“Should I Trade Up For a Hotter Girlfriend?”

My girlfriend, “Tonya,” and I have been together for around four months. She is great and I care for her a lot, but I am not attracted to her body, especially when she’s naked. I’m naturally athletic and in proportion, so I guess I expect my girlfriend to be the same and anything other than that seems unattractive. I don’t mind that she’s curvy, it’s just that her disproportionate body is unappealing to me.

We enjoy having sex with each other. And the things we do seem to be enough to make me want to sleep with her. However, I can’t make myself like her body. She’s 43, so I have to be realistic. She’s not going to have the body of a 25-year-old. At the same time, there are 43-year-olds who have better figures. I know I’m not perfect either, but at 45 years of age I’m blessed with a good physique (and in proportion). I guess I just want to please my eyes by looking at a better body. I like looking at a woman with an athletic body and in proportion.

I’ve dated many women, so I have too many women (with nicer figures) from my past to compare her to. And she actually exercises and goes to the gym, but there is no effect whatsoever. What I’ve seen makes me believe it’s her genes.

On the plus side, she’s attractive, smart, funny, and successful. I care greatly for her, but I don’t think I love her. In addition to body proportionality, we also differ on musical tastes. She likes R&B and hates rock. I hate R&B and like rock. Could this also be an issue?

I could let her go and take my chances in finding a new partner. But then I might discover my new girlfriend lacks some of the qualities my current girlfriend has. For example, she may be short-tempered or selfish or not as devoted.

My current girlfriend is a 7.5 and I’m constantly pulled to trade up for a hotter woman with a better body. Maybe a 9.5. The risk is she may not be as kind-hearted and good for me as my current one. I’m afraid that if I leave her, I may realize afterwards that I made a mistake. What do you think I should do? — Trade Up for a 9.5?

It’s natural to want someone who is a good match for you, so in your case I think “trading up,” as your so sensitively put it, and the chance of ending up with someone who isn’t very kind-hearted, doesn’t have a great personality, and is fixated on appearance over substance is probably your best bet in finding your equal. You also will do Tonya the great service of setting her free to find someone who has the wonderful qualities you say she has and who will be better suited for her than you are.

I’ve been married for 36 years and I can’t understand why my husband does not take me on his business travels. I don’t work, so I could easily get away, but he always says: “I’m not going to have time for you because I’m going to be working long hours, really!” And then he’ll call me in the afternoons while he’s away and he’s having dinner and a beer. I don’t see why I can’t go with him. I can go sightsee by myself and in the afternoon and then we can go to dinner like a normal couple. I’m so frustrated with this situation. — None Of My Business

Do any of his colleagues bring their spouses on business trips? Perhaps in his company/industry, there’s not a culture of partners tagging along on business travels. Maybe he thinks it would be frowned upon. Maybe during those dinners and happy hours, which you say you could join him on like a member of a “normal couple” after you went sight-seeing on your own, he’s actually busy networking and forming working relationships with potential business partners and colleagues.

I know a lot of business travel is about the connections you make outside the meetings and presentations and thinking about how those connections may benefit you professionally in the future. I also know that sometimes during business travel the connections you make are more about the personal benefits you may get. And maybe that’s what you’re concerned about. Regardless, you need some solid reasons from your husband about why he keeps rejecting your requests to accompany him, and if his reasons don’t satisfy you — if you feel like you don’t trust him or he isn’t being thoughtful about your needs (like suggesting alternate travels the two of you can take together outside of work), I’d seriously consider marriage counseling.

I am a nineteen-year-old woman who has a boyfriend but who is also starting to notice my female BFF in a sexual way. What does this mean? And what should I do? How does one approach this situation without confusing one’s self or hurting a partner? I am so confused — please help me if you can. — Feeling Attracted to BFF

As with any attraction you have to someone other than the person you’re dating, you have to decide if pursuing it is worth risking your relationship for. There are really only three ways you can pursue an interest in someone other than the person you’re dating: cheat; discuss with your partner opening your relationship; break up with your partner. I don’t advise cheating. I do advise being as honest with yourself and your boyfriend as you’re able to be right now and deciding together what it means for your relationship. Maybe your boyfriend is open to giving you the space to explore your sexuality and your interest in your BFF. If he isn’t, it’s probably best you break up and move on with the freedom you need to figure things out. Even if your boyfriend is open, you will still need to navigate things thoughtfully, with everyone’s feelings in mind.

