Should I commit to my significantly overweight girlfriend?
May 21, 2007 7:49 PM   Subscribe

Should I commit to my significantly overweight girlfriend?

I recognize that this sounds like the perfect MeFi troll, but I'm for real. I'm in a great relationship with a great woman and we're starting to think about taking the next step (moving in together leading relatively quickly to an engagement.) One of the few things that gives me pause, however, is that she is very overweight.

At the moment, it's not a problem, since she is not hindered by her weight, I'm completely attracted to her, and the sex is great. What I'm worried about is that she will gain more weight in the future (we would probably have a couple kids) and that it will adversely affect our relationship in terms of the limits it might place on things we can do together, the impact on potential children, and the way I'm attracted to her.

I should add that I am overweight myself, although to a lesser degree, and that I am empathetic towards people with weight problems. Unlike many MeFites, I don't see being overweight as a personal failing, but rather something which 90% of overweight people have little long-term control over. I just want to know what I'm getting into.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (46 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
What relationship doesn't have some possibility of going sour? Unless you feel it is likely things will change for the worse, don't get hung up on the fact that they could. If she's right for you, go for it.
posted by brain_drain at 8:04 PM on May 21, 2007

Sounds like you both have the same problem. Maybe she has the same feelings about you. You said "overweight", but do you mean "obese"? As in it's a physically dangerous condition you two are in?

Unlike many MeFites, I don't see being overweight as a personal failing, but rather something which 90% of overweight people have little long-term control over.

I don't think being overweight is a personal failing, but believing you have no control over it is. How much do you two eat in a day, calorie-wise? If you don't know, get a pen and paper and do the math. If it's too much, eat less. How much do you two exercise? If it's not enough, do more. That's weight loss in a nutshell, and it will involve sacrifice, and pain, and won't be fun, especially at the beginning, but it's possible.

It's not fair that some people can eat whatever they want and not gain weight. It's not fair that some people are born with physical disabilities and some people are alcoholic. For you to say you and your gf have no control over your weight is, IMHO, avoiding responsibility. It may not be fair, but we all have hurdles to jump in life, some more than others.

Sorry if I sound harsh, but it seems like you and your gf would be better off if you commit to changes that will make you healthier (and slimmer).
posted by zardoz at 8:09 PM on May 21, 2007 [5 favorites]

Personally, as a woman with self-esteem issues, I'd want to die if my husband posted a question like this, especially since you reference your fear of losing attraction to her if she gains more weight.

If your committment comes with conditions such as "as long as you don't gain more weight" or "as long as I find you tolerably attractive" then I don't think you are ready to commit.

You either are willing to commit to her the way she is and understand that people don't usually lose weight as they get older and have kids but rather gain it, or you're not willing to do it. If you put pressure on her regarding her weight (and she can probably sense unspoken pressure), then your relationship is going to suck anyway and she's just going to wind up hating herself and you in the long run.
posted by tastybrains at 8:10 PM on May 21, 2007 [6 favorites]

Lame-ass suggestion: Perhaps before you take the plunge, both of you can gain an enjoyable life-habit that would help prevent the weightgain scenario by remaining a habit over the years. Such as a regular "quality time" evening walk together every evening. Allthough, I can see having kids changing that habit pretty quick... but something like that which could remain part of your lives despite expected things like kids. Such activities might not be very good for losing weight, but I think they're useful for preventing gain.
posted by -harlequin- at 8:12 PM on May 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm in a great relationship with a great woman

This is all that matters! You could both lose weight and then your relationship would be perfect!
posted by pwally at 8:13 PM on May 21, 2007

Move in with her and join a gym together in your area. If you love this woman and you let her go over this, you will regret it. Furthermore, you'll be a jerk. If you're really concerned about her weight, the question shouldn't be, "should I commit to her?" It should be, "how do I get the woman I love to commit to a healthier lifestyle?"

Seriously, guy, I know that the current opinion in North America about fat people is that they deserve to be banished to their own island where they must survive by slowly consuming their own cellulite, but come on. The very fact that you asked this question strikes me as utterly depressing.
posted by Lieber Frau at 8:14 PM on May 21, 2007 [4 favorites]

Almost all marriages are entered into with the best of intentions. There is no guarantee that any marriage will last. I've seen people you'd never think would split get divorced. I've also seen couples that you'd never have thought would've lasted stay together a long, long time and been very happy in the process.

