…How to put it gently?

How do I ask my boyfriend to lose a little weight and start working out? When I first met him about 5 years ago (we’ve been dating for 3), he was in much better shape. I was incredibly physically attracted to him. In the last few years however, he has continued to gain weight and I’m afraid I’m starting to feel less attracted to him. I feel awful about this and very superficial…how do I bring it up without hurting his feelings?

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15 thoughts on “…How to put it gently?

  1. karlos says:

    [I think being blunt is the best way here, if you’ve been dating for three years I’d guess you’re both comfortable sharing things with each other. Would it not hurt his feelings more that you’re not comfortable sharing a genuine worry with him, or that he’s let his mid section get a little saggy?

    Then again, there’s always a nice way to say things, you could always get some old photos of him and simply comment how good he looked in them or something to that effect.

    Or hide weights in everything he owns so he works out without realising it.

  2. Happy Pants says:

    [I like what Margaret Charles said about trying to tactfully spin it into perhaps a less brutal way of saying it. I think he would much rather hear that you’re concerned for his well-being than that you’re not attracted to him anymore. Whatever you do, I wouldn’t be covert about it—I would argue against trying to slip in physical activity without explicitly saying something along the lines of “we could both use it.” You’ve been together for three years, known each other for five, you should be able to talk to him about it, at least from the perspective of his own health.

  3. Matt Sanchelli says:

    [This may, or may not, be a good response but all in all the choice to get back into shape has to be his.

    On a personal note I struggled with shifting weight growing up and into my early 20’s. During a past relationship I ended up reaching my heaviest of just above 250lbs (at 5’11” but I can guarantee very little of it was muscle). I’m pretty sure 50 of those lbs were gained because I was incredibly unhappy in that relationship.

    Once I got out of the relationship I also decided that I was unhappy being over-weight and generally unhealthy. I completely changed my diet and began exercising more.

    The thing is, it had to be a decision I made. Now, at the time I didn’t have someone in my life to show any concern regarding my weight/health.

    I think if you find yourself compelled to talk to your OS about his weight you may want to approach it along the lines of your concern over his health. Depending on how much weight he has actually gained (say it isn’t anything overly concerning health-wise) you could simply voice your concerns that this could be the beginning on a downhill slide into more unhealthy choices.

    The ideas mentioned above about taking action together and making more we statements instead of you statements are spot on.

    Above all, be supportive. If he has ever mentioned anything about being unhappy with his weight gain or wants to begin making healthier choices regarding fitness and food…ask him what you can do to help.

    If your SO is anything like me, I sometimes need the motivation of placing accountability directly in my line of sight. I used to write a note on my bathroom mirror, “Did you go running today?”. It was my little reminder that I’m the only one to blame for my choices.

  4. Maracuya says:

    [Is there a reason he stopped working out? Do you kind of ‘aid’ in his lifestyle (i.e. going out to eat) or are you also super fit? I’d suggest going to a class or gym together, maybe saying–again, if applicable–that you feel like you both have gained a little weight, and would he like to join you on your fitness journey?

    There’s really no gentler way to put it that this, I think. If that doesn’t work you might as well just come out and say it. However, he might be upset that you were creating a cover story for your real feelings.

  5. lilredbmw says:

    [I just had to deal with this, concerning my husband. It was a hard thing to do and I had to be creative. The first thing I considered is that I am not out of shape and I work really hard to stay in shape. However, I also had to consider that being an athlete is technically a part-time job for me since I get paid to win. You have to think about why your SO is out of shape. Mine was out of shape because he is working full-time and going to school full-time. He is doing this to make a better life for both of us. If this might be the case for you, let that be an indicator of how far you are willing to go to have an in-shape SO. I can’t expect my husband to work out as much as I do…it’s not realistic. Also, keep in mind you aren’t perfect. I used my own imperfections to open up our lines of communication. I asked my husband to write down up to 3 things I could work on in our relationship, and it could be physical, emotional, whatever. I, in turn, had the same opportunity. This was where the physical part came in. We had 2 days to think about it, and finish our lists. In the end, it all worked out. We both got to be open and better our relationship. I think we will continue to do this, even if we are both satisfied. It just allows you to get anything out in the open and deal with it in a controlled manner.

  6. Missy says:

    [I think you just have to come out and say it as gently as possible. It’s going to suck. He’s going to be hurt, however you owe it to your relationship to let him know. If you don’t, he doesn’t have the opportunity to know what’s going on in your head, and therefore isn’t given the opportunity to decide if it’s worth making some changes.

    Also, don’t beat yourself up. As was noted in an earlier blurb – feelings are feelings. They aren’t right or wrong, and they don’t make you a superficial person.

  7. MargieCharles says:

    [Is your boyfriend unhappy with his weight? This is something that should always be approached with tact, obviously, but if his weight is bringing him down you might approach it more from an emotional aspect. Gently tell him you notice it’s been bothering him, and you’d be more than willing to help him if he wants to get back in shape. Ask him how you can help, whether it be keeping unhealthy food out of the house, exercising with him, or making him healthy meals.

  8. Dennis Hong says:

    [Well, I for one believe there’s nothing superficial about weight issues. Especially in the United States, where obesity is a huge concern, I think you have a perfectly legitimate concern.

    At the same time, I know this is still a sensitive issue. So….

