Study Finds Men and Women Have Different Sexual Regrets

C. Price

Written by: C. Price

C. Price

C. Price is part of DatingAdvice.com's content team. She writes advice articles, how-to guides, and studies — all relating to dating, relationships, love, sex, and more.

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

Discuss This! Discuss This!
Advertiser Disclosure

Regret and sexuality often go hand in hand, and how people chose to cope and learn from regretful encounters may depend on their gender.

New research, which appears in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, found men were more likely to regret sex they never had, while women were more likely to regret an actual physical encounter.

The top regret found among women, at 23 percent, was losing their virginity to the wrong person, while men regretted being too shy to pursue an encounter when they had the opportunity. More than a quarter of men, 27 percent, listed this concern.

Attraction appeared to play a bigger role for women, with nearly one in five regretting an encounter with someone “physically unattractive” compared to only one in 10 among men.

Men were also found to be commonly contrite over not exploring their sexual freedom while single or not being more sexually adventurous in their youth.

Casual sex was more regretted by women, who were also found to maintain sexual regret for longer periods and at a higher intensity than men.

“Men regretted sex they never had, while

women regretted an actual physical encounter.”

Three studies were initiated for the report, the first involving 200 people who were asked to evaluate hypothetical situations involving sex and regret. Using a five-point scale, they were asked to rate their likely level of regret from each scenario.

In some scenarios, the regret was drawn around having a one-night stand. In others scenarios, the regret was over not pursuing the opportunity for sex when it arrived.

In the second and third test, nearly 25,000 participants were each asked to identify the types of common sexual regret they had personally experienced.

The findings help clarify how feelings like regret can play a role in survival and reproduction, according to UCLA social psychologist and study co-author Martie Haselton.

“For men throughout evolutionary history, every missed opportunity to have sex with a new partner is potentially a missed reproduce opportunity — a costly loss from an evolutionary perspective,” she said.

“But for women, reproduction required much more investment in each offspring, including nine months of pregnancy and potentially two additional years of breastfeeding,” she said “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.”

From: utexas.edu.

Advertiser Disclosure

DatingAdvice.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation from many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across the site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). DatingAdvice.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.

Our Editorial Review Policy

Our site is committed to publishing independent, accurate content guided by strict editorial guidelines. Before articles and reviews are published on our site, they undergo a thorough review process performed by a team of independent editors and subject-matter experts to ensure the content’s accuracy, timeliness, and impartiality. Our editorial team is separate and independent of our site’s advertisers, and the opinions they express on our site are their own. To read more about our team members and their editorial backgrounds, please visit our site’s About page.