Two quickies in one today. Read on:
I’m surprised that, as a mother of two young boys, you agreed to the idea of having a baby with someone who wants adventure and travel. Did it not occur to you that having young children kind of hinders one’s ability to enjoy adventure and travel (at least for a while)? How much adventuring and traveling have YOU done since having kids? I can tell you how much I’ve done since I had my son 3 1/2 years ago: close to none. And that’s ok. That’s what my husband and I signed on for when we decided to start a family. It’s why we did as much traveling as we did in the few years we spent together before having a kid.
Have you and your boyfriend done any adventuring and traveling together in the two years you’ve been dating? If you haven’t, maybe he realized that, oh, having a family kind of slows you down in that regard, and he decided that’s not what he wants. He’s entitled to changing his mind! In fact, I’m not so sure he actually DID change his mind. I mean, did he ever actually say he WANTED a baby? It sounds like YOU wanted one, he wanted something else, and you guys made a deal to try to satisfy each other’s desires.
Be glad he told you now that he doesn’t want a baby before you got married and while you’re still young enough to go have a baby with someone else if you choose. You know you won’t be happy with him after he “canned your dreams.” You don’t want the same things. It sounds like you never did. Not only that, but you already have two kids, and it seems that, if he doesn’t want a baby because he wants adventure instead, maybe he doesn’t want the responsibility of being a step-dad either. I’d cut my losses and move on. And next time, don’t “make a deal” with a partner about having a baby together. Make sure it’s something you BOTH really want and not something you have to barter for.
I’ve confronted my boyfriend about how I hate that I let myself go, and he says he doesn’t care and that he loves me the way I am. But I feel that I’m ruining my relationship by having such low self-esteem. And it’s so hard for me to switch it off because his ex is always around, and, since I can’t really tell him to leave the church that he grew up in, I’m just stuck. How I can stop complaining and stop comparing myself to her? — Hating That I’ve Let Myself Go
Oh, please. This isn’t about your boyfriend’s ex. This is about YOU. Clearly, seeking validation from someone else doesn’t work. Your boyfriend says he loves you the way you are, but you still hate that you’ve let yourself go. So, here’s a crazy idea: Quit letting yourself go. If you feel bad that you’ve started gaining weight, start exercising more and making better dietary choices. It’s really not that hard. Do the work and quit making everyone else responsible for your own self-esteem.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].
Kate May 29, 2015, 8:13 am
LW2, WWS. *Unless you have some hormonal imbalance or other condition,* it’s usually not that hard to get in shape, just takes some patience and work. I was skinny growing up, but started to put on some weight in my early 30s because I was still eating the same way I always had and not exercising. I didn’t realize what was happening at first, but I finally realized I had gained 10 lbs and had some fat on my belly and thighs. So I went on a simple exercise program: 40 mins of cardio 2-3 days a week and 20 mins of cardio + 40 mins of weights 2-3 days. And figured out how many calories I could eat based on what I was burning via metabolic processes and exercise (there are calculators online). I lost that weight in a few months and kept it off. You can *probably* do it too! You just have to start eating less on a regular basis and find an exercise plan you can stick to. *If that’s not getting you results, then see your doctor to find out if there’s some underlying condition that’s sabotaging you.*
Diablo May 29, 2015, 10:43 am
Kate, what if you have a hormonal imbalance and a metabolic condition? Cuz that’s what I have. It’s the one that makes me scarf down whole bags of Doritos. Seriously, though, last fall i became fed up with my condition and after many years of relatively total lack of hard exercise, I set out to do three things: 1) 40 to 45 mins cardio 3 to 4 times a week; 2) slightly smaller meal portions; and 3) severely curtailed dorito scarfing. Since late November, I’ve lost 32 lbs, but also gained a lot of cardio capacity. I’m somewhat relieved that at my age (49), i still have the ability to make my body strong, because i feared that i might just be too old. I feel better and look better. Also, my “marital prowess” has improved. So i also second Wendy’s advice.
Anonymous May 29, 2015, 10:49 am
Yeah and if you can build a lot of muscle, it burns more fat. So you can eat some doritos!
