Beauty is where again?!
August 29, 2010 3:09 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend makes callous remarks about my weight, and checks out other (hot) women.

Background: when my boyfriend and first started dating, I was pretty slim - size 2-4, ~117 lbs on my 5'5 frame, 27 years old. I was going through a rough period in my life, and that weight loss was due mostly to not having an appetite due to constant worry and anxiety. In the year or so since, I've managed to get my life back on track, and our relationship weathered some big crises. However, I started eating better (but admittedly not too healthy - lots of ice cream and greasy fast food), and gained back a lot of weight. I am not fat, but pretty curvy - I weigh ~140, and have a belly and some extensive... junk in my trunk. That latter is also somewhat genetic - my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are all similarly "blessed", although my grandmother and I are taller and longer-limbed.

I am fully aware that I need to lose some weight, tighten up and lose the flab. My efforts to go to the gym are inconsistent, although I have gotten much better about my eating habits. I guess my thought process is that it is pretty easy to lose ~25 lbs, and I can start whenever I want. My natural body type is probably petite, with a tendency to gain weight easily.

My boyfriend on the other hand is skinny - he's 5'10 and probably weighs around the same as I am or less. He is a smoker, and seems genetically prone to not being able to eat much (his brothers and father are the same way, but not nearly as skinny). he can also eat junk food everyday of the week, and not gain weight. We have talked about starting to run together, and hike, and do various other outdoor activities together - for me to lose weight and for him to live a healthier lifestyle.

Overall, my weight is something I am very insecure about, and I would like to be slimmer. I do know I am conventionally 'hot', and my boyfriend says he agrees, but would like to be 'more attracted' to me.

Case in point: we were out shopping yesterday for him. At one store while he was in the fitting room, a girl was standing outside waiting for her boyfriend. She was wearing a tiny pair of shorts, and had a pretty hot body. We live in Los Angeles, and there's a constant parade of smoking bodies (natural, I might add), so that doesn't help this situation. My boyfriend saw her, and a few minutes later, while standing in line at the cash register, remarks "We need to start running so you can lose some weight."

I was shattered, and walked out. He apologized profusely... but this isn't the first time he has made such remarks, and his defense is that I 'always flip out' whenever he brings the subject up. I am now 30, and know that I have to work harder than most at keeping a slim body, regardless of metabolism and age. My boyfriend worries that down the line I will turn into a fat middle-aged woman. I am pretty confident that I will always strive to look attractive, but my concern is his lack of understanding. I don't plan on being one of those women that 'lets themselves go' once they get married, etc. What happens down the line if we have kids, and he accuses me of being fat? What happened to loving someone for who they are? He is very narrow-minded in his thinking, and can make very insensitive comments. Perhaps I exacerbate this thinking by pointing out women with great figures, and thinking out loud that I'd like to have a body like them, but at the same time I wish he'd just hug me and say, 'I love you just the way you are'. He seems incapable of it. He also doesn't help where eating is concerned, he constantly eats cheeseburgers, etc, which have no visible effect on him, but that are hard to resist for me. He says he doesn't like having a girlfriend that might weigh more than he does.

On a side note, our relationship is mostly fine in other areas... we are thinking of moving in together within the year, etc. We're both highly-educated, intelligent, and have a lot in common. He is 33.

My question is... am I being too sensitive? How important is it that I put a lot of effort into losing weight if he is unable to be sensitive about this issue? He says he is trying to be supportive, yet he can be unbearably cruel - and says he doesn't know why he is. Hive mind, I'd really appreciate your thoughts, advice and opinions on this. Thank you so much.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (90 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Your boyfriend is shallow. He clearly isn't just some health nut. You may be unhealthy in one way, but his smoking is just as unhealthy. Smoking is probably unhealthier than being slightly overweight. Not to be rash, but I wouldn't stay with a man who was so obsessed with my appearance and constantly compared me to other women. That's callous and unkind. Ask him how he would feel if you similarly criticized something about him and compared him to other men.
posted by elpea at 3:13 PM on August 29, 2010 [6 favorites]

You have a BMI of 23.3. You're not overweight. Your boyfriend is being an ass.
posted by embrangled at 3:14 PM on August 29, 2010 [36 favorites]

I'm with elpea -- but I'll take it a step further and ask how good the rest of your relationship can possibly be if he can't stop himself from saying things that are "unbearably cruel" to you. There's obviously something going on with him; maybe it's time for some counseling, both him solo and the two of you as a couple.
posted by shamash at 3:18 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Be you. Period again.
posted by emhutchinson at 3:19 PM on August 29, 2010

Your boyfriend is being a dick. If he were really into fitness and wanted to help you, it'd be a little different, but it sounds like he's got no clue what he's talking about. Start exercising and eating better for yourself, and meanwhile tell him he needs to start lifting so he can cease being an emaciated man-boy.
posted by JohnMarston at 3:19 PM on August 29, 2010 [11 favorites]

With the smoking and cheeseburgers he consumes, the health thing is besides the point, I mean, he even says that the reason he wants you to run is to lose weight.

So -- he obviously likes a thin body type. He's obviously unhappy dating someone who weighs as much as you do, as he said.

Yes, he's being a jerk about it, but the flip side is, he's being honest about his preferences and feelings. I would rethink moving in with him unless you are prepared to watch your weight *forever* (including during/after pregnancy) and the knowledge that he'll be unhappy and not very attracted to you if you gain weight and prone to checking out thinner women won't chip away at your emotional well-being for the next 50 years.
posted by Ashley801 at 3:19 PM on August 29, 2010 [24 favorites]

In other words, I don't think he will ever change, and it might not even be right to try to change him. I think all you can do is decide if you can live with him and his clear preferences (and how he feels when his preferences aren't being met, which he is entitled to feel) or not.
posted by Ashley801 at 3:21 PM on August 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

Wow, I'm 5'5" and if I ever weighed 140 lbs I would be skin and bones. You are not fat. You are not even chubby.

a few minutes later, while standing in line at the cash register, remarks "We need to start running so you can lose some weight."

Ugh, I never give this response, but: DTMFA.
posted by lunasol at 3:21 PM on August 29, 2010 [34 favorites]

Smoking is so much worse for your health than being fat is, that it's worth giving up smoking even if you put a lot of weight on - there will still be an overall health benefit.

He's a shallow, self-obsessed waste of space. Dump him now - you've said yourself that you're 'conventionally hot', so use this to get a guy who isn't a git.
posted by Coobeastie at 3:21 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Girl, you are asking for a big DTMFA pile-on here. This is some serious bullshit behavior from your bf. Totally not cool. You two either need counseling (or serious, dedicated work sans counseling) or to end it. Sorry. :(

Your relationship is "mostly fine in other areas" ?? What does that mean?
posted by hansbrough at 3:21 PM on August 29, 2010

Sounds like the "nice" things about this guy aren't terribly remarkable or rare.

In my opinion you'd be better off without him. Break up with him. "Being mean" is one of those things people should get dumped for.
posted by Neofelis at 3:22 PM on August 29, 2010 [9 favorites]

Someday most of us will be fat middle-aged women. Don't you want to be loved even if you become one?

I've said this before in response to other questions, but let me say it here, too - before we got married, I made my then-boyfriend promise to still be attracted to me even when I'm eventually as fat and wrinkly as my grandmother is now. I honestly believe he meant it. I don't think I would've married him, otherwise.

