Q: I have been dating and living with my boyfriend for a year now, and I have come to find out from his own mouth that he's not attracted to my body. I've always been a heavy woman, but recently, with the whole moving-in and cooking for him thing, I've have gained even more weight. Well, for the past couple of months our sex life has kind of gone down the drain, like it's happening only once a month. So I confronted him in a pushy way and asked what his problem was. He started crying and told me he wasn't attracted to me. I freaked out, packed some clothes and went to my mother's for the night. He emphasized to me that he could had gone his entire life never saying that to me because he knew it would crush me. He also said (after I asked more questions) that he has never been attracted to my body even when we were friends but he fell in love with me and what's inside.
I was still livid and wanted nothing to do with him. Then I put on that fake smile like I used to, and I guess he thinks we're okay again. We love each other so much. I know he will never ever cheat, but I feel so awkward when we're making love or fooling around now. Am I lying to myself? I don't know if I'm being stupid about staying with him or about our situation. -- Katelyn, 22
Dr. Susan: Ah, the weighty issue of a woman's weight. Many of us females feel awkward when we expose our few extra pounds to the scrutiny of a lover, a scrutiny which we mistakenly believe must be negative. It's no wonder that someone who is genuinely overweight has a hard time being uninhibited in close-up situations. The truth is that a lot of men don't mind when their beloved partners get a bit rounder and softer over the years, even though they may prefer slim-to-average bodies. Your boyfriend never did appreciate you physically, but was nevertheless drawn to love you by your personality and other attributes. I know you fully believe it when you claim that "he will never ever cheat," but do you and he believe that he will be satisfied the rest of his life never having sex with someone he finds erotically enticing? I wouldn't count on it.
You could work hard at being one of the rare few who change their lifestyle sufficiently (no crash diets!) to lose much of the excess weight permanently. Either that or expect to keep putting on weight, year after year, and, as it is, your boyfriend already sees you as more of a friend and roommate than a lover. Or you can spend your time with someone who not only doesn't mind your shape, but finds it appealing and sexy.
And what's with the fake smile? If neither of you is genuine with the other, what kind of relationship is that? He's going through the motions while not finding you erotic, and you're pretending you're no longer devastated by knowing how he feels about your body. The tensions can only build and build until something big and bad happens. You're too young to settle for this fellow. And honestly, he's being unrealistic about how his own urges may play out in the future.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.