When I was in high school, I dated a guy for about five years ( I know). As silly as it sounds, I barely ate in front of him when we first got together. I avoided dinner dates and stuck to “lady-like” foods like salads or picking at fruits when I was forced to eat so that I didn’t pass out. It was ridiculous.
As we got closer and more comfortable with each other, I let my guard down and actually started eating in front of him. My ex was relatively thin and could pretty much eat whatever he wanted without having to worry about gaining a pound. Me, not so much. Once I felt stable in our relationship, I started eating a lot. Like a lot. I figured, why should I care so much about my appearance? My guy loves me the way I am and he’s not going to leave me if I go up a few pounds.
Obviously, I gained a bunch of weight – and while my ex never said anything, it bugged me. I wondered if I was the only one who had gained weight once they were in a relationship, and I quickly figured out that I wasn’t. Over the years, I’ve watched many, many girl friends spend their single lives dieting like crazy, only to get into a relationship and gain all of that weight, and more, back. I’ve watched cousins get married and pack on the pounds. Basically, I’ve seen people literally transform once they get into a long-term relationship.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with gaining a little weight. It happens. It’s nothing to beat yourself up over. But I’ve always wondered: is there really a link between food and relationships? And apparently, yes, there is.
The Huffington Post recently spoke to a psychology professor Maryanne Fisher, who has done a little research on the subject. According to Maryanne, food and love are sort of linked in your brain. She says that in the beginning of a relationship, “Food is a way to display skills to a potential mate. You might buy nicer food, prepare better meals. It’s fascinating how it can be used as part of the relationship.”
TOTALLY TRUE. At least according to my love life. When I first started dating my current BF, I wouldn’t touch greasy chips or fries or candy in front of him – I wanted him to think I only ate healthy foods that are good for you. Why? I don’t know. I once watched my boyfriend wash down two jumbo Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups with a bag of BBQ pork rinds, so I don’t know why I felt the need to lie about my own eating habits.
Maryanne goes on to say that in the beginning of a relationship, people tend to eat less due to the fact that they release an abundance of “reward hormones”. These hormones make you happy and give you energy, and can sometimes suppress your appetite.
However, those hormones don’t stay up throughout the entire course of a relationship. The levels go up and down, and in extreme cases they can even cause obesity. Many other studies have found that people who are married or in long-term relationships are more likely to gain weight. Why? I can only imagine that it’s for the same reasons I gained weight: you feel comfortable and secure in your relationship and you don’t really feel like you have anyone to impress anymore. So you let things slide.
This all makes total sense to me and I’m sure it’s something that a lot of us can relate to. So I want to know: have you ever gained weight during the course of a relationship? Have you ever seen friends do it? Tell me in the comments!