#867: “My partner constantly harasses me about my weight. Any advice?”

I know we just talked about this, but this showed up in the box this morning and I want to show side-by-side how PREDICTABLE and DELIBERATE this kind of emotional abuse is. A partner who harps on you about your appearance is not a good partner. In other news, it’s about to get very crowded in the center of the sun.

Dear Captain Awkward,

My partner is worried about my overweight. It’s their most important issue, to the extent of regular arguments. One sided arguments, since they are right. I am overweight, and should be thinner. All our friends are thinner, so my partner is less attracted to me. My partner will not know what to do without me when I die early because of my overweight, so is only arguing for my benefit. Anything I could say is just an excuse. Including that I am the one with a job. That my partner isn’t any thinner. That I get up every day an hour and a half earlier to play with our 3 year old, quietly, so as not to wake my partner, until day care opens and I bring them there, so my partner can sleep late. That when I come home from work, my partner hands over the kid, while they rest by watching television. That after I put the kid to bed, I am asked to bring my partner food in bed, usually sweets, or fats which I am asked to fry. Those are just excuses, because my partner is unique in wanting to sleep late, and the kid is charming so playing shouldn’t make me tired, and my partner’s eating shouldn’t make me eat, and a few times in the past when my partner did let me go to the gym some mornings or evenings or weekends it didn’t have a major effect, and I should be able to get my exercise when playing with the kid anyway, and weight loss really is more about not overeating than about exercising. And anyway I shouldn’t be be blaming everyone else in the world for my problems instead of taking responsibility for them myself. So I don’t say any of that (which is a problem in itself, because then I am either behaving like a wall, or just agreeing to make the argument stop, but not getting any thinner). I do occasionally ask my partner to exercise with me, but they had a hard day, so I shouldn’t nag, and it’s not their job to fix my overweight. And since I know how important my weight is to my partner, whenever I overeat or eat sweets or carbs I must do it for spite, not because I need comfort for myself.

Any advice?

Heavyweight

Dear Heavyweight:

My dear, your weight is a trap that your partner is using to distract you and abuse you. If they can make it so that constantly worried about and ashamed of your weight, you might not realize that you can leave them and do  1,000 times better by yourself or with someone who doesn’t yell at you and insult you. You might not notice that a partnership where you are doing 100% of the work and getting yelled at all the time while doing it is not a real partnership. If you could stop worrying about your weight and their opinion of you for a second, you might start using the word “No,” like, “No, I don’t want to cook anything for you tonight – make it yourself.” “No, I don’t want to listen to anything you have to say about my weight. If you’re so attracted to other people, go find one.” Your partner can’t let that happen, because, who would earn the money and fry the donuts and do all the childcare? So they abuse you and use fat hatred and our messed-up culture to do it, so that you’ll feel like crap and like you have to earn their (shitty, too small, sour) love and affection.

I think the people you could use in your life right now are a counselor, a lawyer, and a good loyal friend who is your friend (someone who dates from the time before Partner in your life, someone you can trust to be good to you always).

The counselor is for helping you rebuild your sense of self and what is normal. You need a person who can give you real time, ongoing reality checks. You might try calling a domestic violence hotline* where you live for a referral, or ask your primary care doc, or see if your employer has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). You might also try not telling your partner that you’re going to a counselor and cast it as a “doctor visit” for now.

The lawyer is for helping you figure out what to do about money, housing & child custody when you LEAVE THIS SELFISH HORRIBLE TWIT. Do not tell partner you saw a lawyer, just see the lawyer and then listen to the lawyer.

The friend is for safe harbor – occasional babysitting, commiseration, wine & reminding you of who you used to be and still are. This person can hold copies of your identity and financial documents for you.

You also need a bank account of your very own that they don’t know about where you start squirreling money away.

Let’s call this Team You. Your partner is not on the team anymore, if they ever were. For now, at home, continue being a stone wall. Do not reveal your plans or your thinking until you can get safely away. If you want to try scripts for mitigating the tirades, you could go with “Please do not comment on my body; I do not like it” or “I don’t want to discuss weight or weight loss with you anymore – I’m going to keep those discussions between me and my doctor” or “I hate fighting with you, so let’s change the subject please.” I’m pessimistic that any of those will work to change the behavior, but if you think it will be good *for you* to say something back, try repeating them like a broken record when they gets going.

I’m pessimistic, my dear sweet lovely Letter Writer, because there is no way to make this better once someone treats you the way your partner treats you. They are displaying contempt. They are trying to make you hate your body. They are sabotaging your efforts to take care of your body. If you lost weight and looked like the cultural ideal, they would still find a way to treat you badly (to expect you to wait on them hand and foot, to make you feel bad about yourself) because none of this is about your weight and all of it is about control.