I know this sounds cliche, but you're going to have to communicate with her somehow. The best way to bring up a subject like this? I have no idea, to be honest. Weight is typically one of the touchiest subjects, and if she's got any sort of a self-conscious streak at all about it, it can be a very volatile thing to bring up. But if the opening presents itself, especially if she brings something up about her weight, find way to discuss your fears. As hard as it is, it's still easier than wishing down the road, after things did go south, that you didn't discuss it. Also, make sure that you'll be able to communicate with her in the future if you feel she's taking a turn for the worse.

I wish you luck in this. It's hard to find the right person. If you've got Mrs. Right, do what you have to in order to make things work!
posted by azpenguin at 8:20 PM on May 21, 2007

I don't think the poster is asking how to lose weight. I think he's concerned about the future with this woman.

I'm in a great relationship with a great woman

I think this answers the question. The rest of you haters should just go home.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:24 PM on May 21, 2007

Assume that she will gain more weight, especially if you plan to have children. Because she probably will. Will you still love her? Will you still want to be with her? If so, commit. If not, break up.

If you commit, you can still also do all the things suggested above to try to steady or lower both of your weights. Exercise together, commit to healthier diets, etc.

If you don't, you should probably change the way you date to focus more on the physical, and specifically on the long-term physical. When dating, try to find out what a woman's mother and other older female relatives look like, as this will give you an idea of what childbearing and age will do to her body. If a woman's older female relatives are all overweight, the chances are good that she will gain weight after she has kids, so you should rule out women on this basis.

The point is that if long-term weight is important to you, more important than the good things you share with your current girlfriend, you need to not only break up with her, but also date based on the characteristics that are most important to you: long-term looks first, personality second.
posted by decathecting at 8:25 PM on May 21, 2007

If you're going to marry someone, it's important to be on the same page about what kind of life you want to have together. You need to talk about it just like couples talk about money, time, inlaws, etc. Money and weight are difficult for most of us to manage -- but you will definitely have a higher quality of life together if you can manage these things well. Have you guys talked it over? If you're going to have kids, you will definitely want to get into shape - those little buggers run you ragged.
posted by selfmedicating at 8:28 PM on May 21, 2007

When my husband and I started dating, I guess we were in a similar position.

Since marriage, graduating, etc, my weight has ranged over about 30kgs. I've been around 95kgs at my peak, and at 60kgs at my low (which was well after I married, and after the high). I'm currently in the middle heading down (again).

You can't predict what the future will hold. I'm pretty sure that my husband thinks he made the right decision, even though it's been a rocky few years so far.
posted by ysabet at 8:48 PM on May 21, 2007

I'm in a great relationship with a great woman

It sounds like you're really into her. Honestly? You've pretty much answered your own question. But you mentioned that you are both overweight, why not find ways to get active, mutually agree to go on walks together, join a gym, or get some home excercise videos. There are a lot of fun ways to keep active, and most of them are better with a partner. If you're worried about your girlfriend's weight increasing in the future, positively changing your lifestyle together, now, is a good way to make sure that won't happen, and creating a plan for both of you is a better way to raise your issues without making it All About Her.

Tangentially related: it can be very hard for obese women to get pregnant, and highly dangerous for them and their potential baby. If you guys decide to have kids, you should probably have a serious talk about the medical issues.
posted by nerdcore at 8:50 PM on May 21, 2007

Would you still want to marry her if she had a different physical problem - eg suppose she could only walk using a cane? If a small-to-medium physical problem is enough to make you not want to be with her, then don't get engaged.

The point of marriage is that you're going to stick around to be the caretaker when your spouse gets sick (and vice versa), so you're right to think about this. Spouses don't come with a guarantee of eternal fitness; in fact, the opposite -- even the fittest ones come with a guarantee of eventual breakdown.

