Sexual Perfectionism in Women: Not as Simple as Adaptive or Maladaptive
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According to research and theory, the construct of perfectionism may apply to specific life domains, including being a perfect sexual partner. We extended the research on sexual perfectionism (SP) by examining the relationships between its various dimensions (i.e., self-directed, partner-directed, socially prescribed, partner-prescribed) and communication about sex, sexual functioning, and appearance self-consciousness during sex. Women (N = 208) of ages 19–50 were recruited online to respond to the Multidimensional Sexual Perfectionism Questionnaire and measures of communication about sex, sexual functioning, and physical appearance self-consciousness during sex. Dimensions of SP demonstrated a mixed pattern of relationships with measures of adaptive functioning. Partner-prescribed SP was related to greater appearance self-consciousness during sex, indicating an unfavorable role of this dimension of SP. An indirect effect of socially prescribed and partner-prescribed SP on sexual functioning through poor dyadic communication about sex and greater appearance self-consciousness was also found. Self-directed SP was less clearly problematic and uniquely related to better dyadic communication, whereas partner-directed SP was uniquely related to fewer concerns about the body appearance during sex. In conclusion, with respect to personal functioning, higher standards directed towards sexual partners may be less problematic but perceptions that romantic partners expect one to be a perfect sexual partner may have deleterious effects. Overall, SP may relate to sexual experiences of women beyond the college-age group with some aspects of SP being more problematic than others.
KeywordsSexual perfectionism Sexual functioning Sex-related communication Women
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