In our society today, it seems everywhere you turn there is something about body image. Whether it be a new diet that everyone seems to be raving about, reading about celebrities who have either gained weight or are getting extremely thin, or even a Groupon for weight loss medical procedures (which I’ve seen in LA too many times). We are definitely a society that is obsessed with body image. This obsession carries over when it comes to dating and relationships too.
In terms of dating, research has shown most people are looking for thin, fit partners. Some previous studies on speed-dating singles showed a person was more likely to have a desire to be contacted again if they had lower body mass indexes (BMIs). Another interesting (and very shocking) finding was an obese partner was considered less desirable than a potential partner with a history of curable sexually transmitted diseases, suffering from a mental illness, or even missing a limb! When people are looking to form new relationships, many people tend to over-focus on the exterior, and have an underlying belief that just because they are good-looking, this potential partner will have other desirable qualities within that would enhance a relationship, like kindness and openness. Although this crazy obsession with body image can be mistakenly over-relied on in dating, what kind of effects can this obsession with body image have when you are in a committed relationship? How can you and your partner’s body image affect your relationship?
A recent study found that an individual’s BMI, calculated by a person’s height relative to their weight, does not affect how satisfied each of the partners are in a relationship, but that their BMI relative to their partner will affect satisfaction. A husband will be more satisfied at the beginning of their marriage and remain more satisfied throughout the marriage when a wife’s BMI is lower than his own more so than a husband whose wife has a higher BMI. A wife will remain more satisfied in the marriage when her BMI is lower than her husband’s as well, but the differences are only seen over time, not at the time of their marriage. So in other words, when a wife is thinner than her husband, both partners will be more satisfied with their relationship over time. But, this doesn’t mean that women should be constantly dieting while men work at perfecting a beer gut. Both partners need to contribute to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle, as these factors play a part in their relationship satisfaction.
So does weight matter? It seems, in a sense, it does. But it’s definitely not the only key to a successful relationship. Physical attraction is just one of the many components of dating, and holds power for each gender at different points in the relationship. Rather than fixating on being as skinny or as fit as people you see on TV, focus on finding a healthy weight you are happy and comfortable with, and maintain those healthy habits over the course of your marriage.
Similar articles from eHarmony Labs you might enjoy:
Can being in a relationship make you gain weight? – When you are in a relationship, do you tend to let yourself go or continue to take care of yourself.
A Good Excuse to Stop Dieting – What kinds of long-term health risks are associated with these new “fad” diets.
The Importance of Physical Attraction in Marriages – How does physical attraction matter in long term relationships.