Help! My Boyfriend Is So Skinny He Can’t Have Sex Without Tiring Out.

Advice on manners and morals.
March 25 2013 3:11 PM

On Thin Ice

In a live chat, Prudie advises a woman frustrated and frightened by her boyfriend’s dramatic weight loss.

Emily Yoffe.
Emily Yoffe

Photo by Teresa Castracane.

Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Sign up here to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com.)

Emily Yoffe: I was so glad this morning that I hadn't gotten around to putting away the snow shovel.

Q. Relationships and Weight. Not Mine, His. He's So Skinny: My boyfriend of three years is a smart, funny, caring guy and we love each other very much. The problem is that during the past year and a half he has lost an extreme amount of weight that he really didn't need to lose. He's super, super skinny and unhealthy looking. Friends and family are concerned he's seriously ill. He insists he is fine and his most recent check-up didn't reveal any physical problems. My problem? His weight loss (done without exercise, BTW) has left him a very different person: unable to exercise without being exhausted quickly, unable to engage in sex fully because anything but "girl on top" is too tiring, and so very moody. I've tried for the last two years for him to get help and I'm frustrated he can't or won't seek it. In addition, I'm a curvy girl who has always had body-image issues. He loves my body but it's been a long road to feeling attractive. Having my boyfriend weigh less than me, wear a smaller size than me, eat less (sometimes only a meal a day), etc., is bringing back all those feelings of being "big" and unattractive. Issues I've worked hard to get past. Am I a horrible person that I'm considering breaking up with him because he won't talk to a doctor seriously about this and it is having a negative impact on most every part of our lives together?

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A: Something alarming is going on with your boyfriend, so please don't make this an issue about how he's "fat shaming" you because he's gotten so thin. Leave your size issues out of this: Don't compare your waist measurements, just tell him you're profoundly concerned that he is in a health crisis. Point out that he is exhausted and moody all the time, doesn't even have the energy for sex, and his refusal to eat more than one meal a day is having a negative impact on his health and your relationship. Ask as a favor to you if he will make a follow-up appointment with his doctor and allow you to come. If he does, you can point out to the doctor the changes over the last 18 months and its effects on your boyfriend. If he won't let you do it, say that your relationship is on the line. Explain this is not because you don't love him, but because something is dangerously wrong and you don't know what to do anymore if he won't acknowledge it or let you help.

Dear Prudence: Annoying Bromance

Q. Camming: I'm a young female who happens to have a semi-secret job. I happen to do live sex shows online for pay. I work a few different websites and my income for an average week is in the four-figure range. I have a few friends who know and a loving boyfriend who is supportive (and even joins in on occasion). My problem is that on these websites I'm usually on the first page. My family has no idea that I perform online porn but it's bound to come out sometime. Do I tell them what I do or wait for the cat to come out of the bag?

A: I don't think people should consider their privacy-protected Facebook maunderings to be truly private. Anything that's online has the potential to be seen by anyone with an Internet connection. So the idea that you can perform sex online and expect to keep that pussy cat in the box is ridiculous. Though your question is whether you tell your family you are a porn star, I think your concern about this coming out should give you pause about your line of work, no matter how lucrative. Someday you'll age out of this career, and you have to be aware what you've done can follow you for the rest of your life. But if you're OK with that, then I don't think you have to pre-emptively give everyone you love conniptions. If they find out, then calmly confirm that it's true, say you know they may not approve, but you've entered into this work fully aware of its consequences.

Q. Wedding Dress Etiquette: Our daughter is getting married this summer in a lovely outdoor setting, there will be a rehearsal and mid-afternoon lunch/dinner the day before with just close family and bridal party, about 20 people. When I was married in the ’70s I sewed my own dress, an Yves Saint Laurent peasant dress pattern in a cotton/poly blend, embroidered with white violets. I loved it then and I love it now. I have never worn it again though I have thought about doing it many, many times. The only clue that it was a wedding dress is that it is white. It would fit in perfectly in a summer tea party at some old/vintage hotel setting. Before I ask the kids if they would approve, what do you think of my asking them if I could wear it to the rehearsal and dinner the day before the wedding? I don't want to be accused of upstaging the bride; on the other hand, there is a tradition of something old/something new and many brides wearing their mother's and grandmother's dresses. But the MoB wearing her own old (un-)wedding dress? An outside perspective would be most appreciated.

A: Forget the Miss Havisham look. For more than 30 years you've never found the right occasion to reuse your frock, and I think you should stick with the decision to keep it in the closet. I'm betting it would produce fewer reactions of "How lovely" and more "I didn't know Lindsey's mother was so eccentric." Keep your dress preserved and maybe someday you will have granddaughters who will delight in playing dress-up in it.

Q. Re: Attending doctors’ appointments with loved one: Often I read that you advise people to attend physician appointments with the person who has a health issue. Outside of a minor child or a medical power of attorney, is this encouraged by the doctor? Aren't there some issues involved with letting a third party into a doctor's appointment? Isn't couples counseling a more appropriate avenue for group discussion, instead of a physician?

A: I've done it when the issue has been a serious one and I've never had a doctor object. A person with cancer, or myriad other distressing illnesses may not be in the best position to process the doctor's information. That's why it can be very helpful to have a loved one there, taking notes, asking for clarification, and conveying information to the doctor that the patient may not even be fully aware of. Of course this has to be with the full agreement of the patient and the family member has to be appropriately restrained and respectful. But something's wrong if a young man has lost such an alarming amount of weight and can't function and he says his doctor declares him fine.

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