Q: Hi Meredith!
My boyfriend and I have been together for a little over 2 years. We are in our mid-to-late 20s, live together, have pets, talk about marriage and kids, but are in no rush to take the plunge ... just enjoying what we have and where we are for now.
When we first started dating, we would go on hikes and other athletic activities together 4 to 5 days a week. I was a runner by hobby and being active was a big part of my life. He enjoyed being active and shared an interest in staying physically fit as well. After we moved in together, it became more and more difficult to get him to join me in the gym or just a walk outside. After a minor running injury last fall, I found myself sitting on the couch with my boyfriend and becoming sedentary. Depression set in and I (and my boyfriend) gained weight. We were both in a rut.
A few months ago, I picked myself up and decided to make a lifestyle change. I'm back into a workout routine where I'm constantly challenged and setting goals. I have a more positive outlook, I'm noticeably happier, and I'm getting back into a body I'm more comfortable in. I'm working on becoming the best me I can be, not just for myself, but for my relationship. I know that only when you are happy with yourself, can you extend that happiness to your partner.
Here's my dilemma: I need to get my boyfriend off the couch. He's still in a rut and I KNOW he was 100x happier when he was physically active (he's told me so). I know his weight gain has bothered him and he often talks about how he used to be healthier and athletic. I've asked him to run, weightlift, elliptical (anything!) with me, but he doesn't want to. I've encouraged him to work out on his own by telling him how much I enjoy a little alone time with my thoughts, but he doesn't want to do that either. We have tons of workout equipment in our apartment, I have a gym membership that allows me to bring a guest, and we live near some beautiful state parks with trails. I don't know what to do. I love him and I'm crazy about him (he can make me laugh like no one else), but I see so much potential in him to be so much happier with himself ... he doesn't get it. Honestly, I don't have a problem with his weight gain. I'm just as attracted to him now as when we first met. It has everything to do with his attitude. He never wants to do anything and he's crabbier more often than he used to be. The most I can convince him to do is occasionally go for a walk, but after less than a mile, he calls it quits.
I'm all for separate interests and individuality, but it's hard to come home after accomplishing a small victory in the gym to my boyfriend who’s only interested in the TV. I'd love to hear about his accomplishments for the day, but other than work, he's not doing anything.
It almost seems like the more I accomplish in my athletic life, the less he wants to hear about it. I mean, I trained for months for an intense team relay race across the state and I couldn't get him to come to watch one of my three legs of the race (and it went right through our town!). He's supportive in other ways, but when he chooses not to be a part of such a big accomplishment like that it really hurts my feelings. He shows almost no interest when I come home after accomplishing a personal best lift or shed a few seconds off of my mile pace, so I've stopped talking about it.
I guess my questions would be: How can I convince my boyfriend to get off the couch and experience things (like he used to)? Am I trying to change someone who doesn't want to be changed, or trying to bring out the best in someone? Should I lay off of him and hope he eventually comes around when he gets sick of being in his rut? Any and all advice is greatly appreciated!
– Running for Help, Mass.
A: Lay off, RFH. I get what you're trying to do, but he wants a girlfriend, not a personal trainer. You can tell him that you're worried about him based on his moods, but please stop trying to get him to run around and then celebrate your athletic accomplishments. I'm sure that he's proud of you, but it's probably tough for him to separate your milestones from his own habits and how you feel about them.
Something tells me that you're more aggressive about exercise this time around and that it's making him feel lonely. You used to like hikes. Then you liked television. Now you're someone who sets new lifting records. He probably wants a happy medium.
My advice is to stop with the exercise talk and ask him out. If he's not doing anything, maybe he wants to go to the movies. Or to the library. Or to a nice restaurant. Maybe you can take one of your gym nights and turn it into a great date night. Prove that you want to spend time with him without training him.
I'm not blaming you for any of this, by the way. It's great that you're active. I just think that he's overwhelmed -- and that he's never going to be the type of guy who's into relay races. I mean, was he ever that guy? Focus on improving the time you spend together without connecting your activities to weight loss. Understand that watching TV with someone can actually be a really great way to bond. Maybe if you drop the issue for a while he'll find exercise on his own terms, without an audience.
Readers? Is it so terrible that he watches TV every night? Is she too obsessed with working on her fitness? Should she drop the subject or should she be worried about him? What should she do? Help.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.