Friday, July 31, 2020

Women rate feeling bad about themselves in breakup sex, maybe due to women’s sexual regret when participating in a one-time sexual encounter

The psychology of breakup sex: Exploring the motivational factors and affective consequences of post-breakup sexual activity. James B. Moran, T. Joel Wade, Damian R. Murray. Evolutionary Psychology, July 30, 2020.

Abstract: Popular culture has recently publicized a seemingly new postbreakup behavior called breakup sex. While the media expresses the benefits of participating in breakup sex, there is no research to support these claimed benefits. The current research was designed to begin to better understand this postbreakup behavior. In the first study, we examined how past breakup sex experiences made the individuals feel and how people predict they would feel in the future (n = 212). Results suggested that men are more likely than women to have felt better about themselves, while women tend to state they felt better about the relationship after breakup sex. The second study (n = 585) investigated why men and women engage in breakup sex. Results revealed that most breakup sex appears to be motivated by three factors: relationship maintenance, hedonism, and ambivalence. Men tended to support hedonistic and ambivalent reasons for having breakup sex more often than women. The two studies revealed that breakup sex may be differentially motivated (and may have different psychological consequences) for men and women and may not be as beneficial as the media suggests.

Keywords: breakup sex, sexual strategy theory, fiery limbo, postbreakup behavior, ex-sex, gender differences

Study 1: Discussion
Study 1 was conducted to understand how individuals feel when they have engaged in breakup sex and to understand how they might feel about it in the future. The 11 items were further used to assess whether there were gender differences between men and women. Results revealed that men, more than women, reported greater receptivity to breakup sex regardless of the extraneous factors in the relationship (e.g., differences in mate value, who initiated the breakup).

There was no gender difference regarding whether individuals would have breakup sex if they loved their partner. However, unexpectedly, men more than women reported that they would participate in sexual behaviors they normally would not engage in. This engagement in atypical/less frequent sexual behavior may reflect a mate retention tactic since research indicates that men perform oral sex as a benefit-provisioning mate retention tactic (Pham & Shackelford, 2013). Thus, performing sexual behaviors they normally would not do could be an indicator of mate retentive behaviors.

The hypotheses that women would rate feeling bad about themselves was supported. This finding could be due to women’s sexual regret when participating in a one-time sexual encounter (Eshbaugh & Gute, 2008; Galperin et al., 2013). These findings are contrary to the popular media idea that breakup sex is good for both men and women. These results suggest that between men and women, men feel best after breakup sex and would have breakup sex for some different reasons than women would.

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