Maybe your BFF has no interest in exploring an intimate relationship with you. And maybe your attraction to her is simply a gateway to more lesbian-like feelings. Sexuality is a spectrum, after all, and there’s no shame in exploring where you fall on the spectrum, as long as you are honest with the people you’re exploring with.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy​(AT)​dearwendy.com.


  1. Juliecatharine says:

    Bringing spouses on business trips isn’t really done in my industry or any that I know about. If I’m eating dinner in the afternoon when I’m on the road it’s usually because I haven’t eaten that day and need to get back to my room to do emails. As much as I would love to have my husband with me on the road he would be a distraction even if he did his own thing during the day because my work day isn’t done after my meetings it’s generally just beginning. Maybe the LW should consider getting a job or a volunteer position to occupy her time. I don’t think they need marriage counseling, I think she needs a better understanding of work travel norms.

    1. Yeah, I can’t really imagine bringing my partner on a work trip. Work doesn’t end at 5PM like a normal work day…. there’s SO much that goes on afterward.

    2. RedroverRedrover says:

      Yep, I’d hate to have my husband along on a work trip. I wouldn’t even want to share my hotel room. For me, they’re usually an exhausting marathon of presentations, meetings, etc, and then trying to catch up on my “day job” in whatever time I have left. To have to schedule time in there to be with my husband too would be so stressful.

  2. LW1, I think you should show your letter to your girlfriend. I’m pretty sure she’ll be doing some “trading up” of her own after that.

  3. LW1: Lol, ok.

    LW2: Lol, no. That’s not how it’s done. It doesn’t look good from a business perspective to have a spouse always tagging along. There might be the occasional trip that’s over a weekend or something, that it would be fine, and sure, talk to him about that. But for normal weekly business travel, it’s just not a thing.

    LW3: WWS.

  4. TheOtherOtherMe says:

    I don’t really understand when guys say things like “I am not attracted to her body” but then in the next sentence “we enjoy having sex with each other.” If you’re not attracted to her body, how are you able to have sex with her? You’re obviously “getting it up” and finding it pleasurable, so I guess I’m confused. Maybe what you’re really saying is “I don’t approve of her ‘average’ body, and I really would prefer to be with someone who society and my friends deem to be a hottie.” Which is kinda sucky and shallow, but I guess your prerogative.

    1. RedroverRedrover says:

      Right? Why would you even start dating this person if you find them so unattractive??? It makes no sense to me.

      Anyway, LW2, you better just dump her because this isn’t going to go away and you’re clearly not happy. I doubt very much if she *wants* to be some shallow dude’s pity fuck.

      1. Because, outside of his own mind, he can’t do any better.

  5. SpaceySteph says:

    I do detect some disproportion in you, LW1. Your heart is obviously 3 sizes too small.

  6. artsygirl says:

    I love how LW1 mentions a number of times how attractive and “proportionate” he is and how many women he has dated in the past – it reads like overcompensating.

    1. Seriously, how many times can he say “proportion”??

    2. Yet somehow I get the feeling he wouldn’t be complaining about how disproportionate she is if she was super skinny with giant boobs.

  7. dinoceros says:

    LW1: Anyone who scores women numerically based on their looks doesn’t deserve to have a girlfriend. Dump her so she can find someone better than you.

    LW2: I don’t understand why this is a big deal. Most people don’t take spouses on work trips. Even if he DOES have free time, is he not allowed to be able to do anything enjoyable without you being there?

    LW3: I think you have to figure out what it is you want. Do you want to explore your sexuality in general? Are you solely interested in her? Are you more interested in her and not your boyfriend? If she wasn’t interested, would you want to stay with him or do more exploring? I don’t really think it’s appropriate to ask your boyfriend about exploring your sexuality (as in, actually hooking up with other people) just because it’s the same gender — to me, that’s just like asking to go hook up with other men. But that’s obviously up to you and your relationship.

  8. At my old job a guy would take his kids and his mom on work trips. This was not the normal. He was the laughing stock of the company.

  9. LW1: You say your current girlfriend is not short tempered or selfish, but she is attractive, smart, funny, successful, devoted, kind-hearted and good-for you. But she’s only a 7.5 and you imply you are a 9.5 on the hotness scale. And you feel it’s not fair to you that she can’t offer EVERYTHING you want. Have you ever considered what things you are lacking that she wants, but she accepts you the way you are? Probably not.

    But yes, I can see how this is such a struggle for you to deal with, there’s definitely a problem of disproportion here. You deserve a shallow bitch like yourself, and she deserves a quality partner like herself. You should run, not walk, to find the nearest hotty.

