Partners Who Sabotage

I love getting emails from readers! They always ask such thought-provoking questions. I recently got an email from a reader asking this:

“Thank you so much for your blog. You are inspiration. I have been trying to lose weight for many years but my problem is getting hubby to accept my new healthy lifestyle. Do you have a post about your husband’s take on the healthy lifestyle? Thanks, Amy”

That is such a good question. First, Michael and I aren’t married so I want to clear that up. Second, losing weight is such a personal experience–it’s different for everyone–but despite being a personal experience it effects everyone around you.

Losing weight is a life changing experience–especially if you have a significant amount to lose. Recently I wrote a post (Actually It Will Change Your Life) about how my life changed when I lost 100 pounds. I got a lot of really interesting responses to the topic. Some people disagreed with my comment that losing weight CAN make you happier. Different opinions are fine with me. I just comment on how I feel. I probably should have been more specific in saying it this way:

I’m not happy because I’m now SKINNY.

I’m happy because I’m now HEALTHY.

Big difference in my eyes. This topic leads me to the idea of SUPPORT. Losing weight is a battle; it helps to have a strong support system around you. Family, friends, coworkers…wherever the support comes from it helps. I don’t know if I would have kept trying to lose weight if I hadn’t had such a great support system and positive reinforcements.

What happens if your partner doesn’t support your weight loss attempts? Maybe they won’t participate in your fitness program and try to discourage you from workout out. Maybe they eat a big burger and fries while you’re eating a plain piece of chicken and a salad. Or maybe they are downright rude to you and act like your lifestyle changes are a pain in the butt for them. Maybe they refuse to watch the kids while you workout at the gym.

There could be a number of ways they show their lack of support and it can be hurtful and frustrating.  Let’s take a look at why they don’t  support you.

  • Are they not ready to change their lifestyle?
  • Are they jealous of your weight loss success?
  • Are they at a different fitness level?
  • Do they have a negative attitude that isn’t helping you succeed?
  • Are they comfortable with the role of the smaller person in the relationship and don’t want to see you lose weight?

The first thing to do is to figure out the “why.” Knowing where your partner is coming from can give you some insight. When you talk to them about it you’ll be less angry and coming from a place of understanding instead. If they feel left out try being inclusive. Do things together that are active but FUN.


Don’t be afraid to ask for their support. Maybe they are unaware that their comments and lack of support are discouraging you. Honesty is always the best policy in my book.

Reassure them that you aren’t going to leave them if you lose 75 pounds. That is a very valid and very real fear of partners. Tell them you love them and you love yourself and losing weight is taking care of yourself.

My Story of Sabotage

Long before I met Michael I was dating a guy who turned out to be a total jerk. I’ll call him Bob. I met Bob after losing about 65 pounds. His words said he was supportive of my continued weight loss but his actions were the complete opposite. There were red flags everywhere about this guy (I ignored them in the beginning). For example:  he loved to take me to places like Claim Jumper for dinner. Time and time again I said I didn’t want to eat there because there was NOTHING I could order on the menu. He was also a control freak (red flag) and would do it anyway.

Bob also tried to sabotage my exercise time. He’d try to convince me not to workout but do something with him instead. One time we were coming home from a day at the beach and I said I wanted to be back in Portland by a certain time so I could go swimming. He decided he had to stop 20 miles from Portland to get the oil changed in his car. Why? Because he was a sabotaging jerk. Because of that I didn’t get back to town in time to make it to the pool. I was fuming. That was the last straw.

The result? I dumped his sabotaging ass. The red flags, the control issues, the sabotaging, it all rubbed me the wrong way and I finally woke up! We only dated about 3 months but that was 3 months too long in my opinion.

I’ve had similar experiences with other guys who weren’t jerks, just selfish. Michael is the complete opposite of anyone I’ve ever met or dated and he supports me no matter what. Sure we have our issues. For example he could eat pizza every day.  Pizza is a trigger food for me so I have to limit it. Our compromise? We order the Papa Murphy’s deLite (low calorie) pizza so we’re both happy. Then we’ll get the “real pizza” once in awhile as a treat.


There’s no right answer for the dilemma regarding nonsupporting partners and I think it’s a harder decision when it’s a spouse as opposed to just someone you’re dating. My hope is that a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one will help the situation.


Each situation is different. Only you can decide what is best for both your relationship and your weight loss journey. Remember this:  no one can make you eat something you don’t want to eat and no one can keep you from doing something you put your mind to!

