Learn how to spot the signs of a sexual narcissist.
How a person acts during sex may clue you in to whether or not they’re a cheater—and we don’t just mean stopping mid-hookup to check their phone. According to a new study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, someone who’s sexually narcissistic—narcissistic in terms of their bedroom behavior and attitude—is more likely to be unfaithful.
Researchers analyzed data from 123 married couples in two longitudinal studies. The participants answered questions about their marriages every six months for the first four or so years after they tied the knot. The researchers gauged where each person fell on the sexual narcissism scale by asking them questions designed to target the four components of the trait, including: sexual exploitation, sexual entitlement, lack of sexual empathy, and grandiose sense of sexual skill, explains study coauthor Laura Widman, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in the department of psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
They found that sexual narcissism was linked with a higher likelihood of infidelity in the first four years of marriage. Check out how to spot a sexual narcissist in your bed, below:
Example of the Mindset: “I could easily convince my spouse to do something I want to do in bed.”
How to Spot It: This is a partner who doesn’t listen to what you want and instead tries to manipulate you into doing what he or she wants (e.g., attempts to talk you into having sex even when you don’t feel like it), says Widman.
Example of the Mindset: “I feel I deserve sexual activity whenever I am in the mood for it.”
How to Spot It: There’s some overlap between sexual exploitation and sexual entitlement, says Widman, but this one is more about the attitude. This is someone who believes that he or she has a right to fulfill his or her sexual desires, and that those desires are primo on the priorities list.
Lack of Sexual Empathy*
Example of the Mindset: “The feelings of my spouse during sex don’t usually concern me.”
How to Spot It: This is a person who’s not asking questions and isn’t in tune with his or her partner’s feelings during sex, says Widman. The guy who finishes and then couldn’t care less if his partner does, the partner who receives oral sex and has no interest in reciprocating, those people are missing sexual empathy.
Grandiose Sense of Sexual Skill
Example of the Mindset: “‘I’m basically God’s gift to women when it comes to sex.”
How to Spot It: A partner who seems to think his or her bedroom skills are way above average? Whoop, there it is.
*When the researchers looked at the four components individually, sexual entitlement was only linked to infidelity in the first of the two studies, and sexual empathy only associated with cheating for husbands.
Clearly, this research showed a correlation, not causation, between sexual narcissism and cheating. Not every person who ranks highly in sexual narcissism is going to be unfaithful. That being said, “certainly a partner who doesn’t listen to your desires, that is a red flag and a concern,” says Widman. “Open communication between partners can really be beneficial—you can help to ward off some of these behaviors by talking openly.” And if your partner won’t listen to you, well, it might be time to find someone else who will.