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Study finds Men and Women have Different Regrets when it comes to Sex

Update Date: Nov 26, 2013 03:32 PM EST

Several recent studies have investigated the effects of casual sex on women and men. These studies have found even though men and women experience different levels of pleasure from casual sexual relationships, both genders face a greater risk of depression when compared to people who do not engage in causal sex. In a new study, the research team from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Texas at Austin found that men and women have different regrets when it comes to sex.

The research team conducted three studies that involved over 24,000 people. In the first study, the participants were told a hypothetical story in which the main character either took advantage or failed to take advantage of an opportunity to engage in sex. The participants were asked to rank the main character's level of remorse using a five-point scale. In the second study, the participants were presented with a list of sexual regret. The team asked them to identify which ones they have experienced. In the last study, the researchers expanded the second study to include gay, lesbian and bisexual participants.

Based from these three studies, the researchers found the men tended to regret missing out on a sexual opportunity whereas women tended to regret engaging in sex. For men, 27 percent regretted being too shy to make a move on a potential sexual partner, 23 percent regretted not being more sexually adventurous when they were younger and 19 percent regretted not being more sexually adventurous when they were single. For women, 24 percent regretted losing their virginity to the wrong person, 23 percent regretted cheating and 19 percent regretted moving too fast. The researchers also found that more women tended to regret having sex with a physically unattractive partner than men.

"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," said Martie Haselton, a UCLA professor of psychology and communication studies reported by UCLA. "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 ancestral women than for ancestral men, and this is likely to have shaped emotional reactions to sexual liaisons even today."

 Lead author Andrew Galperin added, "We do not doubt that social norms, such as a sexual 'double standard,' play a major role in sexual regret. But these norms themselves might have roots in the ancient selection pressures shaping women's and men's minds."

The study was published in the journal, Archives of Sexual Behavior.

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