Identifying Healthy Relationships After WLSApril 24, 2019
Learn to Identifying Healthy Relationships After WLS
Learn to identifying healthy relationships after WLS is extremely important. Recently, I was sitting with one of my patients, Sara*, who was talking about a new, potential friend named Kate*. They had just had lunch together, and Sara wondered aloud if she had made a good impression on Kate. She questioned whether she had “talked too much,” and whether Kate was annoyed with her. I asked Sara if I could interrupt and posed the following question, “So Sara, did you enjoy spending time with Kate?” Sara fell silent and looked at me, perplexed. “I don’t know,” she finally said.
Healthy Relationships After WLS
This is the response that I receive from many WLS patients when I ask about their reaction to relationships with a potential friend or relationship partner. I frequently find myself saying, “You are so concerned about what they’re thinking of you that you don’t give a thought to how you’re feeling with them.”
I am not encouraging my patients to be judgmental, I am simply encouraging them to carefully reflect on whether another person’s personality, values, interests, wants, and needs fit with their personality, values, interests, wants, and needs.
I have found that most of my patients do not engage in this reflection process. In fact, many have no idea what type of person would be a good, healthy fit for them.
Identifying Healthy Relationships After WLS
Is your experience like that of Sara? Are you so busy worrying about what others think of you that you don’t reflect on how you feel with them? Have you given thought to what type of person would be a good fit for you in a friendship or romantic relationship? In other words, do you know what you’re looking for? If not, I encourage you to reflect on the following questions:
With whom can I be myself, feel comfortable, and feel joy? Take a few moments and jot down the names of people, past and present, with whom you could be yourself, feel comfortable, and/or feel joy. Who has made you feel relaxed and at ease? Who has uplifted you?
Next, think about the characteristics of these people: how would you describe them? What are they like? What are their defining characteristics (e.g., kind, caring, compassionate, fun, loyal, artistic, understanding, thoughtful). What things are they interested in? How do they spend their time? What do they value?
Your observations offer valuable information about the type of person who would likely be a good fit for you. As you meet people, ask yourself: does he or she possess some of the characteristics, interests, and values that I enjoy and admire? Does he or she make me feel relaxed and at ease? Do I truly like this person? If so, he or she might just be a good fit!
With whom do I feel uncomfortable? Take a few moments and jot down the names of people, past and present, with whom you have felt particularly anxious, uncomfortable, or distressed. Now, think about the characteristics of these people: how would you describe them? What are their defining characteristics? What things are they interested in? What are their values? How have they made you feel?
Again, this information helps us understand the type of person who would likely NOT be a healthy fit for you, someone who possesses at least some of the characteristics noted above. As you meet people, ask yourself: does this person possess the characteristics that are unhealthy for me? Does he or she build me up or bring me down? Do I feel exhausted after spending time with him or her? Do I even like this person?
What do I love to do? A very wise professor of mine once said, “Do what you love to do and you’ll find your tribe.” In other words, when you pursue activities that you’re truly passionate about, you’re likely to meet like-minded others with whom you can connect.
Some of my patients have discovered fulfilling, healthy relationships through volunteering, taking classes, participating in the arts, and joining religious/spiritual organizations. What do you love to do? What activities reflect your values? Where might you find like-minded others?
What are some specific things that I want and need in a friend? Sara answered this question with the following statement, “I want and need someone I can trust, someone fun, a good listener who doesn’t judge, someone easy-going, someone who has kids around my kids’ age would be nice too, so we have that in common.”
What specifically do you want and need in a friend? Consider personality characteristics, interests, and values. What characteristics are truly important to you? What traits are “deal breakers?” I encourage you to write your thoughts in a notebook or journal and refer to them as you encounter new potential friends.
What are some specific things that I want and need in a relationship partner? For this question, one of my patients said, “I want and need someone kind, caring, and affectionate. Someone who would never be verbally abusive. Someone fun who really values family.”
What specifically do you want and need in a relationship partner? Again, think about personality traits, lifestyle, interests, and values. What characteristics are essential? What characteristics are unacceptable? Again, consider jotting your thoughts in a journal or notebook and refer to it often as you meet potential relationship partners.
Sara ultimately decided that Kate was not a good fit for her. Upon reflection, she noticed that Kate’s tendency to gossip about their mutual friends made her feel untrustworthy. Sara also observed that she felt drained after their interactions, rather than uplifted.
Finally, she realized that she had virtually nothing in common with Kate. When Sara took time to reflect on her wants and needs, she ultimately pursued friendships with kind, similar-minded folks from her Zumba class and the animal shelter at which she volunteered. I hope that like Sara, you will seek a healthy relationship “fits” that you want and deserve!
* Not their real names.
Read more articles on ObesityHelp by Tanie Kabala!
ABOUT THE AUTHORTanie Miller Kabala, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and integrative wellness coach who specializes in treating weight loss surgery patients. She wrote her book, The Weight Loss Surgery Coping Companion: A Practical Guide to Coping with Post-Surgery Emotions to help patients navigate the emotional journey of weight loss surgery. Read more articles by Tanie!