When you have lost ### of entitled, abusive, misogynist asshole from your life, it will be much easier to rebuild a good relationship with your body – to eat what feels good, to move it in a way that feels good, to look at yourself with love and compassion, and to model healthy attitudes about body image for your child. You can work on that later when you’re not contending with a stressful & abusive torrent of body hatred from your partner. For now, try saying to yourself, “My body is a good body” whenever you start to hear your partner’s voice in your head. Your body IS a good body because it contains YOU. It’s gonna be a great body and do its best job ever when it carries you away from this mean person.

*This might seem like a big step. But I think it’s a good idea for you to treat your partner like something very toxic and dangerous that must be handled with great care until you can get safely away. For example, imagine yourself saying “No, I don’t want to cook anything right now, but you can make your own” when they request late night fried snacks. Do you feel like you can say no? Was your first reaction “Oh no, they’d never let me do that” or some kind of nameless dread?  If you can’t say “no” to someone without dreading the consequences, things have already gotten bad enough to be afraid.

 

Closing comments 6/2/2016. Thanks for a great discussion.

 

 

174 comments
  1. Helen Damnation said:

    Pronouns, Captain.

    • JenniferP said:

      Fuck, you’re right.

      Though, there is a 110% chance the partner is a man.

      • staranise said:

        If the answer is not straight-up misogyny, it’s still “really shitty entitled thoughts and beliefs about how relationships should work”.

        • JenniferP said:

          Much like this letter – the LW changed the pronouns, but it reeks of misogyny.

          • eagrierson said:

            Sadly, I have seen behavior like this from same-sex couples (although agree about the misogyny reek)

          • I am unfortunately all too aware of the way an abusive female partner can still use misogynistic tropes to defeat and control their partner. Mine sure did. I agree that the *likelihood* is that any given partner who does it is a man, because that’s what the statistics say; but it’s a likely rather than an always. And the scary and frustrating truth is that societal misogyny is a really useful tool for *anyone* who is hell-bent on abusing and controlling somebody who loves them… they work just as well from women as from men, and most of the scripts don’t even have to be modified.

      • Maggie said:

        I’d go with a 99.99% chance, but this sounds so much like my ex-partner, a woman.

        • JenniferP said:

          I believe it (if my mom were a lesbian she’d be the body-shaming kind). Internalized misogyny is still misogyny.

          • Kat said:

            It’s strangely impressive how good the patriarchy is at recruiting women to do its bidding (myself included — we’ve all got blind spots). My mom is the same way, ick.

      • Helen Damnation said:

        Sure seems like it. Especially the part where they’re about the same size, but only LW’s weight is a problem.

      • onyx said:

        Minus the child, this letter could have come from one of my guy friends in a super toxic, no good, “I’ve thought about killing myself” relationship where the girlfriend is the one constantly bodyshaming him as a means of control (among other things.) He’s convinced he’s an ugly, worthless loser who no one else would want and everything wrong in his life/their relationship is his fault even though he is doing all of the emotional labor.

        Actually, sorry if this is a derail, but do you know of any good abuse/ toxic relationship resources that focus on women as the primary aggressor? He’s socially conscious but entrenched in geek fallacies, and I can totally see his GF deflecting any boundaries he tries to enforce by accusing him of being entitled and sexist.

        • A man I am very close to was in a marriage to a woman very similar to this. It left tremendous scars in terms of how he saw his body and himself; he is out and has made huge progress in developing a healthier sense of self, but the sense of his body as “repulsive” lingers. I don’t have any resources for you, but best wishes in being a good friend to your friend.

          By the way, I do think that the root was misogyny — she loathed her own body when it wasn’t thin (that part is different from this letter; I agree this LW’s partner is likely a man) and she loathed his. She shamed him for his fat and for aspects of the way his body works sexually, all along traditional gender stereotypes. Really destructive and very sad.

  2. tehomet said:

    Dear LW, you deserve better.

    • Fish said:

      Dear LW,

      You can even obtain the better that you deserve just by leaving. Being single is better than what you’ve got.

      I’m sorry.

  3. Minor point because your advice is obv spot-on and the letter was heartbreaking to read and probably you are 100% right , but LW very specifically used gender neutral pronouns throughout their in reference to their partner, so best not to assume “he” ultimately?

    • JenniferP said:

      I fixed it, thank you.

  4. Monica said:

    Wait, what?
    When reading I was thinking, “surely they’re being sarcastic?”

    RUN.

    • There *is* sarcasm in the letter, which indicates awareness that all of partner’s arguments are bullshit & that this needs to stop. Which is an excellent starting point to work forward from.

      • mamacitaconpistoles said:

        Yep! LW, you are a bright spark, and your letter shows it. You already know exactly what to do, and why. You can *do* it.

        I believe in you!

        (I hate the way your partner treats you.)

