How happy your partner makes you could be determined by how much sex you think your friends are having – if you’re a sexual narcissist, according to a recent study.
Not to be confused with your typical narcissists, the sexual type have “the tendency to exploit others, a lack of empathy, feelings of grandiosity and an excessive need for validation in the sexual domain,” say researchers at the University of Toronto in their paper. An article on the school’s blog likens it to the date who expects you to have sex just because he or she paid for dinner.
Scientists at the university looked at how comparing your sex life to others could affect relationship and sexual satisfaction. The team found that nearly everyone is curious about other people’s sex lives, but sexual narcissists are the most likely to be impacted by the comparisons.
“Individuals with a high degree of sexual narcissism tend to make comparisons with those who are less sexually skilled, for example,” says Lisa Day, a Ph.D. candidate, in the article. “When they do make comparisons with someone doing better than they were, it gets under their skin.”
The study took place in three parts. The first investigated whether people high in sexual narcissism were more likely to compare themselves against those deemed to be worse off. In a sample of 173 subjects, participants recalled a time they compared their sexual escapades against another’s, including sexual frequency, specific sexual activities or overall sexual satisfaction. Then, they assessed how well they fared in comparison.
As thought, sexual narcissists were more likely to make a downward comparison, basically stacking themselves against someone they feel superior to. Researchers found that the degree to which they thought they were doing better was associated with greater relationship and sexual satisfaction.
For the second experiment, 201 subjects were evaluated on how they would be affected by upward and downward social comparisons. Participants were asked how bothered they’d be to find out their best friends, a partner’s best friend, or an average couple were having more or less sex than they were. Turns out, sexual narcissists are less happy in their own relationships if others are having more sex.
In the final phase, 665 participants read fake magazine articles about couples having sex more frequently than they were, to test upward comparison and less frequently, to test downward comparison. Sexual narcissists proved to less happy with their own sex lives and relationships if other people were intimate more often.
The authors note that this research is a starting point for future studies on how sexual narcissists behave toward romantic partners. “Given that narcissists tend to be aggressive when their ego is threatened ( Bushman & Baumeister, 1998 ), we would expect that those high in sexual narcissism would be aggressive toward their romantic partner when faced with upward sexual comparisons, which could in turn lead their partner to have lower feelings of self-worth, as well as lower sexual and relationship satisfaction,” they say in the paper.
According to an article in Psychology Today, sexual narcissists can be charming, have an inflated sense of self and prioritize physical over emotional. Studies have also shown that sexual narcissists are more likely to be addicted to sex, use physical force and cheat.