How Your Body Image Affects Your Relationship Satisfaction

Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
Feeling great about your body is, of course, an extremely important thing on its own. But new research shows that the way we feel about our bodies is also intricately connected to the way we feel about the rest of our lives, including our romantic relationships.

For the study, published online recently in the journal Body Image, researchers gave 12,176 people between the ages of 18 and 65 an online survey. Participants were asked about their body image, how much TV they watched, their personalities, their relationship styles, how satisfied they were with their lives, and their overall mental well-being. The researchers also took note of participants' ages, BMI scores, and relationship statuses.

Results showed that only 20% of women and 24% of men felt very or extremely satisfied with their bodies. And those who reported feeling more dissatisfied with their bodies were likely to have higher levels of neuroticism in their personalities and more anxious relationship attachment styles. With that potent cocktail of traits, participants who were less satisfied with their bodies also reported feeling less satisfied with their romantic relationships, their friendships, and their lives overall. Those dissatisfied with their bodies also reported watching more TV.

"Body dissatisfaction and anxious attachment styles can lead to an out-of-control spiral and fuel each other," says David Frederick, PhD, the study's lead author, in a press release. "People who are less confident in their appearance become more fearful that their partner will leave, which further fuels their worries about their appearance."

All of this just goes to show "that men's and women's feelings about their weight and appearance play a major role in how satisfied they are with their lives overall," Dr. Frederick explains. And when we're not satisfied (or are actively dissatisfied), the results ripple through other major parts of our lives. That's how damaging the effects of the weight stigma we place on ourselves and other people really are — and how far they reach.

It's your body. It's your summer. Enjoy them both. Check out more #TakeBackTheBeach here.

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