  5. bleh said:

    LW, you are brave and good. Please listen to the Captain’s advice and plan your way out.

  6. echo said:

    My heart literally broke when I read this. LW, I hope you will soon be FAR AWAY from this abusive asshole. Please, follow the Captain’s excellent advice, as tough as it may be, and be safe! You don’t deserve any of this shit. Jedi hugs.

    • SpinachInquisition said:

      Letters like this (and they are plentiful) seriously make me want to start an underground service to help people slowly get out of situations like this. Plus micro funding or something. That, and a transportation service for women who need to access reproductive healthcare services not available in their state.

      Ugh.

      • mamacitaconpistoles said:

        That? Is a brilliant idea.

        • thathat said:

          I think there actually are a few. I know that there’s a moving company (I think in California) that will (for free) help a woman move out of an abusive home. It’s mostly (or all) men, who go with her to pack her things up and offer protection when she leaves, in case her ex is home.

          • Cassandra said:

            It’s called Meathead Movers, IIRC, and I think they’ll provide the service for anyone of any gender who needs to GTFO of an abusive situation. I believe they work with local domestic violence resource providers and even the police, if necessary.

          • Light37 said:

            Yep, Meathead Movers in California, in partnership with domestic violence-prevention nonprofit Good Shepherd.

      • This is such an amazing idea.

      • Lirael said:

        “That, and a transportation service for women who need to access reproductive healthcare services not available in their state.”

        Some abortion funds do this or pay for this, if the healthcare service needed is abortion. Examples include La Frontera Fund (funds hotel stays for abortion-seekers traveling from or to the Rio Grande Valley), the Haven Coalition (provides housing, meals, and transportation to and from the clinic for those seeking second-tri abortions in NYC), the Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund (will pay transportation, housing, and childcare costs as well as procedure costs, which has sometimes includes plane tickets for people who have to go hundreds of miles), Fund Texas Choice (pays for transportation and hotel rooms for Texas residents seeking abortions in or out of state), and the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund (will pay transportation, housing, and childcare costs as well as procedure costs for Mississippi residents seeking abortions in or out of state). There are a lot more that do transportation services than that, I’m just going with the ones I know off the top of my head.

        Sorry for the diversion. I’m on the Board of an abortion fund so your comment inspired me. And a lot of people who would be interested in donating to or volunteering for them aren’t aware that they exist.

      • Taiga said:

        I saw this episode of Law & Order: SVU once where they discovered there’s an Underground Railroad for women with stalking abusive partners, so they can’t find them once they’ve gone. I thought it was an amazing idea.

  7. Temperance said:

    Oh LW, you deserve so much better. So does your kid.

  8. lisakoby said:

    LW – the only extra weight you have is this deadweight of a ‘partner’.

    Follow all processes advised by CA and the domestic violence hotline you will shortly (hopefully) be contacting. There are no scripts to fix this.

  9. SpinachInquisition said:

    “[My] body IS a good body because it contains [ME].”

    I plan to use this as my new mantra because it’s perfectly succinct and so very true. Thank you.

    • Mercy said:

      I think I need to make it into a poster to hang by my desk.

    • Polychrome said:

      Yes! This was so nice to hear. I think I will play it on a loop in my head and try to ear worm it for as many other people as I can.

  10. eagrierson said:

    one more voice to say you deserve so much better, LW.

  11. Vorvayne said:

    Oh, LW. You are working so hard at this partnership, to nourish yourself and your partner, to earn money and pay the bills, to look after your child, and receiving none of the love and praise you deserve.

    You can do all the things you are doing now without Partner, and do them just as well, without someone who takes advantage of you and makes you feel bad about yourself.

    A quick note – it may be, as you mention having a lot of thin friends, that they have bought into our cultural idea that fat people are sick and need to be fixed, that they can do it so why can’t you, etc. You can have friends who think you’re great but struggle with this bugbear in their brain, but would you feel better if you could find some friends in the Health At Every Size/Far Acceptance movement? Maybe you could look those things up while you’re waiting for your counselling appointment or saving up to leave or waiting for a call back from your lawyer. You are great at any size, and will be much better when you have the energy to give yourself love, including good food and whatever movement appeals to you. If you lose weight, great. If you don’t, also great.

    Please take care of yourself, LW, we are all rooting for you.

    • Muffin said:

      Yes, this!! LW, I can’t tell from your letter whether your thin friends are emotionally supportive of you or not–I hope they are–but as a person who identifies as fat, I really recommend to you that you make friends who are also fat and who are focused on loving and accepting their bodies rather than changing them. I personally found it much easier to believe that my body was okay, was even great and desirable and beautiful, after I started spending time with other fat people who were engaged in body positivity and practiced self-love.

