Sexual Dysfunction Linked with Having a Perfectionist Partner

A new UK study discovers that women who feel their sexual partner is imposing perfectionist standards on them may suffer from sexual dysfunction. Psychologists at the University of Kent explain that their study is the first to review how different types of sexual perfectionism affect women over a period of time.

Findings from the study, published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, suggest that “partner-prescribed” sexual perfectionism contributed to negative self-image for the other partner.

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.

The quest for perfectionism is a common personality characteristic that may affect all domains of life, explain the researchers. However, the longer term consequences of how it affects people’s sex lives had previously not been explored.

Dr. Joachim Stoeber at Kent’s School of Psychology, analyzed the response of 366 women who completed two surveys in the period December 2013 to February 2014. These women, comprising 230 students and 136 internet users, had mean ages of 19.7 and 30 years respectively. Participants 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 classified sexual perfectionism into four groupings:

  • self-oriented
  • partner-oriented
  • partner-prescribed
  • socially prescribed

They found that partner-prescribed sexual perfectionism contributed to a woman’s negative sexual self-concept and female sexual dysfunction. In particular, partner-prescribed sexual perfectionism predicted decreases in female sexual function regarding arousal. Investigators also found that partner-prescribed sexual perfectionism predicted decreases in sexual esteem and increases in sexual anxiety.

The findings suggest the expectation of perfectionism is a psychological factor that may contribute to sexual self-concept problems in woman. Researchers believe this information will be helpful to clinicians, therapists, and counselors working to help women in this area.

This guest article originally appeared on Partner’s Perfectionist Demands May Damage Sex Life b.


Stoeber, J., & Harvey, L. N. (2016). Multidimensional sexual perfectionism and female sexual function: A longitudinal investigation. Archives of Sexual Behavior. DOI:10.1007/s10508-016-0721-7


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