Dear Father Tony:
Every other problem I had with my lover I could solve but this one. We were a good looking couple. We are together for 7 years. After two years I began to put on weight. Not him. He is still gorgeous. Sometimes to add some spice we would have a threeway. He still wants it but I am too ashamed of the way I look so I say no and make up excuses. I feel so bad about this weight that I can't have sex with even just him anymore. This is all my fault and I am fucking up a good thing. Every night in bed I swear I won't eat but I do and I am miserable. Now I think he's cheating on me. This is making me crazy and it is messing up everything.-- Boston cream pie
He's fat, he's gay, he's out of play.
I almost don't know where to start in answering your painful letter (which was brief but hits so many important issues involving, sex, dieting, body image, self-respect, partnership-work, problem-solving, and love.) I don't know whether to first focus on what is visible and work down to the root or vice versa. Let's begin by framing this situation in a way that might first give you some consolation and then see if we can put you back on track to happiness and a renewed and satisfying relationship. Consider these facts:
- You are certainly not alone in your battle against body fat. Most of this absurdly overfed nation is on a diet.
- The cycle of broken resolutions that is causing you pain is not uncommon.
- Even mutually "gorgeous" couples have difficulties with sex, and those problems are not so different from the challenges that mutually "un-gorgeous" couples have, and, no couples (except identical twins) are equally attractive to each other and to others. (I've seen a couple of porn videos featuring identical twins in a threesome. Oddly disturbing but enlightening.)
- When there is stress in a relationship, most folks find it easier to give up rather than to do the work needed to fix these kinds of problems. First they stop having sex. Next, they begin to quarrel.
I want you to know that almost everyone who reads your letter will be cheering for you and hoping that you will bind yourself to some kind of disciplined and structured approach to solving your problem.
Losing weight would be the obvious and immediate way to alleviate pressure on your relationship, and I hope you will be able to do so, but that will not fix the under-the-surface issues that will be certain to flare up again in other cloaks.
The first step is to understand that your problem is also your partner's problem. It seems that you have tried to keep your difficulties hidden from him. You ought to have a long and honest discussion with him about how you are feeling about your appearance. You ought to involve him in your struggle and in whatever program you choose to get out of this situation.
Some guys try to white-knuckle their way out of compulsive behavior or addiction or any other monkey on their back in a solitary way, thinking that there is nobility in not involving their lovers or friends. That is simply stupid. When a problem gets beyond your control, you should always take on partners in your effort to resolve it.
Talk to your guy. Let him see your pain clearly. Tell him how important he is to you. Make sure he sees your desperation.
A word about threesomes, an area in which I have become a bit of an expert. I have sometimes entered into a threesome with a couple consisting of one man whom I found extremely attractive and the other unattractive. I've learned that when I am the third party, it is my responsibility to give the partners equal attention and to make them both comfortable and relaxed and relieved of anxiety. The performer in me is very good at this, and couples have been profuse with gratitude in the after-moments.
Being the "object" in a threeway has helped me be a better "partner" when we snag a third. I've learned that the "third" will never be attracted to us equally and that I should not worry about what is beyond my script approval and the laws of nature. I do think that it is incumbent upon me to stay healthy and fit because even though group sex is a charm bracelet composed of different shapes, there ought not be any weak links.
The second step is to make a structured plan with your partner's help. The plan should have milestones and dates and measurements and goals. It might involve shopping for the right food, pinpointing times of strong appetite/weakness, exercising together, and maybe seeing a counselor together to facilitate communication. Find a strategy that works for you, but be sure to formalize and structure it over several months. Be willing and ready to modify it if it does not get you results.
And now I'll tell you an important secret. When your lover has sex with you, in his mind, he is holding exactly the same body he held on your first night together. He doesn't really feel or think about the extra pounds. This is the sort of relationship wisdom that almost no one ever tells you because less than half of the world gets to that point, and of the ones that do, most are keeping things private or have never bothered to analyze it as closely as have I.
If, when having sex with our partners, we had to worry about lack of hair, saggy butt, extra chin or creaky joints (on either party), no one would ever reach climax, and among the heteros, procreation would become rare.(This does not give you license to keep those extra pounds or add to them, but it should give you encouragement when you have sex with him in the months to come.)
I'll tell you another important secret. I firmly believe that there is no such thing in this world as an ugly man (or woman). There are, however, those who have not taken good care of themselves. If a man does not hold as valuable the one body he gets in this world, and if he lets it get out of shape and abuses it, what makes him think that I will find him sexually attractive? I won't. I think of the body as a garden that needs to be regularly weeded, pruned, watered, fertilized and given much light and a mild winter. If I let it go to seed, who will to want to visit?
Having had sex with a multitude of guys has taught me something about beauty. I've had sex with more than my share of porn stars, but I have also had great sex with fat guys, skinny guys, very old guys, guys with missing or deformed limbs, curved spines, midgets, and even a guy in a wheelchair in Rhode Island (an awesome prop, incidentally, but be sure the brakes are on). They all had one thing in common. They had made the best of what God had given them and this made them quite attractive.
So go set up your diet, lose the weight, join a gym, make it a joint project with your guy, make love to him fearlessly all the while, book a threesome with someone like me and see a counselor, but don't assume you will be happy until you've learned that dancing shirtlessly on Fire Island or having your photo selected as Mr. July is less than 50% of what will make you beautiful. Do you love yourself? Do you prize yourself? Do you take care of yourself? When you do, I think you'll be happy again.