Six Degrees of Sexeration: How the Biggest Facebook Group Ever Never Was

Can one Facebook group make a sexual map of the world?

By Nick Rahaim

We live in an era of ostentatious hookups — our grandparents would be ashamed at the transparency of our romantic lives. Facebook users, young and old alike, post pictures, comments, and links that make it all-too-clear who’s knockin’ boots with whom. Whether you’re sexually active in a small town or a big city, it doesn’t take too much scrolling through a feed to realize that your friends list is a bit more, ahem, "connected" than you'd assume. The Hungarian writer Karinthy seems to have been onto something with his six-degrees-of-separation hypothesis, but I'd go one step further: at times it seems everyone is connected by a chain of sexual partners numbering around six.

One night, after no fewer than six beers, I and six sexually connected friends of mine came up with an idea: a Facebook group that would connect everyone in the world through their sexual partners. Gradually, we settled on the name Six Degrees of Sexeration, to show just how small — and in turn, large — our sexual circles are.

Admittedly, the numbers are a stretch — for all seven billion of us to be sexually connected in a mere six links, everyone on earth would need to have an average of 43.74 sexual partners. That’s the kind of number most women would never admit to and most men would gladly lie about attaining. As it stands, the average number of sexual partners for adults in the United States is around six to eight for men and four for women.

"Our idea was to create a group limited to the Facebook friends we'd slept with, then watch as they added friends they'd slept with, and so on..."

Our idea was to create a group limited to the Facebook friends we'd slept with, then watch as they added friends they’d slept with. The possibilities of growth were exponential.

 But right from the start, the idea was trickier in practice. The first question was who would start the thing. One of my friends was afraid her conservative Old World family might disown her with such a public display of promiscuity and my other friend said that as a respectable chemist, he wouldn’t want his name listed as a creator. So it was left to me, unemployed-journalist-turned-commercial-fisherman, to create the group with my account.

Sitting in front of the chemist’s wide-screen TV with a Bluetooth keyboard, a mouse, and bottles of beer in hand, we created the group. We felt that, to make this work, we had to go all the way, so we forced each other to invite every one of our friends we’ve slept with, regardless of the natural awkwardness it would cause: “Hi, we haven’t spoken in years, but join this group to let the world know you’ve had sex with one us!” We did not, however, go as far as becoming Facebook friends with past lovers solely to invite them to the group.

Going through my list, I quickly realized there were many more of my Facebook friends I’d like to have sex with than ones with whom I actually had. A few weeks prior, I'd purged my friend list of people I didn't really care to stay in touch with, including a handful of would-be invitees. And I'd deleted my ex-girlfriend a while back out of spite, when I'd seen her status change from "Single" to "In A Relationship" — sigh. So in the end, I didn’t have all that many people to invite. Regardless, the two others followed suit, and we waited for our brainchild to grow and grow. 

Commentarium (36 Comments)

Dec 27 11 - 2:01am

So basically, you tried to recreate the chart from the L word, and failed. Perhaps your friends just weren't as cool as fictional LA-based lesbians.

Dec 27 11 - 8:33am

that means WeHo does it better than san fran

Dec 27 11 - 11:41am

I'm in there twice because I've fucked myself!

Dec 27 11 - 12:58pm

I think this is a brilliant idea! I actually used to keep stats of who I'd slept with out of my FB friends . . . and the number was always bigger than I thought it would be! It'd be interesting to see who they have slept with . . . and so on.

Dec 27 11 - 3:32pm

I'd be terrified to join the group and invite my sexual partners. Seeing just how many people are connected through sex would make me worry knowing, statistically, a couple of them would have an STD or two. And then my mind would be clouded with thoughts of whether or not people I had slept with had slept with someone who had one.

Dec 27 11 - 5:48pm

If you've been with that many people that you're that worried, statistically speaking, you've already contracted herpes. Ever had a cold sore?

Dec 28 11 - 7:48pm

Oooh. Touchy subject. Ask the chick downstairs whose had roughly 40 guys. (Not sure if she meant '40 guys and rough sex' or 'approximately 40 guys'.)

Dec 27 11 - 5:56pm

the average number of sexual partners for adults in the United States is around six to eight for men and four for women.

No. That may be the average number *claimed* by men and women, but the number - by necessity - has to be the same. It's math.

Dec 27 11 - 6:26pm

Please return to our conversation when you've (a) understood what you're thinking about, and (b) have decided that you can communicate it adequately. kthxbai

Dec 27 11 - 9:24pm

I think I'm going to start ending all of my idiotic statements with "It's math." Foolproof.

Dec 28 11 - 3:38pm

Please allow for the fact that this is the one site on the entire web that doesn't allow for html tags and then get back to us. Your pedantism is noted and appreciated though...

Dec 28 11 - 7:41pm

Damn, I love that word... "pedantism".

Dec 30 11 - 5:14pm

Unless there's a lot more gay and bi men than the probably 10% (plus or minus). If there were then that would explain the difference in the numbers between men and women. Just saying.

