Did you walk away from your last one-night stand thinking you blew her mind? Science says think again.
Women are far more likely to regret a one-night stand than men – and evolution may be partly to blame, according to a new study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) Department of Psychology.
Researchers recruited 263 male and female students between the ages of 19 and 37 who had all experienced at least one-night stand, hoping to find out whether the results of a recent U.S. study – wherein women were found to regret one-time hookups more often, while men regretted not engaging in more – held up in highly sexually liberal Norway.
The results turned out similar, with around 35 percent of women and only 20 percent of men reporting that they regretted a one-night stand to some degree.
The researchers also found that women were far more likely to feel unhappy after casual sex, with just 30 percent of women reporting that they were pleased with their recent experience compared to over 50 percent of men. Moreover, when it came to turning down an offer for a one-night stand, 80 percent of women and only 43 percent of men were happy they said no.
While the researchers suggested this discrepancy may have something to do with the fact that women tend to partake in less risky behavior than men, that doesn’t explain the difference in post-hookup feelings.
Surveyed men were found to have enjoyed the actual sex more, with more men claiming they’d achieved orgasm than women. The research team also suggested that concerns about pregnancy and STI infections, as well as patriarchal pressures about notions of female promiscuity, could be playing a role in women’s one-night stand regrets.
Evolutionary psychology, however, could also be a big reason, said co-author Dr. David Buss.
"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."
What that means, surmise the researchers, is that it’s more so a matter of quantity over quality for men, who seek to enhance their reproductive success by having as many sexual encounters as possible. Since women are limited in how many children they can bear, they are more likely to seek quality over quantity in efforts to pass good genes onto their children.
"Many social scientists expect that in sexually egalitarian cultures such as Norway, these sex differences would disappear. They do not,” said Buss. “This fact makes the findings on sex differences in sexual regret in modern Norwegian people so fascinating scientifically.”