Bariatric Surgery can Change your Relationships
Obese people have heard a thousand times: “it’s only the inner you that counts.” Those who say it certainly mean well, but it’s always hard to believe. The looks from them, the rejected date invitations, and more say otherwise. Not surprisingly, bariatric surgery patients can expect a change to friendships and family relationships. Others can’t help but feel differently about you. You’ve changed. You’ll feel differently about yourself, too.
That change can be and usually is very positive. After all, that’s one of the reasons individuals choose to have it, and then commit to the post-surgery process. But the change often comes with challenges best dealt with head on. Realism is key. Part of that realism will include preparing yourself for a lot of positive attention. That may seem like a good thing, so why worry?
In truth, it generally is good overall, but there are sometimes unexpected pitfalls. Quickly becoming the center of attention especially in a positive way can be a whole new experience for the formerly obese individual. That new-found attention can be exhilarating, especially at first. Still, some aren’t sure how to handle it. It can be a drug, or generate the fear that just as you were seen negatively for your looks you’re only seen positively for your appearance.
Grateful and quiet acceptance is a positive approach to the issue. False humility or fear of the attention is less than ideal. Most people don’t feel completely comfortable in the spotlight. The increased attention can feel like pressure to perform. It can make you feel like expectations are being set, ones you may worry about living up to. Anxiety results.
Family relationships can be more challenging than most, especially when you’ve been overweight for years. Since obesity tends to run in families, when one member becomes substantially slimmer in a short time, it can create a range of reactions. Not all of them are positive.
Envy is far from unknown. Siblings may act as if the post-op patient now “thinks (s)he is too good for us.” Some may feel guilty for not making the same commitment to change. Counseling can help and it’s a standard and beneficial part of the whole weight loss process.
Beyond other’s reactions, the weight loss process inevitably brings lifestyle changes. A radical change in diet presents dilemmas for where to meet friends for lunch or dinner. That, makes choosing a chore rather than a shared pleasure. Or, being around food your family has always eaten that’s no longer right for you can be an occasion for tension. Requesting others to adapt to your diet can raise that tension still higher.
You’ll be counseled on lots of things during the process. The basic key to dealing with any of these scenarios is really simple, though: common sense. Be patient. Be realistic. Be flexible. Your new spirit of optimism and good will can go a long way to ease the transition into the new you. Seek ways to deflect conflict. Understand that you can’t control others, they must make their own adjustments. The result as thousands who’ve been there already testify is worth the effort.