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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Liar, liar!

Show of hands - both hands, how many of us have ever lied about a romantic conquest?

Now, I have to imagine that there are more male hands than female in the air right now.

And I base that opinion on nothing more than the experience that most women I've known don't consider it a badge of honor to claim to have bedded a guy, any guy, unless he's a Pitt, or a Clooney, or some other stereotype.

Most guys I've known, however, will tell you that at some point they have lied about hookin' up. Most I know say those lies were most prevalent in their teens and early 20s.

All this leads me to a very interesting article from New York Times science writer Gina Kolata. Ms. Kolata reported that men claim a median of seven female sexual partners, while women claim a median of four male partners. Scientists and mathematicians cited by Ms. Kolata concluded the guys must be lying. Men interviewed in a recent British study claimed 12.7 female partners. And women in that study claimed 6.5 male partners.

So. Somebody's lyin', lyin' like a rug. Or maybe not.

Math was not always my strong suit, but I know that when you measure these sorts of things using a strict group of subjects in strict parameters - say 100 men and 100 women who are known to socialize in the same circle in the same areas, the numbers of partners each can legitimately claim will be close to even. And I know that when it comes to "romance" you can't apply those types of parameters. It won't work.

Consider this:
  • As of the 2000 Census the female to male population in the U.S. was almost 51% to 49%. There are more women than men, so it stands to reason guys will have a shot at a greater number of women than women have at guys.
  • It's a completely non-scientific theory, but women are pickier than guys. A straight guy - my buddies, anyway - would have jumped into the sack with any woman who was born a woman and had two breasts and appropriate plumbing when they were younger. Women seem to be able to "do without" easier than guys. And so I don't think it's a stretch to think the average woman is hooking up with one out of umpteen guys who take a shot at her.
  • In terms of pure effort, guys, who seem to have an inherent need to "spread" themselves around when they're younger, just try harder to hook up. Guys of a certain age are desperate to make things happen. It is logical that if I try to hook up with 20 women, and 80% of them shoot me down, that still leaves four women who caved in. If my female counterpart, without breaking a sweat, entertains pitches from just 10 guys and shoots down 90% of 'em, well that's just one hookup for her.

On the other hand, guys do lie about this stuff. I haven't for some time, 'cause I haven't had anything to prove and my ego has lost weight over the years thus needing less support. But back in the day, in my late teens and very early 20s - I'd say 17ish to 21ish - I lied like gangbusters about how many young women I hooked up with. It wasn't that I never hooked up with any. It was just that I always claimed more. If the actual number was one in a month, I claimed two. If the number was two in three months, I claimed four. My guys did it too. I think we knew we were all lying to each other, but we got some humor in trying to out tall-tale each other. Claiming another partner was like bragging about getting an "A" on a test for us. And we were eggheads. We were getting "A's" on tests. Probably part of the reason we felt compelled to lie so much about the hookups.

You know what? I think I just changed my own mind. Scratch my skepticism of the article. I think the studies cited in the Times are right. The guys probably are lying...just not for the statistical and scientific reasons given in the Times article.

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  • I'm probably in the minority here among females, but while I didn't lie about particular guys, I did lie about losing my virginity. All my friends were active, and I was trying to bust the myth that I was just a little kid.

    I was dumb.

    By Blogger katrice, at 9:58 PM  

  • The maths does work out if a small percentage of the population of men are available to sleep with a larger percentage of the population of women available. To exemplify, if out of 100 men only 6 are available, and if out of 100 women 12 are available, then each man can have 12 partners, while each woman can only have 6.

    Scientists and mathematicians are stupid when it comes to real life, and they are probably fitting the data found to their own personal sorry observations.

    I'll also declare that I am a scientist.

    By Anonymous insomniac, at 11:26 PM  

  • I didn't lie because everyone who knew me could easily verify, I didn't even tell about the ones I did due to the fact that telling could curtail the chance of me getting any the next time :)

    By Blogger Hammer, at 1:10 AM  

  • I've made the sex with HUNDREDS of girls, sometimes 4 in one day.

    But then I come out of my Secret Life of Walter Mitty moment and face the cold, hard fact that I've only had 2 partners.

    By Blogger Kevin, at 12:07 PM  

  • I also have to wonder how many of the women are giving a lower number so as not to appear promiscuous.

    By Blogger BobG, at 12:56 PM  

  • Katrice, you aren't alone. We all lied about that one too. At least I did.

    Insomniac, good analogy. Made more sense than all the science presented in that article.