    LW2: Yes on all the previous comments; counseling to find out why you feel like you need to be with your husband all the time, a job/volunteering to give you a sense of your own purpose, a better understanding of how business travel does not allow for spouses at most companies. He is not trying to exclude you, he’s working so please don’t take it personally.

    LW3: You are still young enough to explore your sexuality and not constrain yourself with a serious relationship. Do not get into an exclusive relationship until you have a better understanding of who you are and what you want, otherwise you will be doing yourself (and your partner) a major disservice. For now you should explore/learn/have fun, but be safe 🙂

  10. LW1: Ew. You’re 45? You sound 15. Most 45-year-old men I know have long outgrown the number system. They have also discovered that what’s inside a person is often more satifying than the outside. Do her a favor and let her “trade up”. It wouldn’t be too hard.
    LW2: In my industry, spouses do not go on business trips. Sometimes, a big conference will invite spouses, but there are usually activities planned with the other spouses at extra cost. It’s not like going on vacation, it’s still work and you don’t really see your spouse til the end of the day.
    LW3: WWS

  11. artsygirl says:

    LW2 – My husband travels for work a lot (a few days every other week) and I go on one trip a year with him that is a very casual, conference where lots of WAGs and partners also show up because it is in a resort off of Clearwater. When my husband is traveling for work – he is normally insanely busy. He will spend all day in meetings, will bolt down a quick dinner somewhere at a bar, and then will go back up to his hotel room to catch up on all the emails and calls he missed through the day. Basically instead of a 9-5 in a fun location, he is a 7-midnight spent most of the time in an office and then in a hotel room. Even if his work culture was ok with me coming along, it isn’t like he has any time to do anything touristy or even grab a nice, long meal.

    1. FannyBrice says:

      This is exactly what I was going to say. My husband travels a pretty fair amount, and when he does he is in meetings and at working lunches and dinners all day, then he has to get back to his hotel and do all his normal work remotely at night. And yes, he calls me when he’s alone, having a beer, at the end of a long day bc that is literally the only moment he has to himself.

      And really, spouses and partners tagging along is just not done in most cases. For conferences in resort areas, sure. But otherwise it’s completely outside the norm.

    2. dinoceros says:

      Yeah. Even when you have down time during a conference or work trip, that’s usually needed for decompressing. As much as a person may love their spouse, going to dinner to hear about your spouse’s day or going sightseeing with them does not help you decompress. My coworkers and I may plan a couple of nights for something fun, but most of them time we just go back to our rooms early and either do emails or just veg out and go to bed early.

      1. ele4phant says:

        Totally, when I’m away for work, it’s for a reason, and it’s pretty all encompassing of my time and energy.

        Even if I do get free time, about all I can handle is watch HGTV in my hotel room until I fall asleep.

  12. For whatever reason, I’m not able to sign in. I get an error. Anway…

    LW1. Gross. Just gross. Dump her so she can find someone who appreciates her. All of her.

    My widowed aunt is back on the dating scene. She met this guy and they were dating a while… but she dumped his ass when he told her that she wasn’t his ideal body type and she need to lose more weight. She’s a fucking size 6! She’s had three kids and she’s in her 60s. He was too, in his 60s that is. Again. Gross. Just gross.

    1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      Hey Kt – Thanks for the head’s up on the error issue you’re getting. You aren’t the only one getting that message in the last day or so. I’ve alerted my host server and they’re looking into the issue. Hopefully it will be resolved shortly!

    2. And I’ll bet he was so shocked when she did it, too. What do they honestly expect the woman to do? Trot off to the nearest plastic surgeon? Jeez.

  13. LW1 – why don’t you just pay for your girlfriend to have plastic surgery? Make her proportionate to your desired look! You should go to her and say “I’d like for you to get liposuction and a tummy tuck. and inject the fat they take out of you into your boobs and butt! It will be pretty expensive, but I’ll pay for it. However, you won’t be able to be fully functional for the next 8-10 weeks or so.”

    I bet she’ll make your decision about “trading up” REALLY easy for you.

  14. ele4phant says:

    Re – LW2, I think for just about everybody, spouse coming along is not standard.

    Maybe in certain industries its okay, and maybe if you’re husband is a real high mucky-muck, its okay, but most of the time its frowned upon, or at least raise eyebrows.

    Maybe if he’s going somewhere really cool, and he’s able to tack on a few extra days for fun times, I think it would be acceptable for a spouse to come on RARE occasions. Like, he’s going to Europe for a conference.

    But, otherwise, he is being asked somewhere to for work, they are probably paying (or will reimburse) most/all of his expenses. Even if he is able to meet all of his work obligations while having you around, it kinda looks like grifting, you know?

