Body Dissatisfaction and Relationship Dissatisfaction

In today’s culture, there is a focus on accepting and loving one’s body, with slogans such as “health at every size” and “love yourself” being promoted as ways to improve self-esteem and body image. A positive body image can be beneficial in helping to prevent negative outcomes, such as depression and eating disorders. But how does body image affect relationships? Is there a link between dissatisfaction with one’s body and dissatisfaction in a romantic relationship? Past research has been mixed, so a new study took a meta-analytical approach to tackling the problem.

The meta-analysis included 56 studies from 43 articles and a combined sample size of 10,353 people. The studies that were included in the meta-analysis contained only qualitative analyses, correlational relationships, and questions that measured the relationships between one’s relationship satisfaction and their body image.

Somewhat unsurprisingly the results showed those who had higher body dissatisfaction had lower relationship satisfaction/quality. However, surprisingly, participants with higher BMI were less likely to have their body dissatisfaction affect their relationship.  The reason for this relationship is still currently unknown. Also, unsurprisingly the study found women exhibited a stronger relationship between negative body image and relationship quality than men did. The study subsequently found relationship length did not have a relationship with body image and relationship quality.

The researchers note that the next steps are to include sexual satisfaction measures to see if there is any correlation or relationship with body image.


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