Dreaming about being that fit couple at the gym? There’s still hope!
You’ve been eating clean and training mean for a while now, and you’re rocking a six-pack — or perhaps you just started your fitness journey less than a week ago. No matter where you’re at, if you’re in a relationship, your partner should be happy to see you getting healthier, right? After all, it’s a proud moment when your boyfriend can tell his buddies, “She squats, bro.”
But it’s a different story when you’re constantly reminded that your partner “doesn’t even lift.” You cringe when they order fries instead of a salad. You roll your eyes when they sleep in on Sundays while you’ve woken early to go for a jog. And maybe their cute beer belly is not so cute anymore.
What do you do? Continue accepting them as you did before you began your fitness journey, or raise your concern about their unhealthy ways? The choice is up to you, but proceed with caution. While your different ideas of a “healthy lifestyle” could put your relationship on the line, it doesn’t have to.
In a relationship, having one healthier partner and one who is more, let’s just say, “relaxed” can potentially spell trouble. “Because so much is shared in a couple, it is not surprising that one partner would want the other to be healthier,” says Dr. Ramona Domander, a psychologist located in Etobicoke, Ontario. “It could create a fair bit of conflict in shopping for food and drink, from what is brought home to how much is spent on good choices. There could be disagreements about what you eat together.” Even worse than fighting about what’s for dinner, she says, “One partner may even begin to resent the other for the amount of time and focus they devote to being healthy, perhaps claiming that it is more important than the relationship and its emotional needs.”
Sometimes it can be the fitter partner who needs to change first. Attila Gombos, a Mississauga, Ontario-based OPA bodybuilder, was with his girlfriend for five years before they broke up. He feels that his obsession with the fitness lifestyle was partly to blame for his relationship ending. “I became very stubborn and hard-headed, and bodybuilding/ fitness-focused, rather than spending more time with her and her needs,” says Gombos. “I became very full of myself.”
Do You Even Lift?
He says she began to feel neglected, and he regrets the choices he made back then. “I wouldn’t have been so egocentric,” he admits. “There are more important things — family, friends, career — than bodybuilding or fitness.”
This is also what happened to Michael Prudente of Toronto, who was with his girlfriend for 11 years before recently breaking up. He says his girlfriend felt neglected and would ask him to skip gym sessions to spend an evening in with her — to which he obliged, though it was tough. “It seems like she was just getting sick and tired of the lifestyle and how I was devoting myself to it to too much of a degree,” says Prudente.
But even if you’re not necessarily obsessive or competitive, your partner may not be understanding of your devotion to the squat rack.
Lauren Smith* a non-competitive gym enthusiast for the past decade, faces similar problems in her current relationship. “He doesn’t see why I’m doing it, and why I put so much effort and time into doing it if I’m not making anything off it,” says Smith. “He doesn’t understand that it’s what keeps my mind steady. It’s what keeps me levelheaded.” This never used to be an issue in her previous relationships, seeing as she’s dated competitive bodybuilders since she was 18 years old.
But the most frustrating part for her? “It’s when I come home and he’s eating a bag of chips on the couch and I’ve been at the gym,” she says. She admits that she occasionally feels irritated when he’s lazing around but adds, “He has enough redeeming qualities to make me look past that.”