    And probably he IS busy. You may think “Jeez, he has all this time to go out to dinner and drink”, but that may be the ONLY free time he has to even call you. Otherwise he may be working or networking the whole time, or just absolutely exhausted.

    What is it that you want by going with him? Do you want to travel more? As Wendy suggested, talk with him about traveling together more. Or, could you travel by yourself or with friends?

    Or are you worried about him misbehaving? Because that’s a different conversation all together.

    Bottom-line, on these trips he’s working. You wouldn’t come hang out at his office all day right? So you really shouldn’t come on his work trips.

    1. artsygirl says:

      Your comment about being a high up is really interesting. The president of the company my husband works for has brought his wife on a number of business trips for conferences and it is always weird. She actually works for the same company but in a much lower position and in a department that does not travel typically so it really comes across as favoritism. Her being there always feels like a third wheel, she does not attend any of the meetings but then goes out to working dinners and the like. He said it just is really awkward and uncomfortable for other members of the company.

      1. ele4phant says:

        True, just because you’re a higher up doesn’t mean your spouse traveling with you is any less distracting or isn’t going to come across as weird to your colleagues/clients eyes, its just that you can kind of do what you want without repercussions. Whereas if you’re a peon, you might face harder consequences.

        So, even if her husband is a higher up, he may perceive that it would give a bad impression or be distracting for him to have her, so he rightfully doesn’t ask her along.

  15. SpaceySteph says:

    I frequently traveled for work last year and on one trip my co-traveler brought her family along so they could tack on a personal trip afterwards and it did kind of impact the rest of us just in small ways– like her basically just taking off when the meetings were done and leaving the rest of us to close out, and when they changed the meeting schedule she missed a meeting because she was flying with her family and didn’t want to change her flight.
    Also I think it impacted her because she missed the after-hours socialization. Whether you think that’s important or not, it’s informal networking that can really impact relationships.
    But that was one trip out of several so it wasn’t a big deal. It would certainly be different if she did it every time.

    It might be worth it once or twice if it was a truly once in a lifetime destination (I had a friend join his wife when she went to Japan for a week!) but not something to do every time.

  16. LisforLeslie says:

    As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I travel for work all the time. My company has a policy for allowing family or companions to travel and the in past years when there is a meeting in a more tourist friendly area, they’ll make a note that the meetings will be over by a certain time on Friday to allow you make plans if you’ve decided to spend the weekend in said location.

    That said – when travelling for client related work – it’s almost unheard of to have the spouse travel during the week. It is somewhat acceptable to have the spouse travel on a Friday to said location where the couple (or family) will spend the weekend together and then either everyone goes back home or the spouse/kids go home and the coworker spends another week at the client’s office.

    Similarly for internal meetings, it’s almost unheard of for spouses to travel to conference locations during the meeting week. Spouses are not invited to these team dinners or events. They may be invited to a holiday party but that’s not a working work event – that’s a celebratory work event. I’ve seen some exceptions when the event is in Orlando, families will travel together and then the spouse will wrangle the kids for four days while the worker does work things. But to give you scale: 300 coworkers at an Orlando conference. Maybe 5 families there during the week.

    It is somewhat expected that during these events you are networking so disappearing in the evening is fine if you have work but you are expected to balance work and networking and having a spouse there limits your ability to do either.

    1. dinoceros says:

      This LW also sounds like the sort of spouse who would get offended if she were on the trip and felt like her husband wasn’t spending enough time with her.

      1. ele4phant says:

        To me, it sounds like she’s never worked, or maybe she did but it never required travel.

        I could see how, if you’ve never really been on a business trip before, one would think “You have meetings from X to X during the day, but then you’ll be done for the day and we could explore”.

        But, business trips really don’t work like that. I’ve traveled for a number of reasons, including for client meetings, to help out another office, or to go to a conference. For any of those reasons, I am way busier than a normal 9-5 day at my home office. Companies don’t usually send people places on a whim, if they want you to travel they generally have a pretty big reason to put out that expense.

        You’re usually busy being hyper focused all day on the reason you were sent, but you often still have your day to day tasks to take catch up on at night. Plus you’re often expected to put in facetime with your colleagues/clients/networking after hours.

        I’d give the LW the benefit of the doubt that she’s not self-centered and demanding, she just doesn’t understand.

