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Romantic Relationships May Suffer When Only One Loses Weight

Update Date: Oct 31, 2013 12:26 PM EDT

Although losing weight is associated with a happier and healthier life, this may not be the case in a romantic relationship according to a new study. 

"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," Dr. Lynsey Romo, an assistant professor of communication at NC State and lead author of a paper on the research, said in a news release.

For the study, researchers interviewed 21 couples, 42 adults on how they felt their relationship was affected by their significant other losing weight. One partner from each couple had lost an average of about 60 pounds in less than two years. Participants had documented that their reason for losing weight were related to change in diet, exercise and medical procedures. 

Researchers found according to the survey, that the level of communication in the relationships had completely changed. 

"The partner who lost weight was more likely to talk about healthy behaviors and inspire his/her partner to maintain or enact a healthy lifestyle," reported NC State according to researchers. "Couples in which both partners were receptive to these healthy changes reported more positive interactions and increased physical and emotional intimacy."

Researchers also found that not all partners reacted positively to the recent weight change. Negative communication was one of the wreckers in relationships because the partner who lost weight would constantly push their partner to engage in a healthy lifestyle too, which weakened their bond.

"Other partners who hadn't lost weight reported feeling threatened and insecure by their partner's weight loss," reported NC State. "These participants were resistant to change in their relationships." 

According to researchers that led to criticism which then led to one of the partners trying to make their partners the same way they were in the beginning of the relationship. They would try to destruct their healthy efforts in hopes that they would not both change. 

"This study should not dissuade anyone from losing excess weight, but it should encourage people to be aware of the potential pros and cons of weight loss on their relationship," Romo said. "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." 

She added, "This approach will help people lose weight without jeopardizing the quality of their relationship."

The findings are published in the journal Health Communication.

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