Steinar Brandslet Women are more likely to want a closer relationship after sex than men. Men more commonly want to get away, new research shows. Colourbox Sex can be fun, liberating and utterly wonderful. Sometimes it feels like something is missing after sex.
Women want closeness after sex more often than men. On the other hand, men more commonly want to get away, new research confirms. The sexes also experience regrets in varying degrees and about different aspects of the sexual encounter. He came up with the idea for the new study that examines negative feelings after sex. How can something that starts out good result in such negative emotions? The short version is that although women and men are both interested in sex for its own sake, they are also—quite naturally—looking for different things in a sexual relationship.
Sex can be a mutual source for everything from joy to frustration. For men, from an evolutionary standpoint sex is perhaps primarily an opportunity for mating.
On the contrary, negative feelings after sex may be exactly the right response. These feelings stem from a conflict between what we wish for in a sexual encounter and what we actually get from it. Evolution made us this way. Three categories of negative emotions Researchers from Brazil, Norway and North America collaborated to investigate the topic. They received responses from four groups that formed the basis of the surveys, one from each region and a fourth group, chosen from Anglo-Americans who responded online.
Sources from the US and Canada were merged into one, as the researchers found no difference between their responses. The maximum age was set at 30 years. One type of negative feeling is when you want a stronger connection afterwards, where you feel rejected or want more closeness. The second type of negative feeling is the opposite, where you want to leave afterwards and experience your sexual partner as clingy.
A third form of negative emotion is where you feel regret because you worry about your reputation. The third form of negative emotion is similar between men and women. Both men and women think about their reputation. A bad reputation can make you less attractive to other partners who may be a better fit for you in the long run than the person you just shared a bed or restaurant toilet with.
The main differences between the sexes can be found among those who want to leave and those who want the other to stay. We do this mainly by having children who are able to spread their genes, but other factors come into play. The investment in each child can be much higher for women. This means that the quality of each child must be high so that they can spread their genes to the next generation. Ideally, the woman finds a stable and resourceful ally who helps to nurture these few children and make them attractive to potential partners.
But what you lose in quality, you gain in quantity. Many children can spread their genes to the next generation, a man can tolerate some of his children failing. So in a relationship between two people of different genders, most women and men are looking for completely different things. The partner who gains the most from seeking out new short-term sexual relationships is usually the man. Most men want more sexual partners than most women do, because they derive a benefit from sexual variation.
Previous Norwegian and international research shows that men are also generally more open to one-night stands than women are. In this context, we have to look at sex as a way in which we, consciously or unconsciously, are testing out a potential partner that we can later have a child with. Even when a sexual relationship does not result in a child, biology still drives our sexual psychology.
Seen historically and evolutionarily, men are less invested in their offspring than women are, and they are looking for quantity over quality to a greater extent.
See Parental investment fact box. With this background, researchers expected to find more men who wanted greater distance for a fleeting sexual experience — and they found it. The researchers also incidentally found that men more frequently pity their sexual partner afterwards. They want the man to stay to a greater extent. This was confirmed, too. They would rather have their sexual partner join them for breakfast the next morning- and often for the next several breakfasts, too.
This corresponds to previous research by evolutionary psychologists Anne Campbell at Durham University in the UK and Martie Haselton at UCLA, showing that women generally feel more connected to a man the day after sex. Men generally feel less tied to the woman after sex than before. He also tends to see her as less attractive once the sexual act is over. Norwegian women have the fewest negative feelings about men staying An interesting exception is Norwegian women.
They stand out from the women in North America and Brazil by having fewer and weaker feelings about connecting to their partner after a brief sexual relationship. Presumably this is a cultural adaptation. But even if this may be an effect of a more egalitarian culture, Norway still has gender differences. Norwegian men still want far less closeness with their partner after sex than Norwegian women.
Lurking in the background Before anyone starts pointing out the obvious: But it lurks in the background anyway, regardless of sexual liberalization and access to effective contraceptives that reduce the risk of having children with an unwanted partner. Evolution has not been able to respond to new contraceptives. The fact that people feel something specific after intercourse does not in any way mean that they know about the evolutionary relationships that underlie their feelings.
People who behaved like that were generally better at spreading their genes. Your ancestors did it right.