LONDON: Women regret short-term sexual encounters like one-night stands less when they take the initiative and also enjoy the act, a study says.
Men regret casual sex much less overall than women do, although it does happen, said the study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
“The factor that clearly distinguishes women from men is the extent to which they themselves take the initiative,” said one of the researchers Mons Bendixen, Associate Professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
In contrast to women, sexual regret for men was not found to be affected by whether they took the initiative.
“Women who initiate sex are likely to have at least two distinguishing qualities,” said Professor David Buss from the University of Texas at Austin in the US.
“First, they are likely to have a healthy sexual psychology, being maximally comfortable with their own sexuality. Second, women who initiate have maximum choice of precisely who they want to have sex with. Consequently, they have less reason to feel regret, since they’ve made their own choice,” Buss added.
While initiative is the clearest gender-differentiating factor for regret after casual sex, other conditions can also affect how much an individual regrets the encounter.
“Women feel less regret if the partner was skilled and they felt sexually satisfied,” said Leif Edvard Ottesen Kennair, Professor at NTNU.
But these effects are not as strong in men, Bendixen said.
“Women have less regret if the sex was good. For men, this also plays a less important role. The underlying causes are biological,” Bendixen said.
Women also feel disgust more often than men after a short-term sexual encounter. This is a key factor in whether or not they feel regret, the study said.
“The feeling of disgust or revulsion is the single factor that best explained why women and men regretted the last time they had casual sex when we controlled for all other factors,” Bendixen said.
People may feel disgust because they feel moral regret, but also if the act is unhygienic or if the sex itself was perceived as gross.
For the study, the researchers analysed responses from 547 Norwegian and 216 American students.
The nationality and possible cultural aspects of the responses did not seem to play much of a role, the researchers said.