A revolving door of men may be what revs the engine of Sex and the City character Samantha Jones, but she’d be among a small handful of women who would agree in the real world.
That’s because, thanks to evolution, women are programmed to regret having one night stands while men have become wired to regret not having more of them, a recent Norwegian University of Science and Technology study says.
According to the findings, eight in 10 men say they regretted turning down a one night stand. Eight in 10 women, however, say they were happy with their decisions to turn down casual sex romps (compared to 43 per cent of men).
“We’re not saying that there aren’t men who regret casual sex,” Lief Kennair, co-author of the study, tells The Telegraph. “But it is far more common for women to regret saying yes. They are also unequivocally happy about the experience.”
Over 260 people between the ages of 19 and 37 who had experienced at least one casual sexual experience were surveyed for the study.
But it’s not to say there were some women who were regret-free.
In fact, one in three women were happy about their one-night sexual encounters. This, however, is compared to over 50 per cent of men.
“Men enjoy casual sex considerably more, but this doesn’t explain the gender differences in regret, because gender is the most important influencing factor for both orgasm probability and sexual regret after casual sex,” Kennair told the The Daily Mail.
These differences could exist for several reasons, researchers say.
First, women tend to worry about becoming pregnant, contracting an STI and getting a bad reputation.
For men, they tend to enjoy the one-time romps because they are more likely to achieve orgasm, but both genders equally regret the experience if they do not climax.
Perhaps the biggest factor, researchers say, is the role of evolutionary psychology over thousands of years.
Researchers explain that men have the ability to father many children and are only limited to the amount of available fertile women. This is called the “scatter-gun” strategy and it means that the quality of mate for men doesn’t have to be as high as it is for women.
For females, the quality of their mate is more important for a few reasons.
First, having more partners doesn’t mean they’ll have greater success at conceiving. A selective process ensures the best genes are carried forward.
Second, women want a man who will invest their time in resources with them and their children, and not with other women and children.
For relationship expert Jen Kirsch, the sentiments men and women feel toward one night stands aren’t surprising.
One night stands are quite common today, she says, and studies like these help people get a better sense of just how many more people – besides themselves – are engaging in them.
“Especially being 2017 we’re in such a hookup culture,” she says. “What I think we can take away from this [study] is the importance of being safe by using protection, for example, that will help you enjoy and have a good time.”
Engaging in one night stands can be a positive thing, Kirsch adds, as long as they’re done safely (with both your physical and emotional health in mind) and for the right reasons.
“It also comes down to what your intentions are,” she says. “If you genuinely have no intentions to further the relationship and you’re totally OK with a hookup – whether something more comes from it or not – then I say go for it. But if you think you’re going to be hurt if you don’t hear from them after the fact, then I say be cautious.”