How Negative Body Image Impacts Partners In Relationships
Are you satisfied with what you see when you look in the mirror? Is there anything that you would change about the way you look? Or do you feel ashamed that you are not as perfectly proportioned as today’s beauty standards require it?
It’s no secret that we all would change a thing or two about the way we look. And that isn’t necessarily a problem. Yet, when you have a poor perception about your body image and allow it to affect the way you see and value yourself, that’s when it starts to become a major issue.
Regardless of what you may think, both men and women, of all ages, are affected by negative body image. In fact, according to global data, only 4% of women would call themselves beautiful. Why is there such a small number of women that think of themselves as beautiful? Mostly due to today’s society’s strict image of beauty that is always displayed in magazines, on the Tv, and on Social media. In fact, according to a report from Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report, almost 70% of women claim to experience appearance anxiety due to the beauty standards they see in media.
There is no secret that self-image and self-confidence go hand in hand. The way we view our bodies has a major impact on the way we participate in our social life. It impacts our actions, our quality of life, our happiness, and also our intimate relationships with our partners.
Now, poor self-confidence often leads to the thought of not being worthy of love or intimacy which inevitably makes people sabotage their own relationships. Devaluing yourself can rarely lead to a healthy relationship with your significant other because it leads to frustration from both sides.
Impact of negative body image on relationships
Poor body image perception can have a major impact on the quality of your life in all areas of your life, be it at work or in your personal life. Low self-esteem and low confidence can stop you from stepping out from your comfort zone and grow.
But how exactly does a negative body image can impact our relationships? Discomfort with your body can easily translate into discomfort with intimate relationships with your partner, mainly starting from the idea that you don’t want to be seen naked by your partner. In turn, your partner may not be so happy about how your intimacy is going or may think that you avoid intimacy because you are not happy with the relationship in general. And, you see, all these thoughts create a vicious circle that inevitably affects the relationship.
Researchers have linked body image with the overall feelings of identity. It’s all about feeling good about yourself but that can strongly be impacted by not liking the way your body looks like. And, make no mistake, liking how you look doesn’t only mean feeling confident when you are dressed up. Because, if that’s the case, problems with intimacy in the relationship will arise because you will feel inhibited when your partner sees your body without clothing. A 2018 study from Utrecht University has discovered that the reason why many couples seek sex or couple’s therapy is the fact that they are not happy with their physical appearance.
Another way in which your relationship may be affected by a negative body image perception is the fact that it may trigger feelings of anger and frustration. And, such toxic emotions can lead to toxic behavior both in your relationship and in your everyday life.
For example, having low self-confidence may lead to jealousy in a relationship because if you don’t feel good about how you look, you may feel tempted to stress over the fact that your partner may be looking for someone better-looking. Also, poor self-image also leads to the development of compulsive disorders including eating disorders, anorexia, or bulimia which inevitably also affect both the patient and their partner.
How to help a spouse love their body image?
Does your partner often say things like “I don’t like how I look” or “I would change this and that about my body”? If yes, they might be having a problem with their body image. And, unfortunately, this can inevitably affect your relationship.
Dealing with negative body image can trigger a number of toxic emotions and behaviors in your partner that will start to affect the quality of your relationship. Whether they start communicating less, avoid you or express their frustration on you, this will gradually damage your relationship.
So, how can you help your spouse overcome negative emotions and improve their perception of their body image?
Be supportive and communicate
First things first, it is essential to be supportive and show to your partner that you are willing to help them improve their perception of their bodies. Although your partner may be hesitating to discuss this problem with you, show them that you are not there to judge them for the way they feel. This will make them feel understood which will make it easier for them to open up.
Communication is also the best way to overcome the problems of your partner with intimacy. Intimacy is an important part of a relationship. So, when this area of your relationship isn’t going well, both you and your partner will start to think that the relationship is problematic in general. So, another important step would be to help your partner feel good about themselves in the bedroom. From making them compliments when they are naked to encouraging them to talk openly about their fantasies, or even if they are suffering from erectile dysfunction, you can help your partner feel more confident. Also, you can suggest them to try new accessories such as cock ring to spice things up in bed and make your sexual encounter last longer.
Most people who struggle with negative self-image frequently ask questions like “Do you think that I gained weight?” or “does this pair of jeans make me look fat?”. They ask these questions because they need constant external validation, especially if they were trying hard to change their appearance by working out, dieting or having a makeover. So, make sure that you are always ready to compliment your spouse and help them improve their self-image.
Negative body image of partners is often a major reason why relationships fail because it creates a vicious circle of frustration, fights, and lack of trust. So, although you are not responsible to change your partner’s body image, there certainly are things that you can do to show support.