Making love is a minefield at the best of times. But it seems those who seek perfection between the sheets may be the ones who cause themselves the most grief. A study has found that men who put pressure on women to be flawless in bed will cause their lover stress, anxiety and s3xual problems. Similarly, when a woman expects her man to be perfect, the chances are he will fail to perform and she will be left disappointed. Researchers claim this ‘s3xual perfectionism’ is ruining the love-making experience for many women.
The phenomenon is thought to be more prevalent in younger women—possibly influenced by glamorous images on the internet that are a world away from the average person’s experience of s3x, as well as the rise of online pornography. Those women who looked for bedroom perfection from their men tended to be ‘less satisfied with the s3x they are having compared to women who do not have these expectations.’
The study by the University of Kent looked at a variety of different types of perfectionism between the sheets. They said perfectionism is a common personality characteristic in many walks of life—and had been studied often in music and sport. Rather than being a perfectionist, it has been found that people who are conscientious tend to get better results. But little research had been carried out on the connection between such perfectionism and s3x lives. The researchers—led by Joachim Stoeber at the university’s psychology department—looked at survey responses of 366 women aged between 17 and 69 who completed surveys between December 2013 and February 2014. Of the original sample, 164 were asked to respond six months later to see how their responses changed over time.
To measure sexual perfectionism, the researchers used a questionnaire which looked at different aspects of sexual perfection. It asked the women to rate on a scale of 0-five how much they agreed with a variety of statements such as: ‘I expect nothing less than perfection from my s3xual partner, or ‘I have very high perfectionist goals for myself as a sexual partner’. They were also asked how much they agree with statements such as: ‘I feel anxious when I think about the s3xual aspects of my life’, or ‘I would be to blame if the sexual aspects of my life were not going very well.’ They also answered detailed questions on their sexual experiences, such as how often they felt aroused. It found that when the expectation to be perfect in bed came from one’s sexual partner this had ‘a negative effect on sexual function’.
But that silver lining is that it seems that as women get older, they become less worried about living up to a partner’s ideal and simply enjoy the experience. Becoming more mature, the researchers suggest, will lead to an ‘experience involving shared pleasures or relationship building’. Perfectionism was not always associated with problems: women who imposed perfectionist standards on themselves reported having higher levels of desire—but they were also more likely to be single.