    Hammer, that is dangerous to try to lie about conquests when your circle of friends is pretty tight knit. It could prompt folks to make you ID your partner(s). I feel ya. I always said she was a girl from another school or who worked in one of the stores in the mall where I worked in high school. That way I didn't really have to worry about explaining further how it is my friends didn't know her or know she existed.

    Kevin, your honesty is refreshing...he said, while still refusing to divulge the exact number of partners he's had. Oh, what's that? Sorry, I was daydreaming;>)

    BobG, excellent question. I'll bet as many lowered their numbers as there were guys who raised theirs.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 2:20 PM  

  • sure, when i was younger i told all kinds of stories about my Canadian girlfriend. lots of half-truths and outright lies.

    now, my real girlfriend has Canadian and American citizenship. i'm a lucky guy.

    By Blogger minijonb, at 3:35 PM  

  • A friend lied about how many women he'd had. He told his girlfriend she was his first when in fact he'd been no saint.

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 7:28 PM  

  • Once after being dumped, a woman told me that a person would face three loves in their life. Meeting the one that you love, meeting the one that loves you, and finally meeting the one that you marry.

    By Anonymous mplsk, at 9:04 PM  

  • The whole "men lying about the number of women they slept with" thing just cracks me up. I don't know why. I just think it's funny.

    By Blogger Queen of Dysfunction, at 11:45 PM  

  • maybe they are "getting in touch" with their female side.

    Sometimes it's the right hand side and sometimes the left.

    oh dear. I should post this anonymously.

    By Blogger Pamela, at 2:54 AM  

  • I've never lied about the amount of women I've been with...

    I managed to meet all of their emotional needs as well as their physical demands. All 1000 of them.

    By Blogger captain corky, at 9:29 AM  

  • I was a late bloomer. My first love was Sidney Carton, and high school boys simply couldn't measure up.

    I have always wondered about the statistics, too. Although I am not a mathematician, they have never seemed to add up unless lots of people are lying about their accomplishments.

    By Blogger heartinsanfrancisco, at 3:56 PM  

  • I never lied about it until college. In high school I just never said a word period. I grew up in a small town and everybody knew everybody. Even if I *DID* do the nasty with somebody I denied it if actually asked. Stayed out of trouble that way.

    But, there was this one girl. Everybody went to school with at least one girl like this. Let's just say there were multiple encounters with her.

    So, when I went to college, just for convenience sake, I counted each encounter with her a separate encounter with a different girl. I don't think anybody bought it, but we were all lying in some way so none of called each other on it.

    That study was stupid. You can't get honest numbers on that subject. No matter how hard you try. Just like the "have you ever cheated" studies. Women don't admit to it and men convince themselves they haven't really done it.

    By Blogger Jay, at 4:31 PM  

  • There's a satistical error: It's harder for dudes, therefore we gotta talk big, chicks can be satisfied (exempting of course those with various personal issues) whenever the true, deep, yes, even occasional, lust is upon them. Most guys never even lust so, though they lust all the more frequently.

    By Blogger radialrelish, at 4:36 AM  

  • I think most people lie about this. Men say more because they want to be seen as studs. Women say less because they want to avoid being seen as sluts.

    By Blogger Guilty Secret, at 10:06 AM  

  • My favourite saying .."liars go to jail" so don't lie...end of saying right there :)

    By Blogger Cazzie!!!, at 6:46 PM  

  • MiniJonB, you got all bases covered now ;>)

    A common story, Sarc, a common story. I can "honestly" say I was telling the truth when I told my first she was my first.

    Mplsk, let's hope that by the time you reach number three that she/he encompasses all three characteristics.

    Queen, don't laugh. Such lying is a sacred rite of passage for many of us men.

    Pamela, you're making me all blushy.

    Captain, you and Wilt Chamberlain, gods among men ;>)

    HeartsinSanFran, there's the difference in guys and gals. In high school I would have never considered an older woman, 'cause I would have assumed she was out of my league. And she very likely would have been. But high school girls I knew were totally confident being wooed by older, college boys.

    Jay, very insightful "men convince themselves they haven't really done it." Denial becomes a real place for guys when it comes to defining hooking up. Like Bill Clinton said, it all depends on what the definition of is is.

    Radialrelish, yours is an interesting theory. It actually makes sense. Women lust more passionately. Men lust more frequently. Had that been in the study I'd have believed it.

    GuiltySecret, that's what it boils down to. If there's some "shame" attached we all have a motive to lie.

    Cazzie, I hope they never make lying about conquests a crime, 'cause I'd at least get probation...unless there's a statute of limitations.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 8:17 PM  

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