Look, I know we all gain weight over the years. Thirty-year-old WIM is not as slim as twenty-year-old WIM and chances are forty-year-old WIM will be bigger than both of them, possibly put together. Many of us need travel no further than our favorite social media site of choice to see the shrinking hairlines and/or expanding waistlines of our former teenaged peers. But, who cares if the High School jock I never liked is now bald and overweight? I’m not dating that guy (although if you are the guy dating that guy, not that there’s anything wrong with that!). What I’m worried about is what happens when the person I decide to spend the rest of my life with is also the person people look upon with unflattering confusion on Facebook when asking themselves, “What happened to…?”
I’m sure we all have stories that begin like this but there’s this girl I almost dated awhile back. I can’t tell you why we never officially became a couple. Then again, you can probably relate. You meet randomly, decide to go on a few dates, you like each other but you don’t see yourself walking down the aisle together. Somewhere along the way, you don’t respond to a text or phone call fast enough and lacking the drive needed to pursue a serious relationship your dates grow longer and longer in between, until all of a sudden you’re “just friends.”
In this instance, since I only see her a few times a year, the superficial observations of our meet-ups are exaggerated. For example, her “new” haircut might actually be a few months old but to me it’s brand new. Any other number of progressive changes she’s made to herself over the months are thrust together in one quick snapshot whenever our paths happen to cross. Maybe that’s why on one visit I quickly noticed she had put on some weight. At first, it was barely noticeable – maybe 10 pounds around the waist. Then I began to notice that almost like clockwork, she gained more and more weight between each visit, until during one visit in particular it was suddenly very noticeable. All those 10 pound increments had finally added up. In only a few years, her physical appearance had completely changed. I’ve spoken about the affect 50 pounds can have on a relationship before.
As we sat talking, I caught myself looking her over. She was still an attractive woman but the weight gain couldn’t be ignored anymore. Maybe things would have been different if I didn’t know how she looked beforehand. Still, if the history of our infrequent meet-ups were any indication, she wasn’t going to stop gaining weight anytime soon. While I could give her the benefit of the doubt since she wasn’t my girlfriend, I couldn’t help thinking that I might have dodged a bullet. Then I found myself wondering how I would have reacted if this weight gain happened within the confines of a relationship. I know love is supposed to be unconditional and blind but… Well, what’s love got do with it?!
I can still love you without being physically attracted to the overweight person you have grown into, especially if it is by choice or complacency. As many of us know, attraction and love are multi-faced and are not limited to the physical. On the other hand, if you let yourself go as a result of weight gain related to areas in which you have control – this means diseases, pregnancy, and other natural causes withstanding – then why should I be the one to continue to hold on? Is that what you believe I signed up for? Does “in sickness and in health, until death do us part” also obligate me to love and obey through matters that you have the power to control? Is it flawed to recognize that part of the reason I signed up to be with you forever is because I was at one point physically attracted to you? I know that looks fade but if you make a conscious decision to allow your looks to fade without a fight, how should I feel about that? Answering my own question, I doubt I’ll feel very good.
I recognize some things are out of your control; metabolism slows and people change, but I can’t pretend all things are completely outside of our control and more than likely, not this specific thing. When you look good for yourself, you exude self-confidence, which both partners feed on and benefit from in the relationship. Further, when you deem something important, you make time; whereas, when you deem something unimportant, you make excuses.
Is asking the person you love in the present to do all in their power to “keep it tight” in the future unreasonable? Is that placing too much emphasis on the physical – and is that inherently a bad thing? Is it wrong to want to remain attracted to the person you plan to love forever? I don’t think it is. I’m not asking you to change or stay the same. I know that’s an impossible goal. I’m only asking that you make an effort, which doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request, especially when I’m perfectly willing to do the same or meet whatever qualities you deem important in the relationship as well.
Obviously, it’s your body and therefore your choice but like most things, choices have consequences. If I love you, an emotion, I will remain emotionally attracted to you, because our love hasn’t changed. The real question is whether love alone is enough to sustain a committed relationship. Without the personal experience to respond, I can only wonder the following: can a couple survive based solely on emotional attraction if they lack physical attraction for one another?
Do you expect your partner to try to keep themselves in good physical shape relative to the state you met them in? Have you ever grown un-attracted to someone you were in a relationship with because they let themselves go? How did you handle the situation?
WisdomIsMisery aka WIM provides objective, yet opinionated, qualitative and quantitative analysis on life, love, and everything in between. As a Scorpio, many women wish death on WIM and some have attempted to hasten its arrival. WIM is not a model, a model citizen, or a role model. See more of WIM on his weekly write-ups for SBM and on Twitter @WisdomIsMisery.