You’re out at a bar with some friends to celebrate your last exam. The three of you are chatting it up when a group of people come over. One of them won’t stop looking at you and finally introduces himself. You hit it off and end up going home together.
And though it’s mostly a positive experience, you have pangs of regret the next day.
Regret doesn’t make any sense, you think, after all, you wanted to have sex with him.
What you’re going through is pretty common. Women, the world over, feel more regret after casual sex than men do, research has shown. But why is this? And what can they do about it?
Finding out the why
With these questions in mind, an international team of researchers tracked down over 750 men and women under the age of 30. The participants told the researchers how much regret they felt the last time they had casual sex. They also answered questions about things that could have affected their regret, like whether the sex was any good and if they were the ones who made the first move.
More women than men regretted their one-night stand or fling, the research confirmed. Why is that? It comes down to biology, said the researchers in a press release. Women put more energy and resources into raising kids than men do. So there’s more at stake for them if sex outside of a non-committed relationship leads to pregnancy.
But perhaps more importantly, if you’re a woman who has felt those pangs of post-casual-sex regret, what can you do about it?
Two things seemed to make a difference when it came to how women felt about the experience. The first doesn’t come as much of a surprise: whether the sex was good or not so much. Mind-blowing sex and a partner who knew what he was doing was pretty much a guarantee when it came to a regret-free morning after.
And then there’s the decidedly less pleasant factor: disgust. Women who were grossed out by the guy they went home with were more likely to regret having had sex with him, the study found. There’s a reason for that. Sexual disgust helps us avoid partners who might carry a risk of a sexually transmitted infection, the researchers explained.
What can women do?
That’s all very well, you might be thinking, but is there anything I can do before casual sex to avoid feeling regret the morning after?
One thing that made a big difference for the women in the study was whether or not they were the ones who initiated sex. Women who made the first move were less likely to wake up wishing they hadn’t gotten with their lover. That could be because they took things into their own hands and made their own decisions about their sexual behaviour, said the researchers.
Reference: Why do women regret casual sex more than men do? Personality and Individual Differences. Published: April 2018.
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