Women regret one-night stands more than men, and researchers think they know why

A new study shows that a woman's historical use of the pill can impact her sex life.

© Artem Furman/shutterstock.com
A new study shows that a woman's historical use of the pill can impact her sex life. © Artem Furman/shutterstock.com

 Although as many as 7 in 10 of us will experience a one-night stand at some point in our lives, new research from Norway suggests how women and men feel about it the morning after can vary greatly.

After a previous US study found that women more often regret agreeing to a one-night stand than men, whereas men regret passing up the chance more than women, a team of researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) Department of Psychology along with the University of Texas at Austin, wanted to see if the same held true in Norway, a supposedly more sexually liberal and egalitarian country.

For their research the team recruited 263 male and female students aged 19 to 37 years who had all experienced at least one one-night stand.

The team found the same pattern in Norway as in the US, with around 35 percent of women and only 20 percent of men regretting the experience to some degree.

Women were also more likely to feel unhappier about the experience, with just 30 percent of women reporting that they were happy about their most recent casual sex experience -- compared to over 50 percent of the men.

The results also showed that when it came to turning down the offer of a one night stand, nearly 80 percent of women were happy that they had said no, however only 43 percent of men felt the same.

When explaining possible reasons for the differences, the team suggested that it could be that women worry more and are less likely to partake in risky behavior that men.

However this theory doesn't explain the differences in reactions after the event.

Further questioning ruled out the idea that women feel more regretful because they do not get as much sexual pleasure out of a one-night stand as men do, with the team also suggesting that pregnancy concerns, STD infections and getting a bad reputation could instead help explain the patterns.

Evolutionary psychology could also be a reason. Dr. Buss, one of the co-authors on the study, explained that, "Women and men differ fundamentally in their sexual psychology. A key limitation on men's reproductive success, historically, has been sexual access to fertile women. These evolutionary selection pressures have created a male sexual mind that is attentive to sexual opportunities."

So for men, continued researcher Professor Kennear, it's a case of quantity not quality so he can improve his reproductive success by having as many fertile mates as possible.

Because women are restricted in how many children they can have, they instead go for quality over quantity to pass good genes on to their children and produce a good environment in which to raise them.

And although society, culture, and attitudes change, our basic biological function does not, with Dr. Buss adding that, "Many social scientists expect that in sexually egalitarian cultures such as Norway, these sex differences would disappear. They do not. This fact makes the findings on sex differences in sexual regret in modern Norwegian people so fascinating scientifically." 

The results can be found online published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology.

X