We are coming to the close of a challenging year and — for most of us — it’s been a year full of ups and downs. From one lockdown to the next, many are finding themselves in the middle of a flux which can include shifts in both mental health and our physical wellness as well. Are you one of the many who have found themselves dealing with a recent weight gain? Do you feel like it’s causing problems in your relationship?
While gaining weight can certainly cause us to feel less confident in ourselves, it’s rarely the primary issue in a relationship that’s plagued by sudden distance. It’s a superficial answer to a much deeper problem, and it’s a scapegoat which prevents us from dealing with much harder topics. Instead of blaming a change in weight, you need to inspect your potential change of heart. Are you and your partner on different pages? Have you lost sight of yourself and sight of who you once were? All this plays a part.
Your body image as a scapegoat.
As humans, we live in a physical and material world. We are surrounded by the superficial. It’s the first thing we’re confronted with every day, and it’s the easiest realm for us to manipulate for immediate results. That’s why it makes it so easy to blame our bodies when our relationships break down. When a weight gain coincides with growing distance, we often blame the first thing we can see…but it’s usually a symptom rather than a cause.
The body is an easy one to lay the blame on, as it’s the easiest and most obvious problem to see. It’s a superficial manifestation, though, and (at its worst) a symptom of the bigger issues that we’re dealing with in our relationships. You — and your partner — have to stop using your bodies and physical appearances as a scapegoat.
Sit down with one another and be honest about what’s going wrong in your relationship. Have you lost touch with who you are? Have you stopped believing in your self-worth? We have to have confidence to grow and remain someone who is happy and strong. Beyond that, we have to ensure that we’re not taking all the blame. What are your partner’s issues? Are they hiding something they don’t want you to see? Just as you blame your body for your mistakes, they may be doing the same.
Why they’re actually being distant with you.
Instead of blaming your body for the shift in your relationship, you need to get to the real root of why you’re feeling so distant. What is behind your weight gain? If health and general wellness can be ruled out, then you need to look for things like a loss of belief in self, or a subconscious dealing with bigger issues. And don’t just look to place blame on yourself. Is your partner using your weight gain as a scapegoat? It’s possible.
Lost touch with self
What’s going on internally with you right in this moment? How do you feel about yourself inside and out? Do you still believe in your inherent self-worth? Do you believe in your right to be happy? That you are strong and capable? When you don’t know who you are, it becomes easy to let yourself go. This lost your self-esteem, though, can drive our partners away as they watch the character that they loved disappear. You have to stop relying on your partner for constant validation and affection and remember who you are.
Dealing with stress
Although your partner may be cruel enough to blame their distance on the changes in your physical body, this simply won’t be true. Dig a little deeper beneath this sentiment, and you may just find someone who is dealing with a lot of heavy stress of their own. Rather than admit that they are in pain, or that they need help, they turn the blame outward on you and allow you to take hold of some of the hurt they are suffering with every day.
No longer on the same page
Are you and your partner still on the same page emotionally? Are you still working toward the same goals? Do you still want the same things from your future? Life changes and we change with it. What we want from a partnership grows and becomes something different. Perhaps you and your partner have been growing apart for years, but it’s easier to blame your body than to admit that you simply don’t want to work together anymore.
Inability to address feelings
There’s not always some catastrophe lurking behind the scenes of a cracked relationship. More often than not, it’s just a matter of unaddressed feelings and issues that need to be resolved together. When you don’t confront your anger or your differences in opinion and expectation, you wind up dealing with resentment and contempt that eats away at both your partnership and your internal happiness. This affects your mental health, and it can take a toll on your physical health too.
Sometimes the distance of a partner has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with the other person. Sure, you may have gained weight. But that may be nothing compared to secrets on the other side. Your partner may be pulling away because they’re doing something they don’t want you to know about. Avoiding conflict (and responsibility) though, they divert attention by blaming your recent weight gain on their shady behavior or lack of affection and attention.
What you need to do next.
Do you think that your weight gain is causing distance in your relationship? Has your change in appearance caused your partner to lash out or lay blame? You need to step back and rebuild your self-esteem before taking any dramatic action. Then you need to talk to your partner and figure out what’s really going on. Are you willing to be treated this way? Or are you both committed to getting back on the same page and fixing things?
1. Re-establish your self-esteem
Before you shift all the blame onto your body, or confront your partner in anger — you need to take some time to re-establish your self-esteem. Your body is only one manifestation of who you are. As a whole, your personhood encompasses so much more than just the way your body looks. You need to love who you are inside and out, and know that you are still worthy, deserving, lovable, and sexy exactly as you are in this moment.
You need to love and appreciate your body for everything that it is. No matter how it may change while you’re in it, it still has strengths, and it still has value. There is no one-size-fits-all standard of beauty. Everyone appreciates different things aesthetically, but we all appreciate the same qualities internally: kindness, compassion, understanding, respect, love.
