Is someone you love in complete denial over their unhealthy lifestyle habits?
We all have at least one person in our lives who struggles with healthy eating, exercising, or limiting drug, alcohol, or tobacco consumption. It can be heartbreaking to watch someone you love disregard his or her health. Not only does it put that person at risk, it creates difficulties for everyone who works with or cares about him or her. From doctors’ bills to inability to function at work, it is both emotionally and physically taxing to love those who disregard their health.
Consider this: You are entering a new relationship and notice that you’re misaligned when it comes to your health practices. Having different levels of concern about wellness can lead to tension and stress in a relationship. It’s not easy to watch someone you love disregard their physical and mental well-being day in and day out. It can even be frightening knowing that your partner’s life might be fraught with illness or suffering. So what do you say to this other person you care so much about?
Start with “gentle nudges.” This can include encouraging your loved one to cook or exercise with you, do some label checking at the grocery store, etc. If this does not work (or is met with hostility), here are some suggestions for what to say next:
- Try saying, “I love you, and I’m scared that you might get sick or—if worse comes to worst—that I will lose you. It can be really devastating to see you (eating poorly, ignoring exercise, or state what the unhealthy habit is).”
- “I want you to not only think about how this is impacting you, but how it impacts me and our children.”
- “I need to know that you care enough about me to do what you need to do to stay healthy.”
If they still do not make a positive change after this conversation, it might be time for professional support. We know this struggle on a personal level, and we would love to offer you support as you navigate this tricky situation.