My Girl Friend
We've all heard of "bro crushes;” when a guy meets a guy and thinks he's really cool and wants to be his friend. But what about those types of crushes that a guy like me might have on a girl? She is very attractive but it would never work out dating-wise. We have so much in common, and I think she is so damn cool! I really do and really wanna be her friend, and I don't want it to come across the wrong way. Thanks.
The key here is to be ultra-careful in the beginning about avoiding confusion. This will allow the friendship and trust (that you’re not trying to hit on her) to develop. I suggest trying to get to know her in group settings. It would be really hard, almost impossible, to invite her to do something one-on-one without it seeming at least a little like you’re asking her on a date. But if there are group things you can invite her to, that will take some of that pressure off. Ideally, you’d be able to say something like, “Tony, AJ and I play soccer every Thursday (or whatever you do every Thursday). You’d be welcome to join us if you ever want to play.” I’d also make it clear that your invitation includes her SO, if she has one.
Once you’re in this group setting, treat her like a friend. Try to talk to her and get to know her. If you’re really trying to build a friendship, recognize that you’re going to have to consciously be friendlier and less flirtatious than you might usually be when talking to a woman.
I have a problem and I'm not sure if it's even fair for me to try and fix it. My girlfriend and I have been together for about three years, and in that time she has gained almost 60 pounds. Now don't get me wrong, I've gained 5 or 10 pounds myself. No one stays 25 forever. But she looks like an entirely different person.
I love her; I still think she's beautiful and wonderful to be around, but if I'm being honest with myself, I'm not as attracted to her as I used to be. Short of being blunt, I've encouraged healthy living as much as I can—I try to cook; I invite her to go to the gym with me; I even plan hiking adventures when we have time. It's rarer and rarer that she's up for much of that.
I fell in love with a sexy, active girl, and I feel like I'm losing that part of our relationship. Is there a way to address this concern without being cruel? And if there is, is it even my place? Can a boyfriend ever suggest that his girlfriend lose weight?
Not Fat And Happy
Short answer, NFAH: No, I don’t think you can suggest she lose weight. I also think that you’re unhappy not because she’s gained weight, but because she’s different from what you’d like her to be.
Long answer: I hear that you are very deliberately trying to be sensitive and compassionate. You recognize that topic you’re dealing with is a loaded one, and you know that asking your partner to lose weight might not even be a fair request. You have taken the approach of making fitness part of your relationship in an attempt to make it easier for your gf to be active.
Your instincts are guided by kindness. Now, I think it’s important to consider what your gf’s experience has been. Although I’ve never been a man, I do think I’m right in saying that women are subject to greater scrutiny about what they eat and how they look; they are also penalized more harshly for not looking a certain way. I think it’s really easy for men to underestimate the near-constant attention to food and weight women learn to pay.
Your girlfriend knows she’s gained weight. She’s had to buy new clothes. People look at her and treat her differently. I would guess, from personal experience, that it has not been easy. That she goes through long periods when choosing clothes in the morning is a demoralizing way to start the day, because nothing fits quite right. That she’s gone through many days in clothes that are just tight enough to be uncomfortable and a day-long reminder that her body has changed. That she’s had close to a thousand mental battles about whether, at this meal, she should try to eat less even though she’s hungry. That she’s tried to make herself go to the gym or hiking, but that those things have quickly become burdensome and punishing, because she’s not doing them for fun, she’s doing them to burn calories.
So, when you suggest going to the gym, you’re not the first person to suggest that to her. She’s suggested it to herself a million times. I think, now, it’s time to try a different approach. Hiking and going to the gym are fun, but you’ve also been suggesting them with a little bit of an ulterior motive. Give her a break from having to decline those things that she doesn’t want to do. Try to think of things that you both enjoy—things that you’re doing truly for fun, not because you’re hoping they’ll spur weight-loss.
Sometimes, a significant change in weight like this can be an indication that a person is struggling with something else. If you bring up her weight gain, it will be hurtful, no matter how you do it. What I think you can do is initiate a very general series of conversations with your girlfriend about both of your lives—if you’re happy, what you’ve struggled with during the time you’ve known each other, how you feel about the relationship. The aim of this conversation is for both of you to understand each other better and better know how to support each other.
I also think you might be struggling because you’re comparing your girlfriend to the way she looked three years ago and to the way you want her to look. I suggest you try to stop making those comparisons.
I know couples in which one person has had a significant weight change and the couple has maintained a happy and loving relationship and (at least the outward appearance of) physical attraction. You may or may not be able to do that, and I don’t fault you for either decision. If you arrive at the conclusion that you no longer want to be with her, though, it’s not because she’s gained weight, it’s because you want her to look different or act differently.
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