You're not being too sensitive. You're asking for exactly what you deserve and need - someone who loves and supports YOU, throughout the physical changes your body will inevitably undergo over the years. Shame he seems incapable of doing that. That'll make future relationships hard for him until he finally figures it out.
posted by Eshkol at 3:22 PM on August 29, 2010 [21 favorites]

In the eye of the beholder/beholden.
Do you love this person? When you love someone judgment flies out the window, and the window opens in and out. You don't need to do anything except remain yourself. My humble opinion.
posted by emhutchinson at 3:22 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think you either need to learn to not care when he makes comments like that, or dump him.

This probably always going to be an issue. And more then that, if he smokes and eats cheeseburgers it will be hard for you to keep up a routine where you work out and eat right, and he doesn't.

Worry about your body for your own sake, and ignore how he feels about it.
posted by delmoi at 3:25 PM on August 29, 2010

Your weight is your own concern, not his. You didn't overreact, he did.

You need someone who will love you for you, no matter what shape you are. (And for the record, there's nothing wrong with your weight. If you feel good and are happy, then you're fine)
posted by inturnaround at 3:28 PM on August 29, 2010

this isn't the first time he has made such remarks, and his defense is that I 'always flip out' whenever he brings the subject up.

He says he is trying to be supportive, yet he can be unbearably cruel - and says he doesn't know why he is.

So this is something that you have talked about, and he's aware that you are sensitive about it, and he still does it? It doesn't really matter what the subject is, that's a really troubling pattern.

Frankly, if I were you, I'd tell him that you are letting him go so that he can go find the skinny girl he'd clearly rather be with instead of you. Otherwise, he's shown you what his pattern of behavior is going to be, and you have to decide if you want to subject yourself to a lifetime of cruel commentary about your lack of utter physical perfection from a dude who eats crap and smokes.

Life is too short. He's being an ass. Set him free so he can go make somebody else miserable.

My boyfriend worries that down the line I will turn into a fat middle-aged woman.

The horrors! If that is the worst thing he has to worry about, he really doesn't sit very deep in the water, does he?
posted by ambrosia at 3:31 PM on August 29, 2010 [26 favorites]

My boyfriend saw her, and a few minutes later, while standing in line at the cash register, remarks "We need to start running so you can lose some weight."

Yeah, run.
posted by Namlit at 3:32 PM on August 29, 2010 [48 favorites]

I am not fat, but pretty curvy - I weigh ~140, and have a belly and some extensive... junk in my trunk.

I don't want to make this all about this sort of thing, but you're not fat. I weigh about 5 lbs less than you do and am a few inches shorter. I have a perfectly average BMI and wear a size 6 in most clothing. People I know think I am really petite and close friends will make cracks about how thin I am. YOU ARE NOT FAT, and unless your doctor is telling you otherwise, you don't need to lose weight.

If your boyfriend can't deal with you at this totally average healthy size, dump the motherfucker already.

"We need to start running so you can lose some weight."

Ugh. I'd have fought the urge to slap him. You can do so much better. Seriously.

As to what to do, aside from "dump your boyfriend" - next time he tells you that you need to lose weight, you need to tell him, "no." If he can't handle that, then you definitely need to for real dump him. You are not a plaything that belongs to him. He does not get to decide what size you are. You do not have a responsibility to lose weight because he wants you to.
posted by Sara C. at 3:32 PM on August 29, 2010 [10 favorites]

I'm going to take another POV because your post reminds me a lot of several women I know. You sound incredibly insecure and obsessive about your weight and you constantly compare yourself to other women, your younger self, your boyfriend, his family, your family etc. You ask your boyfriend to make major life-changes to support you losing weight but you don't follow through with your plan and you react badly when he points that out to you. You also react badly when he treats you the way you treat yourself (ie direct comparison to others, critical assessment, shaming over not meting goals).

I think you need to ask yourself why you expect your boyfriend to never mention your failure to meet goals that you have set for yourself and asked him to help you meet? Why do you feel that it's his duty to promise to help you but then turn around and enable you to eat unhealthy food and not exercise regularly? You have asked him for guy-coaching type help but freak out when you get it- why? It sounds like he's allowed to talk about your losing weight but only under certain circumstances, set exclusively by you and at times, also set exclusively by you. In what way is that OK in a relationship?

If you don't ever want to talk about your weight again tell your boyfriend that and stick to it. If you want to encourage and (occasionally) nag and mildly bully each other to live a healthier lifestyle ditto. If you want to drive both of you mad by obsessing over your looks and constantly criticizing yourself but freaking out every time someone else treats you the way they see you treat yourself every freaking day then carry on the way you have been.
posted by fshgrl at 3:35 PM on August 29, 2010 [23 favorites]

Honestly, this would be a dealbreaker for me. Whether or not it is for you is your call.

His line that you "always flip out" makes me concerned, too. It's weaselly and dismissive of your feelings. If you two can't have a calm discussion about your feelings without pointing fingers, it's a bad sign.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:35 PM on August 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

Run, and fast, away from him. He seems to possess a cruel streak, and that is not going to change. Marriage, or a good relationship, is a place where you are and feel truly safe to be who you are. All of us do not measure up in some respect or other and you want to be with somebody to whom your shortcomings are unimportant, minor, or even rather cute: stay away from people who think they have no imperfections.
posted by francesca too at 3:36 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

ps, I have no comment at all on whether you're fat or not. I don't think it matters to your situation actually.
posted by fshgrl at 3:38 PM on August 29, 2010

Hi, I'm 5'5" and weigh 140 pounds and I just ran 6 miles. I am not fat and neither are you. And guess what? Even if you were, your boyfriend would still be way, way out of line for these comments. I hope you know that it's okay to break up with him over this and to not lose sleep over his opinion of your body.
posted by something something at 3:38 PM on August 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

I am just about your size and a couple inches shorter. Like you, I used to be much skinnier (also like you, when I was much less happy), and like you, I am very, very sensitive about my current weight.

You say that you are "insecure" about your weight and that your boyfriend can be "insufferably cruel." This is not a good combination. You do not have to stay with someone who is mean to you (and--fwiw--you are not fat).

Nthing DTMFA. (If nothing else, do it because secondhand smoke is awful for you.) Good luck.
posted by devotion+doubt at 3:41 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oops, you said "unbearably" cruel. Sorry for projecting.
posted by devotion+doubt at 3:42 PM on August 29, 2010

Life is too short for this guy. I have had boyfriends critical of my appearance and boyfriends totally accepting of it, and there's just a world of difference.

(Just as a reference point, it sounds like you and I have similar metabolisms. I'm your height and went down to 117 at your age due to stress, then put on 20 lbs over the next 3/4 years when I went back to normal life, and would like to stay right here. It gets harder to eat healthily and lose weight as you get older, so you may want to think about establishing healthy patterns now so you stay where you want to be or lose weight if you want. HOWEVER, I think the key point about your question is not whether you want to get healthier or lose weight; it's whether you should be putting up with your bf's shallow hurtfulness and/or change yourself for him. The answer to that is definitely NO.)
posted by yarly at 3:43 PM on August 29, 2010

Whether or not you are fat is beside the point - your boyfriend is being shallow and cruel. Sure, he's entitled to be attracted to what he is attracted to; but everyone who doesn't have the time and money to cultivate their appearance like a hothouse flower (that is most of us who aren't rich or famous) is going to get older, start sagging, get wrinkles, etc. even if they manage to stay fairly slim. And some of us who are very unlucky are going to get cancer and chemo and surgery and the like and not look so hot for a year or two.

In other words, a) you deserve someone who will stick by you through, ahem, thick and thin, and b) if he really expects his future wife to stay young, thin and flawless forever, he's going to be disappointed, unless he can make enough money to pay for endless appearance upkeep on her part. This guy doesn't sound like a good long-term relationship bet.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:49 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

5'5" and 140 lbs?