Focus on building a strong base of self-esteem before anything else. Sure, you may decide that you want to change your body by getting healthy, and that’s great. You need to love who you are without that, though. Weight loss is something we should only engage in as an act of love, not an act of punishment. Our bodies are worth loving no matter what state they’re in. We should be grateful to them for the opportunity they offer us.
2. Have an honest conversation
With your self-esteem re-established, you need to sit your partner down and confront the issues that are rearing their ugly heads. You both have to have an honest conversation and discuss the dynamics that are changing in your relationship. If you believe your partner is blaming your body for bigger issues, question it. If you think you’ve identified some of those issues, present them and explain how they are impacting the way you see and feel about yourself.
Be honest with one another. Move away from the physical and question the underlying issues. Is your partner struggling with your weight gain, or are they struggling with change? Where did your own weight gain come from? Have you lost touch with yourself, and therefore your happiness? Has your unhappiness been encouraged by the disconnect in your partnerships.
Have patience with one another and approach one another with compassion. You can be honest without being cruel, and you can do it without placing a wreath of blame on one another. Move toward one another as equals and be willing to make compromises that incline you toward a middle ground. After all, relationships are all about finding a middle way. The partnerships which last are the ones in which both partners are able to give and admit wrong.
3. Figure out what you really want
After everything has been aired in the open, you and your partner both need to take your own time to process and refocus. Some issues that come up may be quick and easy to fix. Others may be complex and emotional, requiring you each to figure out on your own before you can bring it back together. Don’t rush into half-hearted solutions. Take some time to really consider how you want to proceed and why.
Analyze your relationship as a whole. Where are you both at right now in this moment? Are the issues you’ve identified major or minor? Do you both have enough left in common to make the work worth doing? You’ve got to be honest on an individual level. How do you want your relationship to change — specifically?
There are bigger questions you also have to consider, though. Before you take another step toward someone you’ve disconnected with, you need to question whether that step is worthwhile. Is this the relationship you’re ready to fight for? Do you both still want the same things from your lives and your futures? Be brutally honest with yourself and encourage your partner to do the same. Don’t waste time fight for something that requires more effort than you have to give.
4. Make mutual repairs
Once your issues are out in the open (and you know what you want) you and your partner have to make the decision to cut ties or make mutual repairs. A relationship that’s become divided or distant won’t fix itself magically. You both have to commit to putting in effort and energy in order to get things back on track. This is more than talking. It requires action and a willingness to be vulnerable and take responsibility for our mistakes.
Pull your attention away from the strictly physical and get down to business. What needs to be fixed and how can you both make those repairs as a team? Write down a list of changes that you both want to see made, then get practical about how those changes are going to be made.
Are you both going to spend time together getting your bodies back on track? Maybe you can get a mutual gym membership or spend time together on a nightly run. Moving away from the physical, though, how are you going to repair the emotional cracks that are beginning to show? Focus on spending more alone time together and fill that time with fun experiences that create memories which bond beyond the physical.
5. Prioritize your happiness
Having a partner who blames your body for the issues in your relationship is toxic at its core. We don’t always have control over how our physical bodies choose to respond to stress hormones, or the chaos of day-to-day life. Weight goes up. It goes down. Our bodies change as the chemicals in our bodies change. Love should transcend this, and if the love of a partner can’t, then our love for ourselves should.
Take a step back and look at your relationship as a whole. If your partner isn’t willing to recalibrate and address the real issues that are going on, then you need to make the decision to prioritize your own happiness. Put yourself first for a while. Get back in touch with the people and the experiences which make you feel happy and fulfilled.
You don’t need someone else to make you feel beautiful. You can fall in love with your body in any state and see the power and the strength that is in it. We were made perfect because we were made in the image of nature. We are literally made of stardust and have the power to change the world with nothing but our ideas. Remember who you are and the value you hold. You deserve more than someone who boils you down to your physical attributes.
Putting it all together…
Are you dealing with a weight gain that’s causing problems or distance in your relationship? This is really just a superficial symptom of bigger issues that are developing. When we’re invested in a relationship, that’s healthy and balanced, a little weight here and there makes little difference to how we feel. Stop placing the blame on your body when the true problems are brewing in the roots of your relationship as a whole.
Before you confront your partner or take some drastic action against your body, you need to re-build your self-esteem. The sum of your worth is not tied to your physical appearance. No matter what you look like right now, you deserve to be loved, respected, and wanted. Re-establish your self-confidence, then sit your partner down for an honest conversation. Express your concerns and question the real issues that are brewing beneath the surface. Once you’ve got some answers, take a step back to consider what you really want. Getting your body “in shape” alone won’t be enough to save a relationship that’s toxic and broken. Look beyond the superficial. If you want to fix things, make mutual repairs — but prioritize your happiness and make sure you’re being respected no matter how you decide to move forward.