Long-term partners pick up bad habits

People in long-term relationships may find they pick up unhealthy habits from their partner, new research has shown. To be presented at the 106th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Las Vegas, the study revealed these behavioural patterns are promoted through direct influence, health habit synchronicity and the concept of personal responsibility.

Corinne Reczek, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Cincinnati - established in 1819 - found straight, gay and lesbian couples each experience the bad influence theme.

Ms Reczek explained one example of this is that the unhealthy food bought by one party in the relationship may subsequently be consumed by their other half.

She noted the finding "suggests that individuals converge in health habits across the course of their relationship, because one individual's unhealthy habits directly promotes the other's unhealthy habits".

People may also be more likely to engage in these practices because their desire to do so is matched by somebody else, Ms Reczek added.

Anita Abrams, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "Is this unhealthy influence universal? Is it unavoidable? Who is most at risk? 

"Personally, I have found that changes in a couple's behaviour reflect any combination of a number of external and internal influences. Health, life-stage, financial viability, employment, culture and emotional fulfilment are only some of them. 

"The power of a partner's influence and its permanence are, in their turn, affected by an individual's personality, their suggestibility and dependence, the personal meaning of the specific behaviour; the areas of conflict within the relationship; their resources for resolving them. 

"Though there may be similarities, no two relationships are the same."