      I have no idea what you look like, LW, but I can tell you that you deserve to feel beautiful and good and loved NOW, the way you look NOW, and sometimes that love is easiest when it’s reflected in the light of other people’s kindness and self-care.

      Lots of jedi hugs. <333333

    • Jenny Islander said:

      Also, LW, if the professionals you engage for Team You start in on the fat panic at any time, you are completely within your rights to drop them like a copy of 50 Shades. Otherwise good and trustworthy people (not your SO!) can get the weirdest ideas in their heads about butt size. I had to fire a doctor when I reported sleep deprivation due to stress and she started pushing Weight Watchers. Because getting thin would magically fix the stress caused by the financial problems caused by the Great Recession.

      • “Drop them like a copy of Fifty Shades”

        Ahahaha!! Love it!

      • “Drop them like a copy of Fifty Shades”

        Ahahaha!! Love it!

  12. Jill said:

    LW, your partner criticizes your weight – but does nothing to empower you. You get no time for the gym/exercise, there’s no effort for the whole household to eat better, nothing. Just put downs and lack of encouragement. Captain is right. Criticizing your weight is just the way your being controlled. Because what if you did lose “enough” weight? Would Partner suddenly get off their butt and get a job? Take more of an interest in your child? Want to spend more time doing fun things as a family unit? Eat better themself? I’m betting not – I’m betting partner would just find something else “wrong” with you.

    You’re being emotionally abused. Please follow Captain’s advice!

    • Charlene said:

      In fact, LW’s partner does the opposite! S/he demands fried foods all the time!

    • Lorenzo said:

      Seconded – it’s nothing but a smokeshield. Run, LW!

    • Exactly what I was thinking. They’re complaining about LWs weight but actively preventing them from doing anything about it. Which makes me 100% sure they are using LWs weight as an excuse to emotionally abuse them and would do so even if the weight were lost.

      I’m totally with the captain here. Fuck this guy and the rotten ship he sailed in on.

      LW, I really really hope you have friends who will give you the support you need at this time. I’d like to offer as many Jedi hugs as you want.

      • I was especially creeped out by the phrase “won’t let me go to the gym”. It says to me that Partner gets a real kick out of putting LW in an impossible bind.

        Partner reminds me of the wicked stepmother and stepsisters from Cinderella. “Of course you can go to the ball, but we’ll make you do all these chores and rip your dress in half at the last minute. Aw, better luck next time”.

  13. Oh LW, jedi hugs if you would like them. It is so, so hard to recognise abuse like this for what it is because it whittles away your spirit over time until you aren’t certain of your own perceptions. It is even harder to get away from people like this. You can do it. All the good-feelings and luck-wishes to you. Be safe.

    • Cassandra said:

      …especially since the language of the abuse is piggybacking on the weightloss scripts that saturate our culture, so it seems like the abuse-talk has extra authority and “correctness.” Argh. Argh!

  14. B. said:

    Dear LW:
    You’re beautiful. You’re awesome. You deserve so much better than your partner. People who love you make you feel happy and treat you with respect, even when they disagree with you.
    I’m very sorry to tell you this, but your partner doesn’t love you. They love themself and their comfort, and are keeping you aroud just so you’ll keep feeding them. This wouldn’t change even if your body shape and weight were exactly conventional and society-approved.
    Please, LW, if you’re considering staying with your partner for your kid’s sake, don’t. I’m telling you this as someone who once was that three year old: your kid is going to be so much happier when your mean partner is not around anymore to yell at you, you can’t even imagine. Your kid is not going to care at all if there’s less money, or if she or he doesn’t have a second parent, because your kid is going to know that you have his or her back, that you are willing to fight for his or her wellbeing, that you love and care about him or her. Your kid knows that already.
    True story: the moment my mom left my dad in spite of being overweight, and sick, and not having any support from her family, and having two little kids to take care of, she became the bravest and best and most beautiful woman alive to my eyes. She has never lost that standing. She was willing to fight for herself and us, to make the constant yelling in our house stop, and that was more than enough.
    You can do it too, LW. You can leave your partner and let yourself and your kid be happy. The Captain’s advice is a good place to start. We’re all here rooting for you ❤

    • What you said about your mom got me lots of dust in the eyes. Or a bad case of sudden-onset hayfever. Something like that.

      • B. said:

        *offers tissues and fluffy huggable small animals*
        It was the same for me while I was writing it :’)

        • JenniferP said:

          ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

        • If you’d like to be covered in multicolour dog hair, you can cuddle my dogses. Please give a big hug to your mom from me! She RULES!

          • B. said:

            Will do ^^ your dogs sound lovely!
            As for myself, in addition to the tissues I’d like to offer a lapful of purring cat and jedi hugs to anyone who found their eyes wetter than usual because of my post (unintended side-effect, I’m afraid). Thank you all for your kindness :))

    • mamacitaconpistoles said:

      *sniff*

      Dang, the peony perfume in the air from the blossoming bushes outside sure is overpowering.

