The mathematics of sexuality

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But now there is a new addition to the list of the world’s greatest lovers: Lynn Barber, the journalist whose memoirs, An Education, were turned into a film last year. Barber revealed in the book, and on Desert Island Discs at the weekend, that she had slept with “probably 50 men” during just two terms at Oxford university.

Speaking to Kirsty Young, Barber said that in her first 18 months at Oxford, she had just one boyfriend. “My thinking after that was that I must get a boyfriend immediately and that I haven’t got time to waste going punting or to dinner with them. Why don’t I just go to bed with them first, eliminate them if they are no good and not waste time.”

Thanks to her forensic dissection of interviewees, the 66-year-old journalist is often referred to as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. So you have to hand it to her for her own brutal honesty. Yet Barber argues that it doesn’t matter how many people you have gone to bed with. “I would criticise more what I call the Elizabeth Taylor syndrome, where highly sexed women feel they have to marry the man they sleep with. Then they get divorced and do the same thing over and over again. This seems to be happening in America now.” Given that Barber went on to marry a fellow student, David Cardiff, with whom she stayed until his death seven years ago, you have to concede that she has a rather good point.

Full story: How many lovers is too many lovers? – Telegraph