    I think this is where you could make some big gains by not being a hypocrite. Going along with what Happy Pants suggested, what if, instead of pointing out how he’s gained weight and needs to diet, you say something like, “I feel like we aren’t eating and exercising as well as we could be. How would you feel about starting an exercise program together? That way, we can both look our best for each other.”

    When you frame it this way, you’re not accusing him of being fat. You’re suggesting something that you can both work on together. Plus, having a workout partner may help both of you stay motivated. Plus, I don’t care how hot you look, exercise is good for everyone, so I’m sure you can benefit, too. 😉

  9. Eleanor Roosevelt says:

    [I could have written this. My fiance has gained some weight, and the fact that I’ve lost nearly 20 ponds in the last few months only highlights it. There are a lot of factors outside his control that contribute to it – he works super long days (14+ hours), the food available to him at work isn’t usually very healthy, and usually on the weekends he’s catching up on sleep, relaxing, and spending time with me and other friends.

    In addition to adding some physical activity to your time together, I’d also suggest examining your eating habits together. Find new light recipes to try, keep an eye on the snacking, make sure to eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, be careful about how many “liquid” calories are consumed, and above all else, LOOK AT PORTION SIZES. These are all things that will be relatively easy for you to monitor/suggest without coming out and saying “you need to lose weight and work out.”

  10. Solstice says:

    [Can you pinpoint why he’s gained weight? Has he stopped exercising? Eating food that’s bad for you? Other health reasons? That might be a key to a solution. Suggest going to the gym/hiking/running together if he’s an exercise buff who’s just lost his way. Or if he just slipped into bad eating habits, suggest eating healthier meals together. When I was with my ex and I started to lose weight, he seemed a bit more motivated to eat healthier as well, and he enjoyed the tasty healthier meals the times I cooked for him. Just make sure to not be too blunt about anything, because you don’t want him to resent you for telling him to lose weight.

  11. Happy Pants says:

    [Ok, I thought of another aspect to this question that’s interesting, or important. I don’t think it’s shallow to stop being attracted to someone because they no longer have the physical qualities that you find attractive—you have no control over that, and some people need more of a physical connection than others. Everyone likes what they like, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it.

    But I do think that this is something couples (especially serious ones) should talk about at some point early on. It’s good to know what the other finds attractive, and what will possibly happen if one half of the couple changes. There was a guy on a radio show in LA who told his wife when they got married that if she ever “got fat”, he’d leave her because he didn’t find overweight women attractive. First I thought he was a shallow asshat, but then I realized that we all have our tastes, and at least he was upfront about his. You have to respect him for that. His wife accepted that, was on board, and hasn’t gained weight.

    If you do that early on, I think it can avoid a lot of hurt feelings and awkward situations. Everyone’s aware of the situation, you don’t have to tiptoe around it as much… Does that make sense?

  12. resullins says:

    [Ok dear… you’re going to hurt his feelings here. There’s no two ways about it.

    I have the same problem with my live-in bf. But that’s cause I cook mac and cheese for him all the time. Well, my suggestion is to put yourself in there. He is probably very aware of the problem, but is too embarrassed or unmotivated to do anything about it.

    I would be subtle at first, saying maybe you both should start working out. Be aware, however, that this is still going to hurt his feelings, cause I’m sure he’s smart enough to know what’s going on. If that doesn’t work, sit down and talk to him about it. Preferably while looking just a little ashamed.

    Either way, you’re going to hurt his feelings. So I guess it depends on how badly you’re willing to do this.

  13. Addie Pray says:

    [Ugh, losing weight – and finding the motivation to lose weight – is such a personal thing, I don’t know anyone can say anything to motivate someone. At least that’s my experience. Personally, when someone says I need to watch what I eat or something, it makes me want to eat more! Yes, I’ll have another pizza, so there! … If your boyfriend is anything like me, I really don’t think there’s anything you can SAY that will be effective. But I think there are things you can DO. You can lead by example. You can decide you want to eat in more, cook healthier, go for walks and bike rides, sign up for races and then spend the time in-between getting in shape, etc. He’ll either join you, or he won’t….

  14. Claudia says:

    [Has anything changed in his life? Or is it age slowing down metabolism? I stress eat. When I start seriously craving chips and soda, I know something is wrong. If it gets to potatoes, it’s really wrong. I should have remembered that in my last relationship when I’d run out and buy a a bag of chips the moment he left. Ha.

    I would try and find some activity he enjoys and will motivate him. Better yet, something you both can do. Martial arts, rock climbing, running, cycling, yoga, etc.

    For me I’m healthy only when I’m doing martial arts. Even though I no longer train for competitions, I eat like I am. Healthy balanced meals during the week and whatever I want on the weekend. I know that I move better in class when I eat well and that’s the only motivation that works. Though reminding myself I can have a burger on the weekend instead helps. I also do yoga because it increases my kung fu. And it helps reduce stress.

    What happens when something happens like moving, school gets insane, or an injury and I stop going to class? Gluttony. I can easily pile in a shocking amount of food and spend my extra time playing video games.

    Once I get back in the habit, I’m a health nut again.

  15. Jasmine says:

    [All of the above.
    And “you know what really turns me on? A washboard stomach. I could just lick that all day.”
    Sex sells.

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