If we were just going by the numbers, I would ask you what you're doing next Friday evening, because I know this place where we can get some really good tacos.
posted by 517 at 3:51 PM on August 29, 2010 [19 favorites]

The issue is not whether you are fat, or are not. (For the record, you are not). The issue is his insecurity about being seen with a "fat" woman, and his desire to point this out to you in a way which he knows will hurt you.

Lose weight if you really think you need to, but find someone else who is not so keen to point out your defects to you, especially when he knows that it really hurts you. He is *not* being supportive, he is being an asshole. Supportive would be 1) him eating better and skipping the junk food, 2) him joining a gym and working out with you, 3) him praising you when you lose a little weight.

If you really want to stay with him (I don't advise it) tell him that you will lose weight when he gives up smoking! Otherwise, DTMFA now and get a guy who loves you for you.
posted by humpy at 3:55 PM on August 29, 2010

Dump him. Guys need the operation of a blunt instrument to understand situations.
posted by Biru at 3:56 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't think you or he are psychologically in a place where you can discuss your weight together. To give him a benefit of a doubt; perhaps he thinks your weight is fair game because you talk about feeling insecure because of it--maybe it's time to tell him, "You know, I may have set certain weight goals, but who knows when or if I'll reach them? I'd be happy just knowing you are attracted to me no matter my weight. I don't want it to be an issue for you, and if it is, I need to know."

If it's gonna be an issue for him, well, personally, I'd move onto greener pastures because our physical bodies will always be changing...but that's me...
posted by The ____ of Justice at 3:58 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

First, you need to decide if it's ok for him to talk about your weight or it's not. No in between. Make sure it's clear to both of you.

Second, you and him both need to understand it's ok if he's not attracted to you when you weight a certain amount (I have no idea how you wear 140lbs at your height because different women wear it very differently). Attraction is not superficial. Attraction is a piece of the "love" puzzle. If he's missing that piece, there's nothing WRONG with that, but both of you need to figure out if this is the case.

Third, he may feel you already *did* "let yourself go" to a certain degree and that it will only get worse in time. If you are trying to lose weight but consistently make excuses for not doing it, I doubt he has faith that you're going to actually do it and stick to it.

Fourth, I don't think he's being a complete asshole. Sounds like he wants to be encouraging and help but he has a lot of trouble knowing how to support you with this. He may say things that come out insensitive, but if the words are words that you say about yourself, how mean is it really?
posted by volatilebit at 4:02 PM on August 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

I don't think it's about weight at all.

1. He is not behaving like someone who even likes you, let alone loves you. I would not even treat a casual acquaintance like that. He's behaving more like someone who wants to keep you too insecure to leave.

2. His big concern seems to be about about how you would rate as some kind of accessory for him to be seen with, and not about you as a person.

3. If this is his behavior now, in the early stages of the relationship, do you honestly think it's gong to improve in five years? Ten?

4. Do you think he would be any kinder to hypothetical kids? What if he said this kind of shit to your thirteen-year-old daughter?

I vote that you can do better than someone so snide and devoid of compassion. You can waste a lot of time trying to please someone like this, but life is short, so please consider finding someone who can actually be bothered being nice to you!
posted by bunji at 4:04 PM on August 29, 2010 [17 favorites]

He seems like an image-is-everything guy, what with the smoking and eating cheeseburgers, etc., cares more about appearances than the fact that you are substantially healthier than he is (though maybe it's an f'd up expression of frustration because he knows he shouldn't smoke and eat cheeseburgers).

I'd tell him that he should think seriously about what he really wants and values, that this shit stops now and he can get his head out of his ass or you will get yourself out of the relationship.
posted by ambient2 at 4:05 PM on August 29, 2010

Wow, I'm 5'5" and if I ever weighed 140 lbs I would be skin and bones. You are not fat. You are not even chubby.

Just wanted to point out that everyone is different. I'm 5'5" and when I weighed 140lbs, I looked pretty heavy. Regardless, your boyfriend sounds like a bit of an asshole. He has every right to want to be with someone super skinny - some people are just not attracted to those with some meat on their bones. But you also have every right to dump him on his sorry smoking ass and be with someone who doesn't care about your weight fluctuations because you're so awesome.
posted by meerkatty at 4:07 PM on August 29, 2010 [4 favorites]

This sounds like a verbally abusive relationship.

You may want to read The verbally abusive relationship: how to recognize it and how to respond by Patricia Evans.

I know wherof which I speak - my Evil Ex used to make remarks about me losing weight...

...and his remarks escalated to criticism of the way I dressed, the way I parked my car, the way I laughed, the personality and behaviour of my friends (he hated all my friends, including any new friends I made). Then it escalated to physical abuse.

So, see a couples counsellor together, please. And if things don't improve after that, please consider DTMFA. You deserve to be treated with love and respect.

I bet there are funny, kind, considerate men out there wishing every day that they could meet and date a woman who looks like you. ^_^
posted by Hot buttered sockpuppets at 4:11 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am fully aware that I need to lose some weight, tighten up and lose the flab.

No, you don't need to. I think it's telling that you lost the earlier weight due to negative things rather than positive lifestyle changes. And now, you've gained weight because you're actually eating because anxiety and depression aren't killing your appetite anymore.

Do you really want to be the 40-year-old with a partner who thinks you should be toned and tight forever? (I can tell you, that's an ugly relationship to watch.) What if you have a baby, or have a period of stress that results in weight gain, or have an injury or illness that changes your body from hot babe to... something else? What if you age like an actual human female? Do you want a partner whose reaction to your healthy body, the body that reflects your now-happier and healthier life, is, "We need to start running so you can lose some weight"? If that's what he says when you're healthy and happy, what on earth do you think he'd say if you were having a crisis?

You might turn into a fat middle-aged woman, as he fears. Seriously, you might. And it would be ok. And there are men who could love you as the hot 30-year-old you are now, who could also love you as a fat middle-aged woman. Moreover, even if you don't get fat in middle-age, your body will change in other ways--changes the culture in LA often pretends don't (or, "shouldn't") happen. I have met a few men who simply can't accept these things. It sounds like your boyfriend may be one of them. You deserve someone who doesn't set a generic tight, toned, perpetually young body as a prerequisite for a relationship, but who instead appreciates your beauty and has a realistic understanding of the human body.
posted by Meg_Murry at 4:13 PM on August 29, 2010 [7 favorites]

What Hot buttered sockpuppets said happened to me, too.

And then I got away and met loving and considerate people who were attracted to me, not whatever masochistic ball of insecurity they could trick into taking their bullshit. My life is a million times better now, obviously.
posted by Sara C. at 4:15 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

You sound hot to me.

Obviously your boyfriend has spoken inconsiderately, but "inconsiderate" can mean either "assholish" or "cluelessly thoughtless". If you believe he's deliberately being cruel, you should move on without looking back; if, on the other hand, you think he's more likely an interpersonal bumbler who doesn't realize how dramatically he's contributing to your insecurities, then you really need to talk to him about the pattern.

I wish he'd just hug me and say, 'I love you just the way you are'.

This, for example, is something he deserves to be told explicitly.
posted by foursentences at 4:17 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh, just in case that wasn't clear--I don't mean you don't need to lose weight, tighten up, and lose the flab because of your exact height and weight numbers. I mean, as a person, it's ok if you're overweight, not tight, and flabby. You can make an effort to lose weight and tone up if you want, but you don't need to. You're no less deserving of respect and kindness from your partner now than you were when you weighed less.
posted by Meg_Murry at 4:17 PM on August 29, 2010 [5 favorites]

I agree with the posters above on the DTMFA consensus so I won't elaborate on that. However, my feeling is that when you do dump him, he will try to tell you that you are "flipping out", just as you "always flip out" when he makes insensitive and cruel remarks about your appearance. I'd like to ask you to keep in mind that this is what cruel people say to those who stand up for themselves -- "it's not me, it's you", in essence. To them, standing up for yourself is equal to flipping out, and you should rememebr that it is not. It really, really isn't.

