If you have struggled with your weight your whole life, bariatric surgery is one of the most life-changing experiences you’ll ever have. It’s an exciting time, but can also be challenging in ways that might surprise you. You know following a diet and exercise program after surgery will be hard, but making daily adjustments in your social interactions may actually be more challenging.
Just as your body changes after bariatric weight loss surgery, your interpersonal relationships may also evolve. It’s easy to think that losing weight will make dating or knowing how to communicate with your spouse easier, but you may find people simply treat you differently. You’re happy – thrilled! – to see the pounds dropping, but you’re probably overwhelmed by the significant changes in your physical appearance and social and romantic life.
How weight loss affects romantic relationships
If you are in a committed relationship, your spouse or significant other is the person other than yourself who has the biggest stake in your life. He or she may act differently or be afraid of the change you have undergone. It’s not that your spouse doesn’t care for you; it’s just that it can feel strange to lose the old you. Leaving that sense of familiarity behind may be stressful, but you should see this as an opportunity, not a threat. Follow these suggestions to predict, spot and resolve issues that will help preserve your romantic relationship:
- Watch for signs your spouse feels rejected or self-conscious. This is most common if your partner is also affected by excess weight, but did not undergo weight loss surgery. It’s important to be more attentive than normal, and to let him or her know you aren’t planning on leaving after your significant weight loss. It’s always a good idea to promote open and honest communication and talk out both of your fears and concerns.
- Look out for controlling behavior or jealousy: You may find yourself getting more attention from the opposite sex than you had in the past. It’s likely your partner will notice this, too. It’s imperative that he or she is secure enough to avoid destructive, jealous behavior, such as acting on possessiveness, anger and feelings of anxiety and depression. If you see signs of this, try to first talk openly with your partner in order to dissuade any fears. If that doesn’t work, you may need to seek out professional help from a counselor, relationship expert or life coach.
- Maintain and protect your independence: Although marriage and similar relationships are often viewed as partnerships, it’s important that you maintain a certain level of independence and truly love yourself. After weight loss surgery, you may feel more independent and less inclined to exhibit codependent tendencies toward your spouse. An insecure partner may try to exercise power over you. If you notice this happening, it’s wise to consult a counselor to help with dysfunctional communication or friction before it escalates.
- Expect some intimacy issues:After weight loss surgery, there are a few things that may increase your insecurity levels and negatively impact your intimacy with your partner, including gastrointestinal intestinal issues and excessive skin.GI tract problems sometimes cause gas, bloating or diarrhea, which can be embarrassing when you’re attempting to be intimate with your spouse. These challenges may force you to plan your romantic rendezvous ahead of time because spontaneous intimacy may end unpleasantly. If you’re having GI tract issues, talk to your doctor about possible solutions.Excessive skin is often caused by rapid weight loss. Having to look at loose skin before and during intimacy can be detrimental to your self-esteem, and it’s important to love your new body for all that it is. If you can’t handle having loose skin, there are many options available that will help decrease the amount of it on your body.
How to navigate this time in your life
It’s not unusual to start receiving more interest from potential suitors after severe weight loss, or to feel resentful about the newly-found attention. Interactions with these individuals may leave you asking yourself questions like, “Would they treat me the same way if I hadn’t lost all that weight?” However, if you’re ready to get back into the singles scene, your best bet for successfully dating after weight loss is to adjust to the new you. If you already have a partner, the sooner you accept your new body as part of who you are now, the more quickly he or she will adjust to the new you as well.
If you need help navigating this time in your life, join an in-person or online weight loss support group. You can sign up on your own, or encourage your significant other to join with you. Stress can challenge even the strongest relationships, but knowing what to look out for gives you a better chance at maintaining a healthy romance. Remember, your most important relationships will still remain after bariatric weight loss surgery, and they will become even stronger after the challenges pass!
Take positive steps forward
The weight loss you have longed for isn’t enough if you’re not at peace with yourself. Even then, the new you will be pretty lonely if you don’t have good relationships in your life. The most useful tool you have is patience. Time changes everything; most difficulties pass if you give them enough time. After a while, things will calm down and you’ll start living the same life, just in different-sized clothes.
Need more advice about preparing for life after bariatric weight loss surgery? Contact the professionals at BMI of Texas to learn more.