How can weight loss destroy relationships

Change is hard and sometimes it’s harder when it’s not you who’s changed. No wonder weight loss has ripped apart many a relationship.

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Partners get threatened when their mates suddenly look different and get attention from the opposite sex. Even though the newly slim mate only has eyes for her man, her man imagines that she looks too good and as a result she’s going to stray.

The truth is often losing weight positively affects self esteem. People who feel good about themselves usually reflect it in a number of ways from grooming and dressing differently to being more outgoing. There’s no harm in that, but it does create a shift in a relationship.

A spouse, who never seemed insecure, reveals insecurity when their partner is now much more attractive than when they married. It’s possible they may want to go back to the way it was before the weight loss and changes that came with it.

The husband gets jealous and controlling and the wife gets resentful. No matter how much she insists, “I did this for you. I want you to be proud of me,” he can’t accept that. He doesn’t want to face his fear and talk to her about how he feels, so things between them go from bad to worse.

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His jealousy becomes intolerable. They break up and it’s not because she wants to step out on him. They break up because the more jealous he gets, the harder it gets for her to live with him. His behavior becomes intolerable eventually leading to the split.

If this couple is going to stay together he is going to have to accept she may get more attention but she’s not actively seeking it. She can reassure him her feelings for him haven’t changed and he needs to reassure himself.

Few people lose more than ten pounds of weight, and maintain the loss, without changing some behaviors. This is a problem when the mate resents the changes. It may be that she feels guilty or judged if she doesn’t make the healthy lifestyle changes he’s embraced. All of a sudden the couples habit of lounging in bed until the afternoon on Sundays is not something they share. She wants to stay in bed, he wants to get up and go out for a jog.

"Time for my 5 mile run"

“Time for my 5 mile run”

The problem is compounded by the woman feeling guilty because he’s doing something healthy and his pressure to join him leaves her feeling unfavorably judged. She doesn’t want to change. She wants him to go back to his pre weight loss behavior.

If the relationship is going to stay healthy she has to accept his new routine and either join him, or get over feeling guilty if she decides she doesn’t want to change.

Sometimes the problem is the partner who’s losing weight wants her mate to support her. The support she expects is unreasonable. She wants him to change his behavior to match her weight-related behavior changes. He can’t eat ice cream and chips because it makes it too hard for her to resist. He doesn’t want to go to the gym, but she says she won’t go if she has to go alone.

He doesn’t need to lose weight and he resents her forcing him to change in order to show his support of her. No wonder he works hard to convince her he likes her just the way she is and she doesn’t have to lose weight to look good to him. She sees his lack of willingness to bend to her demands as undermining her.

The fights escalate the more she blames him for her failure to lose weight. She won’t take responsibility for her actions. Every counter-weight loss action she makes is somehow his fault and she makes him painfully aware of it. The couple breaks up and it might be because he can’t take being her whipping boy any more, or she truly believes if she needs to lose him to lose weight.

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If this relationship can be saved she will need to own her actions. It’s neither fair nor productive to blame anybody but ourself for our behavior. Some partners won’t support the other’s weight loss efforts, but the lack of support doesn’t have to stop progress. There are other ways to get support outside of the relationship such as joining a weight loss group.

The bottom line is weight loss changes can be good or not good. It’s important for couples to keep communication open, honest, and respectful of each other’s feelings. It also should be noted that the examples I’ve given in this blog can go both ways. Man loses weight; woman can’t deal or woman loses weight; man can’t deal.

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Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.