The Impact of Weight Loss on Relationships

Relationships Weight Loss

I’ve talked before about the fact that I didn’t feel as though I was losing things while I lost 158 pounds, rather I felt as though I was gaining health, fitness, and improving my self-esteem.

In the midst of all the good things that happened there were some unfortunate consequences, or “fall-out” from my weight loss success. There was the loss of my best friend of over 10 years. Our relationship didn’t survive my weight loss success. She said mean things to me so often that I finally believed she didn’t want to be my friend at all. 

There were times where I felt isolated in social situations where fattening food was all that was offered. When I refused to eat any goopy cake or store bought cookies my friends made fun of me.

Even my sweet husband was confused at first when I insisted on exercising every day. It took him some time to realize that I wasn’t taking any time away from the family, but rather was able to give more time and energy to the family because I felt so much better about myself.

I have known several people who have lost a substantial amount of weight. Over half have had struggles in their relationships and a few haven’t. Truth be told, more than half the people I know who lost a substantial amount of weight ended up breaking up or divorcing.

I’ve thought a lot about some of the reasons why relationships may struggle when someone drastically changes their appearance and lifestyle.

The two words that came into my mind were expectations and insecurity.

Expectations that a relationship will always continue in a certain manner, including appearance, habits, and life goals. And insecurity that comes about after those expectations aren’t met.

Unmet expectations are often what causes problems in relationships aren’t they? There were times when I expected my husband was going to do something or react a certain way and when he didn’t I got annoyed. And vice versa. I’m sure I’ve disappointed my kid’s expectations a hundred times or so. The key to managing disappointments and unmet expectations in relationships for me, is communication.

When I disappoint John (intentionally or unintentionally), I’ve learned over our almost 30 years of marriage that I need to own up to the issue and have a heart to heart with him. And he does the same for me. (Sometimes I have to cajole it out of him. .) It’s a give and take.

Expectations in relationships are often built over time. And when one person in the relationship changes in a drastic way, expectations don’t always change.

For instance, in our case, when I drastically changed my appearance, my lifestyle, and my outlook on food, John’s expectations of what was normal for us didn’t change — at first. At first, he still expected I’d have heaps of nachos as an appetizer and split a huge dessert with him when we went out to dinner. He expected that I’d still bake a fabulous dessert every night. And he expected that I’d sit around on the couch with him instead of having him watch the children while I went out for a quick walk or bike ride.

Preserving our relationship during a tumultuous time of weight loss wasn’t something I consciously thought about because I didn’t realize what an impact it could have. But I quickly found out and both of us made sure that we talked about how things were changing. It wasn’t always easy, of course, and there were hurt feelings on both sides, but at the end of the day, we came through the experience stronger.

As you travel this journey have you given any thought to your relationships? My hope for you is that your relationships, both friendships and more, will survive your journey to health unscathed and stronger. Any thoughts on how to help this happen, or is there nothing that can be done?  Diane

5 thoughts on “The Impact of Weight Loss on Relationships

  1. Nancy B. Kennedy says:

    My friends were not only supportive, but also my biggest cheerleaders! I guess I was lucky. And while family is also supportive, I sometimes get the feeling I’m considered high maintenance. Family parties tend to be pizza, hoagies, fried chicken, etc. I get that, because I don’t want to cook for 15-20 people either. But at the same time, I truly don’t want any of that stuff. Even before my weight loss, it wasn’t the way I chose to eat. So, I bring a salad (whether I was asked to or not) and if there are hoagies, I put some of the insides on the salad. Or I tear apart some chicken to put on top. Dessert is easy to pass up — you just say you’re full and no one cares. I don’t make a big deal out of it, or try to draw attention to myself. I’m just doing what I have to do to stick to my goal, which is to maintain my weight loss for life.

  2. Mary says:

    People are uncomfortable if you change things you’ve always done together. I think that’s one of the hardest things to accept when you make the decision to live a healthy life. Most Americans want to eat junk – look at what restaurant’s offer – very few healthy items. If you choose NOT to drink alcohol they want to know WHY. I like ME on water. I do not feel the need to explain my actions, but I do feel left out of certain social events – I’m perfectly happy to attend as a non-drinker or a one drink person, but often that is not acceptable, so I find meeting new groups of people interested in their health HELPS me. Luckily for me, I’m very outgoing and enjoy many types of people. Your book inspired me and I love your blogs

  3. Jody - Fit at 58 says:

    So many stories on this from broken relationships to better ones as the other partner gets healthy too to lost friendships or better ones… it is definitely a journey!

  4. Lina says:

    I have seen my 22 yr old son lose close to a 100 lbs in a year. My children said I wasn’t fat but I think since I have overweight their whole lives that’s normal to them. When I told them I got a personal trainer they were supportive of that for me. I want to be around for their adult lives and their children and for my friends without the baggage of weight related diseases.

  5. Jamie says:

    I was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and have lost 23 lbs in a little less than 3 mths since. This is purely for health reasons, but I too have found that I have gained things as well. Biggest problem is that right now my husband seems to be very insecure and jealous and it’s breaking my heart.

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