Before you come at him with your pitchforks, let’s hear this dude out.
My name is [redacted] and I’m a reader over at TFM. I am in sore need of some relationship advice, and I would greatly appreciate it if you could give me your ten cents – because your two cents is free! Okay, no more jokes, I’m not at all funny, I apologize. I have an on-again, off-again girlfriend whom I met when she was a senior and I was a freshman (in college). It’s been two and a half years since then, and we’ve had more than our fair share of fights and breakups in between. But something’s been bothering me tremendously – more than dozens of guys she’s slept with before and after me (somewhere in the thirties) or her emotional instability…it’s her weight. It’s trending upwards. When I met her, she was a generous 5’7”, and around 180 pounds. Not exactly my preference, but I’m not Prince Charming. But she weighed out at 210 recently, and it’s getting alarming. She eats like she’s still 15 and will burn all those calories during swim practice. Please don’t get em wrong, I accept all women, but I don’t find all women sexy, and my girlfriend has turned into a major boner-killer.
You’re probably wondering why if I’m so bothered by her looks, I’m still with her. Well, she’s the first girl who showed interest in me. I’m no ladykiller like Dillon, I’m just your average/below average looking 21 year old. Even after spending a year in the weight room, every day, I look like a skinny 16 year old who wandered onto a college campus by mistake. I also was that giant nerd in high school who never got a second glance. So you could say my self-confidence couldn’t be more shot. Despite all that, I don’t like fat – okay, I promise this is the last one. My mom is three hundred pounds, gasps for air simply by walking up the stairs, and is a major couch potato. Growing up with that, you could say I’m hypersensitive to obesity – at least when it comes to dating. So what do I say to her? I know she gets a lot of flak from her mom for being overweight. She also got a lot of shit from her exes too. I don’t want to tank her self-image. I just don’t want to have to lie about my state of arousal when I see her naked.
Secondly, I want to hear what you think about what I think. That’s very confusing – what I’d like is for you to tell me if you think I’m shallow? Is this a stupid problem? Am I a shallow man for thinking that her personality flaws would be a lot more tolerable if I found her physically attractive? I realize I’m oversharing here, but I’d like feedback nonetheless. And whether you respond or not, thank you anyway for taking the time to read my email.
Wow, so much going on here, and in terms of women’s publications, you came to the right place, because I’m not just going to tell you you’re a horrible person and you should love her no matter what. The world doesn’t work like that, I get it. But I will say…I think it actually goes deeper than her weight gain.
From what you’ve told me, you’ve been on and off with this girl for years, and you even mentioned a number of things you don’t like about her — mainly her insecurity issues. I’ll be honest, I hate when a guy mentions a girl’s “number,” but I’ll also admit that if she started dating you when she was in high school, she probably slept with most of these guys when you were “off-again” with her, and still emotionally invested. I don’t want to use the word “ownership,” but part of you still sort of felt like she was your girlfriend while she was out sleeping with other guys. That hurts. It makes sense that you are maybe feeling like it’s harder to trust her or like she’s unfaithful even though she *technically* hasn’t been. Personally, I hate every girl my boyfriends ever look at, so I get it.
You also said she’s emotionally unstable — and while I don’t know the deets there, it’s not always easy to fight someone else’s demons. I think what this boils down to is this: you are not a perfect couple, and you and this girl probably won’t end up together in the long run. You’ve been proving to yourself for two and a half years that it isn’t working, which is why you keep breaking up. A certain of level of comfort with her, and familiarity, and perhaps, fear that you won’t find someone else is what keeps drawing you back in, but my guess is that if you were truly in love with her, her weight gain wouldn’t bother you as much. You’ve been fighting for a broken relationship for years, and this weight gain is just a surface-level thing that’s a reflection of what’s going on on the inside.
Your email was also very self-deprecating. You don’t have to be “grateful” that someone dated you. Maybe you were nerdy in high school, I don’t know you, but lots of high school nerds go on to fall in love with someone they don’t feel like breaking up with every couple months.
If I’m way off-base here, and you really do want to make it work, I’d suggest approaching her by trying to work out and eat healthy together: “I think I’m going to eat paleo for a month. Do it with me?” Whatever. Don’t approach it like there’s a problem with her weight, just put in a personal initiative to be healthier, and likely, she will follow.
As for what I think about this? Is it shallow to be less attracted to your girlfriend because she gains weight? Well, is it shallow to be less attracted to a man when he loses his job? Yes. Of course. But this goes beyond that. If she gained weight, and wanted to make an effort to change that, it’s different than being complacent in her new life, the very same way it’s different if the man loses his job and starts looking for a new one compared with just becoming a jobless loser.
I understand you still care about her and always will. Everyone feels a little something for their first love. But keep in mind, fear of hurting her is not a good enough reason to stay together..
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