Ask any health professional and they will probably tell you that losing access weight is beneficial to a person’s health, but a new study has found that it may be detrimental to a person’s relationship.
In a study published in Health Communication, researchers surveyed 21 from across the U.S., each of whom had a partner who lost 30 or more pounds in less than 2 years. On average, most lost about 60 pounds during that time. Questionnaires were used to ask each person about the impact of weight loss on their relationship.
Researchers discovered, after weight loss, most couples said their communication changed for the better. The partner who had the weight loss was able to talk to their partner about living a healthier life and be an inspiration for their partner to lose weight as well. When both partners in the relationship were receptive to a healthier lifestyle they reported boosts in physical as well as emotional intimacy.
Other participants reported that some partners that lost weight resorted to “nagging” their significant other which caused tension in their relationship. The partner that had not lost weight were said to feel threatened and insecure, some even going so far as to try to sabotage their partners weight loss.
“People need to be aware that weight loss can change a relationship for better or worse,” says Dr. Lynsey Romo, the study’s author. She suggests that communication plays a significant role in a healthy relationship. When both partners agreed to the healthy changes and supported one another it brought them closer together.
"This study should not dissuade anyone from losing excess weight, but it should encourage people to be aware of the potential pros and cons of weight loss on their relationship," she said. "It is really important for the partner of someone trying to lose weight to be supportive of their significant other without feeling threatened by their health changes. This approach will help people lose weight without jeopardizing the quality of their relationship."
"We fall into these patterns with people we have relationships with," Dr. Charlotte Markey, chair of psychology at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, told HealthDay. "When these patterns shift, it can be unsettling."
Markey recommended discussing any feelings of inadequacy as they arise if one partner is losing weight while one that may also need to isn't.