I’ve been dating a great guy for about ten months. Right about the time we started dating, I got a new, even more demanding job, which has prevented me from working out as much as I’d like. On top of that, my job also requires me to take clients to lunches and dinners, so I’ve gained about eighteen pounds. My boyfriend used to joke around about what a hot girlfriend he had—he doesn’t do that anymore. In fact, recently, he told me he was worried about my health because I’d gained so much weight. He said he’d also noticed that my self-esteem had taken a bit of a nosedive. (He’s right.) Then he told me that he wasn’t as physically attracted to me anymore. I can understand where he’s coming from, but my heart is broken. I thought the rest of his “intervention” was caring, but that part killed me. I know I need to lose weight, but now I’m wondering if I should stay with a guy that puts physical beauty so high on his list. Realistically, I know I can’t maintain a hot body forever. What do you guys think?—EM, Atlanta, Georgia
The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown
I know how horrible it must have felt to hear your boyfriend tell you that you’ve packed on some pounds. We’ve all been there to some extent. But I think you might be so focused on your hurt feelings that you’re overestimating how important physical beauty actually is to him. He’s still dating you, right? Obviously he cares about more than just your physical looks, otherwise he’d have dumped you so he could go out and troll the nearest gym for leggy co-eds.
Eighteen pounds is a lot to add to any frame. If you’re like most women, any weight gain will cause your confidence to plummet. You could have the bangin’est body on the planet, but if you’re not confident, no one will think you’re sexy—not even you. You need to own it, EM! You’ll be sexy at any size as long as you feel sexy. The fastest way to regain some of that confidence and come-hitherness is to start an exercise plan immediately so you can begin releasing some of that crack-like endorphin that makes you feel like you can conquer the world. Don’t get overwhelmed at the thought of trying to lose eighteen pounds, just focus on doing something to help you feel better and get your mojo back. The weight loss will eventually come.
Also, that extra weight could potentially put you at risk for a shitload of health problems. Your boyfriend obviously knows that or he wouldn’t have mentioned it. He sounds like he’s interested in way more than what’s on your surface and potentially wants to consider a healthy relationship for years to come.
Right now your pride is suffering and your feelings are hurt—whose wouldn’t be? But I’d focus more on rebuilding your confidence than whether your boyfriend thinks you’re fat. Because the only opinion that truly counts is yours.
The gay man’s perspective: Darren Maddox
Here’s a reality check for you: if you’ve gained eighteen pounds (about two pounds each month) since you started your new job, you’re going to be twenty to twenty five pounds heavier in a year than you are right now! Just because you have an expense account does not mean it’s time to strap on the feedbags and wash it down with four glasses of wine all under the guise of “entertaining clients” and think your body will go unaffected. It’s all about choices. Alter your eating habits now or you’ll have bigger troubles down the road.
And when you say you haven’t had the time to work out as much as you like because of a more demanding job, who does? I certainly don’t get up at dawn’s crack and run three miles because my nice warm bed suddenly turns on me and kicks my ass out onto the unforgiving hardwood. I do it because that is the only time I can manage to get in what needs to be done for the day in the name of fitness. I’m just saying that when you accept a job, you also accept the fact that certain things will have to change to meet the demands of a good balance. Only you can tip the scales back in your favor.
As for the boyfriend, I don’t condemn him for what he’s telling you. I think he is concerned about your whole body and the fact that you don’t seem to have your balance right now. Physical attractiveness is a part of that. You got your feelings hurt by some harsh realities. Don’t let that ruin your relationship. Let those things make you stronger.
The gay woman’s perspective: Jody Fischer
The New Year seems like the perfect time to serve up a hearty helping of positive body image, self-love, and romance. What I hear you and your boyfriend dishing out is a jumbo-size portion of criticism. I’d like to remind you of an item that’s “off-menu” that you can substitute for your regular selection. I invite you to consider being gentle with yourself and with that voice inside of you who thinks you have to be scolded in order to change.
EM, we’ve all been to the place where this inner war is brewing; one part is trying to change because it’s worried and fearful that it won’t be loved, but the other part is resisting and feeling bad about it. Here’s the thing: this war cannot be won. You may let others threaten you into change or impose rules on you that make you change, but for most of us, this is only temporary.
Even though the war can’t be won, it can be ended when you stop identifying with one side or the other and really listen to yourself. Your inner critic may find it hard to listen, but the real you can. Listen and be gentle. That’s how lasting change begins. And as for the guy, I think if you listen to yourself, you’ll see that his kind of “love” is never served in the finer restaurants. Send him back and order something good for you that you’ll love.
The straight man’s perspective: Chris Kennedy
I’m guessing your boyfriend is trying to motivate you. Is it a bit harsh of him to admit that he’s not as attracted to you when you’re out of shape? Yes. But it’s a tactic. Perhaps it will work, or perhaps it will cause you to leave him, but I think he’s sensing something needs to happen here.
While he’s waiting for you to lose weight, he’s losing wait. I would try to use his comment as fuel to fire yourself up and put your focus on getting yourself in shape.
You don’t want someone who’s going to accept you letting yourself slide and you don’t want someone who can’t be honest with you that he’s losing some attraction. If physical beauty were that high on his list and the only thing he cared about, he’d be gone by now so cut him some slack.
I know you’ve got a full schedule, but you can make getting in shape a priority. Why don’t you two go to the gym together? Ask him to go with you if you’d like since you’re already busy. This will give you some time together and it will help him show his support.
You may not be able to maintain a hot body forever but you should always strive to be as healthy as you can be. You seem to want to lose weight and you seem to know that you should. Go for it.