How To Tell Your Partner They’ve Gained Weight

How do we tell someone that is important to us something that might hurt their feelings? How do we break the news to them without making them feel terrible? Should we tell them at all? Of course, it depends on what we are trying to tell them, but the questions still remain.

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Kim Ades: Hello, hello. My name is Kim Ades, I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching and the Co-founder of The Journal The Talks Back. For those of you who have never heard of The Journal That Talks Back, it's a relatively new journaling experience for young people who gain access to a coach.

They can journal as much as they want, and their coach will read and respond to every single journal. They can journal once a day, they can journal five times a day, and their coach will read and respond to their journals within a 24 hour time period. It's an amazing way to get coached virtually, easily, accessibly, and affordably. So please take a look at The Journal That Talks Back. 

But today you have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching Podcast with my incredible, amazing, phenomenal, outstanding co-host Ferne Kotlyar, and she happens to be my daughter. Ferne, welcome! 

[00:00:55] Ferne Kotlyar: Hello, hello! How are you today? 

[00:00:58] Kim Ades: I'm great! What's going on? 

[00:01:02] Ferne Kotlyar: What's going on? Lots of work. Planning my trip to Costa Rica for field work for my PhD, so that's super exciting. 

[00:01:10] Kim Ades: What does field work mean? Are you working in a field? 

[00:01:13] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, pretty much. 

[00:01:14] Kim Ades: [Chuckles] 

[00:01:15] Ferne Kotlyar: We go out into the field, which in my case is the rainforest of Costa Rica, and we go and take plants and we help them or we get them to pollinate specifically. So with specific individuals, we capture some hummingbirds, help get them to help us pollinate, let them go, of course. 

[00:01:36] Kim Ades: Capture birds? 

[00:01:38] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, yeah. Hummingbirds are the pollinators. 

[00:01:40] Kim Ades: How do you capture them? Like, they're just flying in the air and you catch them with a net? 

[00:01:45] Ferne Kotlyar: No [chuckles] they're not butterflies. We have, well, two methods, but either a trap with a feeder or a, what they call a mist net. So it's very fine net in between different trees and they just end up flying into it because they don't see it and they kind of get caught in this net. You have to go out and untangle them and then lease them into this, what they call an aviary so that the birds can pollinate and then you let the bird go afterwards.

[00:02:11] Kim Ades: Okay. So no damage is done to the birds. 

[00:02:15] Ferne Kotlyar: Ideally, no. We wanna do as minimal impact as possible and we have to fill out these long permits in order to make sure that we're even allowed to do this. So... 

[00:02:25] Kim Ades: Amazing. 

[00:02:25] Ferne Kotlyar: ...very complicated. We want the least harm as possible. Least impact. 

[00:02:32] Kim Ades: Okay. Very, very interesting.

[00:02:34] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, totally. 

[00:02:34] Kim Ades: Who would have thought you would be catching birds. 

[00:02:37] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah. Not me. [Chuckles] 

[00:02:39] Kim Ades: Not you. 

[00:02:39] Ferne Kotlyar: But I love it. It's really incredible. 

[00:02:42] Kim Ades: So what do you wanna talk about today? What's on your mind? 

[00:02:45] Ferne Kotlyar: So I saw this trend on TikTok, where basically... And I don't know if it's super popular, but this guy talks about what people's reactions are to basically their spouse telling them that they gained weight. So how do you tell your partner that you noticed that they're gaining weight and you may not be as attracted to them as you once were? 

[00:03:13] Kim Ades: I'm gonna ask you a question. Okay? I'm gonna ask you a question. 

[00:03:18] Ferne Kotlyar: Okay. 

[00:03:20] Kim Ades: Do you notice that there's something on my nose right now? 

[00:03:23] Ferne Kotlyar: Yes. 

[00:03:24] Kim Ades: How do you see such a thing? 

[00:03:26] Ferne Kotlyar: What do you mean? I'm not blind.

[00:03:28] Kim Ades: Exactly. It's obvious, right? You see that there's a sticky on my nose, yes? 

[00:03:35] Ferne Kotlyar: Yes. 

[00:03:36] Kim Ades: Yes. Do you think I know that there's a sticky on my nose? 

[00:03:39] Ferne Kotlyar: Yes. 

[00:03:40] Kim Ades: Yes. So the same-- 

[00:03:41] Ferne Kotlyar: I mean, if you look in the mirror. [Chuckles] 

[00:03:43] Kim Ades: Yeah, but I also feel it, right? Like, I can feel that sticky on my nose. And so, it's funny that the spouse thinks that they need to tell their spouse that they've gained weight. You don't think that the spouse knows that they've gained weight? 

[00:03:57] Ferne Kotlyar: Well, I mean, not necessarily like, "oh, you've gained weight", but like, the idea that you may not be as attracted to them anymore, so they should be doing something, they should be being healthier, they should be going out and trying to take care of that...

[00:04:14] Kim Ades: So let me ask you question. 

[00:04:15] Ferne Kotlyar: ...more than they have been. 

