Male body dissatisfaction and relationship quality: the mediating role of sexual self-consciousness

  • K. Massar
  • L. Desinger


Background: Given the increased attention for male ‘sculpted’ bodies on social media, more research is needed on the correlates and consequences of male body dissatisfaction. In particular, not much is known about the effect of muscularity or body fat dissatisfaction on (components of) relationship quality. In the current study we expect that body dissatisfaction negatively affects relationship quality, and that increased sexual self-consciousness mediates this relationship. Methods: An online survey was completed by 208 male participants (age M = 29.7, SD = 9.7) currently in a romantic relationship. After providing informed consent and completing demographics, participants completed measures on body dissatisfaction, sexual self-consciousness, and relationship quality. Results were obtained using multiple regression and bootstrap mediation analyses. Results: Although muscularity dissatisfaction significantly predicted overall relationship quality (β = -.19, p = .01), body fat dissatisfaction did not (β = -.12, ns). Subcomponents of relationship quality were differentially predicted by these two types of body dissatisfaction (β’s < .24). The two types of body dissatisfaction predicted sexual self-consciousness (β = .39 and β = .32, p <.001). Furthermore, the relationships between the two types of body dissatisfaction and (components of) relationship quality were fully mediated by sexual self-consciousness. Discussion and conclusion: The current results show that men’s body dissatisfaction, and muscularity dissatisfaction in particular, is negatively associated with various components of relationship quality, and that sexual self-consciousness mediates these relationships. Male body dissatisfaction is still understudied, which is a concern given the associations between body dissatisfaction and mental and physical health outcomes.
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