Mathematical Proof That Women Are Just As Promiscuous As Men

There’s a perception floating around that men are more promiscuous than women and, hence, have more sexual partners during their lifetimes.

Well, I call bullshit. And I’m bringing my army of math to back me up.

In a survey taken by ABC News, men reported a lifetime average of 20 partners, while women reported a measly 6 partners. That is, the average male in the United States has more than three times as many partners as the average female.

The article goes on to explain that it’s probably a small percentage of highly promiscuous men who skew the male average upward, in much the same way that a singular percentage of partial-term state governors skews the average intelligence of Alaska noticeably downward.

The problem is, not only is the survey result a mathematical impossibility, so is the promiscuous male explanation. Here’s why:

For simplicity, let’s represent the population of the United States as a group of five men and five women. Taking ABC News’s explanation, we’ll start off with one über-promiscuous male in our population. He’s slept with all five women, while each of the five women has only slept with him:

If we take a survey of this population, superstud up there on the left proudly fills in the bubble next to the number “5,” presumably with the fire hose in his pants. The other four dudes shamefully bubble in “0.” Meanwhile, every woman bubbles in “1” and congratulates herself for dodging the flooze bullet.

Now, let’s do the math. Since every woman has only slept with one man, the female lifetime average is obviously 1. What about the men? Taking the average of one superstud at 5 partners plus four hyperduds at 0 partners equals… 1!

What? That’s right. In this scenario, the average number of partners for both the men and the women is exactly 1. Even after sleeping with every woman available, superstud still isn’t superstudly enough to Viagra the flaccid male average.

But wait a minute, you say. This is kind of an extreme situation. I mean, comic book fans notwithstanding, there can’t possibly be four virgin dudes for every superstud, can there?

Fair enough. Let’s model a more believable scenario and nudge each guy’s number up, so that we don’t have four virgins. We still have one superstud, but every other guy now gets one piece of hot action in his life.

The male average “improves” to 1.8. But wait, the female average also creeps up to 1.8, as well. The lifetime average for both men and women is still exactly the same.

Hmmm. What if throw a promiscuous woman into the mix? Maybe, in addition to a small percentage of superstuds, we also have a small percentage of megasluts who, ahem, take care of said superstuds.

In this case, we still end up with the same for men and women (2.6 now). And all we have to show for our computational efforts is a diagram that’s eerily illustrative of Jersey Shore.

You see, by virtue of the fact that sex has to occur between two people, it’s mathematically impossible for men to average more sexual partners than women. For every promiscuous man out there, there has to be a promiscuous woman willing to sleep with him. So, when you take a national average, as the ABC News survey does, the number of partners for men has to exactly equal the number of partners for women.

Go ahead, I dare you to draw up a scenario where the men have three times as many partners as women. Seriously, try it for yourself. Just don’t, you know, actually draw on your computer monitor:

So, is there any way to explain the discrepancy between men and women? Actually, there are a few valid ways. But their explanations only demonstrate how preposterous the survey really is.

The easiest way for men to average three times more partners than women is if there are three times more women in the population.

Now, the male average is 3, while the female average is 1. To this result, I have but one question: what country is this, and why am I not living there?

Another way for men to average three times more partners is if we have prostitutes in the population. And… hey, we do! Cool, let’s spice up our love stew some more.

Yes! The male average is now 3, while the female average is 1. But that’s only if we don’t count the prostitutes. If we count them as part of the population, which they really are (come on, how judgmental are we gonna be?), the female average becomes 2.14, but the discrepancy here is caused by the extra two females in the population, not the two hyper-promiscuous females.

At the same time, are we really to believe that the average American man has had sex with 14 prostitutes (14 being the difference between the male and female averages)? Maybe I’m placing too much faith in manhood, but I’d like to think not. Either way, this is kind of a contrived result, don’t you think?

Alright, we’re down to our last resort then. What if guys engage in gay sex?

Hey, this one works! Male average equals 3, female average equals 1.

But, aren’t we really stretching now? (To which those of you with dirty minds might respond, “well, that depends on what we’re stretching….”)

As before, can we really believe that the average American male has engaged in 14 homosexual encounters? If not, can we at least hold on to this stat long enough to spontaneously combust the Westboro Baptist Church? Besides, if gay sex were the actual reason for the discrepancy, then the report would seem to be intentionally misleading.

