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6 October 2006
Narcissistic Sexual Attitudes Dampen Intimacy

While a connection between narcissism and sex has been around since Freud, researchers are only now acknowledging its implications. In the current issue of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, University of Florida researchers found that narcissists are fixated on sexual gratification rather than enduring intimacy.

According to psychologist Ilan Shrira, narcissists are more likely to have a history of short-term sexual conquests compared to people who consider commitment the most important aspect of a relationship. "Narcissists have a heightened sense of sexuality, but they tend to view sex very differently than other people do," said Shrira. "They see sexuality more in terms of power, influence and as something daring, in contrast to people with low narcissistic qualities who associated sex more with caring and love."

It may come as no surprise to hear that men are generally more narcissistic than women. A finding that could even explain the wandering eye syndrome women see in their male partners. "Even when [narcissists] are in a relationship, they always seem to be on the lookout for other partners and searching for a better deal," Shrira said. "Whether that's because of their heightened sexuality or because they think multiple partners enhance their self-image isn't entirely clear." The results of one study showed that highly narcissistic people were 50 times more likely to view sexual intercourse as a way of increasing their own sexual pleasure, rather than complementing partner intimacy.

But if you're intending to try and avoid any kind of relationship with a narcissist, you may have your work cut out for you. Narcissists usually have highly developed social skills, and can, on first meetings, appear to be quite charming. But the mood soon changes soon after they've initially won your confidence, says Shrira. "Once you get to know these people, you realize they're very self-focused and are always bringing the conversation back to themselves," he said.

Fortunately, narcissism tends to decline the older a person gets, as the stark realities of the world soon dispel any illusions a narcissist may have about themselves. "When you're in high school or college, you're at the peak of your physical condition and the world is your oyster," says Shrira. "But when you get out in the world you realize you're not the best at everything and it sort of humbles you."

If you'd like to know more about this topic you can check out a book called When You Love a Man Who Loves Himself (ISBN: 140220342X), written by W. Keith Campbell, one of the collaborators involved in Shrira's study.

Source: University of Florida

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