Twelve: THAT’S the magic number

published on 24. Feb 2017

British singles want new partner to have had no more than 23 previous partners, but no less than three

Key findings:

  • Twelve is the optimum number of previous sexual partners for British singles looking for love (a minimum of three, and a maximum of 23)
  • Men are happy for new partners to be more experienced: an optimum number of 15, compared to 10 for females
  • Brits are less permissive than the Danes, Spaniards, Germans and French, but more liberal in their attitudes than Italians or Dutch

August 2016 – It’s the elephant in the room of many a budding relationship, but a new study has finally found out how many sexual partners is deemed too promiscuous. And how many is too few.

Research by dating experts Match has found that British singles would be happy for a partner to have had up to 23 previous sexual partners, and a minimum of at least three. Any lower or higher than these numbers is perceived as a turn-off, making twelve the optimum number of previous partners.

Match’s research found a wide discrepancy in the preferences of males and females. Women believe their ideal partner should only have had 10 previous lovers (a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 16), while men are happy for a new love interest to be more experienced. British men said they would expect a new partner to have had a minimum of four and a maximum of 27 previous partners, making 15 their ideal number.

Brits were somewhat more conservative in their outlook than their European neighbours. The Danes were Europe’s most permissive lovers, saying that it would take a sexual history of more than 40 partners to put them off someone. The Spanish (27), Germans (26) and French (24) were similarly liberal, but both Italy and the Netherlands had lower thresholds than the UK.

Different regions of the UK also held drastically different views on the subject. Singles in London were seeking those with a minimum of 6 and maximum of 27 previous sexual partners (an average of 16), whereas those in the North East want a partner with no less than two and no more than 14 (an average of just eight).

Match dating expert Kate Taylor said, “Sex is so much more than a numbers game. A small number doesn’t equate to a lack of experience – couples who stay together for longer (instead of changing partners) can often experiment more than those who simply have a lot of one-night stands. But equally, a very high number of partners might suggest a lack of commitment, or someone who loves the thrill of the chase.

“Whatever your or your partner’s numbers might be, there are 3 simple rules. 1) Get your sexual health checked regularly; 2) Only have sex when you’re absolutely ready; and 3) Don’t demand to know anyone else’s number – it’s a private matter.””

Area Average minimum number of previous sexual partners Average maximum number of previous sexual partners Optimum number of previous sexual partners
All of UK 3 23 13
Scotland 2 25 14
North East 2 14 8
North West 4 22 13
Yorkshire 2 21 12
East Midlands 3 25 14
West Midlands 3 18 10
Wales 4 18 11
East Anglia 2 17 10
London 6 27 16
South East 3 20 12
South West 4 22 13


Legendary Lotharios

Giacomo Casanova, whose name is now synonymous with a busy sex life, listed 120 lovers in his memoirs, but his exploits pale in comparison to other reported lotharios. Fidel Castro reported racked up more than 35,000 conquests during his more than four decades in charge of Cuba, while Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias recently claimed to have up to 20,000 notches on his bedpost. Cleopatra is famous for entertaining numerous lovers, including with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, while Russian monarch Catherine the Great was also a notorious man-eater.

Country Average minimum number of previous sexual partners Average maximum number of previous sexual partners Optimum number of previous sexual partners
UK 3 23 12
France 6 23 14
Italy 4 15 9
Spain 6 27 16
Netherlands 2 18 10
Denmark 4 40 22
Germany 5 26 15


Media Contacts


Brands2Life – 020 7592 1200 and /


About Match: 

As the ultimate dating service in the UK, 1 in 2 online daters* have used Match and 1 in 5 singles who met their partner online, met on Match*.   As the number 1 dating for young online daters**, Match continues to empower singles to meet exciting and interesting people that you would not otherwise have met.

Match offers members more ways to meet, including singles events located in 32 cities, one of the reasons it’s been voted as the under 35’s number 1 choice for great singles night out**.  It’s also available on all mobile platforms making it the perfect dating companion for busy singles on-the-go.

As a founding member of the Online Dating Association (ODA), Match is committed to providing a safe and confidential community for its members.



About Match Launched in 1995, Match is a leading online dating brand in the UK, offering a wide array of features and services.
Through the Match app, singles have all the means to meet other singles ready for a real relationship, via Live and Audio discovery features, or IRL Singles Events. Combining technological innovation, efficiency, support (during LiveCoaching sessions) and Customer Care, Match continually offers new services to spark real connections.
As a founding member of the Online Dating Association (ODA), Match is committed to providing a safe and confidential community for its members.

Match is operated by Meetic and its affiliated companies in Europe, which are part of Match Group, a leading provider of digital technologies designed to help people make meaningful connections. For more information, visit
Let’s share the love together For questions and interview requests, leave us your contact details and we’ll be in touch.

    *Mandatory fields
    Meetic will process your data for the purpose of handling your request. Your data will be deleted after 12 months. For more information on how Meetic processes your data and your rights, please see our Privacy Policy.