What Do You Want?
Posted by hope on December 6, 2007
Alas, “premature and avoidable physical deterioration” strikes, throwing an otherwise wonderful relationship into a death spin. The ever-gentle Dan Savage:
[…] I answered a letter from a gay guy with a fat boyfriend. Seeking A Solution, who described himself as outgoing and athletic, wasn’t attracted to his boyfriend of three years. After describing himself as “stuck,” “struggling,” and on medication for anxiety, SAS told me I wasn’t allowed to tell him to break up with or cheat on his fat boyfriend. So I advised SAS to drink heavily and warned him that sooner or later he would sabotage this relationship in order to be with someone he was actually attracted to. Readers—mostly female readers—were outraged: Before breaking up, before cheating, before drinking heavily, couldn’t SAS try being honest? Why didn’t I tell SAS to tell his boyfriend that the weight was a turnoff and that SAS was seriously thinking about ending the relationship if the boyfriend didn’t lose those extra pounds?
As if there are two choices – end the relationship or threaten to do so in order to force the other partner to change. Making that second choice is a pretty good indicator the relationship is in trouble anyway, given that manipulation tends to alienate. There is actually a third choice that would do way more for their sex life than the partner dropping a few pounds. SAS could stop limiting the way he views desire.
There’s nothing wrong with appreciating how your partner looks or being attracted to people because of their appearance or even hooking up with a hottie. But if your relationship and your partner are important to you, there is something about them and about yourself in relationship with them and about what the two of you are together that is meaningful to you. And that stuff is what will keep you together and keep you wanting to boink each other senseless over time.
If wanting is contingent only or mostly on how your partner looks, you’ve not only given away control of your own sex drive but you’ve also locked yourself into a view of your own sexuality that is highly unlikely to satisfy you for many years.
Assuming SAS is really interested in the relationship, he first needs to confront his own limited view of desire. If he is honest with himself and really puts in the effort to work on his limitation, their sex life is likely to improve whether the scale has budged or not. Only after working on himself should he raise the weight issue with his partner – not as something that threatens the relationship but rather as an opportunity to enhance it. But if he is successful in expanding how he looks at desire, he is likely to find that the weight is no longer an issue.
UPDATE: Forgot to note where the link came from.