In the future, though, please consider not making comments to your partner (or anyone else) about how you wish you looked like some other hot girl. Not only is it detrimental to your own self-esteem, it's practically an invitation to cruel people to prey on your insecurities. I'm not saying it's okay for them to do that, but unfortunately that is how it usually works out. Your boyfriend right now is probably thinking that since you say that about yourself, then it's okay for him to say it as well. Again, not defending him, because he's being hypocritical and hurtful. But a good way to start standing up for yourself is to not provide him ammunition.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 4:19 PM on August 29, 2010 [11 favorites]

I echo Ashley801 in my concern that if you stay with him and want to meet his expectations you are setting yourself up for constantly watching your weight and looks. Life gets in the way sometimes, and you deserve to know that whomever you're with is going to be loving and supportive through all those changes. Pregnancy can change a lot about how your body works or looks. Another thought - what happens if you get in a car accident that seriously injures you with lasting effects? Or have cancer that requires chemo and results in loss of all your hair?

Although I agree with some of the posts that it's ok for him to have his personal preferences, you both need to understand how important such preferences are to him over the long-term and whether you think it's reasonable to change yourself to meet these preferences. At the very least, you need to know that you will always have his support as long as you are doing everything reasonable to meet the goals you set for yourself (regardless of the reason for the goal).
posted by Terriniski at 4:20 PM on August 29, 2010

Quid pro quo, you know, because honestly no smoker has the slightest justification in getting on anyone's case about lifestyle choices. Tell him you'll start running when he quits smoking.

Beyond the fact of his acting like an asshole it sounds like you are both living in a way (diet, habits, lack of exercise) that you will start to really feel down the road. If you can detach it from this relationship smack and establish it as a goal you are personally invested in on its own terms, it will be to your benefit, because believe me, it only gets harder when you're pushing 40.
posted by nanojath at 4:27 PM on August 29, 2010

before we got married, I made my then-boyfriend promise to still be attracted to me even when I'm eventually as fat and wrinkly as my grandmother is now

I saw this upthread, and just want to maybe explain a little bit of the other side here.

Physical attraction is very important to some people. That's not a personality flaw. It's not being shallow. It's how some people are wired. And it sounds like maybe your boyfriend is scared that if you keep on the path you're on now, he'll stop being as attracted to you. Now I'd say his method of voicing that was extremely insensitive and inconsiderate, but I don't think he should be condemned for the underlying concern. It sounds like he wants to be attracted to you, and (very clumsily) voiced that.

The bit I quoted at the beginning highlights the problem--some people want to ignore that attraction isn't always something that can be controlled. It's part of a person's sexuality. Just because I deeply love someone doesn't mean I can force myself to be attracted to them sexually. And that can hurt! Having the emotion without the attraction can be a very frustrating place to be, and can lead to quite a bit of self-questioning and doubt. Society is very quick to paint that kind of person as shallow and uncaring. Obviously I don't know if the boyfriend in this case feels that way, but it's not out of the question.

I agree with previous posters that most of what is missing here is missing on his part--he needs to be supportive, and willing to live whatever he's willing to push on you. He wants you to trim up? Fine, he needs to get in shape too. Drop the smoking, eat healthy, get ripped. He is NOT allowed to be the coach with the megaphone. He has to be willing to be your partner in this, because relationships take work.

If he's willing to turn this into a relay race, where you both end up healthier and happier with your bodies, then much good could come from it. If, on the other hand, he wants to hold the megaphone from the starting line and continue callously ignoring your feelings, you've officially gotten the signal that he's being a fair-weather significant other.

Full Disclosure: My wife and I and doing this kind of program right now, and it's working out well for the both of us because we are being honest, supportive, diligent and considerate. It's also helped us both journey from "meh" to delicious mutual attraction, both physically and emotionally because we are doing this for ourselves and each other.
posted by Phyltre at 4:28 PM on August 29, 2010 [5 favorites]

Would you rather spend your life trying to lose weight and keep it off, possibly with a side of plastic surgery and much stressing over finding the perfect make-up and clothing so your man doesn't stray or ditch you, OR would you like to enjoy hobbies, traveling, hanging out with friends, and other fun activities with a partner who is always 100% on your side, respects you and loves you (mind and body). You can only pick one.
posted by meepmeow at 4:31 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, before we all induce her to dump this guy without hearing his side of the story, let's review from his point of view.

Three years ago she weighed 20 pounds less. She says she needs to lose weight and she has been unhealthy. She also says she's insecure.

In "the case in point" he says, "We need to start running so you can lose some weight."

I'm not sure where in the story he becomes the anti-Christ. I guess it'd be nice if he loved her no matter what she looked like. But I don't think it's necessarily wrong to want her to look like she did three years ago either.

He might have made a pointed comment at the store, but running is also a subject that they have already been talking about. It's pretty hard to bring up the subject of a woman's weight in a way that isn't pointed or unintentionally hurtful.

And for some reason she seems to be shifting blame to his genetics and his lifestyle choices as if character flaws are being tallied up and the loser is to blame for the relationship woes and the defects in the other person.

But on the other hand, maybe all men are just assholes. Dump him and then send him a link to this thread.
posted by Wayman Tisdale at 4:37 PM on August 29, 2010 [8 favorites]

Ugh, L.A. The epicenter of female body-loathing.

Anyways. The girl standing in line. Since you described her as a girl, about how old would you say she was? 20? 25? I bet you look a damn good bit hotter than many 20 or 25-year olds, but you're a hot 30 year old woman, not a hot "girl." That's not a bad thing. I hope that you're not caught up in striving to be perpetually young the way so many women are. I say that not to judge, rather because it's a losing battle. We get older. We get lines. Our hair turns gray. We get cellulite. We lose muscle mass. These things happen, and we have no better chance of preventing it than Sisyphus did of rolling that ball back up the hill.

That being said, sure - it sounds like you might be a little out of shape, and the longer you wait to start, the harder it's going to be to get back into shape. It's not easy for most 30 year old women to lose 25 pounds unless they're incredibly overweight. I doubt you even need to lose 25 pounds, but if you want to, do it for you. Do it to make yourself proud, or content, or satisfied. Don't do it to meet someone else's standards.

Your boyfriend loves you - just conditionally. It's up to you to decide whether his conditions are acceptable.
posted by pecanpies at 4:44 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

My boyfriend worries that down the line I will turn into a fat middle-aged woman.

I worry that you're going to spend the next months, years, decades of your life with a guy who acts like you're not good enough for him unless you meet certain benchmarks.
posted by orange swan at 4:44 PM on August 29, 2010 [9 favorites]

Predictably, there are a lot of tangents in the more than 45 comments of this thread. I'm not complaining -- I have some tangential advice of my own. But before I get to that, I think it's worth noticing that you clearly said near the end of your post: "My question is..." and then asked 2 specific questions.

So I'm just going to answer your 2 specific questions and then add one piece of tangential advice.

1. "am I being too sensitive?"

Not at all.

2. "How important is it that I put a lot of effort into losing weight if he is unable to be sensitive about this issue?"

It is not at all important that you put any effort into losing weight for his benefit (aside from whether you should do it for your own reasons that are unrelated to his comments).

I think that's pretty clear-cut and simple and uncontroversial.