Seriously? Seriously! May 29, 2015, 12:02 pm
See, i get that might be true for people dealing with a slowing metabolism as they get older, but generally had “slim” genes — before you hit 30s, you ate relatively normally and worked out “normally” and were slim. Some people, if they do that, they will be “overweight.” they just will. They’ll have excess fat in their arms and bellies and legs, even if there are super strong muscles underneath from working out. I am not saying that eating right and exercising don’t matter because some people will be fat no matter what, but “getting in shape” can be VERY difficult for people with different genes.
It’s like boobs — we believe that breast size varies among people based on genes and hormones. Of course, if you are a professional athlete, your breasts might get smaller or different shaped based on your pecs and your body fat, and an obese person might have larger boobs based on fat dispersion aside from genetics, but we generally would never say that changing our breast size isn’t that difficult. It really is the same with weight and genes — exercise and diet do matter a lot within a small range (which is relevant for LW2), but not when compared with genes.
Kate May 31, 2015, 9:57 am
She said she’s “let herself go.” I’d have a different response if she stated she genetically tends toward overweight. In her case it sounds more like she used to be slim but now has been putting on weight. If that’s the case, she should be able to make some positive changes.
Portia May 31, 2015, 10:19 am
Oh man, the boob size thing… No matter how much weight I gain or exercise I do, mine are permanently the same size. When other people are like, I might have gained a few pounds but my boobs looks great! I can’t even start to relate.
juliecatharine May 29, 2015, 8:17 am
LW2, he thought his ex was pretty when she was heavier, he thinks you’re pretty now. Maybe your guy likes a little meat on a woman’s bones, maybe he sees beauty as being part of the overall person. Either way your boyfriend is attracted to you. Take him at his word! Has something changed in your life that precipitated ‘letting yourself go’ (I hate that phrase)? It almost sounds as though you’re focusing on his ex because of something else that makes you feel a loss of control. Do a little soul searching and see what’s bringing all this up.
captainswife May 29, 2015, 8:27 am
@Kate, it’s not always that easy for people due to hormonal imbalances, medications, or illness…be careful about that blanket assumption! That said, it sounds like LW2 is probably in need of caring for herself a little more…and it could be just that easy for her!
LW2, at the very least, get a bit more exercise because it is a real mood- and esteem-booster. If you lose a few pounds, even better!
LW1, time to cut your losses.
Kate May 29, 2015, 8:29 am
That’s true! But it sounds like she hasn’t tried anything yet. And every adult woman should be exercising and eating healthy foods and reasonable portions.
jlyfsh May 29, 2015, 8:27 am
LW1 I feel like Wendy is so spot on. Have you ever really listened to what your bf wants? Or do you just want another baby that bad that you haven’t stopped to listen or think about how another child will affect your family?
LW2 If you’re unhappy you have to change. You can’t change for your boyfriend or anyone else. This is a problem you have with how you feel and see yourself. You stop complaining by just looking at yourself and asking what you want. If you want to feel better about yourself do things that make you feel better.
honeybeenicki May 29, 2015, 8:33 am
LW1 – A baby isn’t a bartering tool. This is obviously a deal breaker for you. You need to move on. And your time isn’t up. Yes, it might get a little harder, but its not impossible. And if you really want another child and can afford to do it on your own, there’s always that option.
LW2 – Stop comparing yourself to his ex. They’re exes for a reason and he’s with you for a reason. If you’re unhappy with your looks and that you’re “letting yourself go” or whatever, do something about it. Better habits with eating and exercise (even just little changes) will probably help (unless there’s a physiological reason, in which case you need to consult a dr – took me years to find out my thyroid was preventing me from losing weight).
ktfran May 29, 2015, 8:39 am
I’m adding on to your comment about LW2, but really, I could have anywhere.
