Sexual Dysfunction

The Danger of "Sexual Perfectionism"

Women’s self-image suffers if their partner is imposing “sexual perfectionism” on them, researchers say.

Perfectionism is defined as a ‘striving for flawlessness and the setting of exceedingly high standards for performance, accompanied by tendencies for overly critical self-evaluations and concerns about negative evaluations by others’. It is a common personality characteristic, but the longer term consequences of how it affects people’s sex life had previously not been explored.

Research led by Professor Joachim Stoeber from the School of Psychology at the University of Kent, considered the response of 366 women who completed two surveys in the period December 2013 to February 2014. Those recruited to the study were told that the online survey was investigating whether ‘personal and interpersonal expectations and beliefs affect one’s sexuality and sexual function’.

Researchers differentiated between four forms of sexual perfectionism: self-oriented, partner-oriented, partner-prescribed and socially prescribed. They found that partner-prescribed sexual perfectionism contributed to woman’s negative sexual self-concept and female sexual dysfunction. In particular, partner-prescribed sexual perfectionism predicted decreases in female sexual function regarding arousal.

They further found that partner-prescribed sexual perfectionism predicted decreases in sexual esteem and increases in sexual anxiety, suggesting that it is a psychological factor that may contribute to sexual self-concept problems in woman. The study is therefore likely to be of interest to clinicians, therapists and counsellors working to help woman in this area.

The findings were published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.


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