WASHINGTON — In general, women regret short-term sexual encounters like one-night stands more than men do.But, the reason has remained unknown.
However, various factors determine whether and how much they regret them. According to a Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)-led study, an initiative is the clearest gender-differentiating factor for regret after casual sex, although other conditions also affect how much an individual regrets the encounter.
“The factor that clearly distinguishes women from men is the extent to which they themselves take the initiative,” says Mons Bendixen, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the NTNU.
Initiative is the clearest gender-differentiating factor for regret after casual sex, although other conditions also affect how much an individual regrets the encounter.
In contrast to women, sexual regret for men is not affected by whether they take the initiative. “Women who take the initiative see the man as an attractive sexual partner,” says Professor Leif Edvard Ottesen Kennair, also at NTNU’s Department of Psychology.
“Women who initiate sex are likely to have at least two distinguishing qualities,” said researcher David Buss, “First, they are likely to have a healthy sexual psychology, being maximally comfortable with their own sexuality. Second, women who initiate have maximum choice of precisely who they want to have sex with. Consequently, they have less reason to feel regret, since they’ve made their own choice.”
Researcher Mons Bendixen pointed out that these effects are not as strong in men, “Women have less regret if the sex was good. For men, this also plays a less important role. The underlying causes are biological”.
The higher-investing sex faces larger repercussions of mating decisions than the lower investing sex. Women have a higher minimum obligatory parental investment (e.g., 9 months internal gestation) than men. So, women’s regret should be more closely tied to the quality of their sex partner than men’s.
“For women, sexual skill might be a cue to high male quality,” said researcher Kelly Asao. In short, women may profit more from high quality in their sexual partners than men do.
This study,published in the Personality and Individual Differences, added several factors that can explain responses to casual sex.
The researchers also asked study participants if they took the initiative for the sex act, if they felt pressured to have sex and whether the partner was skilled or sexually competent. Participants were also asked if they experienced disgust.
Women also feel disgusted more often than men after a short-term sexual encounter. This is one of the key factors in whether or not they feel regret.
People may feel disgusted because they feel moral regret, but also if the act is unhygienic or if the sex itself was perceived as gross.
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Sexual violence haunts women for years : Study
Women who are sexually assaulted experience more vivid memories than women coping with the aftermath of other traumatic, life-altering events not associated with sexual violence, a new Rutgers-New Brunswick study has found.
Compared with other traumatic life-altering events, the memories of sexual assault remain intense and vivid for years, even when not linked to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the study authors said.
The study, published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, has found that women who had suffered from sexual violence, even those who were not diagnosed with PTSD, had more intense memories — even decades after the violence occurred — that are difficult, if not impossible to forget.
For the study, the researchers studied almost 200 women, aged 18 to 39, including 64 women who were victims of sexual violence. Fewer than 10 percent were taking anti-anxiety or antidepressant drugs.
“To some extent, it is not surprising that these memories relate to more feelings of depression and anxiety, because these women remember what happened and think about it a lot,” said co-author Tracey Shors, a psychology professor at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ.
“But these feelings and thoughts are usually associated with PTSD. And most women in our study who experienced these vivid memories did not suffer from PTSD, which is generally associated with more intense mental and physical reactions,” Shors said in a university news release.
The women who suffered sexual violence had clear, strong memories, including details of the event. Moreover, they had a hard time forgetting the incident and viewed it as a defining part of their life, the researchers found.
“Each time you reflect on an old memory, you make a new one in your brain because it is retrieved in the present space and time,” Shors said. “What this study shows is that this process can make it even more difficult to forget what happened.”
Other research has found that sexual aggression and violence are likely causes of PTSD in women. PTSD can be physically and mentally debilitating and difficult to overcome, the researchers noted.
According to Emma Millon, who is a graduate student and co-author of the report, “Women in our study who ruminated more frequently also reported more trauma-related symptoms. One could imagine how rumination could exacerbate trauma symptoms and make recovery from the trauma more difficult.”
The World Health Organization reports that 30 percent of women around the world experience physical or sexual assault in their lifetime, with teens most likely to be victims of rape, attempted rape or assault.
Studies have also found that as many as one in five college students experiences sexual violence during their school years.