My illness ruined our relationship

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I’ve been in a long distance relationship with my boyfriend for a little over a year. When we first got together our relationship was perfect. We had been friends for awhile and decided to take it to the next level. He was attentive and loving and made me feel special. He would go out of his way to do things for me or spend time with me. I had been in a lot of bad relationships in the past and before we got together I had been single for a little over two years. The lessons learned from those past relationships helped me to see where I was going wrong and to learn to be happy alone instead of constantly seeking someone to fill some void. I’d gone so far as to make out a very long list of the things I needed, wanted, and wouldn’t mind having in a relationship. My current boyfriend filled almost all of them.

Eventually though issues in my life started to arise, health issues that he noticed. I had always had some that bothered me but no doctor had really been able to give me a diagnosis. My boyfriend just accepted that who I was was who I would always be. He talked me into going in search of a doctor that could tell me what was wrong and eventually we did get a diagnosis and meds to help. That was the turning point in our relationship, when he found out that part of who I was was changeable. That there was actually hope that we could fix it.

That part of me is my weight. I’m not obese but I am over weight and it has been something I have struggled my whole life with. I work out, go to the gym daily, eat healthy yet never seem to lose. Before the diagnosis of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome he just accepted that my shape was set in stone but now that he sees it’s not, he wants me to change it.

We’d had so many talks about me moving to be near him, moving in together, getting married. At the beginning he was even begging me to come see him all the time. Now that’s all changed. It’s gone from “come this thanksgiving” to “We’ll see how things go”, from wanting me in his life to telling me I need to be in shape before I get there because he’s just not attracted to bigger girls.

On top of that he’s stopped spending time with me, I have to beg him to drop what he’s doing to make time for me in his life and he always acts like it’s a sacrifice. I feel guilty for even asking. When I bring these things up to him he’s genuinely sorry and feels terrible. He makes promises to change and says he wishes he were a better person but nothing ever does change. It just keeps going and I keep feeling terrible and unloved. I’ve started to question sometimes if he really loves me or not. I’ve doubled the time I spend at the gym, gone on a stricter diet, taken all the meds and advice my doctor can offer but I still worry about his conditional love. Is it even the right move to cater to it at all? Isn’t real love worth working for but what is too far? And what if one day something happens and I gain the weight back (assuming I manage to lose it all in the first place), will he still love me or will he suddenly lose his attraction for me?

I love this man very much. He is almost everything I have wanted to find in a man and I can’t picture my life without him. I’ve tried expressing myself, I’ve tried making the sacrifices, I’ve even tried being very pointed with my comments so he can see what he’s doing wrong when he’s doing it. Nothing has worked. I know you can’t expect a person to change themselves for a relationship but I don’t know how to fix this, what to say or do. And I do want to fix this.

A: You are asking important, important questions. You are also taking a huge amount on yourself. You say you know that you can’t expect a person to change themselves for a relationship but you don’t expect your boyfriend to give you the same courtesy.

It looks to me like you’re doing everything and more than can be expected given your diagnosis. I wish you success in your efforts to be healthy and strong. But healthy and strong doesn’t always mean being model-thin or even typical. From what I read, keeping your weight down is likely to be a challenge throughout your life. Do you want to always live with a “diet policeman”? Does he always want to be the cop on that beat?

Accepting your diagnosis means accepting all of it. For you, that includes doing what you can to work with your doctors and to continue to eat right and exercise to avoid the possibility of diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure. For your boyfriend, it means accepting that even when you are doing the very best you can, you are still going to have the medical problem and the issues that come with it. He needs to learn the difference between being encouraging and being demanding. If he isn’t attracted to bigger girls, you’re not the girl for him. Instead of making you feel bad about this, he should be looking at why he’s coming up with that issue at this stage in your relationship. Instead of feeling like there is something wrong with you, you need to be asking yourself why you would love a guy who is this unloving.

You can’t “fix this” on your own. I suggest you take a big step back from the relationship. Work on your own health and well-being. As you feel healthier, chances are you will also have more energy and more interest in a social life. You deserve someone who is going to love and cherish you – all of you. If he can’t come to terms with that, then your current boyfriend isn’t the guy for you.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). My illness ruined our relationship. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/03/29/my-illness-ruined-our-relationship/