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Muscular men make poor boyfriends: study

Monday, July 09, 2012

MUSCULAR men make poor boyfriends who are sexist and who objectify women.

So theorises the study Associations among men's sexist attitudes, objectification of women, and their own drive for muscularity by Drs Viren Swami and Martin Voracek, published in the journal Psychology of Men & Masculinity in May.

The study pool featured 327 straight British men, and measured their "drive for muscularity, sexist attitudes, hostility toward women, objectification of women, and key demographics".

"Results showed that greater drive for muscularity was significantly predicted by stronger objectification of women, hostility toward women and sexist attitudes once men's age and body mass index had been taken into account," the abstract, available on the American Psychological Association website, said. "These results suggest that oppressive beliefs held by men are associated with a desire for a more muscular physique."

"If you examine the theory by looking at the reason behind the quest for 'muscularity', then the study could hold some water," counselling psychologist David Anderson said.

"Those who aim for bodily perfection, to the point of obsession, are usually narcissistic, and a narcissistic person has difficulty letting anyone else in."

He said the study's findings would only apply to the male who makes building muscles a fixation, and not to the ordinary gym user.

"You have to make the distinction between the person who wants to be healthy and the person who pumps iron religiously — it's their obsession, their drug of choice, and like any other obsession, it comes at the expense of everything else in their lives."

He said the bigger and more obsessed the guy gets, the more likely he will be to expect his partner to adopt his lifestyle, and will not tolerate her if she doesn't meet the ideal. And being muscular, being über-manly, is seen as one of the qualities of the alpha male who believes in adhering to traditional gender roles.

"So he's getting fit and 'healthy' and it becomes a lifestyle and he's obsessed with body fat and BMI and he will begin to judge his woman whom he is in charge of," Anderson said. "His power, his strength, is in his body, and he feels revived and in charge. So he begins to pressure her to get thin, to not gain weight, to lose the belly, to tighten the abs, and it becomes a situation where she has to attain perfection too, because how dare she expect to date perfection when she is not. She becomes an object rather than a person. "

Some Jamaican women were quick to agree.

"I never thought of it before as something unique to muscular men, but I dated a gym freak for six months and he was always into himself," 30-year-old Nicole Warren said. "He really was a terrible boyfriend. He was just very selfish and everything had to be about him. He would live in the gym and had no time for me, that is the main reason we broke up. He was more into his body than he was into me."

There is another downside Alicia M pointed to, that makes these men good to look at, but otherwise useless.

"I had a soldier, he looked good, body was hot because he was always working out," she said. "But man, when you catch the man in bed, him don't have no use!"

She said that while he would boast about his prowess as a lover, within a few minutes everything would be over.

"And then him want turn it 'round and talk 'bout a me craven," she recalled. She said within months their relationship was over.

This is a commonly held belief — though unsubstantiated by science — among women, who swear that muscled men make poor lovers.

"I think all the testosterone goes to the muscles and they become useless where it counts," Jasmine Moodie said.

While 41-year-old Carlene G never made the connection with her spouse's behaviour and his body, she too said her husband of nine years was always very demanding and never had a compliment to share.

"It was always how I was too fat, how I did not look good anymore, how I needed to go to the gym and eat healthy and just about everything I did just never seemed to please him," she told All Woman.

But one gym instructor, who wasn't shy with an opinion, but was shy about revealing his name, insisted that the study was rubbish and that he was a good boyfriend who had not had any complaints.

"I personally do not believe that study," the spectacularly ripped instructor shared. "Because I don't know about anybody else, but I think I am a good boyfriend 'cause I have not heard any complaints from my girlfriend more than the ordinary..."

Believe him?

If you don't, now may be the time to give that scrawny guy with the nice personality a once over.

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