Motivation Articles

Is Weight-Loss Hurting Your Relationship?

The Real Issues and How to Address Them

Weight loss is tricky business, especially when you're in a relationship. After all, many people fall in love because they share common interests, such as watching the same sitcoms every Thursday night, going out for rich Italian food or playing video games together. However, what happens when one person in the relationship swaps his or her Thursday night TV-watching for group cycling? Or decides that ordering roasted chicken and steamed veggies is a better option than creamy fettuccine alfredo? Or that the Wii Fit is actually more fun than Super Mario Brothers? I smell relationship trouble a-brewin'.

Losing weight and adapting to a healthy lifestyle requires a lot of change—change that your partner may not be ready for. In fact, according to some recent SparkPeople polls, 34 percent of respondents said that their spouse, partner or significant other sabotages their weight-loss efforts more than anyone else in their lives, and 43 percent said they their significant other negatively influences their eating habits. On the flip side, 24 percent say that they would be bothered if their partner gained weight, and 55 percent said they might be bothered, depending on how much weight he or she gained. Overall, it's easy to see that weight can play a heavy role in your relationship

If you feel like your relationship may be under strain because of your weight-loss efforts, there are some general warning signs to look for. Typically, these types of actions are rooted in something larger than the direct issues, so it's important to understand them fully to know where your partner's or your feelings are coming from. In general, the "why" of a behavior comes from deep-seated emotion of which you or your partner may not even be aware. For just that reason, we've added an "emotional why" section to each warning sign exploring the emotion that might be behind these behaviors. Because we know how important support is to reaching your goals, we've included some action tips on how to improve whatever situation you may be facing. This way, you can find a way to maintain your healthy lifestyle without sacrificing the health of your relationship.

5 Signs Weight Loss is Hurting Your Relationship (and What to Do about It)

1. Your partner makes negative statements about you changing.
SparkPeople member SULYLE admits that weight loss has affected her marriage. At 5 feet 6 inches, she's 13 pounds from her goal weight of 140 pounds (that's a BMI of 22.6, considered a "healthy" range for her height). Still, she says that she gets comments from her husband and his family that she's "skinny" and needs to stop losing weight. She's from the Dominican Republic, where curvier women are considered beautiful, but she doesn't feel attractive at her current size. SULYLE's story isn't that unusual. Your significant other may make other negative comments about your own weight loss or changing body because it signals change. And change is scary for your other half.
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About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites, and A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments

  • SUSANK16
    Sorry, but I simply do not buy into all the "reasons" this occurs. I am sure in some cases the "reasons" supplied here are valid. Equally, I think that one has to consider that some times these comments occur because the individual making them is negative and controlling. In that case the individual has to re-evaluate the relationship. - 11/6/2015 2:01:21 AM
  • My partner has been nothing but supportive of me. I feel very lucky after reading this article. - 8/21/2015 1:32:19 PM
  • It is amazing because the individual in my life is not a typical person that others would others may see as my type.
    Our eating habits are completely different, but at the same time we feed off one another.
    We both introduce each other to other types of food. - 7/25/2015 2:01:48 PM
  • GOCHI91
    This seems ridiculous. A couple has the best form of exercise available to them? It's not like tedium ad nauseum of the treadmill or some, is it? - 7/25/2015 6:05:10 AM
  • I think one of the main things that is difficult to do while focusing on losing weight is to remember to keep the other priorities in our lives, including a significant relationship. This involves working on communication and finding ways to show them you care about them regardless their weight or your changing weight. Change is difficult for everyone. Especially for those in significant relationships. It will just take the same or more time to reassure one another and get to know each other now that habits and lifestyles are changing. Cut your partner some slack. You are not perfect. They are not perfect. Love is a choice that needs to be made in ever moment and every situation, no matter how much they "deserve" it. Imagine if you put even a fraction of the effort you are currently putting into losing weight into improving your marriage communication skills at the same time. It is easy to confuse self love with selfishness if you are new to it. Take some time to figure out which is which, and it may be different in every relationship, because every relationship is different. Seek wise counsel. Reflect and practice empathy. And then act intentionally. Don't let losing weight cause you to lose something even more precious. - 6/24/2015 5:47:18 AM
    My husband is very supportive, but reminds me not to lose all my curves, as he prefers women to look like women. (I'm 5'2, and when I start going under 135 - which is NOT skinny, he always gets a little paranoid!) My Mom on the other hand, is constantly asking me about my weight or bringing over candy, cookies, etc. She will say it's for my kids - but they don't need a 5 pound bag of Twizlers either!

    I am currently pregnant with our 5th baby at almost 26 weeks & it's KILLING my Mom that I won't tell her how much I've gained so far (16 lbs.) Then she will remind me that the most she gained with me or my brothers was 15 pounds. (She also chained smoked, had wine, and drank coffee like it was going out of style, but I guess everyone did back then!)

