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Why men have regrets about sex uncovered

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Men and women have sexual regrets that are starkly different.

Men and women both have regrets about sex, finds a new study. Why men experience sexual remorse is completely different from what a woman might feel.


When it comes to having sex outside of a monogamous relationship men and women both experience regrets. But for men, sexual remorse is vastly different from that of women.

First large study defines sexual remorse between genders

A new study is the first to define the types of remorse men experience when it comes to having sex.
According to researchers, the finding also sheds some light on evolutionary drivers of sexual activity.
Apparently, regret about sex plays a role in reproductive survival.

Regrets about sex from female survey respondents included:

  • Loss of virginity to the "wrong" partner
  • Cheating
  • Having sex too soon in a relationship
  • Men on the other hand were sorry about:
  • Not having sex when the opportunity arose
  • Not exploring sex enough when they're young
  • Lack of more sex when they were single

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Compared to men, women were more likely to regret having sex with someone they found physically unattractive. Women also said they experienced higher remorse for having casual sex than do men.

The researchers found the same patterns among gay and bisexual men and women.

Andrew Galperin, a former social psychology doctoral student at the University of California-Los Angeles; and Martie Haselton, a UCLA social psychology professor led the study that is published in the current issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior.

University of Texas at Austin evolutionary psychologist David Buss who contributed to the study said in a press release past studies have focused mostly on sexual attractiveness when making sexual decisions.

Feeling regret casual sexual liaisons doesn't have any practical application except that it could keep men and women from repeating their actions, Haselton explained, because it occurs after-the-fact.

It seems men have remorse about not having more sexual encounters from a deep-rooted evolutionary drive to reproduce that persists. "But for women, reproduction required much more investment in each offspring, including nine months of pregnancy and potentially two additional years of breastfeeding. The consequences of casual sex were so much higher for women than for men, and this is likely to have shaped emotional reactions to sexual liaisons even today."