In the dating world, discussing health goals with your partner can lead to strife. The two of you may enjoy the same music, perhaps you have traveled to the same places, and maybe you both have degrees in the same field, but your dietary and exercise habits clash BIG TIME. Many people tend to overlook this in the beginning of a relationship. They don’t think it matters much. If you are living in separate houses and enjoying meals together in a restaurant, more so than at home, it may not create a dent in your relating. However, if you cohabitate with your love, differences in food preferences, supplements, and exercise can become a strain on your relationship over time, if communication and respect is not involved.
I’m noticing a trend in modern dating where people are talking about their food and alcohol preferences in the early days of a budding relationship. I see it mainly in those aged 30 and up and have been encouraging these conversations with my clients. While I have known couples’ who have successfully navigated the world of separate meals and differing activity levels, I have also heard from countless clients about what a drain these differences can be for couples. I’ve learned that when these core beliefs and habits align well, couples will be happier over time. However, I don’t want you to miss out on a chance at true love based on your fears of not having the perfect mate.
I want to share some of the common questions I have heard from clients from my medical and coaching practices. Add your questions to the comments to be featured in a future article in You, Me, and Uni.
QUESTION: My partner drinks coffee and I drink herbal tea daily. How can I convince him to have less coffee and start drinking herbal tea to improve his health? Signed, Herbal Lover
Dear Herbal Lover,
While it may be frustrating for you to worry about your partner’s health and to want them to share your love of herbal teas, it is their choice. Just like you are able to choose tea over coffee, they want to make their own decisions as well. Using the same helpful techniques that we use for children you can be a “good example” of healthy living and perhaps others will want to join you. I suggest avoiding a nagging or negative approach. Instead, make extra healthy tea and offer to bring them a cup when you cozy up on the couch together. Talk about why you love the tea and how it helps improve your health.
There is no need to make your own blend of calming herbal tea when you can enjoy Meditative State of Mind. This lovely combination of Mint, Chamomile, Lavender, and Moringa is delicious and soothing. Full of health benefits, this tea is good for your immune system, heart health, and adds digestive support.
QUESTION: I eat everything and consider myself a foodie. I don’t want to date a vegetarian because I don’t think she will enjoy fine dining and elaborate dinner parties like I do. Am I being too picky by limiting myself when looking for a girlfriend? Signed, Foodie
I get this inquiry often. While I do believe it may be easier for you to date women who eat more similarly as you, I don’t want you to limit yourself by putting too much emphasis on diet preferences. I see more of a struggle between partners when one eats healthy and one eats junk food regularly. Vegetarians can be “foodies” also. They tend to be good cooks, preferring to know exactly what is in their food. Therefore, they are wonderful guests at potlucks and when hosting dinner parties. You will likely learn to appreciate new dishes from them and they from you. Most restaurants have vegetarian choices on the menu and dishes can be adapted to vegetarian upon request.
QUESTION: I live an active lifestyle and want to be outdoors as much as possible, yet my husband loves video games and watching sports on TV. I want him to garden with me, walk with me, play tennis and horseshoes with me but I can’t get him off the couch! How do I convince him that he needs to be more active in order to live a long life and to be healthy? Signed, Active Lady
Dear Active Lady,
I want to start by saying how wonderful it is that you enjoy being outdoors and moving your body. It sounds like you take good care of yourself and you are worried about your husband’s health if he continues his couch-potato ways. This is always a tricky one because generally adults do not want to be told what to do. My suggestion is to talk with your hubby and let him know you would like to spend more quality time together. Come up with a list of 3 things that he enjoys that you would like to do with him, and 3 things you enjoy that he will agree to do with you. You both may need to start with a list of 10 interests to give each other enough choices.
While enjoying these activities together, talk about health. Sharing why you do the things you do (for your health), will likely lead to him reflecting on his life. He may get defensive and start telling you how tired he is after work or how he doesn’t like being outside. Or he may be encouraged to be more active himself. Giving him the time and space to want to make a change is the only way he will be committed to adopting healthy habits for the long term.
QUESTION: My partner goes to the Doctor for every little ailment and is often taking medicine for the tiniest things. I see an Acupuncturist and a Master Herbalist when I am not feeling well. We often end up fighting about what the other should do about their illness. I’m starting to think we are not a great match and I should have spent more time getting to know her before we became serious. What do I do? Signed, Natural Healing
Dear Natural Healing,
I see these differences a lot in relationships and want to assure you that it is fairly common. The important thing is that your partner respects your decision to choose the healthcare modality you want. You should also be respectful of their choices as well. The problem tend to arise when one partner is really sick and the other person needs to make health decisions on their behalf. This is when you want to know their preferences and when you can deter from them. It’s always a good idea to have conversations about healthcare and emergencies, so you are prepared. Making a list of treatments that you agree with and those that you do not, is a great exercise for both of you to do. Also, let your partner know who you prefer they call if you are seriously ill or injured.
QUESTION: I go to bed early and wake before it is light out. I prefer to have time in the mornings for exercise and self-care before my children wake up and my work day starts. I don’t want to date someone who stays up late at night. I just don’t think that would work out well for me. I want to ask about sleep habits on the first date so I don’t waste my time. Is this rude? Signed, Early Riser
Dear Early Riser,
As a matchmaker, I have seen two beautiful people with common interests turn down 1st or 2nd dates due to this difference. I believe this “issue” isn’t as big as people make it out to be. Until you are cohabitating, you can’t know for certain if sleep habits will affect the other person. If you are concerned about not having your partner to snuggle up to in bed at night, while they are still fully awake in another room, that’s valid. Yet, speaking as a late-to-bed person myself, I would love a good reason to go to bed at 9 pm for some romance and spooning with the person I love. I love mornings and if I had enough sleep, I would choose to enjoy peaceful, cool mornings.
It is possible for your partner to have snuggle-time with you at night and then sneak off into the living room for their alone time, just like you prefer to do in the mornings. This schedule could be a win-win for you both, allowing each of you to enjoy the house on your own for a few hours each day. Finding a partner with similar values, interests, and energy levels can sometimes feel like searching for a unicorn. Don’t get so wrapped up in “must-haves” that you don’t give people a chance.
For more information on the benefits of herbal teas and how they can help with your health goals, check out this article. For more information about dating, check out last weeks article on dating a feminist. To learn more about Master Herbalists, click here.
Anastacia Elizabeth Walden is a freelance writer and editor in Gainesville, Florida.