Sexual Narcissism

February 16, 2017

Studies of narcissists have shown that they score low in both relationship and sexual satisfaction. Since narcissists are dedicated to maximizing their own satisfaction, and because they tend to have more sexual partners, their reporting lower sexual satisfaction appears counterintuitive. This question led to the development of a specific Sexual Narcissism Scale.

What is sexual narcissism?

“With regard to sexuality, compared with those lower in narcissism, narcissists tend to have a sense of sexual entitlement, more frequently using words such as “power” and “dominance,” as well as thinking about sex more in terms of personal pleasure rather than emotional intimacy.”

Sexual narcissism is comprised of four components:

narcissistic personality

Below are each of the items on the scale, which are each scored 1-5 by the subjects themselves.

Sexual Exploitation: the willingness and ability to manipulate another for sexual gain.

  • If I ruled the world for one day, I would have sex with anyone I choose.
  • One way to get someone in bed with me is to tell him/her what he/she wants to hear.
  • When I want to have sex, I will do whatever it takes.
  • I could easily convince someone to have sex with me if he or she was unwilling.
  • I would be willing to trick someone to get him/her to have sex with me.

Sexual Entitlement : the belief that the fulfillment of one’s sexual desire is a personal right.

  • I feel I deserve sexual activity when I am in the mood for it.
  • I am entitled to sex on a regular basis.
  • I should be permitted to have sex whenever I want it.
  • I would be irritated if my partner said no to sex.
  • I expect sexual activity if my partner and I go out on an expensive date.

Low Sexual Empathy: general lack of empathy and devaluation of another person in sexual situations.

  • When I sleep with my partner, I rarely know what he/she is thinking or feeling.
  • It is important for me to know what my partner is feeling when we make love.
  • I enjoy sex more when I feel I really know my partner.
  • The feelings of my partner during sex don’t usually concern me.
  • I do not usually care how my sexual partner feels after sex.

Perceived Sexual Skill: a tendency to hold a grandiose sense of sexual skill or an exaggerated sense of sexual success.

  • I am an exceptional sexual partner.
  • My partner thinks I am fantastic in bed.
  • I really know how to please my partner sexually.
  • I have been very successful in all my sexual relationships.
  • Others have told me I am very sexually skilled.

Men scored higher than women in all areas of Sexual Narcissism:

Scaled 1-5WomenMen
Low empathy1.782.12
Grandiose Skill3.443.55

Why do sexual narcissists report low sexual satisfaction?

A new study examines whether sexual narcissists spend more time comparing their sex lives to others, and whether that lowers sexual satisfaction. (Is Comparison the Thief of Joy? Sexual Narcissism and Social Comparisons in the Domain of Sexuality, Day, Muise & Impett, 2017).

“Are people who are high in sexual narcissism more sensitive to information comparing their sex lives with the sex lives of others? Does this sensitivity explain narcissists’ lower sexual and relationship satisfaction?

…We found that people high in sexual narcissism were more bothered when comparing themselves with someone with a higher sexual frequency and felt better about a comparison with someone with a lower sexual frequency.

In turn, narcissists’ greater sensitivity to upward social comparisons predicted lower sexual and relationship satisfaction. These results suggest that those high in sexual narcissism may use downward sexual comparisons to maintain their grandiose self-views.”

Sexual narcissists spend a lot of time keeping score.

The key here is not how much sex someone is actually having, it’s how much sex one is having relative to others. All sexually dissatisfied men and two-thirds of sexually dissatisfied women express a desire for more frequent sex.

“In one study of more than 50,000 people, researchers found that engaging in more frequent sex was associated with greater well-being but that people reported lower well-being when members of their peer group report engaging in more frequent sex than them.

These results suggest that a person’s well-being is not only associated with how much sex they are having in their relationship but may also be contingent on how much sex they are having relative to other people.”

Sexual narcissists regularly seek comparisons to people having less sex than themselves. At the same time, they react very negatively when confronted with a comparison in which they are having less frequent sex. When they are able to “win” these frequent comparisons, they report greater sexual satisfaction. Experiencing comparisons in which they have less sex results in depressed sexual satisfaction.

“Sexual narcissism is characterized by an excessive need for validation. Thus, people high in sexual narcissism may seek out more downward sexual comparisons as a way to meet their excessive needs for validation and admiration.”

Others enjoy the sex they have.

People low in sexual narcissism are not particularly bothered by the sex lives of others one way or the other.

“Those who are low in sexual narcissism were not concerned with outperforming others in the domain of sexuality.”

This is a good example of how narcissists display arrogance rather than self-confidence. It’s those low in sexual narcissism who don’t bother seeking external validation, because they are satisfied with their own sexual experiences and relationships. That’s real self-confidence.

Narcissists are truly toxic in the dating pool. They are constantly striving to find the contentment that eludes them, and they make others unhappy along the way. (Not that they care!)

Have you dated someone who was prone to making comparisons or grandiose claims about sexual skill? Or someone who boasted of past sexual conquests? Is coercion at any level a dealbreaker? What about the person who hates to cuddle? Does that signal low sexual empathy?

I welcome your thoughts!