My tangential advice: If you're going to bring this up with him, don't focus on him checking out other women. The main issue is not whether he finds other women attractive. He does and always will. If you dump him and get another boyfriend, that boyfriend is also going to check out other women and find them attractive. It's not reasonable to expect otherwise. Instead, focus on the main issues: (a) he is not being accepting of you as you are; (b) he makes derogatory comments about your appearance. (Please don't think for a second that his comments are based on concern for your health!) It is reasonable to expect that these things won't happen in your relationship (whether it's the one you're in now or a future relationship). For you to stay together, (a) and (b) have to stop. To repeat, these things HAVE to stop. Or else the relationship WILL end. That's what I'd say to him if I were you (assuming you're not going to end it immediately).
posted by jejune at 4:49 PM on August 29, 2010

The boyfriend and the weight are two separate issues. I'm sorry you're in a place where they're getting conflated. I'd lose the boyfriend mostly because he doesn't have the self-awareness to understand that he's saying hurtful things, but the ogling other women and remarking on your weight too? He's either epically clueless or a real piece of crap. Then, and probably only then, are you going to be able to get to a place where you can figure out why you're a little wrapped around the axle about your body image.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 4:51 PM on August 29, 2010

My boyfriend saw her, and a few minutes later, while standing in line at the cash register, remarks "We need to start running so you can lose some weight."

I want to join in the DTMFA chorus but really, if it were me, I would bide my time, getting obscenely, fantastically fit and healthy and happy and confident and awesome in every possible way. And then I'd let him catch me in a threeway with a couple of buff 21-year-old Argentinian underwear models.

disclaimer: I make bad decisions.
posted by elizardbits at 4:52 PM on August 29, 2010 [31 favorites]

Perhaps I exacerbate this thinking by pointing out women with great figures, and thinking out loud that I'd like to have a body like them, but at the same time I wish he'd just hug me and say, 'I love you just the way you are'.

Mixed signals much?
posted by smackfu at 4:59 PM on August 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

I've no idea if you're fat or not because I'm not sure there's an objective standard for that. One person's "chubby" is another person's "normal", one person's "rail thin" is another person's normal, etc. What counts as "normal" in America is, frankly, chubby in most of the world (and indeed would have been thought of as "chubby" in America as well until about 20 years ago).

Two separate things here, I think:

1) If my gf had gained 25 pounds in two years, I might be a little perturbed about that. He may be thinking that you are en route to gaining 10+ pounds every year for the next 10 years. That's neither healthy nor attractive, for most people. I'm quite sure my gf would feel the exact same about me, if the situation were reversed -- thus, we both exercise regularly to ensure that we don't gain 10 pounds every year, out of equal parts health concern and vanity. At the same time, neither of us expect us to look the same in ten years as we do today. You need both effort and realism.

2) The way that he is dealing with this worry doesn't seem appropriate. But, he also seems like he's trying his best to be supportive, by suggesting that you go running together etc. It sounds to me more like a clumsy attempt to deal with his fears rather than anything malicious; you'll have to decide for yourself if that is a 'dumpable' offence.

This definitely seems like a conversation the two of you ought to have.
posted by modernnomad at 4:59 PM on August 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

Just because you've talked about running and you not being delighted with your size doesn't give your boyfriend carte blanche to compare you to other women and and make comments like that about your weight.

As much as people here are saying it's okay for him to have his preferences, not everyone feels the need to foist those preferences on their partners. Having an abstract preference is I suppose one thing; your partner doesn't need to embody your preference for you to love him/her and find him/her attractive. (I don't really understand the physical preferences thing. I've never been attracted to anyone just because they were my "type", so I find that discussion quite bizarre. Other end of the spectrum!)

That doesn't mean we all must be capable of intellectually forcing ourselves to be attracted to someone we otherwise admire. But attraction isn't just about ticking a set of boxes. There is something (or many somethings) about a person that goes beyond their pure physicality that attracts us. Otherwise we would just get bored of looking at the same person and move on pretty rapidly. We all age and change. We all will face physical and mental challenges that can alter our appearance. Frankly, I think we should not really engage with people who base relationships so heavily on physical appearance.

I'm concerned that your boyfriend is kicking up such a fuss about such a small amount of weight. A bit of a belly and a healthy bottom is nothing to get so worked up about. (His interest is clearly not in your health.) If his interest in you is so heavily based on your physical appearance, I fear you will one day simply not fit the bill anymore. So he dumps you over it, after you held out through all his ridiculous, cruel comments. That's probably not the kind of relationship you want to be in.
posted by Hildegarde at 4:59 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Phyltre, while quoting me and offering a very different perspective, seems to be saying something honest and good here as well. (MetaFilter: where people can offer different perspectives productively!)

Physical appearance really is more important to some people than others. And yes, I'm entirely willing to believe that it's just a matter of how we're wired. Personally, it matters to me to only date people whose attraction isn't wired to be so sensitive to physical appearance - NOT because having the other wiring makes them inherently evil, but simply because it makes ME feel unsafe. (I personally plan on insisting on lots of sex well into the wrinkly phase, and someone had better help me out with that. Gotta pre-plan these things.)

That said, if you're okay being with someone whose attraction is strongly based on your physical appearance, I think Phyltre is absolutely right in terms of that person's responsibility for being kind, respectful, supportive, and an involved partner along the way, rather than judgmental and demanding from the sidelines. So hey, you're STILL not being too sensitive here.
posted by Eshkol at 5:00 PM on August 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

[folks - you know where MetaTalk is, please answer the question or go elsewhere, thanks]
posted by jessamyn at 5:16 PM on August 29, 2010

Even if physical attraction is the end-all and be-all of importance to someone, should that really be carte blanche to be mean-spirited about it?

And for even the hottest hottie that ever hotly walked the earth, time will eventually catch up and do its thing. Then what?

Also, I'm honestly curious how her boyfriend would react if, say, she announced that she was attracted to big muscles and big muscles only, and started comparing him unfavorably to big muscly gents in public.
posted by bunji at 5:17 PM on August 29, 2010 [5 favorites]

It seems popular to jump on your boyfriend for being evil/asshole/destructive, but I think it's too hard to judge him solely based on your side of the story. There's surely a lot of pieces missing. There's also a lot of hints both ways that make it difficult to discern your boyfriend's intentions.

You need to figure out if he's being clumsily "insensitive" or intentionally cruel/manipulative.

If you have told him you want to lose weight and you have both talked about running together for this purpose, I don't think it's intentionally cruel for him to say "we should start running so you can lose some weight". He wants to do something WITH you to help you accomplish a goal that YOU set. It certainly isn't the most tactful way to broach the subject though.

The fact that he brought it up after oogling other girls is ultimately meaningless. He could have seen another woman with a similar body type to what you had when you met and that was a reminder to him. It's unfair to make assumptions on his behalf.

My final piece of advice is to bring this exact thing up with him. Tell him it hurts your feelings when he brings up your weight because you are already insecure about it. If he refuses to stop, then consider your options.
posted by volatilebit at 5:22 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I know I'm nthing everyone else, but Jesus, is he being a dick. Would he be ok w/ you leaving him if his face got scarred or he had a chronic illness? Or suffered occasional impotence? Would it then be ok for you to say "sorry babe, you're just not hot to me anymore"? Or would he expect you to stick around?
posted by emjaybee at 5:50 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't think your boyfriend is the problem here, though he's being dickish at times.

You seem to be buying into an image of how you should look, which is fine of course. But if you're walking around pointing out a certain body type and saying "I wish I could look like that," why it might not be too surprising that your boyfriend feels it's ok to voice his thoughts on the matter too.

At some point, you're going to have decide whether YOU love yourself no matter what size you are. Until then, what boyfriend or the world thinks about that will continue to burn.
posted by nomadicink at 5:53 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

"am I being too sensitive?"

Nope! You're 5'5" around 140 pounds? If your boyfriend doesn't think that's awesome (which, by the way, it is), you need to seriously question the future of your relationship because your body is going to change with time. If 5'5" and 140 pounds isn't good enough for him, what happens when you turn 35? Or 40? Or...? Will he still expect you to be 117 pounds in years to come? Thats not acceptable at all.

"How important is it that I put a lot of effort into losing weight if he is unable to be sensitive about this issue?"

Putting effort into losing weight is something you should only choose to do for yourself, not for him, and really, it doesn't sound like you should be worried about losing weight at all because your weight doesn't sound unhealthy at all.

"I do know I am conventionally 'hot', and my boyfriend says he agrees, but would like to be 'more attracted' to me."

That last part about being more attracted is really concerning if you're thinking long term with this relationship. Be careful there.
posted by 2oh1 at 6:07 PM on August 29, 2010

You're not fat.

I wish he'd just hug me and say, 'I love you just the way you are'. He seems incapable of it.

That's because he is incapable of it. He doesn't love you the way you are.

I was married to someone who did what your boyfriend does. At the time, I was young and stupid and when he said "I just care about your health/I just want you to be healthy" I bought into it. Nevermind that he was hardly Mr. Fit, either. At the time, i was not fat. I was strong and healthy and I was hot. I had curves, and I had thighs, but I could walk down the beach in a bikini and turn heads.

By the time I got out of the marriage I had been anorexic, I had completely ruined my body's hunger system because he harped on every single thing I ate. I was always hungry. He made those same kinds of "we need to start running" comments and every time I said something he would say "BUt I'm just trying to help." Sure, trying to help was saying "do you really need to eat all of that?" when we were at a party with a large group of friends, and saying it loud enough for everyone to hear.

There was nothing wrong with me. I look at those photographs now and I want to cry. I was gorgeous. I was not fat.

Now, as others have stated, he has a perfect right to express his preferences. But unless you intend on spending the rest of your life constantly dieting and working out to meet the fashion industry ideal of how a woman "should" look, it is my prediction that you will not be happy in this relationship.
posted by micawber at 6:17 PM on August 29, 2010 [6 favorites]

It sounds like you should lose some weight. Well, I'd recommend it if you were planning on staying with your boyfriend. If you aren't, and you are happy with how you look, then either tell him that is inappropriate, or dump him.
posted by TheBones at 6:33 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Perhaps I exacerbate this thinking by pointing out women with great figures, and thinking out loud that I'd like to have a body like them, but at the same time I wish he'd just hug me and say, 'I love you just the way you are'.

Before you listen to the DTMFA Brigade, try this:

1) Completely stop pointing out women with great figures. You are setting a trap for him when you do this that he is not smart enough to walk around.

2) Completely stop saying that you'd like to have a different body-type than the one you currently have. You are setting a trap for your boyfriend when you do this, one that he is not smart enough to walk around.

3) Decide whether you are actually dissatisfied with your current weight because you actually want to weigh what you did 3 years ago, or whether you are dissatisfied with your current weight because of what your boyfriend thinks.

a) If you don't really want to change (or only want to change for him), have a talk with your boyfriend and tell him that you don't have any immediate plans to change your body from how it looks now. Tell him you don't want him to nag you about it.

b) If you want to change for yourself, outline a plan that you will actually stick to, and then do it. If you find yourself not doing the plan you outlined, then get a different plan that you can stick to. Tell your boyfriend what specific kinds of things you want him to say to help encourage you to stick to your plan.

4) TA-DA

Because it doesn't sound like your boyfriend is an asshole as much as he's a clueless guy who doesn't really get that you want him to say "Babe, what are you talking about, you look hot" instead of "Oh, you want to look like that hot girl you just pointed out? Yeah, you should totally start running."
posted by 23skidoo at 6:34 PM on August 29, 2010 [8 favorites]

You know what? Everybody I've ever been with, when I've said something dumb like, "I wish I was skinny enough to wear..." or "I need to lose 10 pounds" or "Ugh, look at my fat ass!" -- when I've said those silly and insecure things, the people who really cared for me, who weren't just being abusive and preying on that insecurity? Their response was not, "Yeah! You should be running more! And no more ice cream for you, fatty!" It was "Whuh? But you're beautiful, and I love you just the way you are." I didn't have to prod or fish for compliments. I didn't have to tell them that was the correct answer to my insecure hemming and hawwing. They just said it. Because they meant it.

You know who responded to that insecurity by calling me a fatty, making me feel bad about what I ate, and designing workout regimes for me? The bag of dogshit I mentioned upthread.
posted by Sara C. at 6:40 PM on August 29, 2010 [6 favorites]

Generally speaking "checking out other women" is not something you should be concerned with. However, he's being a complete asshole and you should dump him unless he changes his ways.

If you're the one starting it by pointing out women you think are attractive and expecting him to say something other than general agreement, you should probably work on that expectation first. Don't reinforce his behavior. If you need affirmation, ask for it. Don't ask for the opposite.

If that doesn't fix it, drop him.
posted by wierdo at 6:41 PM on August 29, 2010

Let's talk about the boyfriend for a minute. Maybe I missed this but he is 5'10'' and how much does he weigh? Do you know? If not, why not? Does he fall in the normal weight BMI range (coz we know for sure that you certainly do). If he is underweight, he should start eating with you and not try to make you run instead.

Seriously, if the guy has a problem with a 5'5'', 140lbs woman, you two have got some thinking and talking to do.
posted by xm at 6:49 PM on August 29, 2010

He's not nice to you; why spend time with him?
posted by theora55 at 6:54 PM on August 29, 2010

[few comments removed - folks can we keep it on topic and not turn this into some recreational outage about the OPs boyfriend? If you have larger MeFi concerns, go to MetaTalk]
posted by jessamyn at 6:59 PM on August 29, 2010

As I have said on other threads I AM the feared fat middleaged woman whose husband still chases her around the bedroom....look, part of your deal is you live in a part of the country where appearance is way more important than perhaps it should be. You are NOT fat-perhaps getting fitter would help YOU feel better in YOUR body but I do have to tell you that time marches on and aging happens to us all. Your body WILL change.

You do not want to be with someone who makes you feel insecure about your body. There is a difference between someone who loves you and wants you to be the best "you" you can be and someone who loves you conditioned on whether or not the scales spit out an acceptable number. Only you know if this man loves YOU or your body. If it's the latter run like hell. If it's the former, well, communication is key.

Because none of us has a guarantee we will stay "pretty." Frankly, my dear, what you want in a man is this: Someone who thinks you are pretty because he loves YOU. Not someone who loves you because you are pretty.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:07 PM on August 29, 2010 [11 favorites]

You are not being too sensitive, not at all, in fact you sound too tolerant. You and your body are your business, getting back in shape or losing a few pounds is your business, not his. His business is just being supportive and accepting of the lovely woman who is doing the same for him. I believe you haven't been able to make and meet your goals because you are subconciously resisting what you know to be wrong: his insistence that you lose weight. Stand up for yourself, tell him to get over it, and do what you want for yourself.

I don't have to say it, but there are other men out there who will adore you the way you are now, and will be cheerfully supportive of you getting into even better shape, simply because they want YOU to feel good about you.
posted by Locochona at 7:27 PM on August 29, 2010

It looks like every 5' 5" 140 pound woman in the metaverse has posted in this thread.

If you don't like his behavior, dump him. If he's ogling ladies when you guys are together and has a history of rude comments, that's pretty significant. It doesn't matter whether or not you're being oversensitive to it or not. The bottom line is that it bothers you quite a bit.