[00:04:16] Kim Ades: I'm gonna flip the table here, right? So, there's a person who's gained weight. Let's agree that the person realizes and they know that they've gained weight. Yes? 

[00:04:29] Ferne Kotlyar: Mm-hmm. 

[00:04:30] Kim Ades: Do you think that that person doesn't realize? Like, is any part of this conversation-- 

[00:04:37] Ferne Kotlyar: But-- 

[00:04:37] Kim Ades: Hold on, hold on. Just follow me. Is any part of this conversation that this individual is kind of unaware that they've gained weight? Or do we agree that this person is aware that they've gained weight? 

[00:04:52] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, you don't think it's about realization, I think it's more about the fact that you may not be as attracted to them. And maybe that's not that important, but like, the idea that they need to do something about it. 

[00:05:04] Kim Ades: But what's the goal? 

[00:05:06] Ferne Kotlyar: For them to act?

[00:05:08] Kim Ades: So let's take you and me, okay? So let's say we're in a relationship. I know it's weird, but okay. Let's say we're in a relationship. Let's say I'm the person who gained weight, let's say you're the person who noticed I gained weight. And let's say you're like, "well, I'm not so attracted to you because you've gained weight and this is not how it was when we first met. And I don't know what happened to you, but you better go fix that problem", right? 

[00:05:31] Ferne Kotlyar: Well, obviously you wouldn't say it like that. 

[00:05:33] Kim Ades: I know. That's not what you would say, but that's what you're thinking. That's what you're feeling, right? 

[00:05:39] Ferne Kotlyar: I mean, not me specifically, but in theory, the person that-- 

[00:05:42] Kim Ades: I get it, I get it. Right? 

[00:05:43] Ferne Kotlyar: Okay. [Chuckles] 

[00:05:44] Kim Ades: That's how it's going. Okay. But let's come back to me for a minute. So I look in the mirror and I know that I've gained weight. Yes? 

[00:05:52] Ferne Kotlyar: Mm-hmm. 

[00:05:52] Kim Ades: So how do you think I'm feeling about myself? 

[00:05:55] Ferne Kotlyar: Not so good. 

[00:05:57] Kim Ades: Not so good, right? Do you think I'm looking in the mirror and closing my eyes because I don't wanna admit that I've gained weight? You think like I'm hiding from myself? 

[00:06:05] Ferne Kotlyar: Some people. 

[00:06:08] Kim Ades: So-- 

[00:06:08] Ferne Kotlyar: Some people like, they kind of get comfortable and then they don't really care as much anymore, or, I don't know. 

[00:06:15] Kim Ades: I don't know that that's actually true, but like, here's the thing. So what's your goal in this exchange? 

[00:06:23] Ferne Kotlyar: To help them be healthier.

[00:06:25] Kim Ades: Okay, so does telling me-- So if I don't feel good about myself, does telling me that you're not attracted to me anymore help me feel better about myself? 

[00:06:33] Ferne Kotlyar: No. 

[00:06:34] Kim Ades: No. So if it doesn't help me feel better about myself, does it also motivate me in a positive way to start taking care of myself? 

[00:06:42] Ferne Kotlyar: For some people it might. Like, you know, I don't know if you've ever heard people say like, "oh, all this criticism, like, I just wanted to defy the haters" or whatever.

[00:06:54] Kim Ades: Yeah. But you see, punishment-- 'Cause that's a form of punishment, you know? "I'm not attracted to you, so until you shape up then this relationship is"-- 

[00:07:06] Ferne Kotlyar: But you're saying like, I don't think anybody would actually say it like that. 

[00:07:11] Kim Ades: But it's not what you're saying, it's the message that's getting delivered. The message that's getting delivered is--

[00:07:17] Ferne Kotlyar: Well, the original question was, how do you say it? 

[00:07:19] Kim Ades: You don't! 

[00:07:21] Ferne Kotlyar: So then what do you say? 

[00:07:23] Kim Ades: What do you do? You think about "what's my goal here?" My goal here is to help this person be healthy and take care of themselves. And I do that through love. I don't do that through punishment. 

[00:07:34] Ferne Kotlyar: Okay, but how? 

[00:07:35] Kim Ades: You don't do that through criticism. 

[00:07:36] Ferne Kotlyar: How do you do it then?

[00:07:38] Kim Ades: How do you do it? You say, "I love you. Let's go for a walk. I love you. Let's go play tennis. I love you. Let's have a lot of sex because sex is a really good exercise methodology", right? You do it through love. And so, the whole framing of this question is not coming from a loving place. It's coming from a judgmental place and from a place of punishment. And we can't get someone to a better place from a place of punishment. 

Like, let's take a different situation, okay? Let's say a kid misbehaves. What do we do? We put them in the corner and then we expect them to behave. But how do they feel in the corner? They feel terrible. 

[00:08:24] Ferne Kotlyar: Claustrophobic. 

[00:08:26] Kim Ades: So they might behave while you're in front of them. Sure, I won't eat cake while you're watching me. When you're not watching me, and when I'm out there on the streets, I'm gonna go find a bag of chips. So that's not what you wanna create in this dynamic. 

