Number of Partners and Other Weighty Issues

How to handle it when your partner puts up higher numbers than you, both on the scale and the bedpost.


Q: My boyfriend’s brother has been dating the same girl for the past five years. She was never a super-thin girl to begin with but over the past few years she has gained a substantial amount of weight. Her father just had to have gastric bypass and her mother is suffering a whole host of health problems related to obesity. My boyfriend’s brother is worried about her health and is having trouble even finding her attractive anymore. He has tried subtle approaches (e.g. trying to get her to participate in a kickball league) with no luck. On road trips, he claims to not be hungry (even though he is) simply so they won’t stop at fast food restaurants. How can he let the woman he loves know that her weight is starting to get in the way? – Weighed Down


A: This is one of those questions that, no matter how I answer, I feel like I’m going to open the floodgates for overweight people who find my answer offensive, non-PC, uninformed, off-base, what-have-you. But here goes anyway.


First, has your boyfriend’s brother (YBB) actually had a conversation with her about the issue? I mean, beyond, “Hey, honey, let’s join a kickball league” or “I don’t feel like McDonald’s right now”? If not, it’s time to drop the “subtle approaches” and be straight with her: that he’s concerned about her health, and yes, her weight is impacting their relationship.


No, it won’t be an easy conversation to have, and tact will be paramount. But YBB can lessen the blow by telling his girlfriend this will be a team effort: that he’ll take walks or work out with her, they’ll learn how to cook nutritious meals at home, or whatever else it takes to get a more active, healthier lifestyle jump-started for them both. If among the 66 percent of Americans who are overweight, YBB probably has a few pounds to lose himself, anyway. Framing it along the lines of a challenge they can overcome as a couple should help.


You’d think that her parents’ horrible health problems as a result of obesity would be a strong enough kick in the arse for her to get moving, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. So perhaps realizing that there could be other dire consequences from her inactivity – i.e., possibly losing her boyfriend – will spark some motivation. Which is another reason why she needs to be aware that her “substantial” weight gain is impacting YBB: so she can have the chance to change.


Which brings me to the real rub: The drive has to come from within her. All the encouragement, motivation and even ultimatums in the world won’t do a damn bit of good if she isn’t willing to make the effort herself.


A few more things to, um, chew on: Hitting that stable and secure place in a relationship is a wonderful thing, but it shouldn’t come with a lifetime ticket to the all-you-can-eat buffet. Or a free pass to smoke, show up late all the time, or any number of other behaviors that we often slip into to the detriment of our relationship. In other words, we have to take responsibility for the behaviors (or lack thereof) that have a negative impact on our partners. I hope YBB’s girlfriend takes the initiative to try to lose the weight, and in the meantime, YBB needs to lose the guilt over telling her about it.


Q: Please help me. My girlfriend is way more experienced than I am in the sexual sense. We’ve been together for about 7 months (I’m 21, she’s 24) and she’s a fantastic person. The longer we’re together the more I want to know about her past (sexually speaking). Specifically, the number of men she’s had sexual relations with. But I don’t want to lose her over this, and I fear that if I do ask her to disclose that number it will be the end of the special thing that we have. What should I do? Super-Confused


A: It’s not about what you should do but what you definitely, absolutely, positively, totally, shouldn’t: 1) Ask her how many guys she’s slept with; 2) Whimper and whine that you feel inferior to her sexual prowess; 3) Ever again refer to your physical relationship – or that of anyone else -- as “sexual relations.” Bill Clinton brought an ick factor to that phrase that will never fade.

Listen, young buck, you’ve got a good thing going here: A sexually advanced gal who revs your engines and can teach you lots of fun, naughty tricks in the sack. Please don’t screw it up by freaking out unnecessarily about something you have absolutely no control over. The only real concern you should have related to her past is her health. In other words, make sure you’re covering up your love muscle until you both get tested. 




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