Dear Kiki: Partner gaining weight?

Questions about love and sex in the city of Iowa City can be sent to (queries can also be sent anonymously using this form). Questions may be edited for clarity and length, and may appear either in print or online.

Dear Kiki

Dear Kiki,

My long-term partner has gained 15-20 pounds over the last couple months and I don’t feel attracted to them anymore. Am I a monster? What is the right thing to do?

Signed, Monster?

Dear Honeybird,

Asking if you’re a monster is giving yourself too much credit. On a scale with genocide and, like, Wall Street on it, you’re not a monster. I do think your attitude is immature and shallow. For one thing, 15-20 pounds can be a pretty normal fluctuation of weight, and may even be a new normal for this person depending on their age and circumstances. If you’re looking to make a long-term commitment to someone, it’s extremely naïve to think that “looking the same throughout the relationship” is a reasonable expectation. It’s also, to be honest, kind of a shitty expectation. So much of desire and intimacy is touchable, emotionally complex, alchemical: to reduce your lust down to a static image is an alarming thing to do to yourself and a toxic attitude to harbor toward a partner.

Honeybird, as I was narrowing down your concern to one of image, it occurs to me: how much porn do you watch? To be honest, if you so connect your sexual desires to an image such that if something’s off, you turn off, then it might be you experience your sexuality mainly through images. I think the first thing to do would be to vary the body types you view in your porn. The beauty of this is no one’s feelings get hurt if you don’t get aroused the first couple of times you watch scenes with larger people.

In addition to acclimatizing yourself to the reality that many body shapes are desirable, I would encourage you to do your own inner work. Do you hold yourself to strict standards about your own appearance or other perceived measures of desirability? Do you think a partner’s looks reflect on you? Are your expectations for appearance fair, or do you think your partner should do more of the labor of glamor, and, if so, why? (The answer is something like “gender roles,” I’m guessing.) Please, please work through these questions in your journal or with a trusted confidant/therapist.

When you feel like you’ve done enough work on your own or with a therapist, check in with your partner. For example, how does your partner feel about their weight gain? What’s going on in their life right now? Really listen, and only offer suggestions and insights if specifically asked. If they’re stressed, see if you can help out in some way. If they want to examine the sources of their weight gain, support them.

By this point, I’m hoping you’ll have experienced a lot of internal shifts, and you feel attracted to your partner again. If not, perhaps it’s better to move on, and find someone who can explicitly consent to your rigid standards. Either way, getting out of this situation will require you to grow up. –– xoxo, Kiki

This article was originally published in Little Village 192

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