Relationship Advice

How to broach the weight issue



Tackling your partner about their weight is never going to be a fun task, but as with all other relationship issues, it’s better to tackle head on rather than. Whether you’re worried your partner is over or under weight, the last thing you want to do is erode their self confidence further – read our advice

Do you really need to?

If you are concerned about your partner’s weight for health reasons because they are obese, or you believe they are developing an eating disorder such as anorexia, then well done. You are taking a brave step. However, if in your eyes your partner is a ‘bit too chubby’ or a ‘bit too skinny’ and you don’t feel as attracted to them as you once did, then the problem is more yours than theirs.

Bear in mind that this conversation could have relationship changing consequences, so you need to be completely sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, and not because of your own issues.

Pick your moment

This is not a conversation to have when you’re waiting for the bus, or meeting friends for drinks. This will either take the importance away from the issue or make your partner feel victimised. Choose a quiet time, when you’re both going to be free from distractions.

Show you’re in it together

Make sure your partner knows you’re going to support them all the way. They may just need to hear you’ll exercise with them, or follow a nutrition plan with them, to give them the confidence boost they need.

Let them talk

This isn’t about you lecturing your partner on the weight they should be. Once you’ve broached the subject, give them the opportunity to speak. This may be the first chance they’ve been given to discuss their weight issues with someone they trust – give them your undivided attention. They will probably give you some real insight into how they feel about their weight, and perhaps even why they have the problem they do.

Offer solutions
This isn’t just about talking things though. As you’ve raised the subject, clearly you’re hoping for action to be taken. Try and steer the conversation towards actions you can both take afterwards, such as visiting a nutritionist, or booking a session with a personal trainer.

Sometimes these issues can be beyond the control of loving partners. Here are some resources if you think you will need outside help:
NHS information on obesity
On Anorexia
On Bulimia

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24 thoughts on “How to broach the weight issue

  1. I find myself in exactly this position and it most probably is more my problem than hers, but nonetheless it niggles away at me all the same.

    I keep in shape mainly for my own self esteem and confidence; and as an indirect consequence, I also look good for my partner, if I’m feeling good about how I look then it will show externally and internally. I don’t want my partner to have to feel they need to ask me to shape up, I want to look my best for them; but this is the crunch, I expect the same from them. There I said it, is this so unreasonable? Relationships need working at all the time to keep them fresh and stop either partner from feeling taken for granted. More recently though I feel that I am being taken for granted; why can’t she lose a few pounds, I do it for her all the time. I bet if she were to be back in the dating market that she would get straight down the gym and get in shape; so why won’t she do it for her husband?

    I’m not expecting my wife to be something she can’t physically be, or pin her up against unrealistic media images, that would be unfair; but I do expect her to make a little effort, eat a few less snacks, do a bit more exercise. I know many women fight internal self esteem demons, and I don’t want to be part of that problem. She is a good looking woman, but if she lost a few pounds she would be stunning and I know it would do her self esteem a world of good, but if she isn’t going to help herself overcome them then what can I do? Do I just stay quiet and say nothing, but get more and more resentful, not a good foundation for a positive relationship!

    If we look at the famous comedic phrase “does my bum look big in this?” it can become a minefield; If the question has to be asked, the answer is usually already known. If they think it’s big and you answer “no, it looks great”, they will think you are lying anyway, if you tell them the truth, it just confirms what they thought but you become the “A” hole, and if it does look great, then the question rarely gets asked as once again they most probably know it looks great an don’t need to ask! You can’t win.

  2. Another problem is how do you politely ask someone if they are overweight or obese before you begin communicating or meeting, there is no field for that unlike other sites , not that some I have met have told the truth, ie their full length picture must have been taken at a fairground in the hall of mirrors or they have eaten loads of pies before meeting me :-)

  3. Hi Charlie

    I understand what you mean but it seems to me like you’re putting your way of thinking onto your wife. How long have you been together? I take it she’s put on weight since you’ve been together? Have you got children? If you have then losing a bit of chubbiness isn’t going to be high on her list of priorities.