LW2, if you’re feeling a little frumpy or like you’ve let yourself go…. besides correcting that through eating better and exercising (which I totally advocate), in the short term, you could maybe purchase a few flattering outfits and/or get a new hair cut/color. It doesn’t fix the problem in the long term, but short term, feeling good about yourself again might motivate you to fix what’s bothering you, i.e., losing that little extra weight.
honeybeenicki May 29, 2015, 8:55 am
Very true. I never think of things like that because I’m not really a girly person. Like, if I buy a new outfit, its probably because I’ve worn my jeans out so much that I don’t have a choice. And I get my hair trimmed maybe once a year.
ktfran May 29, 2015, 9:03 am
I’m such a girly girl it’s ridiculous. I firmly believe properly fit clothing – no matter how small or big your are – goes a long way to making someone look and/or feel better.
honeybeenicki May 29, 2015, 9:06 am
Most people are just happy if I remember to put on pants every day 😛 Two of my coworkers were yapping about blow drying their hair and blow dryers and shit like that and all I could think was that I think I might have a blow dryer jammed in a closet somewhere. And I don’t think I even own makeup. And I am happy in jeans and a t-shirt. Even at work, I wear plain solid color t-shirts so that I can pretend to be dressed semi-professionally.
ktfran May 29, 2015, 9:08 am
Haha! I’ve actually fallen in love with plain colored v-necks. It makes life so much easier. Although I usually throw on a blazer or wear a scarf. Still. It has streamlined my closet.
TheTruth May 29, 2015, 8:49 am
Damn Wendy… you are totally channeling The Truth on that last response. Good answer.
K May 29, 2015, 9:20 am
Nobody has yet brought up LW1’s “But if I leave him, my time has pretty much run out”. Are you kidding me? You’re 29. You still have 6 years before you hit 35, and MANY women have babies at older than 35 these days. You won’t be happy if you stay with him – move on.
Ika May 29, 2015, 9:25 am
He is 29, she is 37.
veritek33 May 29, 2015, 9:25 am
She’s 37, the guy is 29
K May 29, 2015, 11:10 am
Wow, how did I misread that? Oops. I still think she should leave because she won’t be happy otherwise. At least she has the chance to find another guy to have a baby with, or go it alone.
Kate B. May 29, 2015, 9:36 am
LW!: How do you deal with this? You can’t, not with him. You’re too far apart on this. MOA. LW2: Your self-esteem issues will ruin your relationship, not to mention other parts of your life. Learn to love yourself, and the comparisons will stop. If you’re unhappy with your weight, this is something you can fix, but do it for you, not to be like this girl. There will always be someone prettier, skinnier, with better hair. I don’t say this to make you feel bad, but to let you know that constantly comparing yourself to other people will drive you crazy. Learn to love who you are, and what you do. Your boyfriend obviously does.
jlyfsh May 29, 2015, 9:41 am
Yes to learning to not compare yourself. Because, there will always be someone who you could view as having x, y, or z that is better than you. Also when you compare yourself to others, you don’t know anything about that other person other than what you can see and think that you know. They could hate themselves and think you have it better because of what you have.
SpaceySteph May 29, 2015, 10:05 am
I do congratulate the LW for at least mentioning that this is a self-esteem problem but its not the ex creating these feelings. If it weren’t her, it would be the woman in the office next to his, or the hot waitress at the bar he goes to. You are looking for trouble where none exists.
I think you should devote some energy to learning to love yourself with a little extra meat. This will take a lot of work since you are basically conditioned from birth to think that you need to look a certain way to be beautiful. However, as others said, buying some good fitting clothes will do wonders. You are probably being extra hard on yourself because your existing clothes are tight and ill-fitting now that you’ve put on a little extra weight. Some fitting clothes with good structure will help right away.
Also you should definitely start working out and eating right. For one, because these things make you FEEL better regardless of your size*. And for another, exercise gives you an outlet for all this self-hate you’ve got going on. And finally, of course, because that means you’ll be doing something to change your body for the better.
I don’t honestly believe that there’s a specific right size, right weight, right amount of body fat that is right. What’s important is that you feel good and feel like you look good. Diet, exercise, and self-love is how you get there!
