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How to discuss breast augmentation with my girlfriend?
August 13, 2012 7:17 AM   Subscribe

How do I discuss breast augmentation with my girlfriend when she brings it up to me?

From time to time, generally while we're being intimate and I'm somehow focusing on her breasts, my girlfriend will ask me "If I want her to get them bigger for me". I do find well-executed breast implants to be very attractive and so, if my girlfriend decided to go through with augmentation, would be quite happy - but then, I'm quite happy now, too.

I am extremely wary about ever expressing enthusiasm for the idea of augmentation to her, as I don't want to contribute to any sense of dysmorphia she may be experiencing, and I am also apprehensive about how she always phrases it as being "for me". She has previously expressed some dissatisfaction with her breasts, which have shrunk after a course of medication, and certainly augmentation is one method to address that, but I never never never want her to feel that she is somehow inadequately attractive to me. As it is, whenever she asks I respond with something like, "Your body is amazing, everything about it makes me so happy". Basically, reassurance without expressing a strong opinion either way.

I don't want my opinion to inform her decision, but I feel that she's putting it on me: that either she's asking for my permission or wanting the idea shot down, and I don't know which. I would guess that from her persistence in asking that she's asking for permission, but I still don't feel like it's really my role to "grant" it. For context, we've been dating about a year, and are soon to move in together.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (44 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
In a non-intimate setting, tell her that you think she's beautiful no matter what and that if she chooses to have the surgery for herself, you will support her decision and if she chooses not to, you will support that, too.
posted by inturnaround at 7:20 AM on August 13, 2012 [15 favorites]


Why don't you ask her (when you're not being intimate and focusing on her breasts)? "When you ask me about breast implants, are you looking for my honest opinion, are you looking for me to somehow give you permission (which I'm not comfortable with), or are you looking for reassurance (which I am more than happy to give you, always)?"
posted by muddgirl at 7:21 AM on August 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Wait, don't say Honest Opinion, say something like "personal opinion on breast implants in general".
posted by muddgirl at 7:21 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Your body is amazing, everything about it makes me so happy" is the only thing that should ever come out of your mouth. Period.

If she wants to get implants, she will get them. And then what if she finds something else to "fix" ? Be nice.
posted by skrozidile at 7:22 AM on August 13, 2012 [50 favorites]


inturnaround: "In a non-intimate setting, tell her that you think she's beautiful no matter what and that if she chooses to have the surgery for herself, you will support her decision and if she chooses not to, you will support that, too."

You might also add, kindly, that it's kind of weird to talk about it during sexytime, but if she wants to talk about it any other time, that is cool.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:27 AM on August 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't want my opinion to inform her decision

She may want it to. She may not really be asking for "permission" as much as for you to make your desires clear so that she can cater to them. It sounds to me like what she wants is to do what you want. Which is a really messy kettle of fish any way you slice it.

People do that. People, especially in the context of intimate relationships, are not autonomous actors making independent decisions without reference to their partners.

I guess I sort of see this as being in the same category as any other major life decision, e.g., buying a house, changing a job, having kids, etc. The sort of thing that people do that has permanent consequences. If you move in together, you can move out later on, and the only thing you've lost is time. But you were going to lose that anyway, so whatever. This is something which, once done, can't be easily undone.

If this were in the context of a permanent, long-term committed relationship, there can be space for this sort of thing. Married couples routinely make huge decisions together. But you've only been together a year, and even though you're moving in together, there doesn't seem to be any sort of indication that you're in "to death do us part" mode, whether it's marriage or not. So having her make this sort of decision based on what she thinks you want seems significantly premature.
posted by valkyryn at 7:27 AM on August 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Perhaps she has already decided she wants implants and is trying to get you to pay for them?
posted by Pallas Athena at 7:34 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah if this only comes up in the context of sex, I think you may have to be the one to bring it up.

I think you've done really well so far! You sound like a wonderful, considerate partner and lover.

TBH I think you could basically repeat what you've said here to her. The salient points would seem to be:

1) You think she's super hot.
2) You love her very much.
3) You would be supportive of her decision, whatever it is.
4) You think it is her decision and not yours.

That should really help put it to rest either way.
posted by kavasa at 7:36 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't want my opinion to inform her decision

Nobody can read her mind, but I have an analogous but more minor situation. It's not surgery in my case, but I have a choice between working on being leaner, and working on being bulkier. My wife is the only person in the world that I care to be attractive to, so I've asked her which she prefers. I legitimately want to know.

(She, too, won't answer, perhaps fearing a trap.)
posted by ftm at 7:40 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do you know what you want in this situation? Not what you think is right or proper, but what do you really want? Because it sounds like you're keen on the idea, but don't want it be seen as coming from you. Totally understandable, there's a lot of baggage with her getting it done for you. But it's important that you know what you want, before talking to her.

Either way, you two really need to have a straight forward discussion about t his, where everything you've expressed here is expressed to her. Having this come up during sex is recipe for disaster.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:41 AM on August 13, 2012


I would have this conversation outside of sexy time, too. muddgirl has good suggestions. I would only add that it's possible, since she only brings it up during intimate times, that this is a sexy fantasy for her and not something she is seriously considering; that would also be good to know, because then it might become something you could run with during sex play ("Oh, yes, I want them to be bigger..." and so on) while understanding that you're not really urging her to change her body.
posted by not that girl at 7:46 AM on August 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


What you tell her is that you DO NOT want her to get breast augmentation for you, because that is creepy and because you love every inch of her exactly as it is and that you find her breasts an incredible turn on. You then tell her than you want her to be as happy with her body as you are, and that you will support whatever decision she makes for herself.

Repeat as needed. Do not ever deviate.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:47 AM on August 13, 2012 [24 favorites]


"Your body is amazing, everything about it makes me so happy" is the only thing that should ever come out of your mouth. Period.

Crap like that infuriates me so much, its not always a trick question, sometimes we actually want to know. If she keeps asking, maybe its because she actually wants your input and honest opinion and she wont be satisfied with clichéd platitudes.

Next time she asks tell her the truth, tell her you're perfectly happy with the size of her breasts as they are, if she wants to get implants for herself then that's OK with you but you don't require her to have cosmetic surgery to be very attracted to her.

If she still keeps asking then either she's just fishing for compliments/reassurance or she wants you to make the decision for her.
posted by missmagenta at 7:51 AM on August 13, 2012 [21 favorites]


I'm taking a page from Dan Savage's book and saying that you should show her this question. I think you've very nicely laid out your thoughts and concerns and show that, while you do find (well-done) breast augmentation attractive, you'd never want her do do it for you and you're generally pretty sensitive and well-spoken about this issue.
posted by Betelgeuse at 7:52 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


As a compromise, it might be worthwhile to discuss and/or shop for sexy bras and outfits with her. It's a less drastic way of appealing to her desire to do something about her shrunken breasts and involving you in the process.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:53 AM on August 13, 2012


I think that the "for you" part of the question is worrisome. Unless it is a fantasy she's acting out (and it might be, considering the context), then the idea that she's trying to place the onus of such a large decision of hers on you is super worrying.

What is she generally like? Does she talk about things openly or approach them more obliquely? If it is a sexual fantasy, your very well-intentioned discussion about breast augmentation might make her very uncomfortable... maybe a gentle talk about your fantasies would be an easier way to open up the topic.
posted by windykites at 8:01 AM on August 13, 2012


I'm curious how you know so much about "well-done" breast augmentation? I haven't seen all the porn but I've seen enough to know that boob jobs vary incredibly and nearly all of them start out looking kind of wonky. And I worry about the kind of boob that someone looking to please a boyfriend might go for. More than that, if I were you, I'd worry about the effects of unnecessary cosmetic surgery. First, there's the run-of-the-mill complications assiciated with surgery. Then there's other unknowns. Sometimes the nipple gets moved to make things symmetrical and thus can lose sensitivity. Some women find it difficult or impossible to breast feed with augmented breasts.

I guess I come down on loving her healthy body and not falling into the trap of thinking bigger is better. In my youth, I was pretty self-conscious of my breasts and their size but the potential ill-effects of surgery kept me away from it. And personally, I'd hate to be responsible for someone's choice like this. It's her body – the only one she gets. She has to make his decision for herself. You are making an aesthetic choice, she's making an intimate forever choice.

Talk to her about it during a neutral time. And I'd suggest that you suggest that if she is interested that she look into the costs and pitfalls and then wait a year to think about it. Say you'll support her emotionally but keep out of it.
posted by amanda at 8:07 AM on August 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


And if she is trying to make you responsible for her decisions, be aware that it will become ammunition in future fights, and that you will get the blame if she's not happy with how the decision turns out, and that it could easily become a pattern.
posted by windykites at 8:07 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't show her this question. The comment about you liking well-executed breast implants will not be helpful.

You have been dating one year. As you recognize, you should have no say over what this woman does to her body. This is her decision. Do not respond to her fishing for input over this. Agree the mantra should be: you are beautiful just the way you are.*

If you don't think that, find someone else.

*note: I do agree with Dan Savage that partners have a responsibility to each other to maintain their appearance by working out, eating healthy, etc. This does NOT extend to surgery.
posted by murfed13 at 8:08 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


"You're beautiful to me now. If you choose to get implants, you'll be beautiful to me then."
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:11 AM on August 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Why can't people who have been dating for a year have honest conversations about what they like and don't like? I feel like a lot of folks are not looking past the fact that the OP likes the look of augmented breasts. That is one tiny part of the post, the rest of which is incredibly sensitive to body image issues, not getting surgery to please anyone else, talking about how he finds his girlfriend really attractive without augmented breasts, etc.

I guess I'm of the opinion that an honest, sensitive conversation is almost always the right way to go.
posted by Betelgeuse at 8:15 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's fine to have certain tastes and discuss what you like and don't like. But after one year of a relationship, do you really want to be responsible for tipping the scales to make someone have an expensive, risky, and hard to reverse surgery?

It's not like saying, honey, I love it when you shave your beard, or wear those pants. How productive is it for me to tell my partner that I like bigger penises? It's hurtful and unnecessary.

Getting permanent cosmetic surgery isn't a like and dislike you just chat about with your girlfriend after one year. That is so entitled and off base.
posted by murfed13 at 8:22 AM on August 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


Why can't people who have been dating for a year have honest conversations about what they like and don't like?

IME, it's difficult if not impossible for two people to rationally and emotionlessly discuss aesthetic preferences about one of their bodies. Add that to the fact that she's bringing this up during sex (which can be a time of vulnerability, in a good way), and I just don't think that's an appropriate time to imply that you're disatisfied with the naked body being presented to you.
posted by muddgirl at 8:26 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Speaking personally and totally judgmentally/moralistically, I would find it pretty massively gross for you to either actively or passively encourage her to get any sort of breast augmentation, especially given the "for you" language you say she's been using around it.

I think this is doubly the case given how little time you've been dating; as others have noted, this is a major, permanent surgery, with frequent significant complications, not to be entered into lightly. What if she does this "for you," and you break up?

Absolutely regardless of your personal preferences, I think the only moral and respectful course of action is to actively counsel her not to get unnecessary surgery. Tell her you like her the way she is, which you do.
posted by gerryblog at 8:27 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I do find well-executed breast implants to be very attractive

Is there some other place aside from erotica or porn you've seen "well-executed" breast implants?
posted by mediareport at 8:29 AM on August 13, 2012


I am also apprehensive about how she always phrases it as being "for me".

I would run, and fast. Not necessarily from her, but from any further discussion of anything so intimate and important and permanent that she is willing to abdicate her own agency and responsibility for. Pay attention to those hairs sticking up on the back of your neck.
posted by headnsouth at 8:37 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why can't people who have been dating for a year have honest conversations about what they like and don't like?

How is "You are beautiful to me now. If you choose to get breast implants, you will be beautiful to me then" not an honest conversation?

Talking about your opinion of other people's plastic surgeries really isn't "honesty" so much as "irrelevant oversharing."
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:47 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think better than "Derp, I love you just the way you are!!1!" would be

"What??? That's crazy talk! Your breasts are incredible. I love how they ___, and when I'm at work I always picture____. If that's something you want for yourself, I wouldn't have an objection besides my concern for you undergoing risky and permanent surgery, but don't do it for me, because I love your breasts exactly as they are!"
posted by thebazilist at 8:48 AM on August 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'd personally recommend not going with an open conversation about what you two would surgically enhance with each other's bodies. There will always be something that can be "better." Bodies age, stress takes toll, having children alter bodies (weirdly, for men and women), bodies get sick, parts get worn out. Someday, she may look across the table at you and think, "Where's that guy I met, the one with a full head of hair, bulging biceps, nice round ass, flat stomach, no wrinkles around his eyes?" And then hopefully, she'll think, "I love him, not hair or ass or skin, but him, so what difference does it really make?" And you'll look in a mirror and notice the graying and thinning hair and ask her, "Do you think I should get hair implants? Maybe dye it?" and she'll specifically answer your question with, "I think gray hair makes you look very distinguished." With that answer, you'll be able to see yourself through her eyes, and you won't worry about the gray hair.

This is the same thing. When she asks you about how you feel about her breasts, it is a lukewarm, non-assuring thing to answer, "I like your whole body." Why not say, "I like the size and shape of your breasts." Your current response, messages from media, and so on are causing her to feel insecure. Stop feeding into it, stop doing the things that make her think that actually, she does need surgical enhancement.
posted by Houstonian at 8:56 AM on August 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


Is there some other place aside from erotica or porn you've seen "well-executed" breast
implants?


I don't understand how this relevant to the question or answers it.

OP: Sounds like you're doing a great job of being sensitive. I'd broach the topic in a non-threatening environs (like dinner or something like that) and says that her choice on augmentation isn't going to affect how you feel about her, and then reflect it back to her: What does SHE want?
posted by DWRoelands at 9:00 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Getting permanent cosmetic surgery isn't a like and dislike you just chat about with your girlfriend after one year. That is so entitled and off base.

It is not entitled or off base if she's the one constantly asking the question.

I think the only moral and respectful course of action is to actively counsel her not to get unnecessary surgery.

Wow. This sounds very paternalistic to me. I think it is moral and respectful to allow her space to make her own decisions about her body and for the OP to gently refuse to accept responsibility for her decision.

And if she is trying to make you responsible for her decisions, be aware that it will become ammunition in future fights, and that you will get the blame if she's not happy with how the decision turns out, and that it could easily become a pattern.

If this a dynamic your relationship, address it directly and skip the boob question altogether. Ammunition (and the avoidance of it) doesn't have a place in a healthy, loving relationship.

Anyhow. Being placed in the position to have to reassure someone about their body in the middle of sex sounds like a very un-sexy, instant libido killer to me. Nthing having this conversation when you're not naked.

This to me sounds like a pretty good question for her...

I feel that you're putting it on me: that either you're asking for my permission or wanting the idea shot down, and I don't know which and I'm not comfortable with either.

It also might not hurt to ask her if you have said or done anything to reinforce her insecurity.

You could also ask her if she would want the surgery of she were single. If the answer is yes, have at it. If the answer is no, don't.
posted by space_cookie at 9:03 AM on August 13, 2012


At this point I would make it clear to her that you don't want responsibility for making this decision and that you'd appreciate it if she stopped trying to give you that responsibility because you're not comfortable with it.

Then I'd tell her that you will, of course, support whatever she decides to do.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:08 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have several friends who have great-looking breast implants. I wouldn't be surprised if the OP had some, too. Most of the people I know who have had breast implants have been thrilled with the result and wanted to share their excitement. It's not like the only place anybody ever sees breast implants is porn!

Still, still, this is her body and her surgery and it needs to be 100% her decision. That's another thing to make clear. "Your breasts are great right now; they're {good qualities about her breasts}. If you get implants, I'm sure they'll still be {good qualities about her breasts}, only larger. You need to make the decision that feels right for you; I think you're gorgeous and your breasts are gorgeous and you're going to be sexy to me no matter what you choose."
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:09 AM on August 13, 2012


I think the only moral and respectful course of action is to actively counsel her not to get unnecessary surgery.

Wow. This sounds very paternalistic to me. I think it is moral and respectful to allow her space to make her own decisions about her body and for the OP to gently refuse to accept responsibility for her decision.

I think if someone you love asks you, "Hey, do you think I should I undergo unnecessary and risky cosmetic surgery?" the answer is an immediate and strong "No." She can still do what she wants no matter what he says, obviously -- but if she's asking for his opinion, his answer should only be "I don't think you should."* No hedging, no maybes, no yes-ifs or no-buts. That's especially true when she explicitly says this is something she wants to do for him and not on her own behalf.

* If you're asking for my opinion, which the OP did.
posted by gerryblog at 9:14 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Based on your description, I'm assuming the only time this comes up is during sexytimes? Because it's entirely possible that this is sexytimes talk, rather than a request for you to sincerely advocate/approve/refute an actual medical procedure.

It is possible that the desired answer is, in fact, not the sort of thing you should ever ever ever say outside of sexytimes but would be okay in that context. You should check with her.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:50 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're naked with her and about to do it, do you really want to know the honest answer to the question "Honey, how do you feel about the size and shape of my dick?"
posted by schroedinger at 10:01 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


My first thought was the same as not that girl's. People say a lot of things during sex that they don't really mean. Especially "don't you want me to X(XX) for you, baby?" The format and context and everything really say "fantasy!" to me.

But the only way to know is to sit down, clothed, and ask her "Why do you mention breast implants all the time? Is it something you're really considering? Or do you just want to fantasize about it? You know I love your breasts the way they are, but if changing them is important to you of course I'll support you know matter what. I just need to know why this keeps coming up."
posted by snorkmaiden at 10:09 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just want to expand on a point a lot of people are making here. Breast implant surgery is major surgery and it can have major complications. This is not a decision that should be taken into lightly. If she is considering implants, you and she need to get informed about the potential risks and the potential complications.

Also, just because you've seen some implants that look good, you may not like hers. They could wind up looking terrible. Her breasts could wind up feeling hard or weird. She could lose feeling in her breasts.

Finally, I just want to add, she could die during the surgery . It's rare, but it does happen. Do you really want your girlfriend to undergo something so risky, just to please you and look marginally better?
posted by emilynoa at 10:10 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Have a discussion outside the bedroom. Tell her you love her breasts as they are now and that although you support her in any decision she makes on the matter, these decisions are for her to make alone and that you think she ought to think long and hard about any plastic surgery given the risks.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:21 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


>Maybe its because she actually wants your input and honest opinion and she wont be satisfied with clichéd platitudes

I do not actually think that the only thing you are ever allowed to say is that your partner's body is perfect and flawless and fabulous. Tweaking a few habits to suit the particulars of your other's fancy is pretty standard, in my experience (i.e., lean v. bulky, lean v. curvy, hairstyle, etc).

Tweaking via surgical means is not standard.

If she is really lusting for the boobs, she will get them. If she is trying to base this on the OP's not-even-that-strong feelings, then her not getting them because OP has made clear that OP doesn't have any issue with her body as is will not be some kind of tragic loss for either party.

/Why not wait until after you have kids together and buy them for mutual long term funzies, eh? More bang for your buck at that point, I would think.
posted by skrozidile at 10:36 AM on August 13, 2012


Rather than her wanting to get implants to please you, as she said and many here seem to be responding too, she may just really want to get them for herself but is trying to gauge the reaction of someone she’s close too. Maybe she is hesitant to do it if it’s going to turn you off.

I would never, ever encourage her to do this, but I’d be supportive and give your honest opinion. Say what you said here, you’d like her and her breasts either way.
posted by bongo_x at 11:03 AM on August 13, 2012


If she only brings it up during sex, then that+"for you"=fantasy (probably).

If she actually wants implants, then let her bring it up when everyone has pants on.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:53 AM on August 13, 2012


I was thinking more about your question... it's really kind of a can of worms. But, without getting into too many sub-parts of it, I was thinking about the root of the problem which is insecurity. I don't know anyone who goes through life without being insecure at some point about themselves.

You say that she lost her boobs due to some medication she was taking. Is it that she lost weight? Over time, that weight change can normalize and the boobs can come back. Breasts can change quite a bit over a lifetime and it's worth it, before making surgical changes, to see if something else can be done to make her feel more secure with herself. If she's still taking this medication or undergoing treatment, I think it would be a really good thing to talk with her doctor about her concerns. Maybe there's a different medication that could be tried. Or maybe the doctor has some other suggestions about lifestyle changes. If she's underweight, perhaps she could consider that an additional 5 or 10 lbs may change her chest and proportions so that she feels a little happier. Working out, building up pectoral muscles can also help add fullness to the chest.

To reiterate what others have said, you really need to tread carefully here. I think it's a conversation worth having because she seems to be bothered. However, we all seem to think that women changing themselves surgically is just so simple and "everyone is doing it" but that's really not the case. Everyone should be as happy as they can be in their own skin and sometimes people do get surgery to try to feel that way. But it should not be on a lark and should not be to please someone else.
posted by amanda at 1:46 PM on August 13, 2012


Echoing amanda - if your girlfriend is under 30 her breasts may yet change a large amount. When I was 20 and barely an A cup I wished they were bigger (though I didn't consider implants). Post 30 I'm now a C verging on D. It's not weight gain - my proportions changed as my hormones changed. I sometimes fear what my chest would be like if I had gotten implants in my 20's.

Also, seconding the idea that this is either a sex fantasy or a body issue where your gf really needs validation. Best to tread carefully in the latter case.
posted by SakuraK at 11:09 PM on August 13, 2012


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