QUESTION: How would you deal with a sabotaging partner?

14 Responses

  1. The first thing I’ve done both times I’ve lost weight is tell my husband. I knew he was a winner the first time around before we were even married because he supported me 100%. Now that I’m trying again, he’s active himself too–we’re running races together now and he loves trying new healthy recipes.

  2. This is an important topic. I don’t fully understand the why (like you said), but in college, my roommates were sabotaging. I mean, college itself is sabotaging in general, but they were pretty insistent on not wanting for me what I wanted for myself. I think that’s what hurt — I wasn’t saying that they needed to live the way I was living. I just wanted it for me. But it was like they found it threatening, or they thought I wasn’t “good enough” to be healthy. Very hard.

    1. And are you still friends with them now? I wrote about this…how I lost 100 pounds and lost a bunch of friends. Suddenly they didn’t want to hang out with me anymore. Some seemed mad at me for losing weight and meeting someone…it was a weird (and hard) thing to deal with.

  3. What a great topic!

    My experience has been people sabotaging without realizing or intending to — way better than people doing it on purpose! But in some ways harder, too.. you can’t call them on it in the same way, and it’s less clear-cut in terms of maintaining a relationship. I have found that gently but firmly reasserting your needs, and being clear about what behaviors are sabotaging and how, are the best ways to push through and change loved ones’ sabotaging ways.

    My partner is also overweight and not very fit. He seems to oscillate between being empowered by rising fitness level and ambitious goals… and being discouraged or distracted. He’s not committed the way I am, and that kind of ambivalence can be the most sabotaging of all! Sometimes my best strategy there is to just sidestep him: I take a Pilates class in the middle of the day during my lunch hour; I do my bike training during the week just after I get home, so I’m already on the bike with Bones on by the time he walks in the door.

    I keep hoping I’ll inspire him, though. 😉

    1. Inspire by doing Eva! That’s the best plan. I hear ya…Michael’s fitness level isn’t quite what mine is but the important part is that he still TRIES. And that’s okay with me. I don’t expect him to be a runner, or able to hike 3 miles without a rest, but the fact that he gets out there makes me happy.

      As for the friends…most of the friends I lost I never had a big “fight” or “confrontation”. It was passive-aggressive sabotaging and negativity but something I couldn’t put my finger on.

  4. I am happy to say that my husband don’t sabotage my exercising and healthy eating. In fact, he eats what I make and pack without complaints and so does the kids. I do get 1-2 times in a week where he do make me feel bad for not wanting to share a chocolate or a unhealthy meal with him, but other than that, he is very supporting.

  5. Good topic Lisa. My wife supports me, for the most part. She believes in what I’m trying to do, but still sabotages it to some extent. She still has crap food – trigger food for me – and appologizes as she eats it in front of me. It’s tough!

  6. I just discovered your blog. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to find it. Keep up the good work (both in health and writing).

    I started my journey a little over a year before my wife did. She never intentionally tried to sabotage me, but when one partner is trying to lose weight, it can be difficult if the other one isn’t. There are food considerations and sometimes even jealousy.

    Over a year later, she’s on board with me. She’s even guest posting once a week on my blog. She wasn’t in a place to try to lose weight a year ago, but I like to think that seeing my success has inspired her to do the same. Having her on board has given me a second wind.

    Show your partner why they should join you. Let them see your successes and when they’re ready, they’ll join you.

    1. Glad you found me, Andrew! I think your story is very cool. Despite the rough beginning your wife came around and she’s getting healthy on her own. That’s the way to do it. Fighting, forcing, guilting people into losing weight and getting healthy doesn’t work. They need to be ready to do it for themselves. Glad you and your wife can do it together now!

  7. I love that you tackled this subject. My husband tends to unconciously sabotage. I don’t think he does it with any malice what so ever. But, when we are together I make horrible food choices. Weakness on my part 100%. I will alter what I have planned to eat in order to make him happy. I know he preferes french fries over roasted veggies, so that is what I do. Like I said, total weakness on my part. I am working hard to get over it and I have made great strides. Maybe if he weren’t so darn adorable…

    1. Christi – to be honest I struggle with this too. Michael is wonderful 95% of the time but the other 5% of the time he does the same thing…tempting me with things I WANT even though I’m trying to be “good.” I have weak moments for sure.

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