If you truly, genuinely care about this person, you approach it with love, you approach it with kindness, you approach it with absolute care, not "you've gained weight, I'm not attracted to you anymore". Does that make sense? 

[00:09:05] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah. I guess. 

[00:09:07] Kim Ades: I know it's not the answer you were looking for. 

[00:09:09] Ferne Kotlyar: No, that's not true. I wasn't looking for a specific answer. I just brought up the trend and nobody established it like that. But I guess like, how do you encourage them? Like, how do you even address it? Because like, that way saying, "I love you, let's go for a walk" and they say, "ah, no, I'm not really in the mood, but I love you too". Like, that doesn't address the issue. 

[00:09:33] Kim Ades: But... Look, how do we address an issue? We address the issue of health and say, "let's get healthy". You know, it could be, "Hey, I noticed that we're sitting on the couch a lot. I don't think it's healthy for us. Let's go do something". 

[00:09:49] Ferne Kotlyar: Okay, and what if it's not an us if issue, it's a them issue? Like, you're out there doing activities, you're like staying healthy-- 

[00:09:56] Kim Ades: "Hey, I want this kind of relationship with you. I wanna be active with you. I wanna do things together". But you need to understand, like, addressing an issue... You can address an issue without the aspect of punishment, without the aspect of "I'm not attracted to you", because all of that doesn't lift a person up to get to a place of confidence or wanting to take care of themselves. 

It's kind of like, and I've used this experience before, but if, let's say I'm an Olympic runner and I'm at the starting line and someone's telling me, "Hey, you're not as good as you used to be. When we started working together, you were way, way faster, way skinnier, way stronger". Now I'm at the starting line. Am I gonna do a good job in this race? 

[00:10:55] Ferne Kotlyar: No. 

[00:10:56] Kim Ades: No. 

[00:10:57] Ferne Kotlyar: Or maybe yes because you wanna prove that asshole wrong. 

[00:11:00] Kim Ades: But maybe once, but this is not a formula for success. It's not a for-- because why? It gets into your head and it erodes your confidence and desire to do the things that you want that person to do. It's like, it doesn't lead you to the outcomes you're looking for, this approach.

[00:11:25] Ferne Kotlyar: I think it makes sense. 

[00:11:26] Kim Ades: What I'm saying? 

[00:11:27] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah. 

[00:11:28] Kim Ades: Amazing. I love making sense and my kids thinking that I made sense.

[00:11:32] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles] Well, thank you. I think it's a good topic and I think it's also a food for thought because you hear about it like, on social media, you hear what people have to say, you hear about how angry people get, and so many different opinions. So it's... I like this one. 

[00:11:50] Kim Ades: You know, there's another one on TikTok, and it's a larger woman who's married to a slimmer, fitter, very handsome man, and she gets all kinds of negative commentary. All the hate, hate messages about how... Like "why is he with her? He could do better" and on and on and on. 

And her whole entire TikTok account is about that. And here's the other piece. It's like, so a person's a little larger, does that mean they're not lovable? Like, what's up with that?

[00:12:19] Ferne Kotlyar: There's a lot of hate on TikTok. 

[00:12:22] Kim Ades: So much hate on TikTok. 

[00:12:23] Ferne Kotlyar: I mean, you got hate for writing about the seaweed truck. 

[00:12:26] Kim Ades: That's right. I got 400,000 views. I think at this point it's 500,000 views for the comment I made about a seaweed truck in Florida and I called it a truck instead of a tractor, they were not happy with that, and they thought that I was entitled because I commented on the huge volume of seaweed at the beach. But okay, the point is that criticism and hate and punishment don't help someone reach their goals. They just don't.

[00:13:06] Ferne Kotlyar: [Sighs] Yeah. 

[00:13:07] Kim Ades: All right. Good. 

[00:13:09] Ferne Kotlyar: All right. 

[00:13:09] Kim Ades: I liked that one. 

[00:13:10] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, me too. Thank you. 

[00:13:12] Kim Ades: No problem. All right, so for those of you who are struggling with somebody else in your life who isn't maximizing their potential, if your approach is to criticize them, reconsider your approach. 

[00:13:24] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles] 

[00:13:25] Kim Ades: Hope you enjoyed today's podcast. I sure did. Thank you, Ferne, for bringing up this topic, it was a good one. If there's anything that you guys wanna talk to us about, please reach out. I can be reached at Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com. Ferne, how do they reach you and how do they take the survey? 

[00:13:41] Ferne Kotlyar: Please email me as well. So that's Fernekotlyar@live.com. And if you wanna hear a certain topic, please fill out our survey-- Well, you can email us or fill out the, I think, anonymous survey. So, that could be found in the footnotes of the podcast. 

[00:13:57] Kim Ades: All right, have a great week everyone. We will see you next week! 

[00:14:02] Ferne Kotlyar: Bye! 

[00:14:03] Kim Ades: Bye!

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