140 pounds on a 5'5" frame isn't crazy, but 117 to 140 is a pretty significant bump.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 9:36 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

He's trying to shame you into losing the weight, in a way that means he doesn't have to admit he wants you to lose the weight. Tell him that you're well aware you've gained weight, and you're trying to decide whether to lose it or keep it -- and if he wants to guarantee you'll keep it, he should keep telling you to lose it.

Ultimately, though, do you want to stop that specific behavior, or do you want to be dating a guy who loves you at 140 as much as at 117? Because, you know, achieving the first does not actually get you the second.
posted by davejay at 10:47 PM on August 29, 2010

Oh, and as someone who was skinny like your guy, and totally junk-food tolerant, just know that he's going to put on 20-30 pounds soon -- we all get there eventually, usually in our 30s (and based on your age, I assume he's just entering his 30s as well.)

So, depending on the timing (and whether or not you stay together), prepare to be entertained when he gains the weight and can't lose it.
posted by davejay at 10:49 PM on August 29, 2010

There is no right or wrong amount of sensitivity to have. This thread is evidence that most people believe you're not being too sensitive, and I personally agree that your boyfriend isn't voicing his concerns in the best way.

That said, contrary to some here, I believe appearance is important, and I think your appearance is something he has a right to comment on. I won't be with the kind of person who is okay with being fat (by the way, from what you've told us, I have no idea if you're fat). That seems lazy to me, and lazy in a way that I find unattractive. I don't date smokers either, for basically the same reason. I believe that losing weight ultimately isn't that difficult if it's something one really wants to do.

By the same token, I'm happy if my girlfriend tells me I should lose a few kilos. I want to be with someone who loves me for me--of course! But I also want to be with someone who wants me to be a better person, and believes I can be better. Being overweight is not a good thing. I want a girlfriend who recognizes this, calls me on it when I'm gaining weight, and helps me lose it.

Different people have different preferences. Some believe that being fat is okay. Some want a partner who is satisfied with them completely. There's no right or wrong in any of these preferences. You have to decide what's important to you. I don't think polling people on AskMe is the best way to do that. You might discover what most people believe to be appropriate, but you won't discover what you want or what you're willing to tolerate, which is the only important thing here.
posted by smorange at 11:00 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

1. You are not being too sensitive.

2. It's not so much if he can or can't be sensitive in regards to the issue of your weight, such as it is - it's if he can accept and love you regardless of it.

As a thought experiment, let's say you lose... say, 20 pounds. That brings you down to 120, which I think is near the bottom range for 'healthy' BMI. I have no idea what that would look like on your frame, but let's assume you look more toned than you are right now, with the physique of a woman who works out but doesn't look like a fitness model. What if your boyfriend says, 'yeah, you've still got a little bit to lose - you've got some love handles on the side, that'd make me even MORE attracted to you.'? Would you keep on trying to slim down to keep him happy? If you think the chances of him saying something along those lines are high, you need to seriously consider if he's worth the insanity of constantly monitoring your weight, your exercise habits and eating habits to stay at a low weight - and if you say you got down to 117 pounds because of anxiety-related weight loss, chances are that wasn't a weight your body was real happy at.

Please remember that it's your body, your time, your effort, your sweat. If YOU lose weight so HE can feel better about that hot chick on his arm, you're losing weight for him, not for you. If you want to lose weight for you, go for it! If you feel comfortable in your skin, think long and hard where you're willing to draw the line in regards to him and your weight.

p.s. you're totally, totally not fat. if you're conventionally hot, lady, you're hot.
posted by zennish at 11:12 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

You're not fat. You sound perfect actually. Dump this loser.
posted by w0mbat at 11:39 PM on August 29, 2010

Should your guy decide to quit smoking and eating garbage, he may be shocked to find out that he can't do so, the cigarettes are almost always an addiction and garbage US food can easily be an addiction, and addictions aren't easy to just stop.

And: What happened to me when I finally *was* able to set down cigarettes, for the first time in my life, at 28, I began to put on fat weight. I couldn't believe it. I was like him, I could and did eat anything I wanted any time I wanted it and still weight 187, 32inch waist, same as high school. Within two weeks those pants were tight and then tighter and I had to begin running, and I did so, still shaking my head about it all.

Anyways. Was he a jerk? As pointed out by some upthread, he's almost certainly scared that he's seeing a trend. Um, no, he *is* seeing a trend, and probably he's scared it's going to continue, HFCS and bread, The American Way.

Was he clumsy in handling it? I wasn't there; we've got one side of the story. And if he did get clumsy, give him a break here, he's up against one of the largest taboo subjects any guy can venture out into; a woman asks a guy "Does this make my butt look big?" and she's just put him in front a firing squad, there is no way he can get it correct, he loses no matter what he says, also if he says nothing.

Can someone love a person and still be afraid that the person isn't going to change into some deal-breaker behaviors? What if she was telling us that he was drinking, and she was seeing a trend, looks like maybe he's headed deeper and deeper into alcoholism -- I'd bet every voice on this site would throw up huge red caution lights, flags waving, etc and etc. And if someone said "Well, she should just love him as he is, and accept him just as he is, and he by god doesn't need to change one whit" -- I'd like to see that thread...

Anyways. It's a hard one you're in, Op, both you and he are scared, and this is the unspoken thing that is at every meal and most everywhere else, too -- there are no secrets in relationships, everyone knows what's underlying, what's going on underneath, or that damn sure can happen.

It might come down to you accepting yourself, just as you are, forgive yourself for not living up to your ideal. Easier said than done -- I know. Always easier to forgive myself for not living up to my ideal once I've changed everything, and I'm now living at the ideal. But I'm not always able to get to the place my ideals live, and I'm forced to learn to accept myself right here right now, warts and all. Oy. And to accept him, too, and forgive him -- he's struggling too, maybe (he might be a hard-hearted mean guy, in which case you've just got to bail) maybe he's as upset by all of this as you are, and needs to talk, but now neither of you can talk about "it" because there's just so much voltage around it.

So talk about it slowly. Write down what you want to say, so you don't lose the thread in the heat of the conversation, when you're afraid, and he's afraid -- it's nice to have something to refer to. So write it down, tell him "Hey Melvin, cm'ere a second, I've got some cheeseburgers for you" and he'll come over, and you jam a cheeseburger into his mouth, and say your piece, and see what happens next.

And here's a non-negotiable -- he doesn't eat unhealthy garbage around you. At all. From now on. And he smokes outside, and he begins to see that you expect him to make the same changes he's expecting of you. And be prepared to laugh heartily when you watch him go completely berserk for six weeks or months when he sets down the cigarettes, if he's even able to do so. This will make it easier for you to forgive him, after you see him humiliate himself time and again, and make it easier for him to see what a dope he's being by expecting you to easily change ingrained habits and patterns. Not that you two can't change these things, but personal change doesn't always come easy, can take some time.

Good luck.
posted by dancestoblue at 1:29 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm not going to comment about the boyfriend. But please ask yourself this - is the way that you talk to yourself about your body ok with you? When you see these women with these bodies you want, are you able to tell yourself "I love you just the way you are"?

When you start to do that and mean it, the boyfriend situation will become very clear.
posted by Chrysalis at 3:31 AM on August 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

I think it sounds like he's being an ass too.

However, playing devil's advocate: He started going out with you partly because to him you looked great - that's also partly why you're with him. So, since then that's changed and you're no longer as attractive to him.

If he didn't care about the relationship, maybe he'd dump you or maybe he'd hang on but you'd be able to tell he didn't find you hot any more and things may start to go wrong. He does care, so he's (in his rather unsubtle way) trying to change things.

