TORONTO – Oops… A new study suggests men and women have very different pangs of regret after having sex.
While men wish they were better at picking up women or taking them to bed, women say they regret who they lost their virginity to or moving too fast sexually, according to results of a UCLA and University of Texas study.
Are you surprised? The researchers say their findings, published Monday in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour, align with evolution, reproduction and the repercussions that could follow sex.
“For men, throughout evolutionary history, every missed opportunity to have sex with a new partner was potentially a missed reproductive opportunity – a costly loss from an evolutionary perspective,” Dr. Martie Haselton, the study’s co-author and UCLA professor, said.
Meanwhile, women had to worry about the possibility of nine months of pregnancy and caring for a baby.
“The consequences for casual sex were so much higher for ancestral women…and this is likely to have shaped emotional reactions to sexual liaisons even today.”
More than 24,000 people were asked about their sexual regrets in a series of studies. Respondents were asked to look at hypothetical situations. Then they looked at a list of common regrets and had to tick off which applied to them. Straight, gay, lesbian and bisexual respondents all took part in the study.
Here were the three most common regrets for men:
– Being too shy to make a move on a prospective sexual partner (27 per cent)
– Not being more sexually adventurous when they were young (23 per cent)
– Not being more sexually adventurous when they were single (19 per cent)
And here were the three most common regrets for women:
– Losing their virginity to the wrong partner (24 per cent)
– Cheating on a present or past partner (23 per cent)
– Moving too fast sexually (20 per cent)
More women than men even said having sex with an unattractive partner was their top regret.
Across the board, men and women were having equal amounts of casual sex, but it was women who felt more remorse over those encounters. This was the same in gay, lesbian and bisexual hookups – women always felt regret more often and more intensely.
“We do not doubt that social norms, such as a sexual ‘double standard,’ play a major role in sexual regret,” lead author Anthony Galperin said in a statement.
The strange thing he noted was that even with birth control in the picture to even out the playing field, feelings about sex still differed between men and women.
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