      *sniffsniff*

    • FlyBy said:

      Yes, this! People say that kids need parents, and it’s not quite true – they need adults who take an interest in them and care for them. Whether that adult is related is irrelevant. There is no default amount of good from having a parent in the house – only whatever good that parent brings. Would you want your kid to spend time around an acquaintance who behaves like your partner? If not, ditch them like you’d ditch any other bad influence. It will be to the kid’s benefit. And it will be to the kid’s benefit for you to not be abused. And yours.

      You have all of our wishes for peace, courage, and good luck.

    • roramich said:

      I …. I … think I need to stop cutting onions so early in the morning…..

    • Mel Reams said:

      Please, LW, if you’re considering staying with your partner for your kid’s sake, don’t. I’m telling you this as someone who once was that three year old: your kid is going to be so much happier when your mean partner is not around anymore to yell at you, you can’t even imagine.

      Seconding this with my usual rant about “staying together for the kids”: that’s actively harmful to the kids. When my parents *finally* got divorced, I was so happy that I didn’t have to listen to them fight and scream at each other all the time. You will do far, far more good for your kid by modelling care for yourself than by showing them that it’s normal for your partner to deliberately and consistently be mean to you.

      • Yes, this. My parents were horribly abusive to each other, both physically and emotionally. They were desperately unhappy. I was unhappy to see them so unhappy, and to see them wrestle and hit each other and to hear them screaming insults at each other and yell that they wished they could get divorced but couldn’t afford it as their combined income would nevee stretch to two dwellings especially with three children involved. They were angry and frustrated all the time and they took it out on us. We got abused too. They were never in the mood to do fun stuff with us.

        I don’t want any kid to go through that ever.

        • Anne On said:

          Growing up, I actively wished my parents would divorce because that would mean they realized they were in a bad situation and desired a better way to live. Instead they remained together and I realized how deeply codependent they were. I was the one who left for a better life.

      • Rose Fox said:

        Nthing this as someone whose mother got divorced twice. Both times it was the right call. The second time she stayed 10 years past the relationship’s sell-by date “for the sake of the kids”, but that was 10 years of constant fighting and sniping and anger. Parental relationship toxicity is as bad for a growing child as lead paint chips flaking off the windowsill.

    • Mary said:

      Yes, I know a couple of people with small children who are agonising over the decision about whether or not to break up at the moment. I am 100% on team Break Up If You Can’t Be Kind To Each Other. You don’t want your child growing up watching one parent being unkind to the other (or, in the case of at least one of the couples I’m thinking of, being unkind to each other.) Growing up without two parents married to each other is a billion times better then growing up with two parents who are married to each other and cruel.

      LW, your partner is being cruel to you. If you can’t believe that you’re entitled to better, then for now, please believe that your child is entitled to better. Believing that you are entitled to better (because you are!) will come once you are out of this toxic space.

    • Myrtle said:

      Such a good point! My nephew’s mother did just this for her boys, and they grew up to be lovely, kind men. I don’t know her personally but I’ve indirectly conveyed to her that I think she’s awesome and brave. She even went to court to protect her sons
      Contrast that with her ex-husband, my brother, whose mother stayed in an abusive marriage (we were eventually dumped on welfare anyway when our male parent inherited.) My brother went on to follow exactly the abuse pattern he’d himself watched while growing up.

    • Wow. ❤️

  15. JMegan said:

    Oh, LW. I want to give you so many hugs. I want to tell you that you are beautiful, now, just the way you are. I want to tell you that you are strong, and capable, and an amazing parent. You have a kid, and a job, and a horrible abusive partner, and you are keeping shit together. You’re doing it, living your life, raising a kid, and getting it all done. That’s not easy, and you’re doing a fantastic job.

    Please, please take the Captain’s advice, and start taking steps to get out of this relationship. You deserve so much better than this.

  16. Dizzy said:

    I’m trying to lose a bit of weight myself right now. Nothing major, I just got sick and my body isn’t quite where I want it to be. And when I told my partner, he said a lot of things to me. Things like “That’s really exciting! Here, since I am extremely good at working out, let me help you build a workout plan” and “Sweetpea, I know you are very depressed but you wanted to go to the gym so off we go!” and “I think you are sexy the way you are.”

    Things he did not do: make me feel ashamed of my body and then simultaneously sabotage my attempts to work out.

    So I have to ask: If your partner wasn’t around, what would you want your body to look like? Do you care that you’re overweight? Is that an important thing to you? Or do you have other priorities, such as your job and your child?

    A lot of parents put on weight because it’s hard to make time to cook healthy and go to the gym when you have a young child. This is normal and expected and frankly I side-eye people pretty hard if they can’t understand that their partners simply have different priorities with a young child in the house.