On the other hand, it sounds like you do want to get engaged, and like you do want to be with her regardless of her weight changes etc. Your question sort of sounds like normal cold feet before a big commitment that you, nevertheless, basically do want to make. If so, I would say you're all clear. Yes, get a dog, get a gym membership, work together on the diet and exercise front.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:52 PM on May 21, 2007 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Guys, I don't think this poster is at all within the NOFATTIEZLOLZ zone. Obesity is a threat to his and his lady's health. Period. And while we would all like to imagine we would love our partners no matter what they looked like, it just isn't always true. Attractiveness is a mix of the emotional, intellectual, and physical.

Dude, you have a wonderful woman. That is a great thing. You should keep her. And I don't think you're a dick for worrying about her weight. If you marry her, you want it to be a long and happy marriage, not one where both of you are suffering from diabetes in your mid-thirties and can't pick up your kids without worrying about having a heart attack.

Marry her, and help each other lose weight. Losing it represents a commitment to each other, your future, and your future kids.
posted by Anonymous at 8:53 PM on May 21, 2007

And for perspective: my parents and my in-laws are both couples where one spouse has a very significant disability. Both have been happily married for 35+ years. The disabilities developed after they got married, and are things they deal with together as a team.

I mention this because you talk about the limits weight gain might place on what you can do together, and the impact on potential children. I think every couple has their own peculiarities (disability, religion, money, temperaments, etc) that place limits on what they can do together, and that affect their kids. I don't think this case is much outside the norm in that way. Just follow the normal procedure for deciding whether to get married: can you see being happy with her, enjoying her company, even if some physical things changed? Are you pretty much a good fit in terms of temperament, broad ideas about what a good life looks like, etc?
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:06 PM on May 21, 2007

It is extremely optimistic to think that you can do anything to change her significant excess weight. All of these suggestions to the tune of, "Find an activity that the two of you can do together, which will cause her to lose weight," are misguided for the simple reason that losing weight when you are "significantly overweight" is hard work; she may not be susceptible to changing unless she has a hard-charging commitment to changing.

And with people who are really overweight, they may have motivation problems with regard to physical exercise that you will not be able to overcome, no matter how well-meaning.

That's not to say you shouldn't commit to her. But commit to her with the understanding that she is likely to remain extremely overweight. Statistics tend to show that people who are very overweight, are very unlikely to lose much of it.
posted by jayder at 9:15 PM on May 21, 2007 [3 favorites]

First of all, if you really do love her, and this is the only issue holding you back, it shouldn't hold you back.

Then things get more complicated. I may of course be wrong, but it feels to me that decathecting, for example, is trying to make you feel bad for having an issue here, and it shouldn't, because we really can't help who we feel attracted to or not.

Everybody's different, and everyone has different genes, but if you both have weight issues, it might be something worth looking into. I'm pretty sure I would be heavier if I didn't walk a lot every day, and live in a fifth-floor apartment. It's not a stress to me to get this level of exercise, and you might find it worthwhile to get a similar amount. It's certainly not hard.

Anyway, the most important thing is my first point, and all should follow from that.
posted by lackutrol at 10:01 PM on May 21, 2007

I gotta agree with brain-drain's opening answer to your question. S/he cuts to the chase and gives you the most potent, zen-like response. Don't mindfuck yourself, and be happy you're with someone you enjoy being around.
posted by zenpop at 10:23 PM on May 21, 2007

Go to couples counseling. This is something that needs to be discussed in a nurturing environment since it's such a sensitive subject. I think you just need to both get motivated to lose weight. Start getting in the habit of exercising and eating better NOW. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes. It's going to be even harder to lose weight after she--and you!--have the baby. You need to make it healthy living part of your lifestyle.

By the way, it's not shallow to think that you may not be attracted to your mate if they make a dramatic physical change. You probably wouldn't feel the same way about her if her personality changed dramatically, either. You fall in love with a person for who they are. If who they are changes, so might your feelings for them. It's always important to communicate and don't be afraid to seek out a third party who can facilitate healthy conversation.
posted by HotPatatta at 11:36 PM on May 21, 2007

Anon, hit us back with what you're talkin' here— is it a bit of chub and her ma's a heifer, so you're concerned about future growth patterns but she's still healthy now? Or is she just an out-and-out fatty fatty boombalatty, some Gilbert Grape's mom shit?

