The impact of sexualized media on relationship dynamics


Sexualized media is a type of media that perpetuates ideas and messages about gender, sexual relationships, and sex. It is everywhere around us and in many shapes and forms, such as television shows, movies, music videos, magazines, advertisements and social media. While sexualized media can be seen as helpful in promoting better understanding between genders, there is no doubt that it has a tremendous impact on relationship dynamics and the way that relationships are portrayed in popular culture.

Portrayal of Gendered Dynamics in Relationships

Sexualized media often reflects and perpetuates stereotypes regarding gender roles in society for heterosexual relationships. For example, men are often portrayed as strong, powerful figures and women are frequently portrayed as passive, submissive and focused on taking care of their partner. This can lead to unhealthy relationship dynamics in which one partner is expected to meet the needs of the other in all areas of the relationship, leading to an imbalance of power.

Body Image and Self-Esteem

Sexualized media also has a tremendous impact on body image and self-esteem. Advertising and other forms of media often depict a specific type of beauty which can lead to unhealthy desires to change one’s body to meet this ideal. Individuals with lower self-esteem can be especially vulnerable to this type of influence and can start to blame themselves for not living up to the standard of beauty portrayed in the media. This can cause issues in relationships due to a lack of confidence or a negative self-image.

Sexualization of Relationships

The sexualization of relationships can lead to unrealistic expectations about relationships and sex. While it is natural for sexual desire to be a part of relationships, media often portrays it as the primary focus and some individuals may start to expect this from their own relationships. This can lead to a greater focus on physical pleasure rather than emotional connections which can be detrimental in the long run.


Overall, while sexualized media can be beneficial in promoting better understanding between genders, it can also have a profound impact on relationships dynamics. The portrayal of gender roles, body image and unrealistic sexual expectations can lead to unhealthy dynamics and an inability to communicate in relationships. It is important to be aware of the impact of sexualized media on relationships and to make sure that clear communication is maintained between partners.


  • Forshee, D. R. (2010). The Role of Media in Body Image Concerns Among Women: a Meta-analysis of Experimental and Correlational Studies. Psychological Bulletin, 136(3), 460–476.
  • Kaplan, A. (1987). The Meaning of the “Male Role”: Masculinity Ideologies and Male-Female Intimacy. In B. Anderson and P. Brod (Eds.), Changing Men: New Directions in Research on Men and Masculinity (pp. 112–128). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
  • McKay, T. J, & Nesdale, D. (2001). The Effects of Media on Attitudes Toward Romance and Marriage: A Longitudinal Analysis. Sex Roles, 44(5-6), 319-338.

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