At the end of the day, if you're happier looking the way you do now then tell him so and he can decide if that's OK. If you want to be thinner (weight isn't the issue here, fat is - muscle accounts for the difference between person X being "fat" at weight A while person Y is "skinny" at weight A) then find an activity you both enjoy and start doing it together. Running is great, running worked for me. But if you don't enjoy it you won't do it - what about cycling, snowboarding (if there's a place locally), going to the gym, rock climbing, sailing, canoeing.. Just get out and do things.

(Also, usual stuff: Count calories in/out, wear a pedometer and walk a lot, know your BMR, maintain an average calorie deficit (of 500-600, maybe) while consuming a sensible minimum per day like 1400. Lots of veg. You don't have to give up eating anything.)
posted by dickasso at 4:17 AM on August 30, 2010

No one has brought up what an utterly weird place LA is. It is a really weird place, and it's really not surprising to me that you're living there and having this problem. I am from the southwest and visiting LA is like going through the looking glass for me. Quite literally. Everything is strange and everyone is obsessed with looks. That's just not how it is everywhere else. It's hard to stop looking at everyone else and start accepting who you are. At home, I'm super comfortable in my skin, but every time we visit LA (a couple times a year) I start getting insecure about what I look like. Everyone around you is obsessed, it's hard not to become obsessed yourself.

Given all of that, here's my answer to your questions. First, you are absolutely NOT being oversensitive. In your answer you even state that you know you're conventionally 'hot'! You absolutely deserve to be appreciated and loved for who you are, and it's not something you should have to fight for. HOWEVER, there's a good chance that all of the superficiality of LA is a big unconscious part of your boyfriend. If you haven't sat down with him and had a really blunt conversation with him, the time is now. If I were in your shoes, I would say something like "I want you to know that it's not good for me to be insecure about my body or weight. I am moving slowly towards a healthier lifestyle because I want to be fit and have a body that works amazingly. I am not doing it so I can be tiny again. I wasn't healthy at that weight, and I wasn't happy, either. I want to have healthy attitudes towards eating and my body, and I need you to get on board with that. Comments about other body types you wish I had or women you wish I looked like are really very hurtful and not OK. Being supportive of me includes saying things like "I think you're drop dead gorgeous right now!" and "I will love you no matter what you look like." It is not supportive to say things that are trying to shame me into losing weight, and that needs to stop immediately."

If you've already had that conversation and this is continuing, it's time to reevaluate whether he's going to be the good, supportive, loving life partner you're hoping for. Because if he's doing this while you are young (30 is young!) and hot (your word!), imagine what he'll be like when you're middle aged.
posted by stoneweaver at 6:25 AM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Say you found a magic pill that would keep you thin forever. Do you think this guy is going to be satisfied when you're a thin 40 year old when there are thin 20 year olds around?
posted by callmejay at 8:40 AM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

I won't join in and say DTMFA, but don't move in with this guy. You have some serious communication problems to work out before your lives become futher enmeshed.

You need to arm yourselves with some communication techniques that will ensure that you get across what you need to say and ensure he's listening (and vice versa). You also need to be able to address behaviors like his weight comment in a way that separates the action from the person.

Sure, it would do you wonders to work to boost your self-confidence and lead a healthy lifestyle, but you don't have to wait for these to have a good relationship. Learning and practicing communication skills is the most effective immediate thing you can do for your relationship. (Or any future relationships, if you do DTMFA.)
posted by cross_impact at 8:51 AM on August 30, 2010

Be it your current guy or a new one, I hope you can find one who appreciates your body as it is. I am also "blessed" with an apple bum and I don't waste time with men who don't dig it. I wouldn't worry about your body until your mom, your best friend, a doctor or someone else whose opinion you value and could be considered objective says something.
posted by ShadePlant at 9:51 AM on August 30, 2010

The one thing I'll say is, whether or not you gain or lose any more weight, either you die young or you'll be a middle-aged woman someday. If he doesn't see the relationship lasting as you age, I'd say quit wasting your time and let him chase a 20-year-old now. It's fine for looks to be important to him, it's fine for him to find you more attractive when you're more slender, but if he's not willing to prioritize the person within over changes that inevitably come with time, it's just not going to be a long-term relationship.
posted by KathrynT at 11:20 AM on August 30, 2010

I had a boyfriend once who asked me why I "wasn't as skinny as the other marathon runners" in the car, after running my fourth marathon, medal still around my neck.

He is now an ex-boyfriend.

I really think that you need to do some heavy thinking about this relationship before moving in with this guy. Crushing self esteem comments are unacceptable and take an unbelievable amount of time and effort to repair. I'm currently dealing with this and it sucks. You can do much better and deserve to be with someone who isn't a shallow douchebag.
posted by floweredfish at 11:33 AM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think you should get serious about the gym, the eating plan etc. But don't tell him, don't mention it, don't work out with him. I'd be willing to bet that he will try to sabotage your efforts at every turn. If you eat low-carb, he'll bake cookies or pop popcorn. If you eat low fat, he'll order pizza.

And if you start working out, and see results--other men will notice and he'll be upset. Think he's a jerk now? He'll get worse.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:32 PM on August 30, 2010

"Ugh, L.A. The epicenter of female body-loathing."

I almost don't know what is left to add. pecanpies really nailed it.

The prevailing attitude towards beautiful women in LA has me perplexed. IMO, it seems most men here keep their very beautiful girlfriends/wives "under control" by subtly convincing them there is always someone "hotter" just around the corner.

Don't fall for it.

If your boyfriend has fallen for and mistakenly adopted this undermining attitude (and it seems he has) let him know it is undermining your love and trust for him.

If your boyfriend resists rethinking his attitudes on this issue.... be prepared to make the right choice for yourself.

I'm not DTMFA so much as I just don't understand why super gorgeous girls let guys here get away with that shit.

I'll tell you a secret: There is a hotter/kinder/smarter/ guy just around the corner here in LA for you, too!

If your BF won't wise up, go find that new guy with my blessing.

*jbenben steps down from soapbox.*
posted by jbenben at 6:15 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you think you have a chance of gaining weight like most normal human beings in the world, and you do, do you want to hear him everyday saying these things? I think you guys are just together because you just have been; it seems like complacency.
And his eating of fast food all the time is going to screw with his arteries, has anyone had the cholesterol checked?
He's being shallow and is going to continue to be insensitive unless he makes the effort to be more compassionate. Seems like the effort needs to come from him rather than from you.
posted by iNfo.Pump at 7:35 AM on August 31, 2010

I think you need to lose a lot of weight...... about 140 pounds to be exact. He doesn't deserve you.

If he has a problem with your body, there are more tactful, sensitive and loving ways to broach the subject. I agree with others that have said, essentially, everyone is wired to have certain preferences and there's nothing wrong with that. However, there is something very wrong with telling you that you need to lose weight after seeing a smoking hottie in a store..... especially knowing how sensitive you are about your body. It seems like someone who is educated and intelligent would have more class than that.

I would certainly dump this d'bag but only after giving him a taste of his own medicine. I would place an order to one of these companies that sell "male enhancement" products and bring the item with you the next time you get intimate (assuming you are sexually active... if not, disregard the rest). You could casually mention how you read an article that said smoking and high cholesterol caused by poor eating habits are known to cause poor sexual performance.... and that you're hoping you'll be able to live with someone who is just "meh" in bed.

I know, it's not playing nice and it won't change him..... but maybe it will make him a little more aware of what an insensitive jackhole he is.
posted by cdg7707 at 12:03 AM on September 2, 2010

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