Her Guy Got Fat and Lazy

Q: My live-in boyfriend is letting himself go. He sits around in sweats and drinks beer all weekend long. He doesn't want to go out, just watch TV. He doesn't even want to get out of bed on Sundays. Just lays there and watches sports. When I beg him to go hiking or out to eat, he says he's tired from working all week. He says he wants to spend time with just me, but he doesn't really pay me any attention.

He also has gained a lot of weight. He used to work out and be proud of his muscles--he almost looked like a body builder. Now he's got a big huge gut. He doesn't even realize how bad he looks. The other day he said I was lucky he was still in shape compared to other guys.

He's turning me off in bed because he weighs so much I can hardly breathe. What should I say so he knows how he looks and get him to lose weight? — Charlene, 51

Dr. Susan: Body image is a touchy area. Think about how you'd feel if your situations were reversed. However, your boyfriend has changed so much that he may have a big problem besides looking unattractive to you. He sounds depressed. Not wanting to get out of bed, doing nothing but drinking and watching television: these are not the actions of a happy, healthy person. To have gone from a proud gym rat to a giant sloth is a huge change.

Inviting him to hike with you might be a bit much right now, but you'd think he'd at least enjoy a meal out once in a while. Isn't there anything fun he still likes to do? Something is wrong. When he compares himself to other guys and finds himself coming out better than them, that's just his way of rationalizing his behavior. If you're going to stay with him, you certainly don't want to let things get even worse.

Insist he see a doctor to rule out a physical cause for his changes, and to determine if his overweight is contributing to some health issues. It may be keeping him from breathing healthfully almost as much as it prevents you from breathing when you're under him. Then perhaps you two could see a couples counselor—ask him to do it as a favor to you—to get another opinion on whether what's going on is "normal." I'd focus on your concern for his health, not only your growing lack of appreciation for his weight in and out of bed.

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