A recent study confirms that Norwegians have more one-night stands than Americans do, and one of the key contributing factors in determining this outcome is the difference in our cultural value system. Americans put religious faith at the top of their considerations, which may account for feelings of guilt about one-night stands or stop them from engaging in them altogether. Norwegians, on the other hand, don’t factor in faith nearly as much or at all when considering casual sex.
Americans feel conflicted about having to abide by these religious standards and values, especially in our hypersexual culture. But, here’s where things get interesting: the study also found that Americans have more sexual fantasy than Norwegians do. Americans spend time imagining sexual possibilities, whereas Norwegians are more inclined to go for it — to be sexual when they’re moved to do so.
The second part of the study revealed interesting material about sexual stereotypes. It found that men were more liable to regret a missed opportunity for having casual sex than women were, whereas women were more likely to regret their casual sexual encounters than men were. Let’s examine where those feelings of grief might stem from in women. Imagine sharing a sexual experience with someone and developing expectations about the relationship based on your subjective experience. If your expectations fail, it’s likely that you would end up feeling disappointed or, worse yet, hurt. The emotional response of hurt can leave women feeling vulnerable and wanting to understand what happened. Understanding helps her better gauge whether she was taken advantage of or whether she emotionally wounded herself by not being in reality.
Part of the disappointment response in females is a neurochemical reaction; after the excitation of sexual arousal, there’s an emotional refractory period that can cause an emotional crash for some. Women produce oxytocin, the hormone of attachment, love, and trust, so they may bond quicker than males do in these circumstances. Unlike the female, it’s possible that the man in this scenario thought there were unspoken non-attachment rules to the casual sexual encounter; things weren’t serious, to begin with, so he wonders, “What’s the problem?” But if the female had a fantasy of a relationship evolving out of the one night stand, she’ll likely feel distraught, distressed and maybe even hate herself afterward when that doesn’t happen then project those feelings onto the male. Her expectations about whom he was going to be to her can quickly turn fun and pleasure into shame and pain.
If you choose to have a one-night stand, make sure you clarify your expectations and assumptions with your partner before you have sex. By taking care of yourself on the front end, you can insure that you’re not having sex in a dream world only to wake up when it’s over, to find yourself living in a nightmare of feeling bad about yourself.