So, I saw this interesting article on Yahoo today about mixed-weight couples. Obviously, I had to check it out because it is a subject with which I have some experience, but more on that later.
One of the assertions put forth in this study was that when there is a relationship between a thinner male and an overweight female, there are more relationship problems than with people of similar weights or a thin woman/obese male combo. Then I read this sentence in the Yahoo article and I nearly lost my mind.
So, you’re saying that if there is conflict over dining together or relationship stress, it’s because the overweight woman feels insecure and judged? I was like, wtf? It certainly could not be because maybe he’s an ass and makes her feel bad for being overweight to make himself feel superior, could it? I was ready to hop on here and rail against this study. Then I decided to actually read the abstract on which the Yahoo article was based.
The reason for relationship stress was actually much more nuanced than the Yahoo article implies. I am going to sum up here. Basically, they said that if the healthy weight partner was not supportive, there was stress in the relationship. Overweight women did one of two things. They either spoke their mind and there was fighting, or they suppressed their feelings and ate more, thus compounding the problem. On the other hand, if their partner was supportive of healthy choices and was encouraging, there was less conflict in the relationship.
I highly recommend reading the abstract. They reached some other interesting conclusions, but I will leave that for you to read.
I think it is interesting that they focused on mixed weight couples, but it has been my experience that many men are overly concerned with their partner’s weight regardless of whether that partner is actually fat and regardless of whether they themselves may be carrying a few extra pounds.
When I was in college, I weighed maybe 130-135 at my heaviest. Granted, I probably could have lost a good 10-15 pounds, but I was not fat. I was dating a guy who was 6′ and about 200-210. I wasn’t a stick, but neither was he. He often talked about my weight or made derogatory comments about it. More than once, he placed his hand on my abdomen and said, “Shouldn’t you do something about that?”
Meanwhile, I never said anything to him about his weight. Would he have looked better at 185-190? Maybe, but I was not concerned. He apparently thought about my weight and what other people thought about it a lot and often mentioned it.
This is just one example, but I did a quick search of the internet and found the following:
I know that there are also many examples of women who treated men badly because of their weight, the money they make, or any number of things. Women are not totally blameless in bad relationships.
I just really think that it is important to remember that if there is something you want to change in your partner, like their weight, being supportive and caring goes a lot further than insults and guilt.
I think also, it is important to learn the difference between a little bit of extra weight and being obese. We have a distorted view of what is considered overweight. I hate it when I watch commercials and they show a picture of someone who is at least 75 pounds over weight next to some skinny chick and the skinny chick says, “I followed this diet and I lost 30 pounds.” No, honey, you didn’t. Not if that picture is actually you. No wonder women have such a distorted view of what our bodies look like.
I have often thought of putting out a book with pictures of women’s bodies at different heights and weights and including their measurements. I know that is probably nearly impossible because women come in all shapes and sizes and weight can be carried in many different places on different people. But I still think it would be important for both men and women to see real difference between 30 pounds of extra weight and 75 or 100.
Nonetheless, in my opinion, if you feel your partner is putting on too much weight and that weight is causing health problems, obviously you should talk to them. For instance, if they have gained considerable weight, say 15 pounds a year every year you’ve been together, that might be a problem if you’ve been together for 5 or more years. That can start causing some health problems. If they are obese or morbidly obese, obviously something should be done. If you want your relationship to work, approaching the situation from a place of love and concern is the way to go.
I suggest doing the following:
- Look in the mirror and evaluate your own health. Do you need to lose some pounds? Do you have other health concerns you want to address?
- Talk to your partner about addressing both or your health problems because you want to have a long, healthy life together.
- Ask your partner what health goals they want to set instead of making it about what you want for them.
- Suggest that you both develop a health plan together and come up with ideas.
- Support and encourage each other’s healthy choices.
- Allow for mistakes or cheat days for each of you because nobody’s perfect.
However, if your partner is only a few pounds more now than when you first started dating and that extra weight is not actually causing them any health problems and they see no reason to address it, you might just need to learn to live with it.