Because chances are that if she's just a bit, y'know, healthily zaftig, you can come up with a way to help her keep active and eating right (and should thus stick around). If she's a corpulent beast with keys lost in her folds, and a family history of collapsing bridges, then, well, you still sound like you love her, so you should probably be open and honest about your concerns and discuss with her what that will mean for your relationship. Then you can decide if you want to stay with her on your own, without the hectoring advice of internet folk who don't have anywhere near the right amount of information to give you a real answer to your central question.

But I do think "I'm dumping you because you're too fat" is probably one of the meanest things you could do to a person, so keep that in mind.
posted by klangklangston at 12:19 AM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Obsesity is a health problem, first. You both are considering committing to someone who has either a latent or manifest health problem.

For a moment, ignore the social aspects of this, and ask yourself if that's something you are prepared to do in the future? It's not for the fainthearted.

Life as the owner of any chronic condition is harder than life without it. Excess weight, fortunately, is something that can be managed successfully with enough effort and/or medical intervention, but unless it's managed (for both of you), the future has more problems in it, not less, statistically. You COULD be the rare statistical outliers who never have problems directly traceable to your weight, but that is not a wise bet. THe odds of TWO of you being in that part of the distribution are miniscule.

Again, the issue isn't the personality or the fat, it's your tolerance and ability to handle adversity.

A good test might be to see if you can both shed the pounds before committing. If you can't, you've got a data point and can make some reasonable projections about the future's most likely scenarios.

Good luck.
posted by FauxScot at 2:27 AM on May 22, 2007

ironically, if you break up with her, she may end up dating someone more in shape than you are, too.
posted by matteo at 3:02 AM on May 22, 2007

I broke up with an ex who had weight-related health problems that affected our life but who refused to see a doctor for fear of being counselled to lose weight.

I could have coped with the weight if I had seen it being addressed directly: an attempt to exercise, an attempt to learn to enjoy something for supper other than a giant mountain of mashed potatoes with a quarter pound of butter, a resolution to get medical care even at the risk of hearing something unpleasant. If all these things had been done but the problems continued, I would have coped.

Because my ex was not taking responsibility for any health problems - or even acknowledging that they existed, which they certainly did - I was not motivated to accomodate them. We split up. But that wasn't an inevitable outcome of the weight or health problems themselves, it was because we weren't on the same page regarding our responsibilities toward our shared life.

What does your girlfriend think about weight? Is it inevitable? Irrelevant? Does she think everyone gets diabetes and there's nothing to be done about it? Will she be happiest if your children are plus-sized (In Texas we make 'em big!) and be constantly encouraging them to eat more junk food, or will she be vigilantly ensuring that they develop healthy habits? The particular answers to these questions are less important than whether the two of you answer them the same way.
posted by kika at 4:01 AM on May 22, 2007 [3 favorites]

How stable has her weight been? Not whether it's been exactly the same, but whether it stays in a certain range. I'm somewhat overweight but my weight has stayed in exactly the same range since I was 13, so I'm not really worried about suddenly gaining more weight (than the high end of my range).

What is her family's health situation? There is still no better predictor of health and longevity than the health of our parents. Are they basically healthy? (Including fat and healthy?)

Also, keep in mind that obesity in women is not a great predictor of health. In fact, mong older women, the women with the lowest risks in this study were overweight.

Yes, she may gain so much weight you're not attracted to her anymore. She may be burnt in a fire and severely disfigured. She may be hurt in an accident and severely disabled. So may you. Not all marriages survive these things and I wouldn't necessarily judge someone for not sticking it out, but if you're sure at the *outset* of the commitment that you would leave, well, then I think you should think twice about the commitment you're ready to make (and the kind of commitment it's fair to ask someone else to make to you).
posted by Salamandrous at 5:05 AM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Follow up from a member who would prefer to remain anonymous.

I was in the same position many years ago; I had met and was dating a wonderful person who was, nevertheless, significantly overweight. I found this person attractive, and their weight didn't present an issue for me; that is, until I realized I was quite serious about them, and started visualizing our future together.

After much thought, I finally bit the bullet and asked my best friend a similar question to yours, but with a slightly different focus: I asked if they thought I should be concerned about what other people would think if I married someone who was overweight. The response? "If you let that get in the way of your happiness, you're an idiot." They were right, of course, and that was all I needed. We got married and are still doing just fine.