Jan 02 12 - 10:58am

There aren't as many gays as the lefties would have you believe. It's just a lot of smoke for the left agenda.

Dec 27 11 - 10:43pm

McKingford, let's try to break this down for you. Take ten men and one woman. Nine of the men are gay, one is bi. All of the gay men and the bi guy have had sex with each other, because as everyone knows, we're just big old sex fiends. The bi guy also has sex with the woman. That gives each of the gay guys nine partners, the bi guy has ten and the woman has one.

It's math, sweetcheeks.

Dec 28 11 - 10:19am

I don't know about your math, but I like your pants. They're very intelligent.

Dec 28 11 - 3:33pm

Hey, that's brilliant. Take an instance where I'm clearly talking about heterosexual partners and change the subject!

Dec 28 11 - 7:43pm

Hey Smartypants, isn't there a word for "changing the subject"? The whole pedantry thing just gave me a new love of obfuscatory words.

Dec 27 11 - 10:58pm

im a woman and ive fucked roughly 40 guys. .. the average in this article being 6-8 for men is laughable. or maybe everyone i know is getting it on way too much.

Dec 27 11 - 11:26pm

Hi beetle. Just for, ah - puposes of verifying statistical accuracy - yeah - could you please supply me with your name, address and phone number. I'll, ah, be in touch. Muchly appreciated.

Dec 28 11 - 7:45pm

40 guys. Jesus. That's a lot. I'm no prude, but... there's no word that describes how badly that eclipses my count. Do you feel that 40 is within the bounds of normal and healthy?

Jan 01 12 - 6:15pm

40 may be higher than average, but it isn't beyond the "bounds of normal and healthy." Who cares if a girl has had 40 or 100? Safer sex exists for a reason.

Jan 02 12 - 9:52am

Well, she didn't state that it was "safe sex". So you're presuming that she used condoms, oral dams, etc etc? I would suggest that this is not the default. Even a kiss without protection is not "safe", you can get herpes or hepatitis quite easily. At 40, I can only assume that she's a petrie dish of undesirable pathogens. Ugh.

Jan 02 12 - 2:03pm

grow up.

Dec 28 11 - 4:18am

"for all seven billion of us to be sexually connected in a mere six links, everyone on earth would need to have an average of 43.74 sexual partners." Not sure who did the math on that one, but that's not quite right.

Dec 28 11 - 11:00am

Yeah, but it's math, so it *must* be right.

Dec 28 11 - 5:14pm

Just what about the 6th root of 7 billion is inaccurate? It says average number of sexual partners. You could have one woman fuck everyone in the world, but the average number of partners would still be the same. Think before you post.

Dec 28 11 - 6:22pm

Well first of all you're assuming the graph is random. Which is wrong.

Dec 29 11 - 3:16pm

First of all, that's taking into account all seven billion adults -- and children. Still sure about its accuracy?

Dec 28 11 - 9:52am

Only problems being: 1. Don't want to get in touch with certain people I've had sex with in the past. 2. Sometimes the sex has been secret, and we're not about to let the whole world know that we've been there.

Jan 02 12 - 10:59am

Perhaps you should just consider not being such a slut.

Dec 28 11 - 1:43pm

da fuq

Dec 29 11 - 9:35am


Dec 30 11 - 11:48am

I'm one of those guys that grew up in the halcyon days of the late 70s, at a university in the midwest during a time when AIDS was almost 10 years away from even being mentioned, and the worst thing you heard anybody getting were pube lice. The threat of herpes was floating around, but nobody much seemed to know anyone who had it. Every gal you met seemed to be responsibly on the pill, so it was a wild cavalcade of bareback action. I've never had any religious stigma about sex, and I've always had a great curiosity about what different women looked like naked. I'm proud to say I never used cheesy pickup lines or gave the old "But baby, I LOVE you; I want you to have my babies!" crap either. Usually, sex accrued out of natural conversations and a shared sense of fun. As such, I've ended up having some sort of meaningful (to me, at least) sex with approximately 250 to 300 women, a number that suits me fine. I will freely admit that many of the last 50 or so have been paid for, since at age 54 now, and with tastes that run toward the younger set, I've succeeded in shutting myself off from 99% of traditional activity. I've had to learn to adjust to using condoms more often; I'm disease-free, fortunately. I've given myself a host of pretty great memories. My longest traditional monogamous (mostly) relationship was when I was in my late teens and early 20s, and lasted about 3-1/2 years. I was always geared toward group sex and cuddle party type stuff anyway; I don't feel monogamy is very natural, nor really desirable. It's hard to imagine being able to get all the past lovers to agree to this project, but I do love the idea. We're all connected anyway somewhere up in the universal mind, I think, so why not at the "universal groin" as well?

Jan 03 12 - 2:52am

'As it stands, the average number of sexual partners for adults in the United States is around six to eight for men and four for women.'

Really? Huh. Makes me feel like a slut...

Oh well.

Jan 19 12 - 6:39am

The French Girl had it right.

Worst idea ever.