Beth,

I love my girlfriend of 6 months and have started to feel like she’s the one. She’s a plus size woman, and I’m extremely attracted to her. Recently her doctor told her she needs to lose weight for health reasons. I’ve noticed a few health flags to this effect but don’t want to upset her in any way. 

I want to support her and encourage her but I’m extremely nervous to do so. I was married once before, and my ex wife’s weight caused major issues in our relationship. 

I know they’re two separate people. I completely understand that. But because I’ve been in a similar situation before I just don’t know how to approach this.

In need of guidance,

James

 

Hi James,

I’ve written about the complex intersection between weight and relationships several times. Looking back, I have mixed feelings about some of the things I’ve said. Some of it I hate, some of it I think is ok, some of it, well, I’m not sure where I stand. There’s still no good way to approach the topic of losing weight/eating less/eating better with someone with whom you’re romantically entangled. There’s too much shame in our culture surrounding food and bodies. But I’ll dive into this topic again, because I think we should still talk about it, even though it’s the definition of a sticky wicket.

“They say kale has antioxidants/but I’m anti-leafy greens.”

The solution here isn’t a perfect one. Your girlfriend has been told she needs to lose weight for health reasons, and you seem to agree. Whether she’s experiencing high blood pressure at a young age or simply getting winded during long walks, you have noticed that it’s affecting her life. That’s a valid reason to broach the topic. Let’s try to see this issue as strictly related to health. If your girlfriend had thrown out her back and was hobbling around for weeks, you’d eventually suggest she see a chiropractor, right? If she had been prescribed a medication for migraines but hadn’t taken it while still experiencing headaches, you’d push her to follow the doctor’s orders, right?

I’d encourage you to say to her what you’ve written to me. You love her. You find her very attractive. You think she should listen to her doctor. And you’ll be there to support her along the way. It may be a hard thing for her to hear, but as I’ve said before, I don’t think that’s a reason to avoid having a difficult conversation. Your reticence on account of your experience with your ex-wife makes a lot of sense to me, and you didn’t specify how her weight issues affected you, so I can’t fully speak to that, but you’re correct that these are two different scenarios. Deal with what you have in front of you right now.

Lucille Diet

Not helpful.

If I might make one more suggestion here–counseling for your girlfriend. Encourage her to seek out a therapist who specializes in supporting those trying to lose weight. This can be in a support group setting or one-on-one counseling. It’s really important that your girlfriend try to re-frame her thinking about her body and food. If her weight gain is indeed the result of overeating, it will be helpful for her to see why she overeats and what she can do to combat that behavior. And it will also be helpful for her to view her journey to losing weight as not something shameful. She’s not overweight because she’s bad or disgusting or weak. It’s a numbers game. She eats more than she burns. If she can change that, she’ll lose weight (assuming there’s not another underlying health issue contributing to her weight). It’s not any different than someone with Celiac’s changing their diet to exclude gluten or someone with Crohn’s learning to avoid high fiber foods. Good luck.

-Beth

 

You're hovering a bit there bucko.

About the Author: If you’ve got a question that needs the female treatment, chances are you’re not the only one who wants to ask it. Beth is our source for the answers. From opinions on men’s style to decoding the sometimes mysterious ways of women, she’ll take on a different question every Thursday. She also might provide an answer without waiting to be asked. That happens from time to time too. Click here to get to know Beth, then get in touch with her by sending your question to: askawoman@dappered.com .


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