When Losing Weight Changes Your Relationship

by Karen Brooks on December 5, 2009

Losing weight feels great when you’re doing well. It’s especially exciting when you have been significantly overweight for a long time and through your own hard work and perseverance, you are noticing the great results of your dedicated lifestyle change. But what if your partner is still struggling with unhealthy eating patterns? This can make things difficult on the home front.

Many clients who come to see me fear that losing weight will change the dynamics of a close relationship. Whether it’s with a partner, a sibling or another family member, many people are afraid of changing the status quo; this translates to one of the most common subconscious pay-offs for self-sabotage: ‘If I lose weight it will change the dynamics of my relationship. Therefore, I will subconsciously sabotage myself so that I stay overweight’.

There are many ways that a relationship can be affected by one person losing weight. Let’s use an example; If both you and your partner are overweight and you alone decide to do something about it, then this may leave your partner feeling very vulnerable. He or she may not be ready to make the commitment to a lifestyle change yet. You, on the other hand, may develop different interests and hobbies based around your new healthier lifestyle that leave your partner feeling left behind.

Mealtimes will change. You will probably be eating separate meals at separate times. While he or she is lying on the couch watching television, you may be out at the gym working out, mixing with new people and making new friends. Typically when we lose weight, our self-esteem improves. Seeing the new, confident slimmer you may leave your partner feeling quite unsteady. He or she may act out this vulnerability in a number of ways; by expressing resentment at your new hobbies and physical activities, and maybe by shutting down emotionally.

When one person in the relationship begins to lose weight, look and feel much younger and fitter and generally feel more motivated all round, this can sometimes leave the other partner feeling left behind. They may already be feeling depressed and disempowered, and your success may exacerbate those feelings. My client ‘Janine’ experienced this problem with her husband. As she began to lose weight and get a new lease on life, he became increasingly sullen and resentful. Fortunately, they talked it through and she discovered that her husband had noticed the attention ‘Janine’ was getting from other men as she began to take better care of her appearance.

He could see that she was becoming more attractive and confident in herself, and he started to think: ‘what if she leaves me?’ ‘Janine’ re-assured her husband and eventually convinced him to accompany her to the gym. He is now on his own path of renewed health and their relationship is stronger than ever. ‘Janine’ was very glad that rather than mirroring her husband’s initial defensive behaviour, she was able to get him to open up and explain how he was feeling. Communication is the key.

So what do you do if you are afraid that losing weight may change the dynamics of your significant relationship? Do you stay the way you are to avoid rocking the boat? Well you could do that; but that would only leave you feeling disempowered and resentful. Instead, you could make efforts to include your partner. Try out some healthy low fat recipes and invite him to join you. Discuss the economic advantage of eating home cooked meals rather that getting takeaway. Invite him to come to the gym with you.

‘Jason’ lived with a wife who loved to cook for him. When he started to take care of his body and lose weight, he no longer wanted the lavish meals she used to prepare every night, since they were loaded with calories. His wife felt upset and anxious because she believed she was no longer needed. Cooking his meals was her way of looking after him and showing him that she loved him.

I suggested that she and ‘Jason’ attend healthy cooking classes together in order to learn how to prepare healthy low fat meals. Not only have they found something new to do together, ‘Jason’ and his wife are now both losing weight and feeling fantastic. His weight loss journey has brought them even closer together.

There are lots of ways to communicate with your partner and help them to feel included. We are often heavily influenced by the behaviour of our close family and friends, so your good habits will probably rub off onto others around you. Everybody wins! Whatever you do, don’t let the fear of your relationship changing stop you from pursuing your weight loss goals. Your relationships can change for the better and you will add several years of life expectancy as a result of your commitment to health and longevity.

About the Author

Sonia Devine is one of Australia’s leading experts in weight loss hypnotherapy. Want to learn more about how to achieve permanent weight loss? Claim your FREE Weight Loss E-book here => http://loveyourselfslim.com.au/free_stuff

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