Long-Term Couples May Inherent Each Other’s Bad Habits

For better or for worse, in sickness and in health – there’s a long line of research that associates marriage with reducing unhealthy habits such as smoking, and promoting better health habits such as regular checkups. However, new research is emerging that suggests married straight couples and cohabiting gay and lesbian couples in long-term intimate relationships may pick up each other’s unhealthy habits as well.

Corinne Reczek, a University of Cincinnati assistant professor of sociology, reports three distinct findings into how unhealthy habits were promoted through these long-term, intimate relationships: through the direct bad influence of one partner, through health habit synchronicity and through the notion of personal responsibility.

Reczek reports that gay, lesbian and straight couples all described the “bad influence” theme, while in straight partnerships, men were nearly always viewed as the “bad influence.”

“The finding that one partner is a ‘direct bad influence’ suggests that individuals converge in health habits across the course of their relationship, because one individual’s unhealthy habits directly promotes the other’s unhealthy habits,” reports Reczek. An example would be how both partners eat the unhealthy foods that one partner purchases.

“Gay and lesbian couples nearly exclusively described how the habits of both partners were simultaneously promoted due to unhealthy habit synchronicity. For these individuals, one partner may not engage in what they consider an unhealthy habit on their own, but when their desire for such a habit is matched by their partners, they partake in unhealthy habits,” writes Reczek.

“Third, respondents utilized a discourse of personal responsibility to describe how even when they observe their partner partaking in an unhealthy habit, they do not attempt to change the habit, indicating that they were complicit in sustaining their partner’s unhealthy habits. The final theme was described primarily by straight men and women,” says Reczek.

Reczek adds that the study is among the first of its kind to examine how gay and lesbian couples promote each other’s unhealthy habits.

“While previous research focuses nearly exclusively on how intimate relationships – particularly marriage – are health-promoting, these findings extend this research to argue that intimate partners are cognizant of the ways in which they promote the unhealthy habits of one another,” states Reczek.

Peer Pressure Drives “Sexting” in Teens

Both young men and women experience peer pressure to share sexual images via the new phenomenon of ‘sexting’, preliminary findings from a University of Melbourne study has found.

‘Sexting’ is the practice of sending and receiving sexual images on a mobile phone.

The study is one of the first academic investigations into ‘sexting’ from a young person’s perspective in Australia. The findings were presented to the 2011 Australasian Sexual Health Conference in Canberra.

Ms Shelley Walker from the Primary Care Research Unit in the Department of General Practice at the University of Melbourne said the study not only highlighted the pressure young people experienced to engage in ‘sexting’, it also revealed the importance of their voice in understanding and developing responses to prevent and deal with the problem.

“The phenomenon has become a focus of much media reporting; however research regarding the issue is in its infancy, and the voice of young people is missing from this discussion and debate,” she said.

The qualitative study involved individual interviews with 33 young people (15 male and 18 female) aged 15 – 20 years.

Preliminary findings revealed young people believed a highly sexualized media culture bombarded young people with sexualized images and created pressure to engage in sexting.

Young people discussed the pressure boys place on each other to have girls’ photos on their phones and computers. They said if boys refrained from engaging in the activity they were labeled ‘gay’ or could be ostracized from the peer group.

Both genders talked about the pressure girls experienced from boyfriends or strangers to reciprocate on exchanging sexual images.

Some young women talked about the expectation (or more subtle pressure) to be involved in ‘sexting’, simply as a result of having viewed images of girls they know.

Both young men and women talked about being sent or shown images or videos, sometimes of people they knew or of pornography without actually having agreed to look at it first.

Ms Walker said ‘sexting’ is a rapidly changing problem as young people keep up with new technologies such as using video and Internet via mobile phones.

The Australian Communication & Media Authority reported in 2010 that around 90 percent of young people aged 15-17 owned mobile phones.

“Our study reveals how complex and ever-changing the phenomenon of ‘sexting’ is and that continued meaningful dialogue is needed to address and prevent the negative consequences of sexting for young people,” she said.

Source: University of Melbourne