Dear Wendy: “My Boyfriend Is Obsessed With My 8 Pound Weight Gain”

I’ve been with my boyfriend for two years. Initially, he was the pursuer, but as time passed I fell completely in love. We were stable, playful, and even got a dog together. Starting in October, though, he started being shady: [at] bars all the time, getting too drunk to drive home and staying at his friend’s house (who happened to live with a girl who was a previous hook-up of his), lying about who he was with and just being sneaky in general. I panicked and clung harder than ever, became suspicious and snooped and only made myself feel worse. And then we moved past it and were happy again. Then, last Sunday, he said we “needed to talk.” I feared the worst: cheating? Breakup? Nope. He has been seriously preoccupied with my eight pound weight gain. He says his preoccupation is the reason for his distance, and that he’d hate for us to have to plan our lives around my weight gain. (You know, since being 5’6, 165 lbs seriously inhibits my lifestyle.) I don’t feel like it’s unreasonable for him to say something about maybe working out more, but blaming our relationship issues on my weight gain? Since he told me, he has been affectionate and loving again; he says he just needed to get it off his chest and now everything will be fine. But I’m pissed. Is it worth it for me to put up with his shallowness? I don’t think it’s okay to blame everything on eight pounds. Am I overreacting? Or should I MOA? — 165 and Ready to run

You asked if it’s “worth it to put up with his shallowness,” but it isn’t just shallowness you’re putting up with, is it? You’re also putting up with his shady behavior, insensitivity, lack of open communication, and an unstable relationship. Is it worth it? I certainly wouldn’t think so. What in the world could you possibly be getting out of the relationship that would make all that crap worth it? If I had to make a guess, I’d say your boyfriend is up to something he knows you wouldn’t approve of, feels guilty about it, and has created this “preoccupation” with your practically non-existent weight gain to shift the blame and alleviate some of his guilt. Rather than take responsibility for whatever it is he feels guilty for, he creates a “problem” — all yours, of course — for you to focus on and then relaxes a bit while the heat is temporarily off him. This is so not about eight pounds. This is about your boyfriend’s inability to communicate what’s really going on with him and your relationship. If you can’t get it out of him, MOA. Even if you can get it out of him, you should probably still MOA and find someone who isn’t so shady and manipulative.

My boyfriend and I have been together for six months and dated casually for about three months before that. We started off long-distance, and it’s certainly been challenging; we’ve both made sacrifices to make it work (which it has so far, amazingly). Yesterday, he called to tell me that his mom won $2.6 million in the lottery! Today, after spending the night at my place, he canceled a planned day trip and went home early after telling me he “needed a bit of a break to sort things out.” He said it was precipitated entirely by the whole “winning the lottery” thing and that it’s nothing to do with me — he just that he wants to “get all his ducks in a row” and “see where this will take him.” After he told me this, he held me in his arms and we both cried for almost an hour before he went home.

I’m totally shaken and blindsided by this and I don’t know what to do. Literally, everything seemed fine before this happened! I thought this was a relationship for the long haul. We’re still “in a relationship” and not seeing other people, and have plans to talk regularly, but won’t be seeing each other again until probably the end of the month (he is a flight attendant so we generally are not able to see each other a lot). A lot has changed recently in his life, outside of this lottery thing — he recently graduated from university, moved back home with his mom and started a new job. His mom also just started dating someone new and is moving WAY too fast with him, and I think my boyfriend is feeling obligated to take care of her. Plus, he’s applying to go back to school in September and I’m applying to a competitive grad program that could take me across the country. I can’t decide if he’s legitimately feeling overwhelmed and needs a few days of space, or if he was having doubts about our relationship and this has provided a convenient excuse. Wendy, all I want to do is curl up in the fetal position and cry! What do I do?? — Lost the Love Lottery

While I’ve only ever fantasized about winning the lottery — oh, how I have fantasized! — I’d imagine if I ever did win, it would be a huge shock. In an instant, my life would change. And to be honest, I’m not sure how I would handle that. And I know it was your boyfriend’s mother who won $2.6 million (!!!) and not your boyfriend, but I would think the shock would be just as great — especially considering he’s recently moved back home with his mom and she’s just begun dating someone new. Suddenly, your boyfriend has to think about the immediate and long-term changes in his lifestyle. Will his mother want to upgrade to a new home? If so, where will your boyfriend live? Will her new boyfriend want a piece of the action? Is there anything your boyfriend can do to help his mother protect her new assets and not be blinded by love and share too much of her money? Will she be taken advantage of now? I bet there’s even a part of your boyfriend that worries about what this sudden and large amount of money will mean for his relationship with you. After all, you’ve only been serious for six months. Can he trust you to love him for who he is and not for his family’s new fortune?

It’s a lot for a brand new college grad to think about. Add to it the relative uncertainty of your relationship and respective futures, and it’s no wonder he needs a little time and space to process his emotions and figure out what the next step should be. I really wouldn’t read too much into what his behavior says about his feelings for you. I’m sure it must be an anxious time for you, but do try to give him some space to regroup and think things through. And while you’re giving him space, it would be worthwhile for you to do some soul-searching, too. What are your hopes for your relationship? If school takes you to different sides of the country, how do you hope to keep the relationship alive? Or, do you? You certainly don’t have to make any decisions now; September is still a ways a way, and who knows if you’ll even be accepted into your respective programs, but it’s a good idea to at least give thought to the future.

Finally, keep in mind that there are points in new relationships — one month, three months, six months, and a year — when natural check-ins occur. Even if your boyfriend’s mother hadn’t won millions in the lottery, this would be a time in your relationship when it would make sense for one or both of you to re-assess and make sure things are moving in the direction you want. Keep perspective here; as much as you may want to, don’t curl up in a fetal position and cry. This is not the end of the world. This, hopefully, isn’t even the end of your relationship. This is just a speed bump — a chance to slow down and make sure you’re both traveling to the same destination. Even if you aren’t, there’s no reason to believe your destination won’t be a wonderful place to travel to on your own or that you won’t both meet up there eventually.

Follow me on Twitter and get relationship tips and updates on new Dear Wendy columns!

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at {encode=”[email protected]” title=”[email protected]”}.