Objective: Many un-partnered women report difficulty in forming romantic relationships after breast cancer, characterized by high dating-related anxiety and low perceived interpersonal competence. This study examined the relationship between poor body image (appearance investment and body dissatisfaction) and self-compassion, and women's ability to form romantic relationships post-breast cancer. Methods: Women (N = 152) diagnosed with breast cancer, who were either un-partnered and expressed interest in romantic dating, or who had commenced a relationship post-diagnosis, completed an online survey. Assessments included the Interpersonal Competence Questionnaire, Dating Anxiety Scale, Self-compassion Scale, Appearance Schemas Inventory-Revised, Body Image Scale, and Experiences in Close Relationships Scale. Multiple regression analyses assessed the relationships between these variables. Results: Partnered and un-partnered women differed in levels of dating anxiety, interpersonal competence, anxious attachment, and the self-evaluative salience facet of appearance investment. Analyses revealed a significant model for dating anxiety, with high self-evaluative salience, body image dissatisfaction, and attachment avoidance independently associated with this outcome. The model for interpersonal competence was also significant, with low attachment avoidance and high self-compassion independently associated with this outcome. Conclusions: Un-partnered women who place high importance on appearance for their self-worth and who report poor body image and low self-compassion are at risk of experiencing difficulties in forming new romantic relationships after breast cancer. Future interventions should target these variables to facilitate romantic dating during cancer survivorship.
- body image
- breast cancer