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Parallax - Advice

May 13, 2002

Fault Lines

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An old proverb warns, 'If a bee stings you once, it's the bee's fault; if a bee stings you twice, it's your fault.' Fault is a common factor in love and it's always easier to find fault than love—just look at this week's letter writers. Number one has invested six years, but now realizes she detests her fat, smoking boyfriend; number two fell in love with a cheater and wants revenge; and number three is simply trying to make something out of nothing. Thankfully, our gurus of guidance know that faults are thick where love is thin.

He wants to lose weight.
She wants to lose him.
 Date: 05/13/02

Two-timed and used.
Feeling confused.
 Date: 05/13/02

Call waiting?
Dial-tone blues.
 Date: 05/13/02

More from last week...

He wants to lose weight

Dear Conversely,

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My boyfriend has never been skinny since we started dating six years ago. He is my best friend and so much fun to be around, but lately I find myself absolutely repulsed by all the extra weight he is carrying. I'm just not attracted to him anymore. He is trying to lose weight but it doesn't seem to be very effective, and he smokes, which also disgusts me. Should I stick it out and hope that I feel attracted to him again someday? Or should I move on without him?

Her view:

Dear Chubs,

How about lending him a hand? Put him on a diet, a dual exercise program...the works. If he is such a great guy, it will be a bit difficult to replace him. It sounds like he is trying, but I am guessing only on the margin; otherwise, you would see some improvement. You could be his coach and exercise idol. You might as well give it a shot. After all, it is a six-year relationship.

In order for this to work, he has to be willing to get this done on his own. If there isn't a major improvement, you will continue to find him repulsive and that will be the end of that.

There is a hybrid approach (a favorite tactic when one wants to hang on to an option but explore at the same time.) You can take the, 'I think we should spend some time apart so you can get yourself together' approach. Tell him that you think it would be good for both of you, and that you just can't continue supporting such an unhealthy lifestyle. This way, he can step up or not. If he doesn't, then he never will—you will be stuck with bonbons and cigarette butts pervading your coffee table.

In the meantime, you get the added benefit of doing a little shopping—not bad.

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His view:

Dear Chubs,

'Sticking it out' is not going to make you recover that loving feeling. It's nice to hope for world peace and lottery winnings, but when it comes to the nature of your own feelings, 'hoping' is a simple cop-out. That should answer your question.

A year or two—let alone six—should be enough time to make you realize that lack of attraction is not a sufficient reason for leaving. In addition, there's a stigma of superficiality associated with discarding someone because of their physical appearance and their weight. Both these factors can make a decision more difficult.

You must look at the six years as a sunk cost; whatever decision you make will not return that time. And you can't make a decision about your future based on lost time. As to the supposed superficiality of physical appearance, I suggest you read this article.

Most importantly, staying with him for the wrong reasons won't help anyone. In your question, you don't mention anything about love—just friendship.

Keep the friendship, but move on romantically.

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