Body Image Plays A Key Role In Having A Happy Relationship

woman happy

Thanks to the body positivity movement we've seen many women and men appreciating their shape more and more. For many women, the effects of childbirth can have long lasting repercussions on their body, and it often takes a lot for women to appreciate their postpartum shapes. But having a positive body images doesn't just help you be happier in your day to day life, it also seems to play a pretty important role in having a happy relationship as well.

In a study conducted by Dutch researches on the relationships between body image, sexual satisfaction, and relationship quality in romantic couples published in the American Psychological Association, it found that body image plays a huge role in relationship happiness. 

151 heterosexual couples were given an online questionnaire to complete that asked about body image and sexual satisfaction. The respondents ranged in age from 18-49 years old, with an average of 22 years of age for women and 24 for men. Men and women were asked a series of questions based on 'idealized media images.' For example, Psychology Today reports that "the body image scale for women focused on the idealized media images of women as thin, and for men on images of men as being muscular."

What is perhaps a bit surprising is the study found that the correlation between body image, sexual satisfaction and in turn relationship satisfaction didn't differ between genders. This shows that negative body image effects men as much as women, although we tend to only focus on women when we discuss the importance of body positivity. “A positive body image is equally important in shaping positive sexual and relational experiences for men and women,” the authors of the study wrote.

happy couple with two kids
Credit: iStock / Ridofranz

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This isn't the first time we've seen a link between body image and successful relationships. A study titled Body Image published in the journal Science Direct also proved that there is a correlation between body positivity and happy relationships.

"Body dissatisfaction and anxious attachment styles can lead to an out of control spiral and fuel each other,” the study’s lead author, David Frederick, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University, said in a statement. “People who are less confident in their appearance become more fearful that their partner will leave, which further fuels their worries about their appearance."

Both studies show that loving yourself and how you look not only makes you a happier person, but it can contribute to having happier relationships. Although Frederick stated that with his study results of less than 25% of men and women being truly happy with our bodies, we still have a lot of work to do.

"These findings are consistent with the emphasis placed on the importance of being slender for women and for appearing athletic and/or lean for men," Dr. Frederick said. "It would seem therefore, that we still have a long way to go before we achieve the goal of Americans being truly happy with their bodies."

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