    Maybe trying to include her in your workout routine may help, give you both time together and then the result will be that she’ll tone up.

    Many women look their best to ‘catch the guy’ but then when they find their ideal man they relax a bit, are you saying that you’re not interested in her now she’s a bit heavier? If you met her as she is now would you have married her? If not then she’s probably sensing this and this will send her down the ever decreasing spiral of weight gain and loss of confidence. I do agree with your thinking though, that looking good makes you feel better about yourself and this passes onto other aspects of your life, but maybe your wife doesn’t feel that way at the moment.

  4. Charlie, it is simple. When we set our own standards to another person then we are likely to be let down. You are angry with her because she won’t do what you do – therefore you think that she doesn’t appreciate you in the same way.

    We don’t mirror each other in the way we value each other… I am sure she doesn’t appreciate you in the same way – have you asked her if you being slim is important to her? Or is it just important to you?

    A successful relationship, I believe is when you allow the other person to be everything they can be – not everything YOU want them to be.

    Have you ever thought of telling your wife how you feel – without anger, resentment or selfishness. Maybe she would understand – even if it hurts a little. What you state is about you and not about her at all – rather than referencing everything to how you would do things perhaps you should try to find out from her what would help her lose weight and feel good about herself and support her in this….. if you think she doesn’t feel your resentment, I bet she does.

    Open your eyes and your heart – I wish you luck

  5. Actualy, sometimes beating round the bush is no good. At times you need to be blunt – tell her you love her, but she needs to lose weight. Being fat is not just unhealthy, its grotesque and disgusting as well. It is a potential difficult crossroads though mate – if she doesn’t lose the few pounds, next comes the frumpy clothes/flat shoes and the “I have given up” haircut. Fine if your the kind of fella who is willing to “let himself go” and get a pot/beer belly but if your not then it needs sorting.

  6. Iaunfel/Launfel, are you a troll? What a nasty thing to say. Overweight people can invent enough names for themselves without your help. And I wouldn’t be surprised if any “her” who’s around you for long DOES resort to the “I have given up” haircut!

  7. The stereotypical fashion model or glamorous celeb image is an ideal that society is bombarded with every day (for both sexes). If we’re not careful, it’s easy to make comparisons with our situation which is unrealistic if the person we married never had ‘that shape’ in the first place. However, if our partner’s weight/shape was once the ‘ideal’ and was a deciding factor in our marrying them, then a significant deviation from this for either partner is likely, but perhaps not in all cases, to be an issue. Maybe perfect bodies is an illusion but It’s a blessing if you can sustain it!

  8. In response to Charlie’s feelings that his wife isn’t making enough effort to be attractive to him, could it also be simply that not everyone equates weight with looking good? If someone takes care of their appearance through how they dress, or always takes the time to do their hair nicely, isn’t that showing as much self-respect as a person who chooses to spend their time in the gym, instead? Especially if we’re just talking about being a few pounds overweight!

  9. I will never be syphlike,but I do care about how I look and make the EFFORT in so many other ways. I totally agree with most of the comment’s .Yes, Charlies wife will know exactly how it feels to be overweight and will definitely feel the resentment. She might not feel able to do anything just now or feel very resentful towards Charlie.It should be ”love me love my faults” or what some people perceive to be faults!! Shame we live in the real world!

  10. As a plus size girl I let the photos I’ve posted do the talking. But please don’t pigeon hole everyone as being over weight just because they eat too much; there can be a number of reasons why that person is over weight. Mine is due to medication, so know matter how healthy my diet is or how much I exercise the weight isn’t going to come of, until the doctor takes me off the pills. And I’m never going to be a size 10. I try and make to best of what I’ve got and if the other person can’t appreciate that then that’s there loss. So why is it that we all have to fit into this ideal, even skinny woman can get fat. Us girls are also a lot more likely to give an over weight guy a try, so come on guys give us big girls a chance, you maybe surprised with the end result.

  11. ‘You dont sweat much for a fat bird’ didnt work well for me strangely.

