Ask E. Jean - Tormented? Driven Witless? Whipsawed by confusion?

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My boyfriend of less than a year is asking me to workout more/lose weight. Iím the same size as I was when we first began going out (5í4Ē, 119lbs, dress size 2). He knows that Iíve dealt with eating disorders for most of my life. The last two years, Iíve worked hard to cultivate a healthier lifestyle, but I sometimes relapse under stress. Heís as serious about our relationship as I am (he wants me to move in), but itís causing me great distress to learn that the man I love doesnít think I look good. I know I should say something, but I donít know what. What do I do?

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    If we assume his request is just him being clueless and preferring abnormally skinny women, it's still unreasonable. What happens if the two of you get married and have kids and you have trouble losing the baby weight? Or when you hit menopause and your weight goes up, which no amount of diet and exercise will stop? Will he insist that you stay skinny no matter what? That standard is both unrealistic and unreasonable. One can want their significant other to keep themselves healthy and fit, but asking a size two woman to lose weight has something else behind it.

    So I suspect this request is less benign, given that he knows your history with eating disorders. My recommendation is to first ask him why he is making this request. And don't let him weasel out of giving you a straight answer. He may get defensive and say that he just wants you to be healthy, but that's not the real answer. Explain that you're already at an exceedingly healthy weight, so what is his REAL reason. Let the real reason be your guide as to what to do next. And if he avoids answering the question and tries to turn it back on you, that's an answer in itself.

    This could be part of a control issue with him; are there other areas of your life that he tries to dictate? Or I could be incorrect about this, since there's not enough other information to go on. But there's definitely something up with this guy. This request is raising all kinds of red flags; if it were me, I wouldn't move forward with him without getting to the bottom of this.

    reply to Jill
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    If he's specifically asking you to lose weight, there are red flags going up all over the place.

    If he's asking you to work out more, but weight didn't come into it -- is it possible that he's looking for motivation to work out more himself, and wants you to work out with him?

    Even that has some red flags surrounding it, of course. Whatever his motivations, he shouldn't be passive-aggressive, or sneaky about it...he should just tell you his concerns and issues, so you can work them out together.

    But if the issue really is weight, no matter how he phrases it, you are in for some real problems. (Typical lines from someone who is controlling about this issue: "I just think you'd be healthier at 110 or 105"; "I want you to feel good about yourself, and I think you'd do that if you lost some weight")

    As Jill says, you need to get to the bottom of what his real issues are. Then, once you're there, you'll have to make some (potentially hard) decisions about whether this is a guy you need in your life.

    reply to Kal
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    "My boyfriend of less than a year is asking me to workout more/lose weight. Iím the same size as I was when we first began going out (5í4Ē, 119lbs, dress size 2). He knows that Iíve dealt with eating disorders for most of my life. The last two years, Iíve worked hard to cultivate a healthier lifestyle, but I sometimes relapse under stress. Heís as serious about our relationship as I am (he wants me to move in), but itís causing me great distress to learn that the man I love doesnít think I look good. I know I should say something, but I donít know what. What do I do?"

    Anon.. I thought I'd post your question again so you could read it back to yourself. You are a size 2, and he wants you to workout more and/ or loose weight. He knows you've had disordered eating issues in the past. As Kal mentioned above, there are red flags surrounding this.

    With knowing him less than a year, there's a lot more to learn about this guy. I agree with Jill, don't move in with him until you do.

    Be very careful his isn't emotionally manipulating and controlling you in other areas of the relationship as well. I realize I don't have a ton of information to go on, but even *if* this is an isolated incident, it's still cause for concern.

    Honor yourself, and listen to your gut. Please come back and keep us posted!


    reply to Barbara
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