Losing weight can be good…and bad for relationships

“How losing weight can be bad for your relationship, with partners sabotaging diets and rejecting sex,” reports the Mail Online. Though the study it reports on also found weight loss brought many couples closer together…

The report looks at the impact weight loss may have on a relationship; especially if one partner loses weight while the other remains overweight or obese.

The study looked at couples where one person in the couple had recently lost 14 kilograms or more.


The researchers found weight loss could have both positive and negative effects on a relationship, centered around two main themes.

The first theme was termed “heightened communication about weight management”. On the positive side some participants reported that their partner losing weight inspired them to do the same. On the negative side some participants reported resentment about being nagged to lose weight.

The second theme was termed “changes in intimacy”. While most couples reported becoming closer, some participants reported feeling insecure that their partner had lost weight.

The study highlights the fact that weight loss can sometimes have a significant effect on a relationship…good or bad. It is something you may wish to discuss with your partner if you are planning to lose weight.

Data was collected using questionnaires – one questionnaire for those that had lost weight and one for those that had not lost weight. Online questionnaires were reported to be chosen due to being less threatening than face-to-face interviews. They were asked not to consult their partner when completing the questionnaire.The questionnaire included a series of 30 open ended questions. The exact questions are not provided by the researchers, but they say participants were asked:

  • about their interaction with one another about weight management before and after one of the partner’s weight loss
  • to describe the consequences of weight loss on their own health or their partner’s health, and the extent to which this surprised them
  • to share any additional information about the effects of the weight loss
  • about the person’s sex, age, height, weight and length of relationship



  • The age of the participants ranged from 20 to 61 years
  • The length of relationship ranged from 2 to 33 years
  • The majority of the participants were white (88%)
  • The body mass index (BMI) for non-weight loss participants ranged from 17.7 (considered underweight) to 34.6 (considered obese)
  • The BMI for the participants who lost weight (after weight loss) ranged from 19.5 (considered normal weight) to 48.0.

The researchers say the study showed weight loss can result in both beneficial and negative interactions. The two main themes identified are described below.

Theme 1: Heightened communication about weight management

Many of the partners of the person who had lost the weight perceived communication about weight management to have been limited or ineffective before the weight loss. After losing weight, many of the participants perceived it was common for the person who lost the weight to talk more about their weight management and to encourage and inspire family members to lead a healthy lifestyle.

The researchers also found that some participants who had lost weight went ‘from pudgy to pestering’ (?!) and nagged their partners to follow their lead and lose weight.

Theme 2: Changes in intimacy

Following weight loss, participants commonly perceived their intimacy levels to change, which was reflected in their communication. The researchers say most couples said their interaction had become more positive and that they had become physically and emotionally closer, such as a strengthened sexual relationship.

However, they said some participants reported negative behaviours such as criticism and insecure comments from partners who had not lost weight, such as participants who had not lost weight feeling negative about themselves for not also losing weight. Another negative finding the researchers reported was that two participants who had lost weight felt more assertive which prompted them to exhibit ‘potentially relationship-disrupting behaviours’.
So all in all…fairly inconclusive and not surprising!

3 responses to “Losing weight can be good…and bad for relationships

  1. Pingback: Why I’m here | How I Got Here & Other Fun Things·

  2. Pingback: Stronger Relationships Through Losing Weight Together | The Living Fit Project·

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