Red Flags in Dating Relationships: Is it OK When a Guy Insists You Lose Weight?

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A young woman and I were chatting about guys and relationships recently. All her friends are in relationships or getting married and she’s feeling the pressure. She’s longing to find someone and get married.

She’s been seeing a guy for a few months but has a couple of red flags about the relationship.

Here’s one of the red flags: this guy keeps talking about how she needs to lose weight and how that one of the reasons men have affairs is because their wives are overweight.

He is overlooking so much good in her – maturity, spirituality, gentleness, depth (and she is attractive) – and focusing only on her size.

In spite of her telling him how this hurts her he still goes on about her losing weight.

Is he wrong?

There’s nothing wrong with a guy encouraging his girl to lose weight and supporting her in that process, but she’s got to know that she is valued for more than her physical attributes.

And here’s the difficulty in this relationship: he has not reassured her that he loves and appreciates her for who she is on the inside and that he values her as a person.

She is somewhat overweight and it wouldn’t be wrong for her to lose the excess, but should this guy be making such a big deal of it? And is this a big enough red flag to end the relationship on?

Before I tell you what I told her let me say this in the guy’s defence: one of a man’s needs in marriage is to have a woman that looks good. Does that mean she needs to be a supermodel? No. Just take care of herself – watch her weight, dress nicely, be well groomed.

An attractive wife makes a man feel good whenever he looks at her. It meets an emotional need in him put there by God.  

According to Willard F. Harley, Jr,

“It may sound immature or superficial, but I’ve found that most men have a need for an attractive wife. They do not appreciate a woman for her inner qualities alone. They also appreciate the way she looks.” [i]

So, it seems like this guy is off the hook when it comes to his desire for a good-looking woman. However, he’s missing her heart because he is not reassuring her of his appreciation for her inner beauty and wonderful character traits.

Here’s what I told her plus some extra thoughts I’ve had since our conversation:

Don’t marry someone just because there’s no one else around. Don’t settle for second best because there are no other options on the horizon. If the guy is not right for you then no amount of marriage is going to change that.

Rather be single than miserably married. Don’t see singleness as a curse to be endured until you can get married.  Many people are married and miserable. Yes, God did create us with the desire to get married and have a soul mate, but don’t throw away your future happiness because you’re desperate.

Don’t expect things to change after you get married. If this guy insists that she lose weight, making his acceptance of her conditional to that, it is not going to change after marriage. In fact, it will get worse. This will break her down on the inside, diminishing who she is – mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  

Overweight women do not cause affairs. One major flaw in this guy’s thinking is that women are to blame for men’s affairs. What he’s telling her in a veiled way, is that if they do get married and she doesn’t lose weight then she would be responsible if he has an affair.

Nonsense! Every person is responsible for their own choices. Yes, having an overweight spouse may put a man in a position to be tempted, but having an affair would be his choice, not her fault.

To me this smacks of the beginnings of emotional abuse and if she marries this guy she could be setting herself up for years of misery, constantly wondering if she is good enough, constantly comparing herself to other women. She would be insecure in his love.

Love must be deeper than the external. People gain weight, they lose weight, they get in accidents that mar their bodies or faces, they age, turn grey, get wrinkles. If her looks are more important to him than the rest of her, the relationship is off to a rocky start.

This young woman should not enter into marriage hoping for this to change or believing that marriage will change him. She must talk to him about how this makes her feel. His thinking needs to be adjusted and she must see sustained change before she makes promises in church.   

Note: If a guy is watching porn (and not saying this guy is) he will have a distorted view of what a woman should look like and how she should behave.

Begin with the end in mind – before you get married. Ask yourself if this is what you are OK to live with for 30, 40, or 50 years?

And yes, of course prayer can change things, but let it change things before marriage.  

So, while my friend should pay attention to her weight and do what she can to look good, her boyfriend’s appreciation and love for her should not be based on the external only.

Begin with the end in mind.

Don’t get married with red flags waving.   

If you’re a guy, please tell me what a red flag would be for you – something you see in a girl that really bothers you. Leave a comment or send me an email.


[i] His Needs, Her Needs, 112

About The Author

Jennifer Lovemore

Jennifer has diplomas in relationship counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), is a certified SYMBIS facilitator, and is certified in TPM (Transformation Prayer Minsitry). She lives in South Africa, has three grown children, and is married to her best friend – Richard.

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