      2. dinoceros says:

        That’s probably true. I think her troubles with understanding could extend to the actual trip, though. She had her own perception of what it’s like, her husband has told her what it’s actually like, and she seems to believe he’s wrong or lying or something. And the fact that she’s so upset over it. I guess I feel it’s not a huge stretch that she’d also not believe him if he had to miss dinner with her one night or something. Doesn’t mean she’s a bad person, but this seems like a huge deal to her and she doesn’t seem to be trying to understand it.

  17. LW2: My exes company would fire him if he brought me on a work trip, even if he had nothing to do for a day. My other bf would sometimes have me meet him the last day and we’d extend a trip if it was convenient and a desirable location. Perhaps he enjoys his time away from you. I don’t mean that cruely but many relationships benefit from the occasional time apart.

    Why not ask if you can fly there the last day and extend your trip a few days if it is somewhere you wish to travel to. Many companies allow employees to do this (as in they pay his return ticket but push the return date and he pays the hotel for the additional nights).

    LW1: Really do her a favor and leave her.

  18. LW-1. You joking right? This is fake? On the off chance you are walking in this earth, either break up with her or get an attitude adjustment. You’re gonna fat, or super skinny and wrinkly, she’s gonna get wrinkly, we all gonna get wrinkly and if you can’t find her awesome personality enough of a reason to stay than go. Leave. Buh bye.

    LW 2. My friends dad worked for halliburton back in the day, and the wife would occasionally come along. Not out of bounds to ask. What is out of bounds, is to ask and ask and ask andexpect a different answer. He can’t take you. The company/company culture doesn’t allow it. He’s busy, needs to network. Do you think he’s getting down to some ahem extracurricular activities? You going along ain’t gonna squelch that honey.

  19. LW1: Can you trade up for a better personality, a better you? Because right now you’re registering a 0 on a 10 point scale of how decent a human being you are; you’re bringing down the collective worldwide human average. I didn’t assign you a negative value because that’s reserved for the murderers and criminals (and Trump).

  20. I’ve taken my husband on precisely one work trip and it was because spouses were invited. It was a conference for them to understand the upcoming London games campaign and what us staff would be up to as well as thank them for allowing us leaving for 7 weeks. Even then I felt bad as in between the family stuff my husband was left to his own devices while I worked. It’s just not a common thing and even if LW2 does her own thing usually staff eat together and catch up and all that schmoozing type stuff once the work day is finished. She’d really be on her own and I don’t get the sense she’d be ok with that.

  21. LW2 – Nope, I’ve never seen anyone invite their spouse along on a business trip. If at a tradeshow, all I could ever think about was getting back to the hotel room so I could do some computer work, get a few hours of sleep, and do it again the next day. If visiting a client or customer, it was all work or networking.

  22. Leslie Joan says:

    Please do trade up. Your girlfriend doesn’t deserve you, and I mean that in all sincerity. And I have no reason to think you should aim for a mere 9.5. You deserve to keep searching for at least a 9.7 if not a full 10. In the meantime, Tanya deserves someone who wants her 100%. You guys clearly value different things; please stop wasting this unfortunately “flawed” woman’s time. Please show her your letter and she will understand completely.

  23. wobster109 says:

    LW1 – I’m sympathetic to wanting to be attracted to your partner, but not to talking about women like commodities! Here’s a tip for you. Women (and men) don’t like being talked about as if they were cars, just things where their worth is measured in what can they do for you. You talk about her like she’s kind and devoted, she has leather seats and rearview monitor, but you’d trade her for a fancier model with faster acceleration and never look back.

    Women (and men) like to have emotional attachment to and from their partners. We want out partner to care about us as people. People aren’t a set of features that you can “trade” some features for others. I love my boyfriend, and I wouldn’t trade him for a different one with some features tweaked. He’s a unique person.

  24. LW1’s obsession with “proportion” and his girlfriend’s perceived lack thereof still gets me, three years later. What, did she have a head the size of a car? Legs five inches long? Twice as much skin as her body required?

  25. Not My Business
    I travel often for work. My hours start often around 5am or sometimes earlier. Business travel often demands mandatory group meals starting at breakfast and ending with dinners that can last past 9pm. Business travel is typically exhausting.
    Any notion you have of your spouse clocking out at 5 and having tons of free time are completely erroneous. Absolutely nobody brings their spouse to a work dinner. Nobody.
    Your presence would be a distraction from the work it seems that pays the bills.
    If you want a vacation with your spouse- plan one. Do not try to tag along on a business trip however and then realize it’s not a free vacation paid by the Company. If you would prefer your spouse not travel- encourage them to get a different job. Under no circumstances should you bother your spouse about tagging along on a business trip

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