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If you’re a plus-size woman, this blog could be a downer—but only if you let it be one. An article in ScienceDaily (6/23/09), “Heavy Women Have Lower Quality Relationships, But Same Is Not True for Men, Study Finds,” is far from heartening, but, remember, research is about statistics and doesn’t dictate your romantic choices or situation.
The research, coming out of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, focused on body image, weight, romantic relationships, and the perceptions between males and females in 57 New Zealand couples who were studied to see if there was an association among their body mass index (BMI), the quality of their relationships, and perceptions about their partners. The finding was that “heavier women had lower quality relationships, which they predicted were more likely to end. They partnered with less desirable men and thought their partners would rate them as less warm/trustworthy.” Not surprisingly, “male partners of heavier women judged the women’s bodies less positively and men rated heavier women as poorer matches to their ideal partners for attractiveness/vitality. In contrast, men’s BMIs were generally not associated with relationship functioning.”
First off, note that there was an association or correlation between a woman being heavy and having a lower quality relationship. One was not determined to be a cause of the other. Because you’re a plus-size woman does not mean you’re doomed to a poor relationship. It could be (my ideas, not the study’s) that heavier women are more depressed and see relationships in a more negative light, have low self-esteem and feel less entitled to ask for their needs to met by partners, don’t feel deserving of choosing nicer partners, or that conclusions are unique to New Zealand. Moreover, the study said nothing about whether these women were thinner when they chose their partners, then gained weight, or hooked up with them at their current size.
On the other hand, we know that nowadays there is enormous fat phobia and that heavy women are at a disadvantage on the dating and mating scene. I hear it from clients and know it to be true from their experiences. However, I also know from their histories that when these women were thinner, they picked men that made them unhappy as well. And, there are plenty of thin and average-weight women out there who are miserable in their relationships. So, if you’re a heavy woman, what you make of the study’s conclusions and your romantic relationships is up to you. If you’re unhappy in a relationship, don’t blame your size or focus on your fears of being unloved. Instead, do something about it.
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