    She a little chunky, too, so I guess it comes from her own insecurities. But I must confess, I'm getting a little tired of it! - 5/4/2015 3:07:55 PM
  • If you feel that those around you are attempting to sabotage your efforts, ask yourself this: How obnoxious have I become?
    You make changes to your eating habits and lifestyle, and these things generally shouldn't effect others, even if you live with them, unless you're overzealous.

    It's possible that they're the problem, it's true, but...could it also be that you're acting like a pragmatic jerk? - 5/4/2015 11:22:48 AM
  • This seems ridiculous. A couple has the best form of exercise available to them? It's not like tedium ad nauseum of the treadmill or some, is it? Should be enjoyable by both and as to what the world thinks, who cares?!!!!!!!!!! - 2/10/2015 6:03:37 PM
  • It shouldn't be a problem. I mean if is indeed your partner then why for the love of god will he get get upset because i have to lose some weight? From my point of view this should strengthen the relationship not hurting it. If you have someone that really care for you then he should come with, at least, emotional support. - 1/3/2015 11:26:34 AM
  • The line between help and sabotage can be a fine one as well. When my DH decides to lose weight, it's typically by skipping meals, eating an ultra-low-calorie diet or doing something else drastic. If I encourage him to make healthier choices it seems like I'm trying to derail him, when in fact I just know that what he's doing WILL backfire (like it has for the last 20 years). He's not severely overweight like I was but does want to lose some weight, just not like that! We're both healthcare professionals so it always surprises me that he doesn't take his own advice; he would never tell a patient to do what he does... SMH... - 9/21/2014 12:35:10 PM
  • Thanks, I can't remember the last time I had such a good laugh. - 9/7/2014 6:33:46 AM
  • BOBG01
    I definitely see my weight loss possibly ruining my marriage. I feel bad about it because I feel like I am mostly to blame. I met my wife back in college. At that time I was maybe 15 pounds overweight. I had always had horrible eating habits and ate too much since my parents are both fat and I learned my eating habits from them. Before I met my wife she was fat. We met soon after she had lost a bunch of weight. She was a petite redhead with a good body (despite the fact that she didn't exercise) at that time. We fell in love and together we grew obese. My bad eating habits made it very easy to fall back into her bad eating habits. About the only thing my wife and I have in common is that we like to go out to eat and we like to get drunk. Any other hobbies or interests we pretty much pursued on our own, but drinking and going out to eat are about the only things we did together. My wife is also a pack a day smoker. I am a former cigar smoker. As an aside, I never set out to give up cigars, just that as I became more ito healthy living, the urge to smoke just wasn't there, and time I used to spend lounging around puffing away at a cigar is time I now spend working out.

    So fast forward 20 years. We are both obese and suffering from health problems. My wilfe also suffers from depression and fibromyalgia. I decided that I was sick and tired of being sick ansd tired, so I got off my fat, lazy butt, and did something about it. I dropped nearly 50 pounds and started working out regularly. At 200 pounds, I may still be technically fat, but I am in the best shape I have been in since my 20's! My wife on the other hand, has done nothing. This has created problems in our relationship. Since I am counting my calories, getting drunk every weekend and going out to eat often are out of the question. So now we have absolutely no "together" interests. I suggested making healthy living our together hobby, and that met with luke warm reception. So I basically just spend much of my free time alone. All she wants to do is sit at h... - 9/4/2014 3:00:23 PM
  • This is so true. I'm now in a happy relationship, but one of my earlier ones which eventually broke up after 18 months had these issues creep in and gradually get worse. In a sense, I think it was a good thing because given our respective attitudes towards getting fit and living healthy, we were probably always going to get on each others' nerves! My key takeaway from your post is to set my own goals and targets for fat loss and stick to them, rather than let someone else impose their idea of what should be good for me. This relaxed and proactive choice means I'm more motivated to stick to my diet and exercise regimen than if it had been forced on me. - 7/22/2014 10:24:16 AM
  • This is to 'Antiquity'. Honey, if he is a good man in all other areas just let it slide. By commenting in this way he is just showing his inner child a little by then thinking how he measures up. This is not bad just immature. Extremely common! If a person studies communication skills they realize that the need to let people have their moment is important but you might just have to discuss this with him in a nonthreatening way and he might get it, if not right away then in a while. - 7/12/2014 12:11:27 PM
    I'm pretty lucky in that my partner is in-shape and at a healthy weight himself, so he is great for doing outdoorsy activities with and is supportive of me being active and healthy. However, he is naturally slim and doesn't have a need to watch his food intake at all. I have warned him (somewhat jokingly!) that once his youthful metabolism becomes more sluggish, I will teach him all about weighing out his portion sizes! But for now, it can be hard because he simply doesn't understand what amounts I need for weight loss, and sees my portions as small or asks, "Is that all you're eating?" when I have a perfectly balanced meal. Despite that, I had an awesome moment with him the other day when I worried aloud about food over an upcoming holiday we were going on, and he said quite genuinely, "Bring your scale with you!" Aww, he's learning. =) - 4/17/2014 6:54:42 PM

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