I.G. Advice: Plump Girlfriend Fishes for Marriage

Hey King C,

When I met my girlfriend, she was hot as hell.  We both enjoyed exercise and outdoor activities and did a lot together, and as a result we both took pride in our physical appearance.  But then after a couple of years being together, her mother died and she took a downward turn.  She refused to go out anymore, and she resorted to chocolate bars in front of the television.  I figured it was just depression from losing a parent, so I let it go.  Fast forward another year and a half, and the girlfriend hasn’t changed.  She no longer spends any time at all exercising, and has ballooned in size.  She is frankly no longer sexually attractive to me.

A couple of months ago, I mentioned to her that I thought she had “gained a few pounds” and that we should try working out together again.  She burst into hysterics.  She cried that I didn’t love her for who she is inside, and that all people gain weight with age, and how insensitive I am to her losing a parent… it went on and on, so I dropped it and never mentioned it again.

Then, just last weekend, she suddenly got wedding blues after coming back from a friend’s bridal shower, and she proposed (or strongly suggested, anyway, that she would like to be proposed TO).  I haven’t responded and haven’t made any moves, but I can tell she expects me to, and soon.
The fact is, we have been dating for a long time, and if he were the same girl she was when I met her, I might have proposed.  But now she’s lazy, overweight and unmotivated, and we haven’t had sex in months because of it. I just can’t see myself being with this girl for the rest of my life – and if she hadn’t broken into hysterics like she did last time I mentioned a lose-weight-or-we-break-up hint (really, it was just a hint to lose weight, not an ultimatum) I might have already dumped her.

What should I do?  I don’t want to sound like a jerk, but I can’t see a kind way out of this.  Not Enticed, in Newfoundland, Canada

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Dear Not Enticed,

I can tell you are from an English-speaking country, because people in most other regions speak their condescension to the overweight more vocally and without the hysteria.  French can be pretty straightforward with their anti-obesity outlook, while in Japan it is even worse.  Here they actually grab your belly and say, “You’ve put on a few,” quite bluntly.  And in Japan, not just one person will mention you have put on weight, just about everyone will think it is normal to inform you of the weight gain you are probably quite aware of already.  It is just the attitude of the society here, and the pressure to stay slim pays off, since the Japanese have a low obesity rate and one of the longest life-expectancies on the planet.

But you are in Canada, which is like a more enlightened yet slightly colder sister to the USA (I speak of the cold weather, the Canadian people are lovely).  So you have the quite common problem that your paramour has an issue with the preventable deterioration of the human form.  Since I am from an English-speaking country, I share her sensitivity to the issue.  People cannot fix fatness with a wave of the wand or in a couple of days.  She feels stuck in a situation you cannot change overnight and that many people suffer.  You need not alert her to the fact that it is hurting her health and sociologically speaking people view being overweight as a big negative.  How are you contributing to her plight though?  You still exercise, but do you still stock the cupboard with Doritos and Easy Cheese?  When is the last time you cooked her a nice meal without any carbs and using only light sauces and lean meats?

Definitely do not rush into being affianced.  I understand your side quite well: men are visual creatures, and we need something to turn us on.  If you were both in your fifties I would say stop being so picky, but you aren’t even married yet, and the shift in her habits has fundamentally altered your chemistry.  At this point, I am not in favor of sugar-coating the issue, but since you are in an Anglo-Saxon country you need to make sure you lead the horse to exercise without making her burst into tears.  Start small.  Buy her the cutest sneakers at the Foot Locker, and say you are both going to run the next Newfoundland 10k (or walk some of it).  Get a fun book of low-cal recipes (I recommend the Dukan Diet book) and throw yourselves into a healthier lifestyle together.  Encourage her to get back the swagger she once had in a sustainable way, but by no means propose to her out of guilt.  Marriage means that you savor your conjugal duties to one another and sex is not doled out from pity.  Keep encouraging her and cherishing her, while you stand your ground that you will not be tied down legally to someone who has given up trying to maintain an alluring exterior.  A few kisses, encouragement and determination could go a long way.

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