Will my relationships change after Bariatric Surgery?

May 10, 2024

Relationships change and are impacted by bariatric surgery. If you are going through or have had weight loss surgery, We know this is a transformative process for your body and we’re learning that it’s a transformative process for your mind as well. However, it’s a real overhaul to your entire life, and that includes your relationships.

The most important of them all, and that’s the relationship that you have with yourself. Bariatric surgery is a quantum leap into you, transforming who you are as a person because we know bariatric surgery is not a diet. It’s an entire lifestyle change which means how you have viewed diets, your body, perhaps disordered eating, or dysmorphic ways of looking at yourself. Those must change in order for you to be successful long-term after this procedure. Yes, this is a huge physical change, but even bigger it’s a mental and emotional change to the goal with this surgery and your relationship with yourself is that as you said and prove to yourself that you’re keeping promises and doing the work that you’re also gaining confidence to be who you truly are. Earlier in my journey, when meeting someone, I used to overcompensate in personality to hide myself in a sense. If the personality was loud and big it might sheer them away from looking at my body.

I’ve always been bubbly by nature but this was exaggerated when I was 60 kg heavier. Post-op I felt like I didn’t have to put on a show in order to pull off this level of fame confidence, so it always looked like I was incredibly confident and there were aspects of my life that I was confident in, but I didn’t start to blend that internal confidence with my external body until after surgery, and that like unlocked a very different version of who I am now, so I want you to start with that one. I want you to figure out your relationship with yourself pre-op, and then what you want to look like post-op, and if you’re already post-op and haven’t done this work yet, I would recommend that you do it as soon as humanly possible. The changes in general that I think most people are referencing when they talk about relationship changes are those of the romantic nature the ones of marriages partnerships even relationships whether you are single or in a committed relationship weight loss surgery can have an impact on your life and on that other person and in general on how you function together, one study published in the journal of American medical Association in 2018, there’s a correlation between divorce rates and bariatric surgery. That bariatric surgery was associated with an increased risk of divorce or separation with two years following the procedure, so this study analyse data from over 30,000 patients, particularly in Sweden. These patients had had a procedure any weight loss procedure between 2000 and 2012, and it reported that patient who had undergone surgery were more likely to divorce or separate compared to obese individuals that did not undergo surgery during that same time. This is just one study, but overall since this time to study data points have really emerged. Some studies are suggesting and potential increase in divorce rates postop, but the other side of this coin, the other study data point is that they are showing that there is an overall improvement in both marital stability and an increase in lifestyle quality. It is essential here that we recognise the different factors going into play for the reasons why both studies can exist with different data points at the same time. These factors include pieces that are huge in relationships like communication. The history of that dynamic relationship, as well as the support system for the person who has had or is undergoing surgery after reviewing so many studies and looking at different data points and digging into the research it seems like for the couples who are experiencing higher divorce rates. The norm is that the patient who is typically female and who has had weight loss surgery is deciding after surgery that her relationship is not the same worth as her value she’s developing newfound confidence and empowerment, which allows her to leave a relationship that’s been toxic for a long time. There are pre-existing dynamic factors going on in a lot of this data and that she’s leaving because she’s found her value and her worth, so she’s leaving a relationship because it’s not serving her not simply because she had surgery. I hope that that data breakdown makes sense because I don’t want you to assume that simply because bariatric surgery happens your relationship is due to fail if you are in a healthy communicative supportive relationship, nothing about that is going to change postop but if you’re in a relationship or you’re not seeing one of those aspects and you haven’t had the courage or ability or even honestly the privilege to say to yourself, this isn’t working for me. Bariatric surgery will change that for you. If you are looking for a little bit of relationship support a relationship guidance that you can trust I do have a a few coaching sessions to strengthen your relationship skills. I can offer and if required refer couples to great supports in our industry.

I know I’ve spoken to patients before about this, but I really struggled with mental self-esteem, which I don’t think is rare preop, but it absolutely impacted my romantic relationship. Despite the fact that he is always told me no matter size, my weight that I’m beautiful, and that he thinks my body is beautiful. I simply couldn’t like except that I couldn’t internalise that which made it really hard for me to be comfortable in bathing suits or less around him after my surgery, and I felt like I had really taken control of my own wellness that shifted, and it didn’t just shift with him, and that one type of example shifted with all of my relationships. I became more assertive in prioritising my own needs, assessing the boundaries I had in place and where I didn’t have them, putting them in place, and ultimately this strengthened my connections with others so this in my immediate family at home, obviously, with my partner and my 2 kids. Waves of change occurred in other areas of my life and are alike of other bariatric patients I’ve connected with we all reported that our Social circle changed, Our businesses evolved and our support circle changed.

You’ve seen or heard of studies about how society treats people when they’re obese are overweight and discouragingly I have found that this also holds up to be true now when I walk into a boutique shop consider me a sale because my body fits in their clothing, so they treat me differently than if I was walking in at a previous size 18! I was simply there to like look at shoes or accessories, and then I probably wouldn’t buy anything expensive or worthy. It’s not as dramatic as like pretty woman, but you understand what I’m saying strangers are friendlier. I’m just no longer invisible because when I was severely overweight or obese, I feel like people would look at me and look away because it made them uncomfortable, or they simply didn’t know how to interact with me that has abundantly changed, and I’ve worked with several clients who said that one of their biggest fears about postop life is that they will no longer be invisible so that’s something that if you feel that way too, you want to sit with that and figure out why? Because it is likely that after surgery, when you are within a healthier weight and body size that people will approach you people will speak to you and how do you want to handle that? Remember in your relationships no matter the type of communication is whether you’re navigating the dating scene, or your navigating an existing relationship open and honest communication where you are prioritising your needs and stating your boundaries is how you achieve success going forward into your postop life, if you found today’s blog, insightful or helpful and want to have a chat with either myself or Dr Atalla please reach out to us.

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