*Seriously when I go on vacation and eat fried crap for a few days, I just want a damn salad. Because vegetables make you feel good inside.
ktfran May 29, 2015, 10:38 am
Oh my god, I’m the exact same way. When I go home (to the parents house) for a weekend, they eat a lot of meat and a lot of carbs and very few vegetables. I eat what they eat… but when I come home, all I want to do is go back to eating meals full of vegetables. I really do feel better when my meals are more balanced and heavy on the vegetable side.
honeybeenicki May 29, 2015, 11:30 am
Oh man… I don’t think I’ve ever WANTED a salad. Actually, I hate salad. And I rarely crave vegetables. I eat them and I like them, but give me a greasy burger any day.
Portia May 31, 2015, 10:13 am
I love vegetables, but can’t stand salads. Maybe vegetable salads, or pasta salads, but lettuce salads are so boring.
SpaceySteph May 29, 2015, 12:15 pm
My husband and I always joke about his parents having to have bread with every meal. Literally EVERY meal. Pasta.. with bread. Something with mashed potatoes.. and bread.
VHRose May 29, 2015, 11:15 am
LW1, I’m sorry but you sound like a brat. What would you have done or thought if you couldn’t get pregnant at 37/38? Would your life have been over? Why, specifically, do you want another child? It bothers me that you keep saying ‘baby’; you realize that baby is going to become a child, right? Then what? Another one? Sometimes we get what we get in life. I’m sorry, I just don’t think you’re going to be happy for long no matter what you do or choose.
Seriously? Seriously! May 29, 2015, 11:23 am
I feel like Wendy’s answer to LW2 was kinda overly harsh. If she had written in and said “how do I get him to stop seeing her?” or something, I would have totally understood the harsh truth thing. But LW2 is admitting that she’s down in the dumps on herself and that the Ex around is just a reminder to her of how crappy she feels, and a source of comparison. There’s a difference between holding yourself accountable for situation and punishing yourself for it.
LW2, here is something that my therapist tells me: be kind[er] to yourself. You’ve gained some weight. It happens. It isn’t a sin. Usually it happens in happy relationships because you would rather stay in and snuggle than workout, and you go on dates and eat dessert, etc. Instead of thinking as your body as being a source of shame, maybe let yourself realize it is an indicator of happiness in your relationship. Now, that doesn’t mean that you should just get on board with it, end of story– you can and should start taking back control of your body from the happy goblins that like to make us unmotivated. Eating fresh real foods and exercising will make you feel better — making changes like that are some ways that you can be KIND to yourself. Another way, like some people said above, is to get some new, flattering clothes (maybe some new makeup and shoes) that make you feel like you look fabulous. Ignore sizes; they don’t matter.
Another way to be kind to yourself, is to really be happy for her for looking so good and realize that it is something she “earns”/works at — it isn’t something that you innately lack. You know she works for it — if she was chubbier before, then her slimness is something that doesn’t just come naturally from her metabolism and genes — its hours at the gym and lots of not eating dessert. Hours that you’ve spent happy with your boyfriend and desserts that you’ve shared with him. Be kind to her as well — try not to frame it in a smug, “ha, i got the guy and all you got was the gym” kind of way, but understanding that everyone makes choices and that your choices have made you happy, if a little heavier.
I disagree that “it is not that hard” to lose excess weight by just eating right and exercising — that’s just not true for everyone. It isn’t for me. I’ve put down the fork, gotten off the couch, picked up the weights, worked out with trainers, meals planned by nutritionists, and it doesn’t always just fall off. Or even come off. Sometimes it’s a long haul with very little to show for it, and that can be frustrating. Plus, no one can agree on what “eating right” looks like for weight loss purposes. But cutting out most processed sugar and eating fresh veggies along with proteins and such awakens your tastebuds in amazing ways and makes fresh food TASTE amazing, which is kind of its own reward, and the endorphins from working out make you FEEL amazing. So, while I don’t agree with the ease of reversing your circumstances which has been suggested, I do agree with the suggestions themselves, because, if you pursue them with the mindset of BEING KIND to yourself, then they will make you happier.