There's more to the story, however, because you're not (or at least don't seem to be) concerned with how other people will think of you. Your question suggests a much more practical set of concerns: will our quality of life be reduced by her weight? Will my attraction to her diminish because of her weight? Will her weight lead to significant medical problems down the road that will impact her happiness and well-being, and my own?

These are all excellent questions to be asking at this stage, and nobody should be giving you a hard time. I personally see this as no different from asking similar questions about committing to a smoker/drug user/person who is going to enlist in the army/policeman/fireman/handicapped person/person who doesn't want kids/person with poor people skills/person who can't handle money/alcoholic/is hated by my parents/doesn't get along with my cat: if you're going to spend the rest of your life with someone (potentially) you need to be practical just as much as you need to be in love.

So, to help you, I will tell you some things. These are not gospel, these are not guaranteed in all similar situations, and these may not even be about weight per se. They feel relevant to me, though, and so here goes.

As we have built a life together, my partner's weight has prevented us from doing certain activities that I or we would have liked to do. It has caused my partner to struggle with self-esteem, and as a result my partner has made decisions and come to conclusions that negatively impact our quality of life, and that they likely would not have made/concluded if weight was not an issue. It has caused illness and the need for significant medical attention. It has complicated matters both important, such as our attempts to have a child, and trivial, such as our attempts to have a good time in public when my partner is feeling unattractive.

Through it all, I sometimes notice my partner's weight, and sometimes I do not, as I sometimes notice (or do not notice) that they have bad breath now and again or have forgotten to do one of "their" chores. Sometimes we go out in public and I am proud of my partner, and that I am with them; less often I avoid asking my partner to join me on an outing because I am afraid of what other people might think of my partner's weight. Sometimes the weight-related (directly and indirectly) negative things are frustrating and annoying, and more often I don't think about them, or they are overwhelmed by the good things.

And, yes, over time I have grown less attracted to my partner. However, I can say with confidence that this is not about my partner's weight per se, but about their attitude toward their weight and the resultant self-esteem issues and accompanying decisions made, coupled with the stereotypical decline in attractiion that often occurs in marriages, even successful ones, and more often occurs in relationships where two people have struggled unsuccessfully to have a child for an extended period of time.

The thing is, I still love my partner very much, and if I have a list of things I wish they would change, or do differently (or not at all), it's a short list, and "lose weight" is nowhere near the top. My great sadness -- and it is a sadness -- about my partner's weight comes from knowing that it causes my partner great emotional and physical distress on a daily basis, not from any impact it has on me. Besides, no matter how bad things might get, they also get really, really good quite often, and when you balance everything out I'm a very lucky person who can't imagine spending the rest of their life with anyone else, or without my partner.

Do I wish my partner would lose weight? Yes. I truly, confidently believe that if my partner was within a normal range of weight, both of our lives would improve markedly, because my partner would be happier overall and consequently so would I. However, I can say the same thing about my partner getting a better job, or about us having a child, or winning the lottery. Life is full of things that you wish were better, but are at the same time perfectly fine the way they are.

In closing: every marriage has obstacles; the trick is to find someone who presents you with obstacles that you find easy to overcome, and vice versa. If you can't get past your girlfriend's weight, any kneejerk "LOLNOFATTIEZ" abuse you might get is more than offset by your taking the time to consider these issues and be certain of what you're getting into before you make a lifelong commitment. And if you discover that her weight (and the associated obstacles) are well within your range of tolerance, and you love this girl...well, heck, I can only hope you two will be as happy as my partner and I am.

Good luck.
posted by jessamyn at 5:20 AM on May 22, 2007 [12 favorites]

yes! love is rare. embrace it in whatever form it comes to you in.

however, being overweight can be unhealthy. (i don't mean vanity pounds, i don't mean even fat...but obesity will shorten anyone's life.) if she does gain more weight, i would talk to her about your concerns for her health. don't make it about looks. remind her always that she is beautiful to you. just make sure she knows it's because you want to spend the rest of your life with her and you want it to be for as long as possible. this will all be after the fact, though.

also, when you guys start to have your babies, your doctors will get into the picture, which will help.
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:46 AM on May 22, 2007

Dude. You love her. You're attracted to her. The sex is great. Why would you put a stop to that over something that might happen in the future (her gaining more weight)?

