If you’re a sexually active individual, chances are you’ve experienced what we like to call “The Sex Cringe” -- that mortifying/amusing/damaging moment when you recall a particular sexual escapade, which instinctively makes you shudder.
According to researchers at the University of Texas Austin, the reasons for this sexual regret are rooted in evolution. Furthermore, “while men and women both experience sexual regret, what they regret, and why, varies greatly.”
For women, the top three most common regrets are: losing virginity to the wrong partner (24 percent), cheating on a present or past partner (23 percent), and moving too fast sexually (20 percent).
For men, the top three regrets are: being too shy to make a move on a prospective sexual partner (27 percent), not being more sexually adventurous when young (23 percent), and not being more sexually adventurous during their single days (19 percent).
So, where does evolution come into play? “For men, every missed opportunity to have sex with a new partner is potentially a missed reproduce opportunity — a costly loss from an evolutionary perspective,” says Martie Haselton, a UCLA social psychology professor who conducted the study.
“But for women, reproduction required much more investment in each offspring, including nine months of pregnancy and potentially two additional years of breastfeeding. 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,” explains Haselton.
It is also interesting to note that more women than men (17 percent versus 10 percent, respectively) regret having sex with an unattractive partner. Probably because we want to make sure the resulting baby we’re going to have, and spend the rest of our lives with, is good-looking. Or you know, evolution, too.