I've had more than 50 lovers – and I'm proud of it

‘I’ve had more than 50 lovers – and I’m proud of it’: Tracey Cox talks to three women who refuse to be shamed by their ‘number’

  • Tracey Cox has spoken to women who refuse to be shamed by their sex lives 
  • READ MORE: Tracey Cox reveals 20 signs your partner is cheating

The much-touted average is 10. But you’d be surprised by the number of ‘nice’ women whose lifetime total of lovers pushes 30…or more.

It’s easy to judge if you met your life partner early in life and had three kids soon after. But what if that hadn’t happened?

What if you didn’t meet someone significant until you were 40? How many lovers are acceptable then?

Think (and calculate) before you jump to conclusions.

I spoke to three women who were willing to share their personal stories on how their total got higher than the (admitted) norm.

While the average ‘number’ is believed to be 10, many women have had over 30 sexual partners (stock image) 

‘I love the chase and sex at the start is always amazing’: Debbie, 62, is in a long-term relationship and very comfortable with her ‘number’  

‘I wish people would have some perspective about this rather than shame women over their ‘number’. 

‘How many lovers you have in a lifetime is dependent on so many different factors. Your upbringing, your desire for sex, how adventurous and curious you are and what feelings and morals you attach to having sex with someone. 

‘Sleeping with a few or a lot of people doesn’t make one person ‘pure’ and the other a s**t. It’s simplistic and stupid to think like that.

‘I grew up in a sexually permissive household. My parents weren’t religious and while I didn’t ever get the ‘birds and bees’ chat, they did give the impression that sex was something you did in a loving relationship. 

‘I knew this wasn’t the norm because all my friends wished they had parents like mine.

‘I did the usual thing for my generation and had several long-term relationships – between 2-4 years – one after the other, once I started having sex. By the time I was 25, I’d had five lovers.


When I was researching this article, I scoured some popular forums (Quora, Reddit) and social media sites to get the general vibe on women who’ve slept with a lot of men. Here’s comments representing both extremes.

‘I hope you didn’t break up with that girl just because she liked sex. Girls who like sex are awesome.’

‘The more sexual partners someone has had and the younger they lose their virginity, the more likely they are to be unfaithful. These types of women are great for fun but not relationship material.’

‘Take the number of sexual partners she’s had, divide by two, and see if that’s the safe height of a platform from which to jump. If she’s had 50 lovers, that would mean jumping off a platform 25 feet from the ground. Not safe.’

‘Good to see that old double standard is still alive and kicking. One message to all the men who shame women for liking sex: When you’re bored stupid with your wife who refuses to have sex with you, think about how much fun the man who wasn’t threatened is having.’

‘She’d slept with dozens and dozens of men before me. Then she met me and only wanted to sleep with me. How much of a compliment is that? I felt special not threatened.’

‘I was then single for 5 years while I focused on my career. I was very ambitious, as were all my friends, and didn’t understand women who saw marriage and children as their ultimate goal. 

‘My mum used to say I was like a son not a daughter. She was right. Women used to pride themselves for acting like men back then, it was all part of the ‘you can have it all’ ethos.

‘I loved sex. I had a very high sex drive. I wasn’t ever into one-night-stands but I also didn’t see any problem with having relationships that were basically just about sex.

‘I had about 6 lovers a year during that period. Each of those relationships lasted about one or two months. Is that promiscuous?

‘I don’t think so. I never lied to anyone and didn’t get hurt by anyone either. HIV and AIDS had happened by then and everyone wore condoms.

‘It was a really enjoyable time of my life. I loved the chase and sex at the start is always amazing. I got to experience that over and over.

‘My married friends were openly jealous and got to live vicariously through me.

‘I met my husband when I was 30. We didn’t ever have the “How many before me?” conversation. I have never seen the point of asking a partner that question and have never answered it. 

‘I think what happened before me is their business and vice versa. I’ve never been pressured to answer and if someone did, I wouldn’t have a relationship with them.

‘I was happily married to my husband for 13 years. And no, I didn’t have the urge to cheat. When I am with someone, I am 100 per cent faithful and never feel the urge to step outside the relationship.

‘The split from my husband was amicable and we remain friends.

‘I wasn’t interested in having sex with anyone for two years after the split. But then desire returned, lovers appeared and for the next decade, I alternated between having three or four lovers a year and relationships that lasted a year or so.

‘It was also a period of experimentation for me. I went out with a guy who was into threesomes. I’d never had one but was curious. We had one of each kind: us with a woman and us with another man. I thoroughly enjoyed both experiences.

‘I’ve been with my current partner since I was 56. He’s been married twice before and, like me, very sexually active in between times. 

‘I love hearing his sex stories and he loves hearing mine. We’re not jealous people and have a bit of a laugh about it all. It certainly means neither of us look back and regret missing out on sex.

‘I’m very comfortable with my sexual past and feel no shame about the number of lovers I’ve had. Why on earth would I?

‘Men are less threatened knowing some of my ex-lovers were women’: Olivia, 31, is training to become a sex therapist 

‘I’ve been having sex since I was 16 and have about three to four lovers a year. This is totally acceptable in my circle of friends because most of us have been single for most of our lives. And we’ve all studied psychology or sex based studies. (A mix of gender studies, sexual health, couple’s counselling and sex therapy.)

