My boyfriend of 5 months has become overweight due to alcohol and stuff. He used to be a fitness freak and had 6 packs before, but he is not able to hit the gym regularly because he is studying abroad and working.
He’s extremely upset about the weight he gained and not talking to me properly, saying that he’s feeling empty.
We’re in a long distance relationship, I don’t know what to say. Please tell me what to do. I love him truly and it doesn’t matter to me if he’s fat or not.
It’s been said many times that you can’t love someone if they can’t love themselves.
In many ways, this is true. In this case, he’s so caught up in his own sense of failure that he can’t think about connecting with you.
Men identify strongly with whether they consider themselves a loser or a winner in the world. When a man feels like he’s a loser in the world, the thought is so overwhelming and uncomfortable that he’d do anything to avoid thinking about it and feeling the awful feelings that come with feeling like a loser.
When he feels like this, his instinct is to hide away from the world, privately get his emotions in order and then re-emerge to the world after he “gets back on the horse”, so to speak.
This instinct is complicated in a relationship since oftentimes a woman’s instinct is to try and help, nurture and console someone who’s in pain.
While the woman’s intentions are good, the result is often bad: On top of feeling like a loser, the guy now feels humiliated since his failure is now a subject of discussion. Again, this is a feeling he wants to avoid at all costs – being forced to discuss it multiplies the negative feelings.
These are the moments when you’ll see a guy explode into a rage seemingly out of nowhere. Not only does he not want to think about how he feels about himself, he’ll most likely blame or resent you if you try to bring it up yourself as something to talk about (from his perspective).
Generally speaking, talking to a guy about the areas where he feels like a loser can lead to a bad place. So what’s a better move?
Give him psychological space. Leave it alone and let him have the time and space he needs to work it out on his own.
Men inevitably do work out the areas where they feel like they’re losing – you just have to let him go through his process.
In general, you’ll do best letting his problems be his problems – don’t make them your own. It will only add psychological pressure to the situation and he’ll end up feeling worse about himself.
I’m going to share a powerful lesson I learned in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (by Stephen Covey) that will help you connect with him in a way he’ll be grateful for. In one chapter, Stephen talks about how one of his sons kept acting up and the problem became worse and worse.
Everything changed when Stephen and his wife made a firm, conscious decision to see their son in a positive way: An intelligent, well-behaved, successful child… instead of an out-of-control child who was performing badly in school.
When they made a conscious decision to see their son in the most positive light, everything changed. Their style of interacting automatically changed and as a result, the way he responded to them changed. Over time, his behavior changed and he began doing well in school, which ultimately changed how he saw himself.
The point is – they loved their son, but their worried reaction to his behavior was actually making the problem worse. When they firmly and completely changed their perspective on the situation, their son improved.
I’ve been amazed by this in my own life: The way you view someone in the privacy of your mind can have a powerful influence on whether you help them or hurt them through your interactions.
In your case, it would be natural to be worried about your boyfriend, how he feels about himself and how he feels about the relationship.
As a result, you are likely worried about the problem, which is a sign that you’re viewing the situation as a problem or being problem-focused.
The best thing you could do at this point is to stop worrying… and instead, start viewing your boyfriend in the way he wants to be: effective, strong, successful… a winner.
I have to remind you – what I’m suggesting isn’t something you say on the outside. It’s something you do on the inside. It’s how you look at him – you are going to simply see him as the ultimate winner version of himself.
Again, if you worry about him or your relationship and say something, it will feel like you’re pitying him, coddling him, or seeing him as pathetic. That energy comes across as you viewing him as weak and that he needs you to give him strength.
When you view him as strong, capable and in-control, the conversations you have will never go down a path that makes him feel worse. They’ll naturally unfold in a way that makes him feel better about himself and inspired to get himself back in order.
I can say personally that this has been one of the greatest gifts a woman can give me in a relationship. I’ll never forget the times where I was doubting myself or feeling horrible and a woman in my life inspired me to be the winner I knew I could be… simply because that’s how she saw me.
This isn’t easy and it’s not an instant fix or magic pill. I can say that if you practice and work hard to make sure you relax and see him only as a winner, things will get a long better for both of you.
Hope it helps,