someone with an overly extensive sexual history,” said Dr Steve Stewart-Williams, a psychologist involved in the study, The Independent reported.

couple Most singletons would prefer to date someone who is neither too inexperienced nor too well experienced when it comes to sex. Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

While culture may teach that a high number of sexual partners is detrimental only to women’s dating image, the research revealed that females associated an overly extensive sexual history in males as a sign of unfaithfulness and less likely to be in a committed long-term relationship.

Although both men and women expressed their preference for potential mates with a sexual history of three, men were more willing than women to date a virgin. What’s more, the researchers noted that men were far less interested in a woman’s sexual history if they were only looking for a fling rather than long-term relationship.

There may be a reason for individuals to seek partners with low sexual experience. A study released earlier this year found that women with more than two premarital sex partners faced higher divorce rates than those with less sexual experience. However, the researchers of this study quickly pointed out that it may not be the woman's sexual history that makes them more likely to get divorced, but rather their awareness of “alternate partners.” It could also be that women with few sexual partners have religious or cultural views that deprecate divorce. 

If the figures of this study are making you self-conscious, relax. The majority of those interviewed for the research didn’t actually meet their own high standards of chastity, The Independent reported. For example, of the 188 individuals individuals, most of whom were in their mid-thirties, the average number of past partners for women was 5.81 and for men it was 8.4.

Source: Stewart- Williams S, Butler CA, Thomas AG. Sexual History and Present Attractiveness: People Want a Mate With a Bit of a Past, But Not Too Much. The Journal of Sex Research . 2016

See Also:

Women With 2 Or More Premarital Sex Partners Face Higher Divorce Rate

Find Out How Many Indirect Sexual Partners You've Had