  12. i have been overwieght all my life dispite having a wheat allergy so i can,t even eat a lot and dispite the fact i have never had a car so i walk everywhere.My mum was over 20stone all us females have big hair big breasts and big bums.It,s in the genes nothing i can do about it and launfel i know plenty of big beautiful with beautiful hair [I,m one of them] just because your big it does,nt mean to say you have to let go of yourselve and launfel do you smoke?

  13. I understand this from both perspectives. I used to be a chubby kid and I have to make a conscious effort to keep slim and I am very much against vanity in all respects BUT I have what I call “fat-phobia.” I can’t help it, I’ve even been out with a “larger” lad and in effect “given it a go” but I just cannot help the fact that I find being overweight repulsive. I understand not everyone can help it but the majority of people CAN help it and not only is it unattractive it’s also unhealthy. I feel extremly shallow for having this opinion but I can’t pretend otherwise – if a person is excessively overweight, that’s a deal breaker for me.

  14. considering i am a large women i am well toned and carry my weight well and this is down to a lot of walking.I don,t mind a little weight but i must admit i would,ve want my partner resembling a space hopper on the other hand i don,t find thinness attractive either. To me a women should have a good propotion up top nice rounded hips a full up face and look like a woman like for example Marilyn monroe who was a size 16 and considered as one of the beautiful women in the world. Kate moss ugly yuk.

  15. This is always an issue if you’re in the middle of a relationship and then the other half starts letting themselves go. Coz then you’re stuck.

    Obviously before you start dating you’ll know whether you’re not physically attracted to them and if not, well then you wouldn’t be dating them in the first place.

    My standards aren’t high or anything, but as I make a decent effort to visit the gym and eat right, cook properly etc to stay in reasonable shape, I’m not asking much for the other half to make some effort and not be lazy.

    To not equate weight with looking good is pretty naive of the person in question. I know it sounds shallow, but this isn’t Shrek. You wouldn’t date someone that looked like Fiona in ogre form.

  16. I’m sorry but I find it hard to understand what the big deal is about weight …. apart from the obvious health issues of course …. sometimes we can’t control how big/small we get, for women there’s giving birth, for both genders there’s health issues/illness etc. If you love someone, surely you love them – for better or worse, in sickness and in health – and it’s the ‘person’ you love, not their appearance. What if they developed an illness that meant their physical shape HAD to change? (breast cancer for example) Or had an accident which altered their physical appearance? Would that mean you would love them less .. just because their outer appearance was now different? (Obviously the inner person is likely to change too with both of those occurrences, but that’s a separate issue)
    Charlie … it feels like you’re upset about the lack of respect for you that you feel your wife is showing by not ‘maintaining her figure’ but you don’t ‘do it for her’, you do it because it makes you feel good about yourself …… and she may feel that she shows respect for you in a different way, or that you are showing a lack of respect by ‘silently’ criticising her physical appearance.
    Whichever, I hope you manage to find some resolution and peace … :-)

  17. As an overweight male myself, this is an issue I empathise with. I’ve been overweight ever since I can remember, and although I kept it in check to just being ‘larger’ into my 20s, following the death of my father I put on a lot of weight which 13 years later I still cannot shift. I have quite a stressful job as well which doesn’t help.

    I am fully aware that my main problem is a poorly-learned emotional response – there was a thing of TV a year or so back where a larger-sized lady (and therapist) said that her emotional response to things like stress, unhappiness, poor self-esteem, and so on, is to eat it. This releases endorphins which make the bad feelings go away, but by the time they wear off, it’s too late.

    It isn’t as simple as just ‘eat less, exercise more’ which is an attitude that often comes from people who have never had weight issues. Many people find weight management easy, and I applaud them even if they often don’t know how lucky they are. If you are more emotional than rational (and I firmly put myself in that category even though my IQ is well inside the top half percentile) then you have to look at a wider perspective than the rather narrow-minded “they are just lazy” and “they have no self-control” or even “they don’t respect my feelings as their partner”.

