Can objectifications affect your romantic relationship?

Updated: Sep 26, 2020

Nowadays objectification is a widespread phenomenon; however, it has a negative connotation. Objectifying comments from strangers are related to increased feelings of anger and depression as well as decreased state self-esteem in both men and women. Moreover, objectification exists among romantic relationships even though its effects are not clear.

It is shown that chronic objectification results in people accepting and internalizing an observer's perspective of gaze and evaluation on their physical selves. This behavior creates a self-objectification in the vulnerable and objectified individual which is related to body shame, appearance anxiety, self-consciousness during sexual activity, decreased sexual functioning, disordered eating, depression, lowered self-esteem, and relationship satisfaction. People who are objectified by their romantic partner also experience distress in their relationship.

Moreover, when women are the objectified persons from nonromantic male interaction partners, they show decreased career aspiration goals, cognitive performance, and relationship agency. Whereas women are more likely to report experiences of sexual pressure and coercion and lower relationship satisfaction when objectified by their romantic partners


On the other hand, men who believed that their partners valued their physical qualities and not their non-physical ones showed lower levels of relationship satisfaction.

The consequences are also found on people who objectify. For example, men who depicted slender women in swimsuits or lingerie reported heightened levels of hostility and anxiety. Objectifying men also show more gender-harassing behaviours when chatting online and have a greater tendency to engage in sexual coercion. Whereas, in relationships, objectifiers might also feel less satisfied with their partner.

A study by Mahar et al. 2020 examined whether relationship duration moderated the association between partner–objectification and relationship quality.

According to the results, objectifying one's partner was negatively linked to one's own relationship commitment in relationships of shorter durations, but not when relationship durations were longer. It was also shown that women who objectified their partners more, had lower levels of relationship satisfaction. Whereas, men who objectified their partners more, had lower levels of relationship commitment and relationship satisfaction. They also perceived higher quality alternatives to the relationship.

Finally, it was hypothesized that when women feel that they are not cared for and valued by their partner, they objectify their partner more. They do not feel securely attached to their partner, which results in women feeling less committed.

Source: Partner–objectification in romantic relationships: A dyadic approach
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