I edited a bit of this week’s Q&A Wednesday because it might be a bit difficult to read or a bit triggering, otherwise.

Q: Hi I have read your answers that you give to your readers n I am interested. Well I’m having a real big problem with my tummy n my body weight, my thighs also have a lot of cellulite, my body weight now is xxxlbs, my hip xx,waist xx, upper right n left arm xx, my legs xx. […] I’m ashamed of wearing short shorts n skirts bcuz of the cellulite my boyfriend also tease me abt it n I feel embarrassed all the times even when we are out n he see lady in shorts n skirts he also laugh n said when m I going to look like those ladies. I’m wondering if you can really really help me to loose my weight I want to weight 125lbs but I don’t know what n how to do so.

Sis, I’m thinking it’s safe to say that your partner might be a scumbag.

Listen – people can have their preferences all they want. If your boyfriend prefers women who are slender, he is well within his right.

However. As my Meemaw used to say… what you ain’t gon’ do… is take a woman who doesn’t fit your preference and treat her poorly until she feels so badly that she has no choice but to do whatever she can to desperately change. This is cruel, unusual, and incredibly unfair treatment, and no matter your size, you don’t deserve it.

If it is clear to me, a mere stranger, that you are sensitive about your body right now…then I’m fairly certain that your boyfriend knows how much you struggle with it. What does he gain by forcing you to look at other women and furthermore force you to compare yourself to them? And if you dared to tell him that you actually prefer the way you look over the way they look, would he laugh or make you feel even worse?

I talk a lot about “shame,” but how does it apply here? “Shame” is, literally, our innate fear that we deserve to be cut off from the rest of the world. If we are truly hardwired – psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually – for connection, love, and belonging, then shame is the fear that some part of us would shut us off from receiving that. In this case, the shame is derived from your belief and fear that your size is what’s going to detach you from connecting with others.

People do the whole relationship thing for the wrong reasons – pressure from family to partner with someone “while you’re still young,” fear of being alone, financial stability and security, whatever – and it often impacts their desire to sacrifice other equally important things, like your sanity. You can’t have a partner who is constantly snarking on your cellulite or your tummy – what happens when he decides he would actually prefer you to be more fuller-figured? Is he going to shame you into a binge eating disorder?

Make no mistake about it, people who use comparison to try to move you to action are manipulating you. Instead of helping provide you with information and offering support as you make the decisions that are best for your life, they are trying to force you to make the decisions that are best for them and will make them happiest… and they’re willing to sacrifice your self-esteem and happiness in order to get it.

What’s more, someone who is hellbent on asking why you can’t be like someone else, instead of simply leaving you to go be with someone else is likely staying because they believe you are someone who responds to manipulation. Whenever they want something, and they’re unlikely to get it from you through mere conversation and request, they can shame you into feeling like “no one will want you unless you provide this thing…and why not provide it to me, while you’re at it?”

That being said, lots of people only know this way of interacting with their spouses. There are lots of people in the world who only know how to use tactics that rely on manipulation and shame to influence your behavior. It isn’t always malicious or evil, and it isn’t always as bad as I’m making it sound, mainly because some people actually respond positively to being called out for it.

“Why would you say that to me?”

“Why are you comparing me to other women? Why do you want me to compare myself to other women?”

“Why are you trying to make me feel bad about myself?”

“What makes you think I need to feel bad about myself in order to want to change?”

“Do you sincerely think this is the best way to get me to change?”

Please understand that, I could answer every single other question you’ve asked here (that I edited out), and you’d still need to address the fact that you have a very manipulative person in your life, and – if it’s safe – I’d encourage you to start responding to his nasty statements with those questions. Some people never realize that this is what they do, or that it makes you feel bad, but “feeling bad” is usually something that people believe they deserve when they’re dealing with the side effects of shame, thereby making them less likely to put it on blast.

It’s not always easy to leave relationships, I understand, but if he doesn’t respond to these questions in a way that is sensitive to this thing that matters a great deal to you, it’s something to consider.

Ultimately, if you want to live healthier, do it because it will make you happy, not because you want your boyfriend to stop embarrassing you out in public. When everything’s said and done, we want happy relationships where we feel supported in whatever decision we make, not controlling ones or ones that are ruled by shame instead of support. And sometimes, the fastest way to lose a bunch of useless weight is to ditch the boyfriend.