How would you feel if she had posted this question about you? If you gained a lot of weight, it could limit the things you do together, affect the kids, and change her attraction to you. Would you be okay with her leaving you over that?

Yes, it's absolutely true that she may have a shorter life span or a lower quality of life as she gets older because of her weight, but that's the whole 'in sickness and in health' bit.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 6:53 AM on May 22, 2007

I could have coped with the weight if I had seen it being addressed directly: an attempt to exercise, an attempt to learn to enjoy something for supper other than a giant mountain of mashed potatoes with a quarter pound of butter, a resolution to get medical care even at the risk of hearing something unpleasant. If all these things had been done but the problems continued, I would have coped.

This is great advice from kika. Everyone has problems; the question is, how do they face them? There's a world of difference between someone who faces them proactively, and someone who's self-destructive.
posted by footnote at 6:55 AM on May 22, 2007

"but rather something which 90% of overweight people have little long-term control over."

That is such a crap statement. Unless there is a gun to one's head they have control over it. I'm not saying change your weight, or anything else, but to say, "oh, I can't and the majority just can't do 'X'." is mind boggling.

On the relationship side why don't you just bring up to her that as part of the commitment for your hypothetical marriage you would want both of you to commit to staying in relatively the same shape that you're in now.
posted by zephyr_words at 7:38 AM on May 22, 2007

As a fat girl let me just say that I think it all boils down to happiness.

Maybe she's a perfectly happy fat woman who's happy to continue being fat and it's okay with her. Perhaps (shocker of all shockers) she's even a healthy fat woman who hasn't bought into the idea that fat = certain death.

I don't want to be cliche but change (successful change) can only come from within. It took me 28 years to do something about my own health and I think I'm a pretty smart fattie ;)

Bottom line - decide whether or not foresaking a relationship with a really great girl who happens to be fat is worth it to YOU. Good luck!
posted by heartquake at 8:41 AM on May 22, 2007

If you join a gym, please make it a habit to go, even if you don't feel like working out. Go, get on the treadmill for five minutes, and leave sometimes if that's what you're into. A big mistake is to push yourself too hard, get fed up, and leave. So don't push hard at first.
posted by lorrer at 9:16 AM on May 22, 2007

Someone said:
I'm in a great relationship with a great woman

I think this answers the question. The rest of you haters should just go home.
I'm constantly stunned that a site full of godless kneejerk lipstick-liberal tech-savvy mostly-male geek assholes (of which I am fairly obviously one) clings so tightly, in the aggregate, to such powerfully naive and indeed weirdly conservative ideas about love and relationships.

Marriage is ideally a lifelong partnership, but it doesn't usually turn out that way in practice; if you're having second thoughts about your SO's attractiveness now, it's reasonable to assume they're not just going to go away because you're 'well-intentioned.' You're in a great relationship? Congratulations! Much more importantly, you're thinking of the future and how to keep it great. That's admirable. It's not 'hating' to say you shouldn't bury your head in the sand, it's cold pragmatism, something people in love are usually sorely lacking. Fuck romance, this is about sustainability.

So I figure:

1) If down the road you let yourselves go physically, maybe it bugs you someday, maybe not. (Hell, maybe by then your sex drive will be dead from stress and hers too and you'll be satisfied no matter what you weigh! Paradise!) That's such a hit-or-miss thing, and there are worse things to roll the dice on. But if you two are overweight and know it and think you'll want to change that someday, better to do so now or soon. Your weight isn't important in itself, it's one measure of your health (and hers). Sustaining a relationship together means hopefully staying healthy. However old you are now, those lifestyle changes are probably easier now than later.

2) kika is dead right: your SO's health will bear on your family's health someday, and you'll learn a lot more about her health from her attitude toward eating, exercise, trying new stuff, dealing with stress, etc. than from the reading on the scale. That said, if you think you want to make changes in your life and hers - and that's the only way it'll happen, as it should be - you've got to be able to talk to her about it. Which is maybe the most important indicator of relationship health, in my experience anyhow.

3) Fuck self-esteem.

