Gender, Sex Ed

Why Are Women More Likely To Regret Casual Sex Than Men?

March 5, 2018 by Justin Lehmiller


Several studies have found that women are more likely to have regrets about their previous experiences with casual sex than men. While men can certainly have regrets about casual sex, they’re more likely than women to regret opportunities they passed up instead of times they actually had casual sex. So why is that? What explains this gender difference?

A new study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences offers some insight, and it’s the subject of my latest column over at TONIC. In this study, hundreds of adults from two countries (Norway and the United States) were surveyed regarding how they felt about the most recent time they had casual sex. Consistent with past research, women did indeed express more regrets about this experience than men.

When it came to the factors that predicted casual sex regrets, they were largely the same across genders: feeling disgusted, not experiencing much pleasure, and being worried about what they did (e.g., being concerned about the health implications, such as STIs or unintended pregnancy). So if the predictors are the same, why are women more likely to regret casual sex? Because they’re more likely to experience the factors that predict regret: women are more likely to walk away from casual sex having a less-than-satisfying experience, feeling disgusted, and worrying about their health and/or the implications for their reputation.

There was one other factor that predicted regrets about casual sex, which involved who took the initiative to have sex in the first place. It turned out that when women didn’t take the initiative, they were more likely to regret the experience; by contrast, whether men took the initiative or not didn’t matter when it came to their feelings of regret. To learn more about what this means and other details of the study, check out the full article here.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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