New research has found four out of five men, and even more women, have wished they had not acted on impulse after a one night stand.
But their reasons are very different, the study found, with men often wanting to avoid future contact with a sexual partner and women most likely to believe they had moved too fast.
Participants from Brazil, the US, Canada, and Norway – all under 30 – were asked if they had suffered from any negative emotions in the early stages of a relationship.
The international study is the first to show both sexes feel strong negative postcoital emotions.
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‘There’s nothing new about some people having negative feelings after sex,’ said co-author Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair, Professor of psychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
‘But why? How can something that starts out good result in such negative emotions?
‘The sexual act itself can reinforce the ties between the parties if the right hormones are triggered.
‘But for the partner who gains the most from moving on to other potential short-term partners, it more often triggers a feeling of distance instead.’
He added men on average wanted to leave to a greater degree than be intimate after sex.
‘Women gain from having quality rather than quantity,’ he said.
‘They want the man to stay to a greater extent. This preference applies on a group level, and obviously not to everyone.
‘In Norway, sex for the sake of sex is more accepted here.
‘We can speculate that this is due to a greater level of sexual equality and sexual liberation.’
Participants from Brazil, the US, Canada, and Norway – all under 30 – were asked if they had suffered from any or all 23 negative emotions in the early stages of a relationship, including need to be comforted, a feeling of worthlessness, tearfulness feeling rejected, shame, guilt, pity, and frustration.
They found the feelings occurred universally even if sex happened after a long courtship.
The percentage of men who have already experienced one or more negative emotions at least once was between 79 per cent and 84 per cent.
The frequency was between 86 per cent and 89 per cent among women – much higher than previous estimates.
Professor Kennair added: ‘To our knowledge, this is the first study to date investigating prevalence of negative postcoital emotions in men.’
The authors, writing in the journal Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences concluded: ‘That suggests that sex differences in negative postcoital emotions are in line with the main differences in sexual strategies between the sexes.’
Evolutionary psychologists argue that men have developed an ability to distance themselves from the objects of their affection in order to move on if they are not suitable as a long-term partner.
For women however there is a stronger desire to form a nurturing relationship, it is claimed.
By TOBY MCDONALD