3.5) which I mean, you're not gonna get through a relationship without some emotional bruising, hopefully unintentional (but no one's perfect or guiltless). And it's not your responsibility to coddle someone who's making (to your eyes) bad choices, choices that make it harder for the two of you to have the relationship you both want. Ultimately that inauthenticity will wear on you, and it won't make a difference what you think of her adipose tissue - it'll become a symptom of something else in your mind. She'll know if you're talking about this stuff in good faith, so if it's weighing on you, talk to her.

Given the choice between taking a chance on future this-or-that by saying nothing and taking a chance by approaching her in good faith and with a generous heart - and not incidentally a plan that involves your own ass moving too - I say go for the latter.

That said, this stuff will apply as much five years from now as today. It may be harder to move on then, but I've been surprised a handful of times at the extent to which several-years-old relationships can be rejuvenated and reborn with a change of scene or lifestyle or even just diet. You shouldn't shitcan a relationship because you're worried; that's lazy and lame. But you shouldn't hide or ignore your worries to avoid offending anyone (least of all the AskMe commentariat). Better to address and overcome them.

This concern of yours didn't come out of nowhere. If your relationships is half as strong as you think, you'll find a way to address this worry together.
posted by waxbanks at 9:31 AM on May 22, 2007 [2 favorites]

One last quick thing:
Unlike many MeFites, I don't see being overweight as a personal failing, but rather something which 90% of overweight people have little long-term control over.
It's nice that you see it this way but as I understand it (correct me if I'm wrong, nutrition-science types) this attitude stems less from fact than from comforting myth. Many many people eat like crap and get no exercise at all by choice; being overweight is a problem every chunky monkey can do something about. That doesn't mean 'making all the fat go away,' but there's a lot of room for increasing health and happiness between 'pear-shaped' and 'hourglass figure.'

(In the spirit of physician-heal-thyself, I readily acknowledge I'm closer to the former than the latter. Soda pop is one reason; pity is another.)
posted by waxbanks at 9:39 AM on May 22, 2007

My parents have been married for almost 41 years. When my mom got pregnant with me, they both were suppose to quit smoking, my dad did, mom still smokes a pack a day. 30+ years ago, my dad lost the sight in one eye. 20+ years ago, they dealt with the declining health and nursing home stays of both of my dad's parents. In the last 4 years, they've been battling my dad's colon cancer, and my mom was the primary care giver to her mom until she passed earlier this year, and she continues to care for her disabled sister.

My point...their experiences illustrate a big part of what marriage is all about: no guarantees. If you need further evidence, look at the marriage of Christopher and Dana Reeve.

I believe my parent's marriage has lasted because, despite their bickering, they truly love and adore each other, would be lost without their partner, and took their marriage vows seriously. And they accept the flaws and failings of the other 100%.

Your concerns about your SO are valid, but you also need to assess your readiness for the committment, and uncertainty, marriage requires.
posted by socrateaser at 9:40 AM on May 22, 2007

Weight has become a lightning rod, so I think too much social, as opposed to health, attention is paid to it. Some of your concern might be unconscious concern about the reactions of family & friends if you marry an overweight person. Screw that.

It might be worthwhile to have a serious talk and make mutual plans to get in shape. Exercise, or the lack thereof, is a much more serious health concern. If you eat healthy and exercise, and don't bring home crummy food, she's more likely to eat healthy and exercise. You both benefit.

I was married to a thin, healthy runner. But he was a big jerk, and got mean, in both the unkind and stingy ways. Fat and kind would've been so much better, and so much better for the child.
posted by theora55 at 10:03 AM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

It's weird. I'm friends with a woman I used to date, and anonymous here could well be her current boyfriend. My friend is significantly overweight, looking to move in with her boyfriend, and so forth.

Ian, if that's you, jump in with both feet. Sure, you might not be as attracted to her after she's had a couple of kids. Shit happens. Attraction isn't the be-all end-all of a partnership. You're happy, things are good, you know she's a fun and awesome person. Work with that. Maybe it'll end in tears, maybe it won't. Take the plunge.

And if it isn't you, jump in with both feet anyway.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:10 AM on May 22, 2007

A couple of other things to think about:

What if you gained more weight and she was no longer physically attracted to you?

What if she lost weight, and you didn't?
posted by socrateaser at 10:13 AM on May 22, 2007

If you're thinking "should I commit" at all then the answer's "No".
posted by Lionel d'Lion at 11:14 AM on May 22, 2007

To be overly simplistic:

Is she, in your eyes, a wonderful woman, but she is fat?

