How relationships may change after weight loss surgery

Posted by Sharon Alfuth, R.N.
December 02, 2014

Sharon Alfuth, R.N.Going into the holiday season, we all look forward to spending time with family and friends. The changes in lifestyle bariatric surgery brings about are almost as difficult for family and significant others as they are for you. Before bariatric surgery, you developed patterns in your relationships and home environment. Following surgery, as you change, your significant others have to change in some ways, as well. People do not really enjoy change, especially when it is not their decision or their surgery. When this happens, your significant others may try to change the relationship back to the way it was when it was familiar, comfortable and they knew what to expect.

Sometimes, these actions taken by your friends and loved ones may take the form of sabotage to the lifestyle changes you are making. They may give a subtle sigh when you go to exercise or complain about not going to a restaurant, or even bring you your favorite food “because I knew you would love it.” Most do not even realize they are doing it and are embarrassed or surprised when it is brought to their attention. Good communication is key to success. Talk about your feelings regarding the surgery and the changes you are all experiencing. They are probably dealing with many feelings they do not feel comfortable expressing.

It is not uncommon for people who have had bariatric surgery to hear statements, such as “She is taking the easy way out. She had bariatric surgery.” This is a misguided attitude. People think bariatric surgery is easy because they see the dramatic before-and-after pictures in the media. The truth is that almost everyone having bariatric surgery will lose weight, but it is anything but easy. Living well after surgery requires you to make many lifestyle changes in diet and exercise that you will need to stick with for the rest of your life.

Another common occurrence after bariatric surgery is that a significant other may become worried about your well-being. They may show their concern by constantly reminding you of what you should be doing with comments, such as “You’re not chewing enough,” or “You are eating too fast.” This can cause friction. Remind family members not to do this, because it only causes stress in your relationship. Reassure them you have had instruction about the diet, exercise and psychological changes you are going through.

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