Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Long-term, intimate partnerships can promote unhealthy habits

Date:
August 19, 2011
Source:
University of Cincinnati
Summary:
New research uncovers how intimate partners believe they directly and indirectly contribute to one another's unhealthy 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. University of Cincinnati research into how those behaviors evolve will be presented Aug. 23 at the 106th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Las Vegas.

Related Articles


Corinne Reczek, a UC 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.

Study Method

Reczek and two team researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 122 people involved in long-term straight or married relationships (31 couples), gay partnerships (15 couples) and lesbian relationships (15 couples), who had been together between eight and 52 years.

Participants were individually asked a series of open-ended questions about smoking, drinking, food consumption, sleep patterns, exercise habits and other health habits. "Particular attention was paid to how partners shaped each of these habits," writes Reczek.

Demographic Description

In the survey sample, 83 percent of the straight respondents were white, nine percent were African-American, one person was Asian American, two were Latina and one respondent identified as multiracial. For the gay and lesbian couples 63 percent were white, four percent identified as Hispanic, Latino or Latina, one respondent identified as African-American, one Native American/Hispanic and one South American.

The average age for the straight couples was 53 years -- 49 years for gay couples and 43 years for lesbian couples.

The average relationship duration for straight couples was 25 years. For gay couples, it was 21 years and for lesbian couples it was 14 years.

Household income of the participants ranged from $40,000 to $120,000.

"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.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Aging.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Cincinnati. The original article was written by Dawn Fuller. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Cincinnati. "Long-term, intimate partnerships can promote unhealthy habits." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110818190609.htm>.
University of Cincinnati. (2011, August 19). Long-term, intimate partnerships can promote unhealthy habits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110818190609.htm
University of Cincinnati. "Long-term, intimate partnerships can promote unhealthy habits." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110818190609.htm (accessed November 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins