Home Q&A Wednesday Q&A Wednesday: Dealing With Unsupportive Boyfriends

Q&A Wednesday: Dealing With Unsupportive Boyfriends

by Erika Nicole Kendall
Q: I'm ashamed to show my legs because of cellulite. When my bf and I are out and he sees ladies in shorts and skirts, he asks when will I look like them.

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.

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5 comments

Kristen May 7, 2015 - 1:08 PM

i totally agree with Erika. His snarky comments don’t help motivate you to do anything but continue in the cycle you’re in. If you want to lose weight, lose the scumbag. That’ll take at least 10 lbs off there because he’s stressing you sister!!

One thing I had to learn is to love what I already have. Then I can move forward with making more changes to a better me. In order for you to lose weight AND keep it off, you’ve got to accept you as you are. Love the imperfect parts of you. Then work on being the healthiest you there is emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.

Been down this road before. Bust a U-turn my sister because you deserve better and like Loreal says “you’re worth it!”

Janeen May 7, 2015 - 2:50 PM

1. Say bye to that dude, there is nothing more of a sabotage than someone who doesn’t love or care about your feelings or respect. 2. Losing weight has been a journey of loving how my body changes, plateaus, what works and doesn’t, as well as loving all of those different shapes. Because I was never a ‘big’ child or adult. There are issues that I never knew so many people dealt qith, and it saddens me because no matter what, I just see Jme and some people never had that opportunity. Which brings me to 3. Learn to accept and love you no matter what, your journey will be tough, but t ou can do it! Just reaching out is a major step. Allow for yourself to realize all of us have cellulite and stretch marks ( because no one has the original body they were born in!) Get around people who see you and love it, they’ll help you to just be better, not perfect, because no one is.

Lisa May 8, 2015 - 5:18 AM

Please, please do yourself a favor and get rid of this guy! That is a red flag in your relationship. Love yourself, and don’t take this kind of negativity from him or anyone. Focus on the changes that you are making in your lifestyle in order for you to be healthier and stronger. Life is too short for us to settle for less than what we deserve, and no one deserves to be compared to other body types, sizes, in this way. When we are overweight, it’s easy to justify this kind of treatment, but having somebody is NOT better than having nobody. Toxic people only pull us down and sabotage our efforts.

Annette May 12, 2015 - 12:44 PM

Amen! Yet as a friend said what about you, makes you feel you deserve this. That you would jump through hoops for a person who thinks so little of you. This isn’t motivation, the sad thing is sometimes we say even worse to ourselves in our heads. Maybe the best way is to come to an understanding with yourself. Love the me we are, who knows if we embrace the ugly, fat, not worth it person we think we are the fight to lose weight and become fit would be a lot easier. ..Just maybe on top of that once we think we deserve the person who is loving and supportive will come into our life.

Roslyn May 19, 2015 - 9:20 AM

I love this! So true! I had someone like that in my life before. Got rid of them and got rid of the stress.

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