Science Explains Why Women Tend To Lie About Their Sexual Pasts

Beautiful blonde woman hiding face under cover

Beautiful blonde woman hiding face under cover | iStock.com/megaflopp

A study by Ohio State University found that women tend to fabricate the number of sexual partners they’ve had more than their male counterparts. The study, which confirms findings by several other earlier ones, involved hooking up women aged 18-25 to a polygraph (lie detector) and asking them:

  • The age at which they first had intercourse
  • The number of total sexual partners they’ve had
  • The number of people they had sex with only once

When the women were hooked up to the polygraph, they answered as follows:

  • Age at first intercourse: 16.15
  • Number of sexual partners: 3.35
  • Number of one-time sexual partners: 1.01

When they were NOT hooked up to the polygraph, the same women answered as follows:

  • Age at first intercourse: 16.36
  • Number of sexual partners: 2.70
  • Number of one-time sexual partners: 0.82

What causes the discrepancy when women feel that the truth can be verified? The experts have one prevailing opinion.

Couple man and woman lay cuddling on the bed

Couple man and woman lay cuddling on the bed | iStock.com/Kuzmichstudio

Francois Kraus of the French Institute of Public Opinion feels that it comes down to gender roles and society’s tendency towards patriarchy. He says:

“Even if things are changing, today, in all social classes, the belief remains that a man who’s had many sexual partners is more valuable than a woman who’s had many sexual partners.”

In a less scientific manner of speaking (but probably no less correct), Tabitha McGurr of Complex frames it similarly, parsing it down to the double standard of “slut vs. stud” that has colored public perception since time immemorial. She states in this article:

“Girls lie about the amount of people that they’ve slept with to cover up the perceived sluttiness that comes with a promiscuous past. We’re worried that by being totally honest, dudes will judge us based solely on our number sexual experiences and write us off as whores.”

While the phenomenon is time-tested to the point that we likely don’t need another study to tell us what we already know, it would be interesting to know if the deviation of the lies or the frequency thereof are diminishing as (hopefully) women feel more comfortable telling the truth and aren’t held to a sexual double standard.

For more explanations that go beyond this one, check out this video, which offers up several other reasons women are cagey about their sexual histories: