Anyone out there between the ages of 35 and 55 (or who can ask someone of that age and expect an honest answer), how many relationships have you had in your life?
For that matter, how do you define a past relationship? I'm thinking anything that's more than a one-night stand (or a single date that goes nowhere) but less than an ongoing marriage, but if anyone out there has a different definition I'd love to hear it.
What (from your impression of your friends' experiences) is the approximate average range for the number of former relationships (of any gender or orientation) that a forty-something person would have? What would you consider a high number of past relationships or ex-lovers?
Culturally and generationaly this is a bit of a complicated question but according to to the Telegraph the National Health Service did a survey and found that on average men had 9 sexual partners and women 4 in their lives (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/sexual-health-and-advice/8958520/Average-man-has-9-sexual-partners-in-lifetime-women-have-4.html).
England probably won't be far off the North American norm, so I'd say its a good starting point.
Jesse Sinclair wrote:Culturally and generationaly this is a bit of a complicated question but according to to the Telegraph the National Health Service did a survey and found that on average men had 9 sexual partners and women 4 in their lives (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/sexual-health-and-advice/8958520/Average-man-has-9-sexual-partners-in-lifetime-women-have-4.html).
England probably won't be far off the North American norm, so I'd say its a good starting point.
What a strange survey (and badly reported). Firstly, the Telegraph stated that the partner of any girl having sex under the age of 16 was breaking the law - what if the partner was under 16 also? Though we do live in a world where an under-16 year old was charged with producing child pornography for taking a picture of themselves naked!
If the average man is having sex with 9 partners while the average woman has 4 sexual partners, who are those men having sex with? How do they not know how many partners they've had - it doesn't take long to count up to 10!
Anyway, in answer to the original poster - this 39 year old is in their 14th sexual relationship which has lasted for more than a few weeks. There have been other relationships which didn't last more than a few weeks or didn't include sex (long-distance where the opportunity for privacy didn't crop up, for instance).
Yeah, that's going to vary widely depending on the person. My best friend is 35, she's had 1 relationship since high school, with her husband whom she married at 17. Me? I'm 34, married and divorced once, and have had probably half a dozen other relationships in the time before and after the marriage, with maybe 2-3 of them being serious. I have another friend who is also 34, and she's had so many relationships that even she jokes that there aren't enough fingers and toes in all the world to count them all.
And even asking what someone would consider to be a high number of relationships is going to vary. For me, it would depend on a combination of things: the person's age, how they define the various relationships, etc. So, for example, let's use 10 relationships as a nice round number. if a person tells me they've had 10 relationships between the ages of 20 and 40, and that's counting all relationships (dating, living together, married, etc.), that wouldn't sound too bad to me. But if they tell me they've had 10 marriages between the ages of 20 and 40 - yeah, that's way too many for me. It would tell me that they either (a) jump into marriage much too quickly, and/or (b) jump out of marriage way too quickly. But 10 general relationships would seem reasonable, because the relationships would vary in length, seriousness, etc.
By 'relationship', you're going to get various interpretations and numbers by the same token:
1) if you mean relationship as purely sexual, 0 ex-lovers for me at age 39. I know several 40 somethings that would also say 0. I also know several people my age that run the range all the way from 2 or 3 up to a couple of friends who wouldn't be able to give an exact number other than 'at least two or three dozen' (they were fairly wild in college). Mathematically, we're probably talking average about 3 to 5, really high standard deviation.
2) If you mean commitment of some degree, where the person can identify someone as "this is my '___'" - be it fiance, boyfriend, girlfriend, lover, partner, whatever, and then the designation ended, I would still consider myself at 0. I'm guessing the average is a little higher (5 to 10?), but the standard deviation probably about the same.
3) If you mean going on multiple dates with the same person and/or spending significant amounts of time with the person intentionally, than now I jump up to about 3 based on how exactly you define the term. At this point, I can only guess about what happens to the average and standard deviation. I would guess they both skyrocket, especially if you define 'spending time' extremely loosely, but I would just be guessing.
I'm 43 and I have one ex-husband, one ex-boyfriend (not counting the couple of middle school/early high school boyfriends that weren't worth calling 'relationships') in my history, plus a few youthful flings. I've been with my current partner for close to 19 years, married for 11 of those.
