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Parallax - Advice            May 22, 2000

   She amassed a nice winter layer...

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I am having trouble saying something to my girlfriend. When we began dating she was very trim, very athletic, and of course I was turned on by that. Not that she's not super smart and all those things, but you know, she was hot. About four months into it she went through some rough spots at work and she gained a bit of weight. Nothing major, and I wouldn't mention it except that she has since gained more, even though the 'rough spot' is over. What was once a winter layer has turned into a spring one, and is threatening to go into summer. My problem is I'd like to encourage her to diet and exercise more, as she used to, and not just because of me - I think it's good for her as well. But I'm afraid of how she'll take it and I don't even want to mention the f word - I'm not that stupid. How would you do it?

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Her view:

Dear Jock,

I would just come out and say it - be flip - grab a little piece of her layer and say, 'hey, what's going on here?' No point in all the forethought, subtlety, and sensitive delivery. Girls see right through all the build up to a feedback comment. All the dancing around, all the 'I think you're so great, so pretty, blah blah blah...' won't fool them. Though I'm sure she has noticed the issue, she probably hasn't yet realized that you have too. Letting her know may give her the tiny push she needs to act on it. But don't turn this into a serious 'oh no' topic - just make a light comment to let her know it's not a big deal to you, but you have noticed.

Of course, you mentioning it doesn't mean she'll do anything about it. That's up to her and she may not dash to the Stairmaster. Give her time. Eventually, you may need a more serious conversation if it really becomes a problem. For now I'd simply say something silly like 'hey, what's up with my little roly-poly?' She'll get the point.

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His view:

Dear Jock,

At first blush, my advice would be to follow Elmer Fudd's warning: be wery wery quiet. A friend of mine once said he wouldn't dream of telling his girlfriend she needed to diet - he would rather dump her than endure the pain of that little episode. But it need not be as grim as that.

If she does prefer being trim, the problem might be something more than just a 'rough patch' at work. Don't worry, I'm not suggesting you run out to the pharmacy for a pregnancy test - but you may want to reconsider her situation: at work, at home, with you, with her family. It is possible she doesn't know what the 'problem' is - or that she is too embarrassed or self-conscious to bring it up with you.

In any case, I think there is no escaping a discussion on the topic. The issue is obviously important to you, and besides, if you don't tell her, probably no one else will either.

An up front conversation would be my recommendation - if you try to be subtle or beat around, she'll know it and you'll lose points for being gutless. Having this discussion will help you learn more about each other. And if you do have different views about how important it is to be in shape, you might as well find out now.

One last thing - before you open your mouth, just make sure you're not an ounce too heavy.

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