How to be sensitive about your partner’s weight

No matter how you look at it, weight is a sensitive subject. Talking about your own weight is hard enough, so telling your partner about theirs is somewhat like being on a suicide mission.

While some may feel slighted by the mere mention of their weight, others can get outright angry, or conversely burst out crying at your insensitivity.

Here are five tips to lighten a sticky situation.

Focus on health

Instead of focusing on weight alone, try telling someone overweight about the importance of good health and their quality of life off the scale. It is best to shift attention away from the actual issue of weight and focus on the more positive subjects of health, diet, mood, and real life issues.

Besides, judging your love ones based on numbers or any kind of social standard is silly and can break the intimate bond you have.

Do not resort to body shaming

Describing someone as fat, unattractive or having thighs riddled with cellulite is definitely not a wise way to broach the sensitive issue of weight.

Negative comments only bring out defensive feelings and expose one’s insecurities. More than that, shamming will have the opposite effect as your partner will force themselves to restrict the portions of food they consume, or worse yet, starve themselves and needlessly get all worked up because of your comments.

Don’t force

When touching on someone’s weight, be prepared for different reactions. While some will listen and consider what you’re saying, others will reject your comments outright, or stay in a perpetual state of denial.

It’s normal if one doesn’t want to talk about their weight. When this happens, all you can do is take a step back and give them the time and space they need to come to terms with the issue.

You may even lose a friend or two, but why not stay positive and hope they are seeing a dietitian or working it out at the gym.

Have some empathy

Empathy is the most powerful thing one can have when speaking to someone with a weight issue. Try putting yourself in their shoes – imagine how you would feel if someone came up to you and constantly talked about your insecurities, whether it is education, family, career, money, or social status.

So when speaking to someone about their weight, offer your support, love and encouragement to pull them closer to you, and to give them the strength they will need to understand what you’re saying, accept it and move forward in creating a better version of themselves.

Lead by example

After telling someone about their weight, don’t sit across the table from them during lunch and order a large basket of fries for yourself while they chew despondently on an insipid salad.

Set a goal and give them support along the way, not only in words but also in action. For instance, you could sign up for a “couple membership” at a gym.

Compliment them on the slightest loss in weight loss you notice and don’t keep reminding them about that bag of chips they polished in one go a few weeks back.

Your patience, belief in them and encouragement will go a long way towards helping someone you love lose weight in a positive manner.

This article first appeared in hellodoktor.com and was reviewed by Dr Duyen Le. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.