Is Weight Gain a Relationship Dealbreaker?

Dear Roe,

Let’s address an issue that many couples encounter: the challenge of physical changes in a relationship. Imagine this – you’ve been with your partner for several years, and in that time, they have gained weight. It’s affected your sex life, and you find yourself less attracted to them. The relationship feels stagnant, and you’re worried about the future. Is this a trivial concern? Let’s explore.

A Shift in Perspective

Before we delve into the complexities of physical attraction, ask yourself this: if you were to meet your partner today, with no chance of romance, would you still want to be their friend? Would you enjoy their company, value their thoughts, and be drawn to their charisma?

To build a lasting relationship, genuine appreciation for your partner as an individual, beyond their physical appearance, is essential. Bodies change over time – haircuts go awry, moustaches come and go, and people gain or lose weight due to various reasons. The unavoidable truth is that everyone ages, and that affects us all.

Love Beyond the Surface

During those periods when sexual attraction wanes, it is the foundation of love rooted in knowing and accepting each other as flawed individuals that sustains a relationship. This is not about romanticizing your partner as an ethereal being, but rather appreciating their true self. If sex were off the table, would you still choose to spend most of your time with them?

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Relationships inevitably experience dry spells, and physical attraction may fluctuate. In these times, it’s the genuine connection beyond physicality that becomes paramount. If you find that your relationship and sex life have become stagnant due to diminished physical attraction, it’s a sign that the deeper connection may be lacking.

Expanding Your Definition of Beauty

While examining the connection between physical attraction and emotional intimacy, it’s worth considering the ideals of beauty that you hold. The beauty, film, and pornography industries work together to shape our perception of what is desirable. However, these ideals are not fixed – they can change.

Take the example of body positivity. By exposing yourself to different types of beauty and celebrating diversity, you can redefine your view of attractiveness. Look for media that challenges conventional standards, and apply this new perspective to your perception of your partner. What about her do you find sexy now, and how can you appreciate it?

Communicate and Support

When discussing your girlfriend’s weight gain, it’s essential to approach the conversation with empathy and focus on her feelings rather than your own. Recognize that fluctuating weight can be influenced by various factors, such as illness, medication, stress, or depression. If she is struggling, she may welcome your support in addressing the issue and may already have plans to lose weight.

However, it’s vital to remember that weight gain is not inherently negative. Within a healthy range, it should not be viewed as a reflection of self-worth. Your girlfriend’s shift in priorities and newfound confidence might have led her to prioritize self-acceptance over societal beauty standards, even if that means embracing a few extra pounds. If you cannot embrace this with her, you must question what you truly seek in a partner.

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Conclusion

Physical changes are an inevitable part of any long-term relationship. It is crucial to appreciate your partner as an individual beyond their physical appearance, particularly during times when sexual attraction fluctuates. By expanding your definition of beauty and having open, supportive communication, you can navigate these challenges together. Remember, loving each other for who you are is what will truly sustain your relationship.

Roe McDermott is an accomplished writer and Fulbright scholar with expertise in sexuality studies. Currently pursuing a PhD in gendered and sexual citizenship, you can submit anonymous queries for her at irishtimes.com/dearroe.

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