Mel Schilling is a relationship expert, confidence coach and TV presenter who is passionate about educating, motivating and inspiring people to be their best. Mel’s advice is backed by her 20 years spent as a psychologist and aims to improve your relationships in life and love.
Question: My partner's gained weight - can I tell them?
Thanks for having the courage to ask this question. It’s a tricky one.
There is so much taboo and shame around body image, attraction and sexuality and sometimes, these things can be hard to talk about. And, with fat-shaming front and centre in the media, the idea of bringing up your partner’s weight gain can feel extremely uncomfortable.
Firstly, you need to figure out if this is a you problem or a them problem.
I want you to be really honest with yourself here. WHY are you concerned about your partner’s weight gain?
A) Are you concerned about how they look in public? Worried about what other people might say and how this reflects on you? Are you questioning whether you are still sexually attracted to them in their new body shape? Is it now harder for you to see yourself in the future with your partner?
B) Are you worried about their health? Have you noticed physical changes that could indicate physiological or medical issues? Have you noticed your partner’s self esteem slipping and you’re concerned about their wellbeing? Have you observed them speaking negatively about themselves and you’re worried they may become depressed?
You probably figured out that A indicates a YOU problem and B, a THEM problem.
If A resonates for you, then you need to take a look at yourself. If your partner is happy in their bigger body but you have a problem with it then you need to decide if you can adapt, or if you’d rather leave. Simple as that.
It’s not your job to stay in this relationship to judge your partner’s body - either stay and love them, regardless of body size and shape, or get outta there.
If B resonates more for you, then you have a more complex situation on your hands. Regardless of how long you’ve been together, before you bring up a sensitive topic like this you need to ensure that trust and emotional safety are well and truly established.
It’s critical that your partner feels comfortable having a range of personal (non-weight related) conversations with you and that you have demonstrated a history of being non-judgemental. So this is your first step, if not already established.
Once you feel confident in the emotional safety of your dynamic, start asking them about their experience in their changing body. Reinforce that you love them regardless of body size and shape (and back this up with physical and sexual connection) and when the time is right, share your concerns for their health and wellbeing.
Mel's topline advice:
Figure out if this is a YOU problem or a THEM problem
If it’s about you, adjust or leave
If it’s about them, establish trust and emotional safety
Start by asking them about their experience and go from there - take their lead
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