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Sexual Perfectionism and Women’s Sexual Assertiveness: Understanding the Unique Effects of Perfectionistic Expectations about Sex Originating from and Directed toward the Sexual Partner

Abstract

We investigated how dimensions of sexual perfectionism (i.e., self-directed, partner-directed, partner-prescribed, and socially-prescribed), which reflect expectations to be a perfect sexual partner, related to sexual assertiveness in women. Women (n = 202) in the United States recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk, who self-reported having previously engaged in sexual activity, served as participants and completed the Multidimensional Sexual Perfectionism Questionnaire and the Sexual Assertiveness Scale. Results revealed that all four dimensions of sexual perfectionism related to lower levels of assertiveness around refusal of unwanted sexual activity and accounted for approximately 19% of its variance. When controlling for shared variance across dimensions of sexual perfectionism, only partner-prescribed sexual perfectionism uniquely related to lower levels of refusal assertiveness. In addition, partner-prescribed sexual perfectionism related to lower levels of assertiveness around initiation of desired sexual activity (i.e., initiation assertiveness) when holding levels of sexual perfectionism on other dimensions constant. In contrast, partner-directed sexual perfectionism related to higher levels of initiation assertiveness when holding constant the other dimensions of sexual perfectionism. We conclude that sexual perfectionism (particularly perceived perfectionistic expectations from sexual partners) appears to be a salient concept in understanding what may hinder women from sexually asserting themselves.

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Correspondence to Annette S. Kluck.

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Kluck, A.S., Hughes, K. & Zhuzha, K. Sexual Perfectionism and Women’s Sexual Assertiveness: Understanding the Unique Effects of Perfectionistic Expectations about Sex Originating from and Directed toward the Sexual Partner. Sex Roles 79, 715–725 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-018-0901-0

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-018-0901-0

Keywords

  • Psychosexual behavior
  • Perfectionism
  • Assertiveness
  • Women