Weight Loss Bad For Relationships
October 31, 2013

Weight Loss Can Be Good For The Body But Bad For The Relationship

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

If one partner in a romantic relationship loses weight, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will have a positive effect on the relationship. Researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of Texas at Austin found that although weight loss is healthy for the body, it may not be good for relationships where both partners are not on board with losing weight.

“People need to be aware that weight loss can change a relationship for better or worse, and that communication plays an important role in maintaining a healthy relationship,” said Dr. Lynsey Romo, an assistant professor of communications at NC State and lead author of a paper published in the journal Health Communication.

Scientists surveyed 21 couples from across the country. Each couple had one partner who had lost 30 or more pounds in less than two years, with an average weight loss of about 60 pounds. Reasons for weight loss ranged from changes in diet and exercise to medical procedures.

The team found that after weight loss the couple’s communication generally changed for the good. The partner who lost weight was more likely to talk about healthy behaviors and inspire the other partner to maintain or enact a healthy lifestyle. Couples in which both partners were receptive to healthy changes reported more positive interactions, but there was also a dark side to the weight loss.

Researchers discovered, that in some cases, the weight loss resulted in negative communication patterns. Some partners who lost weight nagged their significant other to follow their lead, causing tension. Partners who had not lost weight reported feeling threatened and insecure by their partner’s weight loss. These participants were resistant to change in their relationships.

“This study found that one partner’s lifestyle change influenced the dynamic of couples’ interaction in a variety of positive or negative ways, tipping the scale of romantic relationships in a potentially upward or downward direction,” Romo says. “When both partners bought into the idea of healthy changes and were supportive of one another, weight loss appeared to bring people closer. When significant others resisted healthy changes and were not supportive of their partner’s weight loss, the relationship suffered."

She warned that this study should not dissuade people from losing weight, but should encourage people to be aware of the potential pros and cons that weight loss could have on a relationship.

“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,” Romo advised.