Dear Wayne and Wanda,
My girlfriend and I have been together a few years now and we're pretty happy. We share a nice home, we get along real well, and we still have regular sex, which is saying more than a lot of my buddies' relationships, that's for sure.
But lately she's become obsessed with losing weight. Now I'll admit, we both have put on a few pounds since we started dating. But I still think she's beautiful, and I make sure to tell her that. It's like my opinion doesn't matter, though, because all she can do is talk about fasts, cleanses and smoothies. We used to meet after work for a drink or to watch a movie but now she's always off to a spin class or Zumba. And forget eating out. All I hear is how everything has "too many calories." Instead she makes huge pots of cabbage soup and eats salads.
If she wants to improve herself, I'm supportive. But all this exercise and dieting is getting in the way of our relationship and I miss my girl. How can I tell her this without sounding like I'm criticizing her commitment?
Hungry for help
Wanda says: So you're dating a girl who's willing to work hard and sacrifice pleasurable things to look her best? And this is boring you? Well think how she feels! Speaking as a woman who's been seduced by quick-fix gimmick diets and also made serious longer-term commitments to healthy lifestyle changes, I can attest to the fact that while seeing progress is rewarding, getting there totally sucks.
And it's even harder to do when you're in a relationship. For better or worse, your daily living choices are tied to one another's. It's hard to say no to that second (or third, or fourth) cocktail when your partner is cuddled up with a six-pack, just like it's torture to choose the salad-no-croutons-dressing-on-the-side while he's sinking his teeth into a juicy burger dripping with cheese. Damn, I'm hungry.
Sure, there are compromises to be had here. Why not join her for a spinning class? Suggest a walk down on the Coastal Trail. Or cook a healthy dinner together at home. While you're trying to strike a mutually pleasing balance that allows her to keep working toward her goals while also allowing you to spend more time together, remain supportive. It is super hard to be a woman in today's world. We're pummeled -- constantly -- by images of seemingly unattainable perfection. So you know how you tell her she's beautiful? Keep that up. Because it's awesome.
Wayne says: Starving for affection, huh? I know the feeling. It's time for you two to cook up a new dish together: It's called Compromise Casserole with a side of Balance Beans. It satisfies every time.
Let her know she's kicking butt, she's totally hot, and that you're really proud of her but your relationship has to stay healthy too. Just because she wants to treat her body like she's been sentenced to a Siberian labor camp doesn't mean you have to stop doing what makes you happy. You know, like spending time with your girlfriend.
If the relationship remains a top priority for her, she'll renegotiate some lifestyle terms with you. Go to the gym with her once in a while -- it won't kill you. You don't even have to go to a class; just walk on a treadmill and watch ESPN while she's in Zumba, then go to a steam room or hot tub together afterwards. And take it from a workout junkie -- she'll burn out without some breaks. On her rest nights, she agrees to meet you for after-work chats, drinks (beer for you, water for her) and snacks (fried things for you, water for her), just like the old days. You can even get back in the kitchen together, making double batches of her meals. With the cabbage soup, add ground sausage and cheese for you; with the salads, sprinkle on bacon bits and blue cheese for you. If she's truly committed and you aren't flaunting it, this shouldn't be a problem.
Ding! Sounds like your Quality Time Quiche is done!
• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and been to therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.