Your Partner's Porn Habit Could Fuel an Eating Disorder

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“Porn” and “eating disorders” aren’t typically used in the same sentence, but new data shows a surprising connection. In one of the first studies to examine a potential link between a romantic partner's behavior and disordered eating symptoms — including extreme guilt about eating, a pre-occupation with body fat, binge eating, or purging — researchers determined that women whose husband or boyfriend regularly watches pornography are more likely to develop an eating disorder.

Led by researchers from The Ohio State University in Columbus and published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, the study asked 409 adult women (average age: 34) to answer questions about eating disorder symptoms; perceived pressure (from the media, partners, family members, and friends) to lose weight or be thin; and whether and how often their partners viewed pornographic materials.

The researchers found a clear link: Women whose partners used pornography perceived more pressure from them to be thin and had a higher risk of developing insecurities about their bodies and eating disorder symptoms. This link was evident even in women who didn’t idealize thinness. Perceived pressure from a romantic partner had a greater effect on a woman’s eating disorder risk than the media, family members, and friends.