Losing Weight May Be Bad For Relationships: Partners Have Less Sex, Sabotage Diets, And Feel Insecure

Couple sitting in front of restaurant
Losing weight can be bad for relationships, leading to less sex and more insecurities. Garry Knight, CC BY-SA 2.0

Dropping the pounds is often associated with improved health and a better sense of self-esteem. Feeling great after weight loss has its perks, but it can also have its cons if the dieter is in a relationship. Losing weight in a relationship can lead to negative communication, less sex, sabotaged diets, and insecurity in the non-weight-loss partner, according to a recent study.

Publishing in the journal Health Communication, researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of Texas at Austin observed partners’ perceptions of post-weight-loss interaction in relationships — in which one partner lost weight and the other did not — among 21 couples from across the U.S. One partner in each couple had lost 30 or more lbs. in less than two years with an average weight loss of about 60 lbs. Common factors that led to the weight loss ranged from changes in diet and exercise to medical procedures. Both partners were asked about the effect that weight loss had on their relationships.

In the study, weight loss was overall affiliated with better communication among couples. The partner who shed the pounds was more likely to talk about healthy behaviors and inspire his or her partner to maintain or lead a healthy lifestyle. Couples who had a positive outlook on healthy changes generally reported positive interactions and increased physical and emotional intimacy, reports Medical Xpress.

A partner’s weight loss did not always generate a positive response in relationships. The partner who lost weight was found to insist his or her significant other to follow a new healthy lifestyle, causing a rift in the relationship. Non-weight-loss partners who were not supportive of their other half shedding the pounds felt threatened and insecure. As a result, they made critical comments, were less interested in sex, or tried to sabotage their partner with unhealthy food to derail their efforts as a means to prevent the partner and relationship from changing.

"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," said Dr. Lynsey Romo, lead author of a paper on the research and an assistant professor of communication at NC State, Medical Xpress reports.

"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."

Weight loss in a relationship could be attributed to the weight gained during the early stages of the relationship. In a Diet Chef survey, 62 percent of couples admitted to gaining around 14 lbs. after being with their significant other. Approximately three-quarters said they thought their partner had gained weight too.

To learn more about how diet and weight loss affect relationships, click here.

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