If you flush with shame at that holiday fling, you’re not alone.
Women are genetically hard-wired to regret casual sex with the wrong partner – because of the burden of having children.
But it seems men are much more relaxed – they only regret not having sex at all.
Researchers quizzed 25,000 people about their sex lives to show regret is part of the way we have evolved.
Three studies by the University of Texas and University of California-Los Angeles found the main regrets for women were losing their virginity to the wrong partner, cheating or moving too fast.
More women (17 per cent) than men (10 per cent) included ‘having sex with a physically unattractive partner’ as a top regret.
UCLA psychology professor Martie Haselton said: ‘For men throughout evolutionary history, every missed opportunity to have sex with a new partner is potentially a missed reproduce opportunity – a costly loss from an evolutionary perspective.
‘For women, reproduction required much more investment in each offspring, including nine months of pregnancy and potentially two additional years of breastfeeding.
‘We [now] have reliable methods of contraception, but that doesn’t seem to have erased the sex differences in women’s and men’s responses.’
The findings were published in the academic journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.
Most of the participants were given a list of common sexual regrets and asked to indicate which ones they had experienced.
David Buss, evolutionary psychologist at the University of Texas, said: ‘Prior sex researchers have focused primarily on the emotion of sexual attraction.
‘These studies point to the importance of a neglected mating emotion – sexual regret – which feels experientially negative but in fact can be highly functional in guiding adaptive sexual decisions.’
However, regret was not enough to stop women having casual sex.
Some 56 per cent admitted indulging in it – the same proportion as for men.
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