10 ways to tell your partner to lose weight without hurting them

Discussing someone’s weight is never a comfortable conversation. It might even be tricky if it involves your partner.

As difficult as it may be, it is important to discuss it as this could actually affect your relationship.

Here are 10 ways to get the message across, in some subtle ways.


Assess the need to discuss weight.

The first and most important thing to do is to access the need to have such a discussion.

If your partner remains within a healthy weight bracket and only loses or puts on a couple of pounds, there is no need to bring up the issue. Also, some medications and/or hormonal changes (e.g. pregnancy or midlife hormonal changes in men and women) can result in weight change that your partner has little control over. If your partner is gaining or losing an unhealthy amount of weight for a reason that is within their control, it might warrant a discussion about their health and happiness.

  • If your partner is within normal weight range, encourage healthy eating and fitness, but don’t push them to lose or gain more weight. Instead, aim for maintenance of good habits as a lifestyle approach to health.
  • You might also consider if your partner’s weight has affected their ability to participate in certain activities, such as playing with your kids, going out on dates, or keeping up with simple household tasks.
  • Consider how quickly your partner’s weight has changed as well. If your partner has suddenly gained or lost a noticeable amount of weight, then you may want to bring this up. If your partner gained or lost weight over a period of years, then it might not be a cause for concern if they are healthy otherwise.


Wait for a good time to bring it up

Keep in mind that most people who are over or underweight are very aware of this fact. They do not necessarily need to be told that they have a weight problem but might need a supportive dialogue to help them stay motivated to stay healthy.

The very best moment to begin talking about weight loss or weight gain is when your partner complains or mentions being unhappy about their weight.

They might comment that they are having trouble putting on an old pair of pants or are unhappy with how they look standing in front of the mirror. This is a clear indication that they have acknowledged the weight change, and they are unhappy with it.


Tell your partner that you are concerned about them

If your partner’s weight appears to be unhealthy to you, you might decide it needs to be discussed. Once you bring up the discussion, you need to make it clear to your partner that you are concerned about their health, happiness and your relationship.

Mention the things that the two of you enjoy, and how those things would be affected if your partner’s health was to take a hit.


Make it clear that you are still attracted to your partner

The truth is the moment you bring up the weight gain issue with your partner, he or she begins to feel insecure.

Any person would be hurt if they believed their partner was no longer attracted to them. When you discuss your partner’s weight, you need to be certain to reassure them that you are attracted to them. Knowing that you still love them and find them attractive will help your partner stay confident and give them the strength to make healthy changes.

Make a point to say things like “I am only bringing this up because I love you, and want you to stay healthy. It doesn’t change how I feel about you, or how attracted I am to you.”


Make love and health the centrepieces of the conversation

Telling your partner that they are unattractive or lazy will only drive a wedge between the two of you, and hurt them emotionally. This kind of language has no place in a loving conversation. Instead, you should focus on how much you care for your partner and want them to remain healthy.

Do not use health as a way to guilt your partner. Saying things like “If you really loved me, you’d take care of yourself,” is damaging to the relationship, and simply untrue.

Use “I” statements to keep blame off of your partner. Say something like “ What can I do to help?”


Leave criticism out of the conversation

Criticizing a person for their weight will leave them emotionally hurt, and damage your relationship. This kind of criticism also makes it harder for the person to confide in you and can lead to secret binge eating or purging.

More often than not, the criticism becomes yet another roadblock to losing or gaining a healthy amount of weight instead of motivation.

Saying something like “You keep gaining weight because you won’t stop eating junks,” will only make your partner uncomfortable with you knowing their food choices. Instead, you could say something more constructive.


Keep your opinion in perspective

Your partner is likely to be aware that their clothes don’t fit as they used to but may not treat the issue as seriously as you do. It could be a wake-up call for your partner that you do see this as a major health issue. Be careful not to shame or embarrass your partner when bringing up your concerns.

For example, if your partner mentions that they can’t wear their favourite pair of jeans anymore you could say something like “If you’d like, we can start going for walks and see if we can both fit back into our old clothes.”


Consider your partner’s mental health

Sometimes weight changes may result from challenges like work pressures (stress), depression or anxiety. Weight changes can also be associated with sadness and loss, such after the death of a loved one or the loss of a job. Talking to a health professional can help sort out mental health issues as well as physical ones.


Motivation, not pressure

Suggest activities you can do together and that guarantee a healthier lifestyle for both of you. Jogging as a couple, taking dance classes or cooking fresh, healthy meals several times per week are excellent examples. You’ll burn additional calories and strengthen your relationship at the same time.


Celebrate victories

Don’t forget to celebrate even the smallest victories. If your partner gains or loses two pounds toward their goal weight, go to the movies together or treat your partner to a manicure or massage. Mark each victory with a celebration so that they know that you’re truly rooting for their success.


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