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Romance Can Sour When Only One Partner Slims Down

Study of couples probes the 'dark side' of weight loss
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The new findings tie in to some research done by Charlotte Markey, an associate professor and chair of psychology at Rutgers University, who reviewed the findings.

In a relationship, she has found, ''partners compare their own bodies to their partner's." So it makes sense that Romo found when one partner lost weight, the other partner often took stock, so to speak.

Suppose a man loses weight, and his wife may need to but isn't, Markey said. "That may make the woman feel inadequate," she explained.

"We fall into these patterns with people we have relationships with," she said. "When these patterns shift, it can be unsettling."

Advice for couples in which one partner is about to lose weight? "It's important to talk to your partner ahead of time," Romo said. The goal is to get the other person on board -- if not to lose weight, to support the partner who is trying to do so, she said.

Markey agreed that communication is key. "Talk about it before and keep talking about it," she said. For example, if a husband is losing weight while the wife also needs to but isn't, and the woman feels inadequate, she should simply tell him so, Markey said. "Hopefully the partner will say 'Well, you shouldn't.'''

"Make it a team effort," Markey said. "Almost everyone can afford to eat healthier and exercise more."

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