Regret doesn’t stop people from avoiding future one-night stands


Women tend to regret casual sex more than men, but not enough to keep them from having more one-night stands, a new study reveals.

Norwegian researchers found that women experience more ‘sexual regret’ – meaning that they are more likely to wish they weren’t connected to any random person.

But women who regret a one night stand don’t feel bad enough about changing their behavior for the next time – probably because of the power of a high sex drive.

Men, meanwhile, regret losing “ short-term sexual opportunities ” more than women.

Women are more likely to regret a one night stand than men.  Conversely, men are more likely to regret missing a chance at a one night stand

Women are more likely to regret a one night stand than men. Conversely, men are more likely to regret missing a chance at a one night stand


Covid-19 has prompted us to rethink everything – especially sex.

The sexual freedom that many previously enjoyed – having casual sex that is no longer frowned upon – is no longer just a wipe away.

Dating studies show that many people, especially women, stopped looking for a future partner when it became clear that the virus was dangerous.

The Kinsey Institute in America launched an ongoing study of sex and relationships in March 2020 and found that about half of those involved are less sexually active than before.

Research indicates that the same is happening in the UK and Australia.

But online dating platforms like Tinder are still helping new partners connect.

Video platforms also made sexual activity virtual in Covid’s time.

Read more: Sexpert Tracey Cox reveals how to hook up safely during the pandemic

The experts found little evidence that sexual regret is “functional” – in other words, it doesn’t really contribute to any real behavioral change.

In women, this behavioral change would reduce the number of one-night stands, choose better quality partners, and shift strategies toward long-term relationships.

“We’re not that surprised,” said study author Professor Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

“People, for the most part, continue to have the same sexual behavior and regret.”

The research team previously found that 35 percent of women feel guilty about having casual sex, compared to 20 percent of men.

Factors determining this difference include concerns about pregnancy, STD infections and getting a bad reputation, they revealed.

This new study looked at the potential of ‘sexual regret’ to change future behavior.

Many psychologists assume that regret and other emotions have a function: that they will influence our behavior, so that we adjust it.

For example, if we have experienced negative emotions, we can change our behavior to reduce the risk of those negative feelings later on.

Likewise, a feeling of disgust can protect us from infection, while fear can protect us from danger.

“Researchers have found that most people believe this is true for regrets,” said postdoctoral fellow Trond Viggo Grøntvedt at NTNU.

They assume that regret is actually a useful negative feeling. People assume it helps them not to repeat what they regret. ‘

Women (and men) are repeating what they thought was a mistake, and we're just as sorry next time around, the study suggests.

Women (and men) are repeating what they thought was a mistake, and we're just as sorry next time around, the study suggests.

Women (and men) are repeating what they thought was a mistake, and we’re just as sorry next time around, the study suggests.

For their study, researchers recruited 621 participants who answered a sexual regret questionnaire twice, at approximately 4.5-month intervals.

This approach made it possible to study changes over shorter periods.

“We wanted to investigate whether their levels of regret contributed to a change in behavior next time,” said Professor Mons Bendixen, also at NTNU.

Both women and men regretted what they did the last time an opportunity for casual sex presented itself, but they often regretted completely different choices.

Men reported more than women regretting short-term sexual opportunities – something the researchers called “passion regret” – while women reported regretting sexual encounters – called “action regrets.”

Interestingly, action regret was generally not enough to protect against casual sex in the future, the researchers said.

In other words, women – and some men too – regret having casual sex, but this emotion isn’t powerful enough to overcome human lust.

As the researchers point out, we will probably respond just like last time when the opportunity for sex arises “and horniness takes over.”

“If regrets help, wouldn’t most sinners eventually become saints?” said Professor Kennair.

“We’ve reiterated that regret is adaptive in all of our articles on this topic over the years – and now we’ve tested it.”

While men regretted passing one-night stands, researchers found “no clear evidence” that this regret of inaction was enough to take part in more one-night stands.

This could be because men don’t necessarily interact with someone just because they want it to happen.

The study is published in Evolutionary Psychology


In 2017, NTNU scientists found that 35 percent of women feel guilty after a one night stand.

But only 20 percent of men regretted getting to bed and doing the deed with a stranger.

60 percent of men are irritated by their decision to turn down their most recent casual sex opportunity.

And the reason women tend to feel more guilty may have to do with evolution, they suggest.

To assess attitudes toward one night stands, researchers asked Norwegians – supposedly from a more sexually liberal background.

263 students between the ages of 19 and 37 who had experienced casual sexual encounters were questioned.

It was much more common for women to regret saying yes (35 percent), the researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology discovered.

Only 30 percent said they were happy with their most recent one-night stand. But more than half of the men said the same.

At the same time, nearly 80 percent of women were happy to decline their previous chance for casual sex.

But only 40 percent of men feel like they made the right decision by ignoring the opportunity.

Study author Professor Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair said: ‘Women regret that they have more often agreed to a one night stand than men. Men regret giving up the opportunity more than women.

“Men enjoy casual sex significantly more, but that doesn’t explain the gender difference in regret, as gender is the main influencing factor for both the likelihood of orgasm and sexual regret after casual sex.”

They are less happy with the experience – mainly because of their concerns about pregnancy, STDs, and getting a bad reputation.

While it’s conceivable that women may regret more for not achieving as much sexual pleasure, evolution could also be to blame, with men and women both having different attitudes toward sex.

The researchers pointed out that men could theoretically father thousands of children.

This was widely used in the past to increase the chances of having children who would survive.

But this meant that the quality of their sexual partner was compromised.

The researchers said this has led many men to worry only about the number of potential sexual opportunities for them.

However, women are more focused on quality partners.