Why you should care
Because, from Mars to Venus, sexual regret is universal. At least we know we’re not alone.
Regrets: We’ve all got ’em. And it turns out we share a few.
Straight or gay, 24% of women surveyed in a paper out of the University of Texas at Austin said that of all their regrets, and especially romantic regrets, they most wished they’d given their v-card to a different person. But while women overall had a tendency to regret actions they did take, men were nearly twice as likely to regret actions they didn’t take — like passing up casual sex.
Forty-three percent of men regretted the one they didn’t hit on (compared with just 16% of women). What’s going on here? According to the authors of the paper: Men and women have regrets based on their fundamental desires to reproduce or not reproduce — so while women suffer over their unfortunate firsts, men are pained by the one who got away … at the bar.
Erm … But what does it all mean for those of us who aren’t freezing our eggs or running to the top of the Empire State Building to punch our marriage timecards just yet?
Well, turns out men and women are having an equal amount of casual sex, although apparently women’s standards are higher: 17% regretted having sex with someone they found unattractive — compared with only 10% of guys.
The study covered people ranging in age from 19 or younger to their 40s and 50s, but the vast majority were older — the study’s token millennial component sampled just 122 undergrad women and 78 undergrad men, while the bigger studies of more than 10,000 people had average ages in the 30s and 40s. And they asked the young’uns to think about potential scenarios rather than enumerating actual regrets.
Which means, sure, sitting around the brunch table, my friends and I might exercise caution — in theory. But in reality? YOLIO’s nothing new — it’s just the latest incarnation of something Tennyson said way before our time: “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”