    Here’s some other things about your letter, in no particular order.

    -Am I correct in that you work outside the home and your partner is a stay-at-home parent? Why is it that you have to work a full day but your partner gets to abdicate work (ie your child) the second you return home? Are you not tired when you get home from work? Is there not some way that y’all can split the effort so both of you are doing half?

    -Why do you have to wake up early to entertain your child so your partner can sleep? Does your partner ever return the favor? (I’m betting not). Why does Partner get to sleep but you don’t?

    -If your child is so charming that playing with them shouldn’t make you tired, why does Partner abdicate responsibility for them the second you come home?

    -You say “the few times” you went to the gym. If your partner is so insistent that you lose weight, why don’t they understand that going to the gym is a HABIT, one you have to do quite a lot to see improvement? Why does Partner not say “I’ll watch the kid for an hour every Tuesday and Thursday so you can go to the gym”?

    -When you did go to the gym, did your partner make a huge fuss about how inconvenient it is for them?

    -If your partner likes eating in bed, what stops them from cooking themselves? If they know that food is a temptation, why do they make YOU do it?

    -I notice that your partner likes to accuse you of blaming others/the world for your problems, but I’m not seeing anything to suggest that they’re not also doing that. I mean, Partner accuses you of eating out of spite, Partner accuses you of shifting blame, Partner accuses you of being a faulty, unappreciative parent. When is Partner going to stop blaming you and start HELPING you? When is Partner going to take responsibility for THEIR part in all of this?

    -Wait, hold on, I just read that you put your child in daycare. So you work all day, Partner stays at home doing… what, exactly? So you basically go to work and do your job, then you have to do ANOTHER shift as primary caretaker of your child. What is Partner doing in all this?

    -If you totaled up all the hours you work and the hours your partner works, do you think that would be anywhere near a fair split? I don’t just mean your job, I mean how many hours of laundry do you do a week? Cooking? Childcare? How many hours does Partner do? Do you think the split is “You do all the work and Partner does whatever they want”?
    —-

    I have to tell you, LW, I don’t see a happy future for you unless you and your partner break up. I don’t think it’s possible to have someone treat you with that kind of cruelty and contempt and somehow manage to build a healthy, functional relationship. I’m writing a paper on abuse right now and I can’t find ANY treatment regimen that turns abusive people into non-abusive people.

    But here’s another prediction I have: one day you’re going to leave your partner. You’re going to worry that being a single parent is impossible but once you’re out, you start to realize that, yes it is definitely hard, but you have all this energy now from not having to defend yourself constantly! You don’t have to be on guard and scared all the time and goddamn if that isn’t an amazing feeling. You’ll just have to worry about yourself and your kid, and when your child is mean to you, it’s because they’re a toddler and not an adult who has decided that you’re a disgusting problem that has to be solved with shame. And maybe you’ll lose weight, maybe you won’t, but it won’t matter because hey, your body is what’s holding your child and dancing like a goofball and enjoying the taste of delicious food, what does it matter what it looks like?

    Good luck, LW. I’m really worried about you and I desperately hope you have the strength to take care of yourself.

    • Yes, you make a lot of good points. As a lady person married to a man who’s unknowingly and unintentionally absorbed a lot of sexist ideas about who should do what in the house, I found myself doing far more than my share because it simply didn’t occur to my husband that certain child/house related tasks even needed doing. So I pointed out that I was getting up at the crack of dawn to tend to the baby, then spending all day without a break looking after her and keeping up with housework, then cooking his dinner and cleaning up afterwards while he lay on the sofa watching TV after a day at the office. I gently pointed out that I was working approximately 15 hours a day to his 7.5, without a break or even any vaguely relaxing downtime like his commuting time. I asked him to do alternate mornings getting our daughter up and looking after her until it was time to go to work. Not only did he do this without any fuss but he also quietly started taking ownership for various chores, offering to cook, shop and wash dishes far more often and a whole load of other stuff. LWs partner would not do this. I can confidently state this as fact.

      • One of my exes used to refer to any kind of “housework”, including childcare, as “bitchwork”.

        I’m just going to leave this here :-P.

        • The best part of this story is the part where you refer to them as “one of my exes.”

    • Parental said:

      Nooooo, please let there be something that turns an abuser into a real human. I’m staying away from my ex but I still love her and she says she wants to change. This week. After the charges got really serious. Dammit.

      • JenniferP said:

        She will change exactly as much and for exactly as long as it takes for you to let her back in. Then she will revert to (abusive) form. It’s a tale as old as time. I’m so sorry. If she is going to fix her behavior/fix herself/become non-abusive, she’s going to have to do it without you. There is no way to fix the relationship.

