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Weight has become an issue - what to do?


bulmers

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A little background... I have been dating my girlfriend for 4 1/2 years and we love one another very much. We never argue, there's never any drama. We bought a house together in March, both started working full time within the past year. She likes my family, and I like hers. We've spoken about marriage and can see that happening soon, except for one issue.

 

I'm no longer physically attracted to her. In the past year she has put on 50 lbs. She is seeing professionals about the root cause of that. She has been creeping up in weight since we met, but the last year has been by far the worst. When we got together she was 80 lbs lighter. She has tried diet and exercise, but she is a comfort eater and hides her junky eating habits from me - from what I see she should be losing weight, but the scale only goes up. She has been tested for thyroid problems but everything has come back clear - its truly an eating disorder. I know that she is very uncomfortable at her current weight - she's not happy with it and she struggles with self confidence because of it. She has also stopped putting effort into her hair and makeup, basic hygiene, etc. which are somewhat important things to me, as I presume they are to a lot of people. I have been as supportive as I can in the emotional side of things (although she is generally happy except for this weight gain), as well as the healthy eating and physical activity side of things. In comparison, I am consistently in the gym 4 days a week, eat healthy every day, and have gotten into excellent physical shape. I put effort into my hygiene and looks.

 

Over the past few months she has become very insecure with her body, and has begun complaining about a lack of physical intimacy in the relationship. I am seeing it too, and unfortunately I just am not physically attracted to her at her current weight. Its not a conscious thing - the mood simply doesn't strike nearly as often as it use to. This is causing some real friction in the relationship, but I can't get myself to tell her that the lack of physical intimacy stems from her weight gain. I'm almost 100% certain its not the right thing to say, but I feel like if I continue to dance around the issue we are headed to a dark place. I've tried everything I can think of to get her headed in the right direction. The goal for me has been to make things as easy as possible for her, while allowing her to give herself as few excuses as possible to stay consistent. Nothing works. She doesn't want to be the weight she is, but according to her she doesn't have the motivation to put her foot down and do something about it.

 

I'm getting frustrated with the situation that has developed over the last year. I feel like I can't speak honestly to her about the issue, and tension is increasing. I'm not sure how much longer things can go on before it all falls apart... and that's not what either of us wants.

 

From an outside perspective, what do you think I should do? The way I see my options right now, I'm left with either bringing this up as sensitively as possible and risk offending or crushing her and therefore actively ruining the relationship, or letting things fall into a state of disrepair - both options end up in the same place. It seems like there's no good option - I've tried all the good options and she loves the support but it gets her nowhere.

 

Thanks for your time looking over this. I'm open to any thoughts. Sorry if any of this sounds insensitive, but I can't help the lack of physical attraction and its a problem for the relationship.

 

Mike

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Mike, the truth is that physical attraction IS important in a relationship. It sounds like you truly love your gf and I give you credit for seeking advice. It sounds like you are doing everything you can. The rest is up to her. No one can make her exercise or stop eating bad food. Just let her know you love her and support her. She shouldn't think you are going to walk out over her weight. Join the gym together for New Years. Is that an option?

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If she's a comfort eater, is there anything that's triggering that?

 

I might try making her weight loss activities into something that the two of you can do; for example, set a time where the two of you can cook healthy together, or see if there's something at the gym or outside that she'd like to try doing, and make that into a fun date activity. Then just be supportive the whole time. Especially see if there's something that neither of you have done, then work at that together. That way, she's not so self-conscious or intimidated by the fact that you go to the gym four times a week.

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Well, I'd say give her subtle "hints" like asking her if she'd like to come to the gym with you, however, exercise is NOT enough. She's going to have to eat better too.

 

I don't know, that's a tough one. You shouldn't be with someone you're not physically attracted to. However, if you are looking to salvage your relationship, DO NOT tell her you're not attracted to her, you're fat, or anything like that. She knows she's fat, trust me. She knows you know she's fat too. She's probably also suffering from depression. Is she in counselling or on any medications?

 

My wife is just shy of 200 lbs and has been upward of 250 before (around pregnancies). I made the mistake of saying I didn't find her attractive anymore once years ago, and I deeply regret it. I STILL hear her from time to time looking for validation and it breaks my heart. I've learned to love her as she is. If it bothers you so much try turning the lights off. Benjamin Franklin once said "In the dark all Cats are grey." That was for old women but the same principle applies.

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I really appreciate all of the answers. There were a few pieces that I'd like to comment on/elaborate a little on.

 

She has had a gym membership for as long as I have and she does actually go with me. She usually does strength training, but she isn't in there consistently and she doesn't do enough to offset her eating habits. That's where the true issue lies. From what she shows me, she prepares her food, take it to work, etc and its all healthy stuff. But she's not showing me the whole picture.