Or fat, but she is wonderful?

Decide which you see first. If it is the fat, then no, this relationship isn't for you. If it is the woman that you love, despite her body (or "partially because of her body, and in spite of the weight"), then the other things are worth working on.

Good luck.
posted by AthenaPolias at 12:51 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

What would your answer to this question be if the issue at hand were that your partner had bipolar disorder or arthritis, both degenerative conditions?
posted by OmieWise at 7:04 PM on May 22, 2007

The stats say two pounds of weight gain a year. You can do the math. I suspect if you find her sexy now that you still will 40 pounds heavier, and if not age will probably be the major factor, not weight. I'm going to commit a minor sin, and say there is nothing wrong with closing your eyes and fantasizing about someone else at that point.

As far as the health concerns, what you eat and whether you are active vs. sedentary are a lot more important than total weight. Sumo wrestlers are supposedly pretty healthy, especially compared to people with a lot of visceral vs. subcutaneous fat. She might turn out to be a lot healthier than you are now, and in the future. Look at her family and see how healthy they are. It's not scientific, but at least you'll know if they've taught her to avoid treating obesity and ill health, or that they are pretty healthy.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:32 PM on May 22, 2007

I'm going to commit a minor sin, and say there is nothing wrong with closing your eyes and fantasizing about someone else at that point.

Jesus, that's cold.

How about, "there's nothing wrong with divorcing or not marrying someone who physically repulses you rather than lying to them and treating them like an object?"
posted by zebra3 at 6:29 AM on May 23, 2007

People don't usually poll a message board full of strangers before moving in with someone. *shrug*

You have a serious doubt, or none of us would be reading this. Sounds like you're about to fuck up two lives to me...

p.s. Get thin: Oatmeal for breakfast, soup at lunch, SMALL portion for dinner. Nothing after 8pm, ever. Walk every day.
posted by chuckdarwin at 10:48 AM on May 23, 2007

zebra3, she doesn't physically repulse him now, and there is a wide middle ground between finding someone sexy and finding them repulsive.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:30 PM on May 23, 2007

It was honestly not my intention "to make you feel bad for having an issue here." I was really trying to point out that the issue you're having here is one that is very likely to crop up in future relationships. Somewhere around 50 percent of the US population, depending on how you define it, has issues with their weight, and these numbers are higher for older women who have had children. Whether these women could lose weight if they tried is largely irrelevant; the point is that they don't lose weight, and so the chances are good that you'll end up married to a woman who will be overweight.

If you do not want to be married to a significantly overweight woman, no matter how good your relationship is in other ways, you're going to have to be selective about who you date, and you're going to have to exclude a large number of women based on their current or likely future weight, including many women with whom you might be emotionally and intellectually compatible. Since a tendency to gain weight with age and pregnancy is somewhat genetic, looking at a woman's older female relatives is one way to gauge what age and pregnancy might do to her body.

My point wasn't to make a value judgment about your choice. People have very little control over who they're attracted to, and if her gaining weight is going to be a deal breaker for you, it's better that it break up your relationship now than that it break up a family with children a decade from now. It's not wrong to want your partner to look a certain way. It's not wrong to break up with a partner who is perfect for you in every way except looks because to you, the lack of physical attraction outweighs the other good qualities of the relationship. My point was merely that if you want your partner to look a certain way, and if you have an expectation that she'll continue to look that way into middle age, if that's a deal breaker for you, you need to bear in mind that a large portion of the female population may not live up to that standard as they age, and you should date accordingly.
posted by decathecting at 7:03 PM on May 23, 2007

if one of my best friends asked me this same question, i would tell him that if you really love her, that's all that matters.

HOWEVER, i would add that i have never met anyone who *regretted* losing weight. i used to be quite overweight myself, and i shed most of the fat and am now at a normal, healthy weight. my quality of life in general is much better now.

i don't know why you think 90% of people do not have control over their weight, that's ridiculous. it is simple science - consume fewer calories than you burn every day, and you will lose weight. i lost weight by eating less and exercising regularly.
posted by fac21 at 2:33 AM on May 25, 2007

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