The Strange Mathematics of Orgies
Statistical musings on connections in group sex
Organizing an orgy requires a lot more logistics than most people realize. You need to choose your guest list carefully: are these people all reasonably compatible? Comfortable being naked around each other? Have you vetted them all carefully? Do you have enough snacks, condoms, lube, and clean sheets?
And yet, even with the most careful planning, every orgy I’ve ever hosted or attended has had the same mathematical quirk, regardless of whether all the people know each other or are strangers, regardless of how compatible the guests are, regardless of how many kinks they share in common.
Okay, first, what Hollywood (and a lot of folks who’ve never attended an orgy) get wrong:
No orgy I’ve ever been to is a complete free-for-all. You don’t get to shag anyone you want, just because you’re both at the same orgy. You still need permission to have sex; orgy-goers tend to be scrupulously careful about consent, which means touching someone you haven’t first verified is on board with being touched by you is a quick way to be run out with some alacrity, and never invited back.
For my purposes here, I’m defining the word “orgy” to mean “at least five people engaged in group sex beyond sexually monogamous couples having sex in the same room.” So a threesome or a foursome is not, in this conversation, an “orgy,” and six couples having sex only with their partners in the same room is not an orgy — there needs to be at least some level of cross-partner pollination, if you will.
By these definitions, I’ve participated in countless orgies (as in, I can’t even begin to estimate the number), ranging in size from intimate, cozy affairs of five people to a party at a swingers convention somewhere north of 200. In every orgy I can think of, I’ve observed the same thing: There seems to be some maximum number n past which group sex breaks up into multiple non-interconnected groups, with n anecdotally somewhere between 20 and 25.
The two types of group sex
Consider the following two orgies, in which participants are nodes on a graph, with sexual congress represented by connections between the nodes:
The top orgy is what I think of as “intrinsically connected,” in the sense that everyone at the orgy has sex with at least one other person at the orgy. Many of the participants, as you can see, have sex with only one other person; this is, in fact, quite common at most orgies I’ve attended. Far from a debauched frenzy of random coital coupling, a lot of group sex is actually people who enjoy the environment of group sexual activity but don’t necessarily want to shag a lot of folks.
The bottom graph is what tends to happen above some number n: the orgy breaks up into separate intrinsically connected groups that don’t necessarily have cross-group-boundary sex. So the entire set of people at the orgy is not intrinsically connected.
This can happen, in my observation, whether all the people at the orgy know each other or not, whether they share the same kinks or not, even whether they have the hots for each other or not. Above some threshold number of participants, the odds are that the orgy will cease to be intrinsically connected everywhere.
For the largest intrinsically connected orgy I’ve participated in, the number of participants n was 22. I don’t think I’ve even heard of an intrinsically connected orgy with n>25, except in cases where, for example, someone had explicitly planned a gangbang or a group sex video shoot, and arranged in advance who would have sex with whom. (Such planned events can be arbitrarily large, of course, and I don’t consider them naturally intrinsically connected; I’m focusing here on natural group dynamics, in the absence of someone planning out in advance whose tabs goes into which slots, or whatever.)
For orgies below 25 participants, the odds get higher as n gets smaller that the people involved, each making their own choices, will end up part of a single intrinsically connected group; for higher values of n, the odds get smaller and smaller, until for n greater than 25, it pretty much (in my experience) doesn’t happen unless someone makes it happen. (Of course, orgies may split into separate groups at smaller values of n; just because you have 12 people at your orgy doesn’t necessarily mean the resulting graph will be intrinsically connected, only that the odds are higher than they would be if you invited 20 people.)
So why is this?
Peers and Metapeers
It turns out that if you make a graph of people’s social networks, whether that’s business connections or social media friends networks or whatever, you see a pattern. People don’t all have the same numbers of connections. Instead, you tend to see large numbers of people with small numbers of connections—a handful of close friends or Facebook friends or business contacts—and a small number of people with a large connections.
Or, in social theory, “peers” and “metapeers.”
Metapeers—people with unusually large numbers of social connections—tend to link up different subgroups. Think of that one person you know from school or wherever who seemed to know someone in every clique. That’s your social metapeer.
The same thing happens in non-monogamous sexual circles as well, and you see this at orgies: most people at an orgy will have a small number of sex partners, possibly only one sex partner, and they’re linked up by a small number of people with a larger number of connections. (In the graph above, p is a peer; m is a metapeer.)
My hypothesis, based on purely 100% anecdotal experience (and yes, I know the plural of “anecdote” is not “evidence”), is that sexual connections at orgies follow exactly the same peer/metapeer pattern we see in business contacts and political connections. Most of the people at an orgy of any size aren’t going to have sex with a whole bunch of people; in fact, a fair number will have sex with only 1 or 2, regardless of how many people are at the orgy.
This leads to clustering, with different clusters connected by metapeers.
This leads me to believe that not only is there some number n of participants at an orgy above which the orgy ceases to be intrinsically connected unless someone sits down and plans otherwise, but that the exact number n probably varies inversely as the ratio of peers to metapeers in the orgy—that is, the fewer metapeers you have, the lower the number at which the orgy is statistically likely to cease being intrinsically connected.
This is, of course, primarily a statistical phenomenon; I’m not arguing that there’s a number below which all orgies will be intrinsically connected and above which they will not, but rather that there’s a threshold size at which the orgy becomes radically less likely to be intrinsically connected.
I’d love to hear your experiences. Are you an orgy connoisseur? Have you observed the same thing? Leave a comment!
Sign up for Sexography’s newsletter here, so you don’t miss a beat from our publication. We won’t bombard you with emails. We promise.
Support us on Patreon
Don’t forget, we have a Patreon where you can support us, as well. Readers can support us for as little as $1 per month, and it really helps us keep things running. It really helps us to bring you the best content we possibly can.
Click here to become a Patreon supporter.