So where does that leave us then? Well, by process of deduction, the only possible explanation is that men exaggerate or women understate. Because there’s simply no way for the entire male population to average three times more sexual partners than the entire female population, as claimed by the survey.

Someone out there is lying.


I originally wrote this as a tongue-in-cheek explanation for why sex surveys like the one referenced above are preposterous. But now that this article is making its rounds over the internet as an actual mathematical source, I wanted to clarify a few points:

The issue here is that both mean and median must be accounted for if we really want to compare the sexual behavior of men and women. Mean is the true average, which is calculated by summing up all the partners every man in the population has had and dividing that sum by the total number of men in the population (and doing the same for the women). Median is calculated by arranging every man in the population from lowest number of partners (which would have to be zero) to highest number of partners, then taking the number for the man who falls in the exact middle of the list (and doing the same for women).

By definition, the mean number of partners for men and women must be the same (at least, for heterosexual sex), which is the point of this article. However, it is possible that the median number is different for men and women.

The problem is that this is not how these surveys report their results. In these surveys, the result is invariably that men have a higher average than women. And, as pointed out here, that’s simply not possible. If a survey reports a discrepancy in the mean, then either 1) people are lying, or 2) the survey is an incomplete sampling of the population. Either way, the survey is invalidated.

No, if you want to prove that men are indeed “more promiscuous” than women (I use quotation marks here, because how we define “more promiscuous” is another can of worms in itself), then you would have to conduct a survey whose results show that the mean is exactly equal between the sexes, but the median is different (or invoke some other statistical measurement). Only then could you (arguably) conclude that men are “more promiscuous.”

I’ve yet to see such results, though.

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By day, I engineer happiness at By night, I am a relationships and comedy writer, which can be redundant or an oxymoron, depending on your perspective. I am the creator of Musings, the blog you're reading right now, and LemonVibe, an anonymous relationship advice site. You can also find me on Twitter (I am not the creator of Twitter).

77 thoughts on “Mathematical Proof That Women Are Just As Promiscuous As Men

  1. “All men are the same” -Women

    Women seem to forget that in order for a guy to be a “stud”, they need a woman’s consent… otherwise they’d be fucking rapists. Its what separates the two.

    Ironically, the very existence of “players” is dependant upon a woman’s decision to fuck them. So what they’re really saying is : “All men are the same… and so are women”

    Because for every playboy/stud/asshole/horny guy out there looking for sex, there is an equally slutty/whore/bitch willing to sleep with him. Women forget that… it takes 2 to have sex. Proof that there is balance within this non-sentient universe

    And what better ally to prove that than math?

  2. I’d argue that the mode is the true average in this case. In other words, the most common number of partners occuring for each sex is the real average. In that case it is quite possible that men have slightly more partners than women.

    Using the mode seems rather better in this case than the mean or the median.

    • That’s a good point. However, if, as many people suspect, the reality is that a very small percentage of men command a huge number of sexual partners (i.e., much higher than the highest women), then the mode for men might actually end up being lower than for women.

  3. The answer: For seven years a female told me she was a virgin. Today she confessed that she received anal sex with a guy nine years ago, but didn’t count it, and never even thought about counting it because there was no vaginal penetration. That same guy would count her as a person he had sex with, but she’s not counting him, because anal sex does not count in her mind. That means man=1, woman=0. If she repeats this with 3 guys, or if 3 women do this once with 1 guy, without vaginal intercourse, then a survey would make it appear that men are 3 times more promiscuous (men=3, women=0). There are some guys who would also count oral sex partners (to boost their numbers), but their partners, the women, again are not counting those men. Without the superstud theory, this is how men look like pigs, while women look like angels, even if the women initiated the sexual acts.

  4. You’re assuming men only have sex with women; if some men have sex with a very large number of other men, then you could end up with a difference in the mean for men and women.

  5. I was arguing about this quite loudly on the train last night, agreeing with your sentiment. However, I did think of a factor which could make it possible: Travel. If you travel to a different country or just cross the border to, say, Tijuana, for some good times, then you could have a discrepancy. It still obviously wouldn’t account for such a discrepancy, but, is another way it is possible.

  6. Well, here’s your missing numbers… The fatal mistake is in assuming that any of these surveys are conducted perfectly, which is almost impossible to accomplish considering the life circumstances surrounding much of the prostitution trade. There are an estimated 1 million prostitutes in the US (low-side estimate) and many of these girls turn several hundreds to even over a thousand tricks per year, which is of course going to wildly skew the overall female average when factored in…

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