    If your partner is a comfort- or stress- eater (in secret or not) then actually, you might be the one that’s not showing respect for them. Indeed, their feeling of not being good enough for you, will only push them further down that road. And guys, studies have shown that women are ten times better than you are at reading body language. If you don’t like something, they will know, even if you think you’re doing a good job hiding it. So in response to Charlie – talk to her about it, because she almost certainly already knows what you’re thinking.

    My own response to this particular issue is that I always tell people in the communication stage that I’m overweight. Even though it can be difficult, I think it’s only fair to them to do so. However, I will also add that on no occasion has a woman turned around and told me she didn’t want to meet up, and I’ve even been complimented a couple of times on carrying it well (being 6’1 and would be of a stocky build even without the weight certainly helps there!).

  18. a lot say that us overwieght people have no self control well have you ever noticed how no one ever says that to a smoker.Just a thought.

  19. I agree Teresa.Smokers are the worst.Selfish,smelly and affect other peoples health.Whereas being obese affects the person who is overweight.Guys who don’t respond to overweight ladies may be suprised by our personalities and attitude to life.We certainly won’t be playing with a salad leaf on our plate or complaining that we gained a pound!Get a life men and stop being so shallow and give us big girls a chance.

  20. Slimness is the new corset for modern women.
    I find strange to tell that slimness has anything to do with self-esteem !
    People who have a good self-esteem are not obsessed by their appearance.

  21. had recently meet my first introduction he was put off because i am too fat and i was put off because he was too thin.Who wants to cuddle up to an ironing board.

  22. In the same situation. We got together when we were 17 i weighed 150. I have never been a skinny girl. I have always had hips and butt and thought of my self as being pretty. I am 23 now and we have had a child, bought a house, both have gone through school, and ups and downs in the realationship. But it all came out him telling me that i had let my self go that he was not attracted to me. I needed to loose weight. Nothing ever was said to me in a nice calm matter. I thought it was just becasue it was mad but i was wrong. The comments never stopped it was always why are you eating that, arent you done eating yet. When are you going to start exercising. Youll finally get it through your head you need to loose weight when i have another girl on my arms. Yes i have gained weight but it has never been easy for me to loose weight. I was at my heaviest at 205 when i had my son. I did loose some weight after he was born but have stayed at 185-195 most of the time. Our reationship has fallen apart and i just dont understand how it could all stem from my weight. At this point i have no self estemm, i dont ever want to go any where or get dressed up. i have no motivation from all the things that have been said to me. He said to me that if i would just loose the weight i would be thanking him for this becasue i would be happier once i lost the weight. How can he think that i would be happy after all the thing he has said to me.

  23. jess my ex was just the same and i put up with it for eight years than one day i came to my senses and got rid of 17stone of ugly pig fat which was him! and the only thing i regret was that it took me eight years to get shot of him ,don,t waste another moment on this pig and if you want to lose weight do it for you not him.

  24. Ok, so you’ve probably all gone now as this conversation is quite old, but anyway. I don’t get why some of the comments urge tolerance and acceptance of larger women, whilst being really quite rude about slim women. Can I suggest that if you want someone to accept you for who and what you are, you start by accepting them? As a slim woman I find a lot of what is said here insulting and unhelpful. I certainly wouldn’t be so rude about someone’s weight myself.

    Take this comment for example:
    We certainly won’t be playing with a salad leaf on our plate or complaining that we gained a pound!Get a life men and stop being so shallow and give us big girls a chance.

    I’m a size 8 because I cycle a lot. I also eat a lot. An awful lot. I remember one of the early dates with my ex and him watching in suprise as I packed away a three course meal. I don’t complain about putting on a pound, in fact I’m generally glad if I do because I find it difficult. So don’t stereotype slim women as shallow, picky eaters with nothing to offer. Try talking to them and giving them a chance. You might be surprised.

    I like to accept people as friends for who and what they are, whatever their appearance. But in terms of sexual attraction, for me that’s a combination of appearance and personality. If that makes me shallow, so be it.

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