Got questions about life? Love? Parenting? Work? Write to Whit’s End, a new advice column by local husband, father, teacher, coach, former executive and former Marine Corps officer Al Whitaker.
My girlfriend of four years (live-in for one) has been putting weight on gradually for about the last three years. When we first met she looked like a model—tall, slender but muscular (she was an athlete in high school), and really good-looking. In the beginning we used to work out together by going to the gym or running near our neighborhood.
Even though I love her, I find myself less and less physically attracted to her, so our sex life is suffering. If I talk to her about it, she says she feels hurt and that I should love her as she is. Our intimacy is getting to be non-existent to the point that I just want to give up.
If I could get her motivated, I feel sure we could get back to where we used to be. But when I tell her that I’d like to work out again with her, she says she’s tired after work and just wants to relax. Part of the problem, I’m sure, is having a beer every night and more on the weekend. Since I work out, I don’t put on weight, and I think that makes her mad at me.
Breaking up with her would really hurt both of us — and I can’t imagine doing it — but I just can’t see going on like this, especially when I know that she expects us to get married. What should I do?
Weight on my Mind
Imagine not doing it, and imagine the worst-case scenario: She continues doing whatever made her overweight so that she keeps getting bigger, and your love life keeps getting smaller. You say you’re not physically attracted to her now, imagine how you’ll feel in five or ten years.
Think about what you mean when you say, “I love her.” Accepting your partner as she is is certainly part of love; in fact, a big part of love is being happy with and for someone who understands and accepts you, warts and all. In this case, her warts seem to be getting bigger, and you’re not sure that you’ll be able to keep accepting them.
She says that you should accept her as she is. What you should do is irrelevant; what is relevant is that you don’t feel attracted to her physically anymore. So what to do from there? Think about the understanding part of love. Do you understand why she doesn’t want to exercise anymore and doesn’t want to stay fit? Does she? Ask her. Maybe she believes that no matter what she does, you will accept and love her as she is. Maybe she thinks that after a person is married or committed, she doesn’t have to stay in shape. Knowing what she thinks is not only something you should do, it’s something you must do if you want to improve your situation together.
The point is that you two need to talk about it honestly and openly without worrying that saying what you feel will hurt the feelings of the other person. Maybe talking to a professional would help her; if money is a problem, many companies offer counseling as part of health-care coverage. Remember, you are not her therapist; neither are you her personal trainer. It’s not your job to motivate her—it’s hers.
However, you can help her. You are probably too young to remember the famous line from the old Paul Newman movie Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” Whether you stay with your girlfriend or not, learning to communicate can keep you from making the kinds of mistakes that will make you slap your forehead years from now when you look back and wonder, “What was I thinking?”
Each week Al will address readers’ questions about anything ranging from school issues, coaching problems, relationship quandaries and more! To submit a question, email WhitsEnd@baltimorefishbowl.com.