‘Obviously, we don’t represent the norm because we have a higher interest in sex than other people. But we’re also just attractive, outgoing people who love sex, so not that different than many other young people.

‘Yes, a few of us have slept together: that’s normal in any friendship group. But it’s never caused problems.


Statistics about how many lovers the ‘average’ person has differ wildly, not least of which because it’s a popular topic to survey.

Magazines and newspapers are very fond of running sex polls; so are companies who gain to benefit somehow. (Want to flog a ‘sexual wellness’ vitamin? Ask women how many lovers they’ve had, and you guarantee a mention somewhere.)

Even reputable, academic studies throw up contradictory results and aren’t necessarily indicative of the general population. A lot of university research is done on students.

Another known factor that skews sex research: even if it’s anonymous, people lie. They’re nervous that someone might ‘find out’ which box they’ve ticked. Underestimate their number to appear more ‘respectable’ or overestimate to seem more sexually successful.

Government studies come up with lower numbers than commercially driven reports.

One US government study found women aged between 24 and 44 have a median of 4.2 sexual partners and men a median of 6.1.

Meanwhile, research commissioned by a mattress company in America (in the same year) found men had an average of 26 partners and women had 19 before ‘setting down’.

What is consistent is how individual we all are. For every person who’s only ever slept with their spouse, there’s another who’s clocked up more than 10 lovers or more.

The bottom line? There’s not a lot of agreement about what’s ‘normal’ for the average man or women (or any other sexualities that lie between). What one person sees as too many, another sees as too few.

‘I told my friends I was contributing to this piece, and we all decided there were several points that really needed to be made.

‘First, a lot of men still have a sense of ownership over the women they are in a relationship with. 

‘They don’t just want to control who they sleep with from then on but who she’s slept with before. It stems from insecurity. ‘How dare she have slept with men who are taller, fitter, hotter, better than them with bigger penises and better lovemaking skills!’ Would it make a difference if some of her ex-partners were women not men?

‘The answer to that is yes. This type of man isn’t threatened by female lovers because they still believe a “real woman” worships the penis. They’re wrong there.

‘Which leads me onto my second point. My generation is more explorative and adventurous than those before. 

‘We don’t label things and we’re curious to try everything once. You’re not going to get that experience by having a handful of lovers. 

‘I’ve gone through periods when I’ve slept with just women, times when I’ve felt very straight and stuck to men, and periods when I don’t care about gender, I’m open to anyone I find attractive.

‘Women love sex as much as men do. It’s society’s judgement that stops them saying yes to sex as much as men do. 

‘When we were studying, a girl in our class made a dare to a guy. She challenged him to sleep with as many women as he could over one term and she would sleep with as many men as she could. 

‘She reckoned the number would be similar, even though everyone thinks men never knock back sex and women always say no. She was right. She slept with 30 men, he slept with 26 women. They were well matched on the attractiveness scale.

‘I think most men figure I’ve had a lot of sex because of the degree I’ve chosen. That’s another misconception. There were lots of people doing the degree who came at it from a very serious, academic perspective. If I had to guess, I’d say half the class had lots of sex and the other half weren’t having any at all.

‘I will never apologise for the number of lovers I’ve had and, when I have children, won’t lie to them if they ask me about my sexual past.

‘The question I ask new partners isn’t how many people they’ve slept with, it’s if they’ve ever cheated. That’s the deal breaker for me.’

British sex expert Tracey Cox (pictured) has spoken with three women who refuse to feel ashamed by the number of people they’ve had sex with 

‘I didn’t have a clue what my number was until I made a list’: Zara, 44, has been in a happy relationship for two years’ 

‘To be honest, I didn’t really have a clue how many lovers I’d had until a few years ago. Do people really keep track? But I did an exercise with a girlfriend who I’ve been friends with since I was 10 and between us, we made a list of everyone we’d been with.

‘I was shocked to find out how many! 

‘I figured we’d slept with about the same number, but her total was 32 and mine was pushing 50. Maybe she has a better memory than me. 

‘She remembered all the one-nighters I’d had because we shared a flat together during my most active years. I felt safer bringing men back to our place rather than going to theirs.

‘In my defence, I did jobs that got a lot of attention from men. I worked behind the bar at a club. I DJ’d a bit. I modelled swimwear for a little while. I also have big breasts which my friend said, always made men choose me rather than her.

‘My parents would be shocked if they knew the amount of people I’ve slept with but none of my close friends would. I was a complete and utter hedonist.

‘I dabbled in drugs, I drank a lot, I looked great and had a good body and I had a strong sex drive. I’m confident and have good self-esteem.

‘I never once experienced the morning after shame that so many of my friends seemed to. Sex was always on my terms and I never felt coerced into anything.

‘I’m in a relationship now and our sex life is never dull or stagnant.

‘There is still a massive gender disparity over society’s view of multiple sex partners. Yes, I’ve slept with more than the (admitted) norm for women. Men boast about this and see it as evidence of their sexual prowess, their masculinity. 

‘My number would be something for them to be proud of. Instead, I know the comments section will be full of negative remarks about me. She’s a s**t will probably be the mildest.’

Want to read more of Tracey’s views on sex and relationships? Visit traceycox.com for her blog, podcast and books and find her product ranges at lovehoney. 

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