Low-Fat Love 101: Diet Relationships
Welcome to Low-Fat Love 101, a new monthly blog about relationships, self-esteem and body image. I use the term” low-fat love” broadly to talk about self-esteem and how sometimes we settle for less than we want and pretend it is better than it is. For me, low-fat love is about trying to fake ourselves out, which inevitably leads to dissatisfaction. Here’s an analogy: let’s take the food product “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter.” Well, I can! It’s OK to use a substitute sometimes for a whole host of reasons, but where we can get into trouble is when we pretend it is something it isn’t. It’s a butter substitute, it isn’t butter. I believe there is a lesson here about relationships, including the one we have with ourselves.
Every month this blog will feature a different basic low-fat love lesson. I hope we can open up a dialogue about low-fat love in our lives and how we can recognize and reject it. My message is simple: in life and love there is no substitute for the real-deal. So, let’s start with low-fat love and romance, or what I term “diet relationships.”
Diet relationships are romances where you settle for less, trying to convince yourself it is enough, ultimately feeling unsatisfied. These are relationships where we accept low-fat love as a substitute for the real-deal. Just like diets, these rollercoaster romances aren’t built to last and can leave us feeling like failures. Healthy relationships are a platform from which to become the best versions of ourselves. They make us feel good about ourselves and allow us to grow. And they don’t involve faking!
Here are 6 signs that you may be in a diet relationship, with tips for moving forward:
- Your partner withholds: If you find yourself waiting by the phone, rereading and decoding emails, and never being certain when you’ll see him/her again, you may be dating a withholder. This can zap your energy and your esteem. Tip: We thrive when we’re in relationships with a real give and take, so don’t settle for less.
- Your partner doesn’t support your growth: If your partner doesn’t support your professional, personal or spiritual growth, you may be settling for less than you deserve. Tip: Healthy relationships help you become the best version of yourself and your partner shouldn’t want to hold you back from reaching your potential.
- You feel insecure: Feelings of insecurity in a relationship are a sign you might be on a love diet. It should be clear to each partner where they stand, so that each person is comfortable and secure. Tip: If you feel insecure in a relationship talk to your partner openly, honestly and with kindness. If things don’t improve it may not be the right relationship for you, which doesn’t mean it’s anyone’s fault, just that it isn’t good for you.
- It’s melodramatic. If your relationship is a rollercoaster of great highs and great lows, watch out. Sometimes the excitement of drama can mask that the relationship is actually a substitute for the real-deal. Tip: It’s hard to be successful in other areas of your life if you’re living in a state of high-drama.
- The relationship operates in terms of power and game-play. If you find yourself thinking about “who is more into who” or “who has the upper hand” or if you’re intentionally making yourself appear “less interested” in order to be more desirable, you are engaged in cycle of game-play. In most games we don’t play with people, we play against them. Games position us as opponents, strategy is currency and winning is the end goal. Tip: Gameplay creates inherent imbalances in relationships. Healthy relationships are based on the principles of partnership, not power.
- You don’t know why your partner wants to be with you. The fact is that if you are insecure about yourself, no relationship can fix that—you have to do it yourself, and then you’ll have more to offer a partner should you choose to be in a relationship. Tip: Focus on growth activities that aren’t dependent on anyone else and will make you feel good about yourself: education, professional accomplishments, athletics, art or charitable work.
So, does any of this sound familiar? What’s your experience with diet relationships?
- Have you ever been in a diet relationship? If so, how did you recognize it and what did you do?
- Have you ever had a friend in a relationship where you wanted to just shake him or her and say, “What are you doing? This isn’t good for you.” What did you do?