 

Tallydoo, I like your idea of preparing food together. Each weekend we both make food for our whole week and prepackage it. But we each make our own meals and we cook apart from one another. We just carried that habit on from when we were living apart, so I'll talk to her this week to see if we can start cooking the same meals together. I'll also see if we can find a class or two that will let us get out and spend some time socializing together.

 

I'm not sure about the idea of an eating disorder - Its certainly possible with the recent developments. This past year she graduated from college, started working full time, moved out of her parent's house and bought a house with me. Plenty of stress to go around, and she eats when she's stressed.

 

I have tried to pass her hints, and she's well aware of what I'm doing... it hasn't helped unfortunately.

 

At the end of the day, I'm happy to continue trying to offer a positive environment and encouragement if we can get something real out of it. I'd like to say something to her to make her aware of what's going on because I feel like she deserves some sort of explanation, but I don't want to hurt her either.

 

Thanks again for all the advice. I like the quote, Unreasonable.

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At first I was going to come in and be like oh, you jerk, freaking out about your girlfriend's weight, but then I read exactly HOW much weight she has put on since you met. I think you should sit down and talk with her about it, but don't tell her you're not attracted. Tell her you're concerned about her health, and you want to get married and have a long life together, but you're worried her weight is going to cause her health issues down the road which will put a strain on your future marriage. Tell her you still love her the way she is (even if that's only 99.9% true), but you're just concerned about the physical problems that might arise.

 

If she's not stuffing her face with chocolate behind your back, which she very well could be but I have no idea, it could be another medical issue besides thyroid. A trip to the doctor to talk about other health issues causing overweight/obesity (you never mentioned her exact weight, but I'd assume she's at least close to obesity) might be needed.

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Tallydoo, I like your idea of preparing food together. Each weekend we both make food for our whole week and prepackage it. But we each make our own meals and we cook apart from one another. We just carried that habit on from when we were living apart, so I'll talk to her this week to see if we can start cooking the same meals together. I'll also see if we can find a class or two that will let us get out and spend some time socializing together.

 

That sounds great. I can't believe I didn't suggest this before, but try taking her dancing, or signing up for a dancing class! It's a great way to get some cardio, spend some time together, release some stress, and there isn't anything like getting all dolled up to spend the night dancing with the one you love to make you feel sexy again.

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I don't think there's any way to do this other than facing the elephant in the room...

 

80 pounds is a lot. It's not like she has been eating too many cookies and put on 5 or 10 pounds and now her pants are too tigt. There is definitely an underlying issue here, and since the doctors have ruled out a physical medical issue such as her thyroid, it sounds like depression. Food has become her crutch and it's a vicious cycle at this point. Eats because she's depressed, depressed because she eats.

 

It's time for a talk. At this point, I don't even think you need to say, "I'm not attracted to you." I think she gets it. Bring up the fact that you are concerned for her health, not just physical but mental. Does she need to talk to someone? A shrink, a doctor? Let her know you'll be there for her through whatever it is, but your relationship is suffering and in order for it to continue, changes need to be made.

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I hesitate to say this... but is there any way to find out grocery/food expenditures without her finding out? My guess is if she is binge eating behind your back there has to be some evidence for it besides weight gain. Just trying to totally rule out medical reasons. Thyroid is a common weight gain problem, but it's not the only one.

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Honestly, it sounds like more than just a weight issue, it sounds like depression or some other mental or emotional issues given the overall drop-off of hygiene and general care over appearance. However if she has chronic fatigue and is tired all the time that can be a real issue too although you don't indicate that in your post, so I think it's more the former. You need to sit her down and tell her what you're telling us here, that you see issues that go beyond just eating problems. Offer to go with her to get help if she will in the way of counseling. Also has anything happened in her life that brought this on--i.e. a job loss, loss of a close friend or relative, etc.? There will likely be some sort of trigger that precipitated all of this, so maybe that would help you overcome the issue together.

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She tends to snack on stuff a lot. For example, she'll walk by a bowl of M&M's and, without thinking, grabs a handful. Each time she passes the bowl. Before you know it the whole bowl is empty. Sometimes I'll witness this and try to make her aware of it, but because she is so insecure about her weight she gets spiteful and eats more. I think she does this during the day at work, and throughout the day when she's at either of our parent's houses. I don't think she's always consciously aware of it.

 

We've talked about the weight thing before and I have tried to be as tactful as possible. But that was 40 lbs ago, and the day to day encouragement hasn't helped. I went at it from the health angle then, but I wasn't aware of the pregnancy difficulties. We both want to have children down the road. She does have some depression issues, and she is taking medication and seeing a psychologist. I'm not sure what else I can do for her on that front besides giving her the support that I always do.