I'm 36, so not quite 40 yet. I've had 4 ex-lovers (which I would define as someone I had sex with multiple times in the context of a relationship. So I would include the dear old friend that I had a friends with benefits relationship with for a couple of years, but not the guy who I'm not friends with, but I've run into at several different places and it seems like every time we do run into each other we sleep together. No relationship there, just sex, so I don't consider him a lover or ex-lover).
If we include the guy above that makes it 5. If we include one-night stands, it's closer to 10.
I'd put the number at more like 9-10 if we're including non-sexual romantic relationships (anytime I'd call the other person my boyfriend/girlfriend, would be listed here. I've had a fair number of lengthy romantic relationships that never resulted in sex).
You can get away with just about anything here though. I know a fair number of 35-45 year old virgins. I also have at least one friend who is 42 and says she's had 27 ex-lovers (which she defines as someone she has had sex + a romantic relationship with, so the guy that she dated for three months and then broke up with her the day after they had sex for the first time still counts, but friends with benefits don't in her accounting), and quite a few more people that she's had one-night stands or friends with benefits relationships with.
My husband is 44, next thing to a bachelor all his life until me, and in highschool was a popular jock/stoner in the 80s with virtually no parental supervision. He claims his "number" is in the 50-60 range. As far as girlfriends, he said he kept a harem throughout highschool (ok, fine, that's my word to describe it, not his, but the point is multiple girlfriends at a time) and didn't keep girls around very long the rest of his life. Best guess around 100 girls between hookups and relationships, maybe about 40 in a "relationship" situation, including the harem.
People who are between 45 and 55 grew up when birth control was expected and easy to obtain, AIDS/HIV was unheard of and there was no war on drugs yet. Some woman my age had a different lover every month thru they're late teens early twenties, some got married to their high school boyfriend. Sex was sometimes just fun and easy, not a sign of your psychological trauma. Sometimes it was because you were young and stupid and didn't know any better. But like most things, looking backwards at it we all wish we would have done somethings differently. Many older women I know wish they would have explored or managed their sexuality differently. Not better or worse, just differently.
I think a more interesting question is how do you feel about the number of relationships you've had. And do you feel honest in your level of sex/love relationships.
I know a girl who is 25 and she's been with almost 30 men (some one night stands, quite a few longish-term relationships, about 5 I think?). I am 23 and I have been with two (two long term relationships).
My grandmother is 75 and has been with two men, her high school sweetheart and my grandfather.
So it would vary greatly depending on the person, no matter what age. I think whatever you pick will be believable.
I'm 34 and I've had four relationships if you don't include the boy who followed me round in primary school and gave me stuffed toys on Valentine's Day :) There was also the guy I ended up dating without realising he thought we were dating. That lasted about 3 weeks so I suppose that counts too!
1. How many previous relationships? How do you define a relationship?
Though I'm a bit young for your survey (I am 31), I'll volunteer some information. I've had 10 sexual relationships, 3 of which were one-night stands. I've also had relationships with 2 people who I would consider "ex-lovers" but those relationships were never sexual, and I've only had 3 relationships in total that I would consider "serious" or "long-term" (though most of them felt pretty serious at the time!). So, depending on your definition, I'm between 3 and 10.
For another perspective, a friend of mine is 36 and has had approximately 100 sexual relationships, though the VAST majority of them were one-night stands (this person went through long periods of being single and taking home new people on a regular basis). They have had 5-6 relationships which they would consider "long-term."
2. What is the approximate average range? What would you consider a high number?
As Luna2372 pointed out, perhaps a better question is: how do you feel about the number of (sexual) relationships that you've had? I would add: how would you feel about the number of (sexual) relationships that a prospective partner might have? Personally, I don't have hang-ups about all that "number" nonsense. Some people might feel threatened by a partner who has had more ex-lovers than they have. Some people might feel excited by the fact that their prospective partner is "more experienced" than they are. There is also a difference between the ways people form jealousies around "sex" and "love" -- some have insecurities surrounding a lover's sexual experience and others have insecurities that their lover has loved others more intensely. I reckon you could write a character with any amount of ex-lovers below, say, 300 and it would be believable. If it was over 300, then you might need to make that a plot point!