The Strange Downside To Having An Attractive Partner That You Never Thought Of

When you're swiping right on Tinder or your eyes are sweeping across the room for a potential mate, for most of us, physical attractiveness plays a role in whom we choose to converse with. Granted that not everyone finds the same physical traits appealing (the surprising physical traits that are attractive to Americans might not hold true in South Asia, for example), we still want to find someone with whom there's physical chemistry. 

What happens, though, when you choose a partner who's more attractive than you? You know what we're talking about — you walk into a room together and people tend to sneak a quick glance at your significant other, or you hear them tell you stories about how someone at work seems to be hitting on them all the time. Turns out, there's a downside to your choice, according to a 2017 study done by Florida State University and published in Body Image. 

The study recruited 113 newlywed heterosexual couples with an average age of late 20s (via Florida State University News). The volunteers were asked about their desire to lose weight or diet and rated on their attractiveness on a scale of 1 to 10 (with their permission). According to doctoral student Tania Reynolds, who was involved in the study, "The results reveal that having a physically attractive husband may have negative consequences for wives, especially if those wives are not particularly attractive." Surprisingly, the reverse was not true when it came to how men felt about themselves. 

Body image concerns could be stemming from insecurity

The study also looked at how men and attractive women viewed themselves in relation to their significant others. Strangely, for the men, there was no desire to lose weight or diet regardless of how attractive or unattractive their partner or they were, and the women who were perceived as more attractive than their spouses also didn't want to diet (via Florida State University News).

Tania Reynolds shared, per Florida State University News, that women who feel the need to lose weight or have negative views of themselves in relation to their partner could be doing so because of an over-perception of what they think their partners want them to look like. It goes without saying that relationship insecurity, based on how you and your partner look, is a challenge in certain relationships. 

According to relationship counselor and sex therapist Isiah McKimmie (via, you can feel insecure for all kinds of reasons in a relationship (physical attractiveness being one of them), but letting those insecurities take control can lead to harmful consequences. It certainly doesn't help that we're constantly exposed to perceived "perfect" physiques or ideas of what is attractive via social media. Although the narrative has changed and there are more body-positive movements out there, the pull to look thin or have a perfect figure still exists. A nice way for the "more attractive" partner to help quell the fears in their spouse is through positive reaffirmations about their appearance and other qualities they find charming about them, according to Reynolds (via Florida State University News).

How to have a healthy relationship with an attractive partner

When the feelings of insecurity over body image (or anything else) feel overwhelming, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but according to relationship experts, you can learn to have a more positive relationship with yourself and your significant other if you work on it. 

For starters, you may want to analyze where your motivation to diet is coming from. If you genuinely want to be healthy, then there's nothing wrong with adopting healthy lifestyle habits, but if your desire to look a particular way is largely influenced by an insecurity about how attractive your partner is in relation to you, you may want to dig deeper. Most of our perceptions on ourselves is strangely rooted in past relationships, according to millennial attachment-based relationship therapist Alysha Jeney (via Brides). Did someone — parent or former lover — break your trust? Were you subjected to ridicule in school for a physical trait you possess? Becoming aware of where the insecurity is coming from is important. 

The next step involves changing the narrative. Look at things you do possess that actually attract people that don't involve physical traits, like kindness, intuitiveness, or being funny. Physical attractiveness fades with time for everyone. Who you choose to be as a person is lifelong. Avoiding comparison (whether it's with your partner or someone else) can help too. All of these steps would require mindfulness on your part. At the end of the day, your relationship with your partner is only going to be as good as your relationship with yourself.