 

All-in-all, based on what I'm hearing here I need to have another discussion with her. I'll reassure her first that I love her very much and that I'm not going anywhere. That I'm very concerned about her physical and mental health, and the future stress that the added weight is going to have on her body, emotional health, future medical bills, pregnancy difficulties, and as a result of all of those things our relationship. I'll have an upbeat tone, some fresh ideas for new activities we can do together, and reassure her that this is a journey we are embarking on together. I'll make sure that she knows that I'm 100% behind her, and that if she needs additional resources to make things happen we will get them for her. But I'll try to be clear that the relationship is suffering already, and this is something that needs to be addressed so that we can both be happier.

 

Thanks again for all of the tips. I'm in a better spot now to try to address this again.

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50-80lbs in a year or so is a SIGNIFICANT gain and also a health issue. I'd be straight up about it and treat like if she were smoking or binge drinking....its a matter of regarding her health and the impact it has on her esteem and mood which directly affects your relationship and possibly future.

Time to sit down and be a little less tactful while still being loving.

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she is taking medication and seeing a psychologist.

 

The medications could be the problem as well, some antidepressants do lead to weight gain or cause other mood issues that result in compulsive-type behaviors. Plus if she isn't bathing and/or taking care of herself then clearly whatever it is, it isn't working. You and she both need to speak up about it to her doctor. Not saying this is all of it, but it doesn't sound like her treatment for depression is working...

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Yeah Anti-d can cause weight gain...or loss. I was on them for a short time and I lost a good 10 pounds without even thinking about it. However bringing up that you think she needs new meds is again dancing around a very delicate issue.

 

If she's clearly unhappy what does she say when she brings it up? Could you possibly suggest she try a website that helps count calories? I just got a fitbit and it is amazing! it tell me how many calories I burn when I walk the dog! Yay...oh only 45...guess I need to walk longer/further next time. It's a great motivator. Before I got it I used to go to a website called MyFitnessPal and track my calories it worked pretty well. If she needs the tools I suggest one or both of those fun tools. Oh and the dancing classes! Yes do it!

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There are obviously more issues at play here other than simply comfort eating. I gained almost 100lbs between the time I was 18 until I was 24. No matter how hard I tried, I could not lose the weight and I didn't know why.

 

Part of it was almost certainly emotional issues that directly contributed to my eating habits. I don't know if I was clinically depressed or not, but I certainly was not in a good place.

 

You NEED to talk to her about this. This is not you being insensitive, this is you telling her what you need in the relationship. It obviously needs to be done in the right way. You can't just say "honey you are too overweight and I am no longer attracted to you", but she needs to knwo how this is affecting the relationship.

 

Make this about HER, and how much you love HER. Sit her down and tell her that you love her. REMIND her of it, over and over again. But tell her as well how concerned you are for her. Not just physically, but emotionally as well. She is clearly not happy and as her partner, you obviously care about her state of mind. Focus on that - you want to help her not because you want her to be thinner, but because you want her to be emotionally and physically healthy. Express your concerns about pregnancy and whatnot, but again MAKE SURE she feels loved. Reassure her that you want the relationship to survive and maybe suggest counseling for her to help her uncover the root of things.

 

It absolutely could be due to the medication she is on (in part) but if she has stopped caring about grooming and hygene, there is clearly more going on here as well and you need to talk to her about it.

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She tends to snack on stuff a lot. For example, she'll walk by a bowl of M&M's and, without thinking, grabs a handful. Each time she passes the bowl. Before you know it the whole bowl is empty. Sometimes I'll witness this and try to make her aware of it, but because she is so insecure about her weight she gets spiteful and eats more. I think she does this during the day at work, and throughout the day when she's at either of our parent's houses. I don't think she's always consciously aware of it.

 

 

Why are there M&Ms in your house? Does she buy them? Do you eat them too? How are your eating habits?

 

I only ask because when I live by myself, I eat mostly salad and veggies. When I was living with my boyfriend, I'd eat a lot of the stuff that he ate, or if it was his turn to cook, I'd eat that, and I gained 5 lbs in a very short amount of time (which is a big deal for me because I'm short).

 

I know that 50 lbs is a huge difference, and it has to be more than just picking up your eating habits, but it's one thing to consider.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with what everyone has said, but I have to be honest and say that unless you are blunt about it, she will go one clueless and you will go on unhappy. And before anyone says anything, I am currently in a relationship where my boyfriend is very physically fit and I have some work to do. He has always said he loves my body etc. but I know for my OWN sake I need to lose a good 50 pounds. She is surely aware of her issue. I'm sure deep down she knows she needs to be healthier, for HER if nothing else.

 

You should definitely take these people's advice and encourage her healthy habits. She may indeed be depressed or have hypothyroidism (which I have - it makes losing weight very difficult and easy to gain). Has she expressed any feelings on the issue? I think she does need to know, in gentle a way as possible, that the reason for your lack of intimacy and distance has to do with her weight gain. She is not the same person physically as the one you fell for and of course that will cause a strain. Speaking from my personal view, I wouldn't be offended if my boyfriend very NICELY alluded to the issue and reminded me. It would motivate me, in fact. But that's just me.

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