You deserve kindness from your boyfriend don’t you? By virtue of being a person? and a woman? and someone he loves? You deserve the same kindness from yourself. The advice to “learn to love yourself” is well-meaning, and technically true, but it doesn’t necessarily give you a path to the goal. HOW do you learn to love yourself and your body? You be kind to yourself and show yourself the same generosity that you show to others that you love. You truly forgive yourself for “mistakes” and you take kind actions towards yourself.
pebblesntrix May 29, 2015, 6:07 pm
LW2: As others have said, there will always be people who are prettier, skinnier, smarter, whatever than you. And your boyfriend will recognize that. However, that doesn’t mean he would leave you for those people if he could. He’s happy with you. People look at the whole package. There’s a reason why his ex is his ex and unless it is totally and solely because he thought his ex was too fat (in which case, why are you with him cause he doesn’t sound great), then her losing weight or being pretty doesn’t change the reasons they chose not to be together. Nor does it change the reason he began dating his friend of 5 years and has stayed with her for four years. In other words, this person you’ve known for 9 years is saying that you–as a whole package–are right for him. So, the ex is only competition or a threat in your head. And remember, it’s about finding the person who is perfect for you which includes all the things that person thinks of as their flaws. You don’t have to be “a perfect 10”. So often we’re comparing ourselves based on one trait when to tell the truth that trait wouldn’t make us more attractive to the person we want to be with. Like you say, if anything, what will ruin the relationship is the drama you create based on your own self-esteem. So fight it by focusing on the fact that he’s with you and has been for four years and your looks haven’t been the only thing keeping him around in all that time.
bittergaymark May 30, 2015, 6:59 pm
LW1) THREE kids? Three? Who needs three kids?! You already have two. Give it a rest. NEWSFLASH! Nobody’s genes are THAT great.
LW2) Start watching what you eat rather than his EX and you might just see some real results.
PS — The idea that a bloating body is some sign of a great relationship is the perhaps dumbest fucking thing I have EVER read on here. Really?! A therapist actually said that?! No wonder we are increasingly a nation of weebels… Ugh.
Seriously? Seriously! May 31, 2015, 8:07 pm
No, the therapist told me to “be kind to myself” and that part of being kind to yourself isn’t beating yourself up every time you stumble, but to grant yourself the same forgiveness and generosity that you would grant someone you love. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t accountable (you would still hold someone you love accountable), but it does help frame the issue in a much more productive way. You don’t NEED to continue to feel shitty about something in order to make changes to reduce or reverse it. Which is why realizing true statements which make you feel good (i.e. you are heavier because you’ve been happily content and less motivated) about something that could just make you feel shitty (i.e. you are heavier), WHILE making changes, is a win-win and an act of kindness to yourself: you are allowed to find happiness in your stumbles.
It is really hard to be kind to yourself; it is much easier to pile on yourself, every mess up, mistake, weakness or failure is just another example of how lousy, fat, shitty, lazy, stupid, ugly, worthless you are. And it’s much easier to pile on someone else who has messed up, made mistake, admitted a weakness or failed. But who does that help? Who benefits from that kind of thinking? Not the LW — she’s aware of her insecurities and aware that the ex isn’t really the issue; not her boyfriend, not even the Ex. The point of her writing in was asking for advice, seeking help, so I tried to help. It’s ok if you don’t agree.
Seriously? Seriously! May 31, 2015, 8:21 pm
And I didn’t say that gaining weight is a SIGN of a great relationship; I described the implied possibility that that it was a CONSEQUENCE of HER happy relationship. And it does happen. Frequently. I don’t have stats, but I think that there is a generally accepted occurrence of people getting in relationships and gaining a little bit of weight due to less focus and/or time and/or prioritizing of exercising and eating “right.” Not that one must gain weight if a relationship is to be considered happy or that only happy relationships cause people to gain weight. Just that lots of people gain some weight in happy relationships. And recognizing that she is happy in her relationship is be something she can be proud of.
bittergaymark May 31, 2015, 8:47 pm
Agree to disagree on this. I think that people in the U.S. lately are far too kind to themselves. Nobody ever looks at themselves critically. Instead they just settle. Personally, I see far too much of this. Everybody just has let themselves go to f-ing hell in the past few decades… The whole nation is super-sized and everybody is just like… Accept me! Accept me! Ugh… Frankly, it’s depressing.