Today’s letter is one from NPR radio: How to talk to a significant other about their weight
I am a 24-year-old college graduate in my first serious romantic relationship. My experience with girls before this was extremely limited. I’ve been dating my girlfriend for over six months now, and she is wonderful.
However, her weight has always been a minor issue in the back of my mind: She is not fat but she has a few extra pounds and this can be seen more when she’s wearing fewer clothes. I love her and would never ask or demand her to change just for me, but I’ve been thinking more and more about how her weight bothers me a little bit.
I’m a very thin guy and have naturally gravitated physically toward thinner girls. Until now, I have avoided talking about the matter with my girlfriend except in general terms about others, or the few times she has brought up and engaged with me directly on the matter. When her doctor told her she needed to lose some weight to be healthier, she was upset, although she did not disagree.
So I spoke to my therapist and my roommate, and although they’re both men, they both thought that if it was something on my mind and was making me a little uneasy that I should bring it up with her. I did, and she did not respond with as much understanding as I hoped.
She felt hurt and a little violated, like the one guy who’s supposed to love and accept her and find her beautiful just the way she is was attacking a part of her identity. She was shocked, confused and taken aback. She tried to explain how some issues are so sensitive, touchy and personal for women that they should never really be brought up for the sake of the satisfaction in the relationship. In all fairness, I did bring it up a little suddenly and not in the most tactful or direct way, but I didn’t know how else to start a hard, uncomfortable conversation I was not looking forward to.
She has genes that make it easier for her to gain weight and harder to lose. She has recently started going to the gym, and I was trying to support and encourage her to go more consistently.
My question for you is: Was I wrong for not being sensitive to how women think? Should I have let it go if I considered it a smaller issue in our relationship? Would it have made a difference if I spoke to another woman to ask her thoughts beforehand on if and how I should bring this up with my girlfriend? Did I need to?
I love her and she is very big on being honest and open and comfortable in trusting each other. Our relationship never hinged on her weight, but I just want to come out stronger.
The Question of Weight
Dear Question of Weight,
I really like the introduction to your letter, where you tell us that you have about 6 months of relationship experience, so you’re pretty much an expert. It really helps how you explain that you love her, and would never force her to change. You would merely ask her to change and make her insecure about herself. But she deserves to feel bad because she’s overweight. Nevermind that you came into this relationship one way, you deserve to form her into the girl of your dreams, no matter the cost!
It is also very important that this only goes one way. She has no right to suggest you put some muscle on your scrawny frame, just because you get to tell her how she should look.
It sounds like talking to her was difficult for you both. To avoid that, you should let actions speak louder than words. Buy her a gym membership, bring home small portions of food for her dinner, and pack her only celery in her lunch. Then you don’t have to tell her that she is fat, she will just become skinnier. A doctor already told her to lose weight, so she should be fragile enough to stop eating altogether if you just keep hinting that she isn’t sexually attractive enough.
You did everything perfectly, you even asked people who don’t know her how to approach the topic. What more could she possibly want? Now that I think about it, she probably wants you to talk to everyone she knows about her weight. Maybe bring pictures and point to the jiggly bits. If there’s one thing girls like, it’s attention, so the more you talk about her, the happier she will be. And once she is happier she will stop eating her emotions and your relationship will come out stronger.
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