|photo from a site Belly Billboard, post called “extreme couch potatoing”|
Over the holidays I was reading Elle magazine. My magazine reading is generally food-skewed with a little home design and beauty thrown in. Fashion magazines are usually waiting room or hair color reading for me but I enjoy Elle and their relationship column called Ask E. Jean.
One reader wrote:
Dear E. Jean: I adore my boyfriend of six years. He’s intelligent, emotionally mature, kind, loving, and funny. But: He’s fat. When we first started dating, he was a very hot, muscular mountaineering guide. Now he’s a lawyer, and most of the muscle has turned into fat. When he gets home from work, he sits on the couch, drinking beer and watching bad TV. He’ll do that for an entire weekend if I don’t persuade him to get out and do things. Our sex life has almost always been thrilling, but the laziness and fatness are enormous turnoffs. I’m an athlete and go to the gym at 5 A.M. Though I’m still madly in love with him, I find myself looking at in-shape men. Superficial, I realize! I drop hints, and it never goes well. Is there a way to tell him to shape up? I work hard to stay sexy; shouldn’t he? I don’t want to make him feel bad, but he can’t let himself go indefinitely! —My Sexy Man’s Gone to Seed
I’ve heard this sentiment from men and women, married and dating about their partner’s eating or weight. E.Jean (strange name now that I think of it) called the girlfriend out for being turned off by an intelligent, kind, loving “fat dude” telling her “God help you if you ever grow old, gain a pound, get a wrinkle or your bottom sags.” So she basically felt superficiality has no place in romantic relationships. Can I give advice to an advice columnist?
You may say I play for team shallow but I disagree for a couple of reasons. First, “plump partner’s” change in appearance isn’t simply due to the passage of time. He went from being active and outdoorsy to “lazy”. I also think “it’s what’s on the inside” counts when we’re talking about friends or coworkers but physical attraction hinges on aesthetics. For some a little extra is fine, even preferred, but maybe not for 5am girlfriend.
Later in her reply E. Jean loses me completely when she advises the woman to hire a male trainer with “buttocks that look like they’ve been blown up by a bicycle pump” and schedule sessions in their living room. To me, this is even more superficial than the original question. You don’t make someone jealous or guilt them into make changes. Sure, girlfriend may be looking at in-shapre men but her objections with her man aren’t solely based on buttocks. She calls herself an athlete and him lazy. IF someone wants to watch TV all weekend, the real issue is compatibility and I don’t think fitness is one of those minor relationship issues like toilet seat consciousness. The axiom that you can’t change someone generally holds. But what about when you’re trying to nudge them in a direction they once were? You know the possibility exists.
I’m not a fan of dropping hints of downloading “couch to 5K” on stout steady’s phone. 5AM girlfriend said her guy was emotionally mature. That’s great. She needs to sit on the couch with him and present her wish list. Is it more time outside and active together? Is it watching shows they both like? And his response and subsequent actions will speak volumes. This isn’t a married couple and these two may have “grown” apart. It’s also important to think about these differences should these two co-parent one day (and if boyfriend would be ok with couch potato jr too). E. Jean says girlfriend should “grant him the freedom to live as he wants” agreed but if that means being glued to the couch and that doesn’t work for her, she may have her answer.
Do you and your partner have similar views on exercise and eating? Do you think that’s important in a relationship? What do you think is the best way to point out “slippage”? And what about physical attraction is it honest to say you’re less attracted to a partner based on appearance or is this crossing the shallow line?