Ladies, constantly following the latest fad diets and dishing out money on the diet supplements year-round may not only be unhealthy, but also foreshadow relationship issues. According to a recent study, women’s poor body image may lead to less satisfaction with a partner and in intimacy.

Struggling with weight and body image, and simply becoming fed up with one’s own appearance is increasingly prevalent in a society that upholds a very strict image of beauty in magazines, television, and film. Brown University Health Education says a person’s perception of their body image is shaped by a variety of factors, such as body comments from close ones, personal ideals developed about physical appearance, and the exposure to images of idealized versus normal bodies. The media’s beauty standard has further removed itself from reality which inclines people to think they need to shed the pounds even if they are in a normal, healthy weight range.

The way people view themselves will not only influence their actions, quality of life, and happiness but also intimate relationships. People who are in serious relationships and struggle with body image may devalue themselves, while the person they are intimate with feels the opposite. The media’s emphasis on appearance as the key in romantic success does not accurately reflect the body type preferred by a potential partner, says Brown University. Unhealthy body image can cause a rift in a relationship, affecting the physical and intimate aspect. Individuals who have negative feelings toward their body may feel it’s difficult to initiate intimacy with a partner because they are unwilling to show their body.

Presented at the British Psychological Society meeting in York, England, a team of researchers, sought to evaluate relationship satisfaction, sexual intimacy, self-image, and self-esteem in a cohort of women in relationships. Two hundred and fifty women between 20 and 45 years old who were either living with a partner (71 percent) or were married (29 percent), were part of the sample size in the study.

The survey respondents answered a series of questions about their relationship, including how satisfying it was emotionally, sexually, and intellectually and how many interests they had in common with their husband or boyfriend. They were also asked how satisfied they were with their weight and what their ideal weight would be.

The findings of the poll found a significant correlation between body image and weight, body image and relationships, and vice versa. Women who had previously dieted or were currently on a diet were found more likely to be unhappy with their weight and more self-conscious regarding their bodies.

"Women who have dieted had more extreme standards of appearance," said Sabina Vatter, study author and a postgraduate student at Tallinn University in Estonia at the meeting. "Even a normal weight would seem unattractive for them. They were further from their ideal appearance due to their excessive weight, and they were more attentive and aware of their body shape." These women were found to be more inclined to notice their present body weight and their ideal body weight.

Contrasting, women who displayed higher body-weight satisfaction were found to report higher satisfaction in their relationships. The association between the general satisfaction with body and body weight can be forwarded to feelings for a romantic partner, the researchers said.

"A woman who is self-confident won't worry about her weight and can establish a good relationship with anyone," said Dr. Gaby Cora, a psychiatrist and inspirational speaker who practices in Miami, HealthDay reports. The more confident a woman feels about herself and who she is, the easier it will be to form relationships with others.

The success of a relationship not only thrives on good communication, mutual respect, and understanding for one another but also self-confidence in one’s abilities. Positive feelings of one's body and feeling comfortable in one’s body are essential to feel good and happy in a relationship.

The researchers also noted that several women have the misconception that less weight on the scale means thinner, leaner, and healthier. On the contrary, weight number is just a number and does not accurately reflect if the woman is eating healthily, whether she is doing regular physical activity, or whether she has a healthy lifestyle. “Women should not be too obsessed with what they weigh. There is a lot more to women than their weight,” Vatter said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says for people who want to lose weight it is important to do so gradually and steadily. Dieters who lose approximately one to two pounds per week, are more successful at keeping the weight off. Healthy weight loss goes beyond just a diet or program, it involves a lifestyle that includes changes in daily eating and exercise habits.

For tips on how to healthily lose weight, click here.


Sabina Vatter, postgraduate student, Tallinn University, Estonia; Gaby Cora, psychiatrist and inspirational speaker, Miami; abstract from presentation, Dec. 6, 2013, British Psychological Society, York, England.