For people struggling with their weight, surgery can be a source of help and hope. But it often has an unexpected effect on romantic relationships
Before Steven Jason Williams had his gastric bypass in August 2017, he attended group sessions to prepare himself. It was at one of these classes that Williams, now 44, was first told that many married patients will divorce within years of the surgery. He turned to look at his wife, Desiree, who had trundled him into the meeting using the portable wheelchair they kept in the boot of their car. Williams couldnt walk more than a few feet at his heaviest, he weighed 587lbs (266kg) and he spent nearly all his time at home, being cared for by Desiree. He knew then that their marriage was over.
I remember just looking at her thinking, thats going to be us. Because were already rocky as it is, says Williams. Two months after the surgery, Desiree was gone. I hadnt even got the stitches healed.
A successful YouTuber, Williams is known for the gaming vlogs he uploads as Boogie2988 from his home in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Since having the surgery, Williams has lost nearly a third of his body weight, and now weighs 340lbs (154kg). Would Williams have had the surgery if he had known it would cost him his marriage? Absolutely, he says. It was an easy choice. My doctor basically sat me down and said: Steve, if we dont do this, you are going to die. But even aside from the health benefits, he would still have gone ahead for Desiree. I would do it again just to give her that freedom and the option to end our codependent relationship, because it wasnt working. I just wanted her to be happy.
The statistic that made such an impression on Williams came from a 2018 study. That found, of nearly 1,000 obese patients in relationships who had had bariatric surgery, 9% had divorced or separated within four years of their surgery, compared with 6% in a control group. Patients who were single prior to their surgery were more likely to find love afterwards. Out of nearly 1,000 single patients, 21% got married or started a relationship within four years, compared with 11% of those who didnt have the procedure. The study also reported an association between the degree of weight loss and the possibility of finding a partner.
Many people who have undergone this treatment describe it as a strong, almost life-changing event, says Prof Per-Arne Svensson of the University of Gothenburg, who led the research. Many things apart from just the kilos are affected: how they socialise with people, how they become more socially active.
This was the case for Gary Cupid, 35, a facilities manager from Hackney, east London. After having a mini gastric bypass in June 2017, Cupid lost 108lb (49kg). As the weight fell off, he started working out and making friends. His confidence grew, but his relationship foundered. His fiancee ended their engagement, two months after the surgery. I think she didnt feel comfortable with the friendships Id gained … she felt that Id become a different person.
Its not just how you feel about yourself that changes after dramatic weight loss. Society treats you differently, too. A lot of these people have been obese for many years, or even their whole life, says Svensson. Suddenly, they lose the weight, and people start noticing them. Patients used to being invisible suddenly find themselves to be a desirable sexual and romantic proposition.
Invisible is the best way to describe it, says Chloe (not her real name), 34, a therapist from Shropshire. After she had a gastric sleeve fitted, she went from a size 28 to a 14. I didnt realise how differently I was treated to everyone else until I was treated like everyone else. I thought it was me personally that repelled people, and thats why strangers wouldnt make eye contact with me.
Chloe didnt feel deserving of love when she was obese. I didnt really feel like I had a choice. I felt like if somebody who wanted a relationship with me came along, I had to take it with both hands and run with it. She married her husband young; they are now separated. I shouldnt have got married, she says. I got married because theres no other way of putting this he was willing. Their marriage foundered, in part due to his low sex drive, which she attributed to her weight.
When you feel invisible, you take what love you can get even if its not healthy. Western culture has a fascination with thinness as being one of our most pronounced markers of beauty and attractiveness, says Dr David Sarwer of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University. For people with extreme obesity, the message is, if youre not thin, lean and toned, physical attraction, romance and sexuality is not for you.
This post was curated & Posted using : RealSpecific
If you enjoyed our content, we'd really appreciate some "love" with a share or two.
And ... Don't forget to have fun!