      • Dizzy said:

        I’m sorry, Parental, but there’s nothing. The Duluth model is absolute bullshit (abusers reabuse 5% less than abusers who received no therapy, CBT only shows a 40% reduction in reoffense, substance abuse is a crapshot at best, couples therapy is a goddamn nightmare for victims. I know you love her–I loved my abusers too!–but I truly doubt she’ll change. Please stay safe and… love her from afar, maybe? I’m with the Captain–all that will happen is she’ll change enough to lure you back under her spell and then it’ll be like nothing ever changed. There’s some strong evidence that abuse becomes more frequent over time because abusers spend less effort winning you back and stop being afraid there’s any real consequences.

        Especially since she’s “changing” in response to some very serious legal issues, which actually affect her life. That does not bode well for the future, that’s someone who doesn’t want to go to prison.

        I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Parental. I wish I had better news.

        • Jackalope said:

          And from what I’ve heard, for those who actually want to change and so DO manage to turn their lives around and stop abusing, it’s almost impossible for them to go back to one of their former relationships and have it be healthy. They can start over from a clean slate and manage if they’re seriously motivated (not usually the case, but it happens), but once patterns are set it’s nearly impossible to change them.

        • Anonchalance said:

          “all that will happen is she’ll change enough to lure you back under her spell and then it’ll be like nothing ever changed”

          It’s more likely to be worse, since Parental went through with leaving. When a victim leaves an abuser and then goes back, the abuser *knows* the victim is capable of leaving. So when the abuse cycle starts up again, it will be worse (because clearly the victim has WAY too much self esteem if they pulled off actually leaving). The abuser will likely either start or escalate any isolation and financial abuse tactics to make it even harder for the victim to leave, and they will be on high-alert for the slightest sign that the victim is going to leave again. If the abuser hasn’t been physically abusive prior to this, they are more likely to start if the victim returns after leaving. If they have been physically abusive, they are likely to escalate their violent behaviors, up to attempted murder or murder.

          The most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is when the victim is in the process of leaving or when the abuser thinks the victim is in the process of leaving.

      • Light37 said:

        It’s OK to love her. Just be sure you’re loving yourself first, and loving yourself means doing what is necessary to protect yourself. Jedi hugs to you.

      • She’s not going to change. You can stand in the living room shaking with silent, hopeless sobs and beg her to do just one thing for you and she will do it just long enough to keep you from walking out the door that second, and then stop the second your exhaustion has caught up with you and you have lost that burst of energy and anger that would carry you away from her.

      • Lived!!! said:

        The only hope this person has to re-humanize themself is counter-intuitive for you. You have to break it off and be completely gone. Unless the person you love can face the consequences of their actions they simply will not. You cannot check up on them via others; you have to put up a blank unscaleable wall of blocked social media and phone number. Any person who might be a go-between must not do so, or they’re cut, too.

        “Wants to change” is a fable; worlds different than “actively changing” and its pattern of its Years-long rigid adherence. Years.

        The reason as I see it that there’s no going back, is that both parties need to do a lot of work on themselves. Both need to understand themselves better and the work *both* did to create the dynamics.

        There aren’t any saints, but there can be many scholars.

      • hhhhhhhhhh said:

        There’s a guy that works in rehabilitating abusers that did a book about if that helps? But…it’s something that requires a specialized program and commitment spanning a long-ass time. The fact she’s saying she’ll change when she’s got serious charges coming up sounds like she wants you to drop them tbh.
        Most just don’t want to do the work, because it would mean accepting consequence of deplorable actions and giving up the opportunity to control someone.

        http://foresthoney.tumblr.com/post/113078060822/why-does-he-do-that-by-lundy-bancroft-online pdf download link here if it helps, covers male abusers mainly but a lot of the same stuff is still applicable.

    • “once you’re out, you start to realize that, yes it is definitely hard, but you have all this energy now from not having to defend yourself constantly! You don’t have to be on guard and scared all the time and goddamn if that isn’t an amazing feeling.”

      This is so incredibly true. I had no idea how draining it was to be around Crappy Ex until he was gone for a while and I had stopped reflexively looking for him.

  17. Charlene said:

    LW, you are perfect as you are. This jerk is a master manipulator of such slickness and subtlety that anyone could fall for it. Don’t beat yourself up; this is not your fault.

  18. carlie said:

    LW, I would like to empathize with you, but also show you how a partner can react so, so much differently. I am also overweight. The overweight did not really start until after I was married, and it has grown higher and higher precisely because of stress due to my job and parenthood and etc. I was the only wage earner for more years than not of our partnership, had the small children, no time or money for the gym, etc. But here’s the difference: my partner has never once, once, ever mentioned my weight. Ever.

