People don't change. Or do they?
December 9, 2012 9:09 AM Subscribe
When we first met, my boyfriend was overweight and drank too much (by his own account). Four months into our relationship, he's changed quite a bit: he goes running, eats healthier, and drinks way less. He says I make him want to be healthier -- which is great. But I'm worried that this is just new-relationship energy, and that he'll slide back into old patterns once we're more used to each other.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (30 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not a super health-nut, but I've always tried to stay active and watch what I eat. My boyfriend, despite being diabetic, was pretty lax about his diet and his exercise regimen. (Possibly relevant info: he's 34; I'm a woman, and I'm 31). When we first met, he was drinking most nights of the week -- either out with friends, or just having a six-pack alone while looking at the internet on a weeknight.
Early on, I told him that the drinking and the lax attitude about his health bothered me. He agreed that they were problems, and said that he just hadn't had much of a reason to change his life until now. Since then, he hasn't changed completely, but he's definitely altered his life in some moderate-to-large ways. He exercises a few days a week and drinks twice a week, if that. He talks a lot about how much better he feels, and was proud of himself that a recent stressful incident at work didn't drive him to rely on his old bad habits. Meanwhile, I'm making a concerted effort not to be a nag about any of this stuff, but instead to talk about it in a larger sense (ie., not "why are you having another beer?!" but instead "do you think it's a problem that you drink alone?").
In some ways, it feels foolish to even write this question, because so far, everything seems great. He is happier and healthier and we get along great. It's inspiring and encouraging that we can talk about these things openly, and that he doesn't get upset or defensive. I just LIKE our relationship. But I can't shake the nagging feeling that he's just changing temporarily based on new-relationship energy, and that a couple years from now I'll wake up to find that he's not taking care of his health and drinking half the day away again. And I know you should love people for who they are, not for some aspirational version of themselves -- but I'm old enough that I don't want to get deep into a relationship with someone who doesn't take care of himself.
My questions: Do people really make major lifestyle changes (that stick!) because of relationships? Are our differing habits until now a sign of fundamental lifestyle incompatibilities? Is he just eventually going to resent me for trying to change him? Am I eventually going to resent him for putting me in the role of "lifestyle coach"?