    I’ll repeat that. I now weigh literally almost double what I did when we started dating (heck, I weigh almost double what my partner weighed when we started dating), but he has never once complained about how I look. He saw exactly what was happening and why, and did his best to reduce the stresses I had in my life and took care of the kids and cooked and cleaned, and happily joins in when I do have time for exercise, and we cook as healthy as we can without making it a “thing”, but he has never told me I have to do those things. He loves me and tells me I’m beautiful and we have a great sex life. Before I started accepting my body the way it was, and would criticize myself, he would never join in. I have not once, in over twenty years, heard him criticize any part of my body. The way your partner is acting is NOT how “everyone else” would act in this situation, which I am sure is what your partner would say if confronted. It just isn’t. There are people out there who would not judge your body and criticize you and undermine you at every turn and expect you to feel grateful to them for doing it. It’s not a thing all partners do, it’s not a “guy thing” (if your partner is a guy), it’s not a “normal” thing. It’s an asshole thing. It’s what entitled jerks do. You deserve to be treated better than that.

    • Your partner sounds awesome 🙂

    • Dani Alexis said:

      *them

      My crappy partner was male, not (necessarily) yours. Oops.

      • JenniferP said:

        I deleted your other comment. Please do not list specific weights.

        • Dani Alexis said:

          Understood. My apologies.

    • Ros said:

      Same. I am married to a man who can eat whatever and play video games all day and still wears the suit he wore to his prom 17 years ago. On the flip side, I’m a few sizes larger than I was due to desk jobs, stress, work, pregnancy and breastfeeding, and generally getting older and having an effect on metabolism.

      Not once have I heard a negative comment about my body. Not one, single, solitary time. We have both nagged each other to go to the doctor and get bloodwork done and address actual symptoms (“I want you to be around a long time, get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked!”), and we make efforts to do things like go on walks together (couple-time combined with exercise!), and we have a fair amount of land (gardens, animals, etc) so the work there is pretty physical, but there’s no hassle or focus on weight, losing weight, exercising for the sake of weight, eating for the sake of weight, nada. It is ABSOLUTELY possible to express interest and love and caring without being an abusive twerp.

      Your worth as a person is not determined by the size of your stomach, and the availability of love and affection is not inversely proportional to the size of your ass. If the people around you can’t accept that as a basic truth, sorry, but you either need a clue-by-4 or new people.

  19. starfishchick said:

    Dear LW; Your letter brings me to tears. Your situation is NOT right, it is NOT fair, and I am both angry and sad on your behalf.

    I wish you all of the best as you try to get out of this mess and away from this person who does not love you, is not your friend, is not a co-parent, and is only a soul-sucking force in your life.

    You deserve better.

  20. resili0 said:

    That life of yours sounds like heavy weight that you are carrying alone. Your letter contained a lot of shoulds and self recrimination. It sounded sad and it made me feel sad to think that you are alone there.

    One of the biggest things I learned from reading the CA archives is that there is no ‘right’ immediate response to finding yourself being abused. You mention that you either block this abuse out or agree, as if you feel badly that you haven’t been able to react in another way. The ability to tolerate abuse and pacify an abuser is a judgment call your brain makes in panic mode. There is no world in which your partner is right in how they treat you and there is no right and perfect way to proceed when you realise the trap you are in.

    It is not your fault that your partner is choosing to abuse you. It is not the case that you should handle this better/braver. There are no ‘should’ for you from me. I wish I could be there face to face to remind you that you matter. You are good enough. You deserve kindness.

    There is good advice here on next steps. I have survived abuse and I know that first inkling that I could never win and earn my abusers love was incredibly painful. The realisation that I was still trying in a stare of panic was embarrassing to me. The energy to contemplate leaving felt absent. So I can relate to the overwhelm you write in with.

    I know hope exists for you and your little one. You can do this.

  21. MB said:

    “When you have lost ### of entitled, abusive, misogynist asshole”

    It took me multiple tries to figure out that “###” in this context was “pounds.” From their phrasing, it sounds like LW might not be a native speaker of English, so if I’m confused by it, they might be, too.

    • Took me a while to figure that out too… we don’t call those “pounds” in the UK. Pound sign only means £ here!

      • I think in this context, it also just means “numbers” in a nonspecific way.

      • Factoid: the # is usually shift 3. So is the £.

  22. LW, everything the Captain said is gold. This isn’t a healthy place for you or your child to be, but you’re going to have to be smart and careful about getting away, which is where the lawyer comes in. Also, this might seem like the normal way to go about it, but DON’T reach out through your friends network to find a lawyer. You need to find one in a way that won’t get back to your partner.

    Also, if any of your bank accounts that don’t have your partner’s name on them are linked to accounts that do, be prepared to go to your bank and empty those accounts or sever that linkage (you should have to sign something to do this, don’t take anyone’s word for it–and emptying is best) a day BEFORE you leave. When you make your new secret account, do it in a bank that you and your partner have never used. Have statements delivered somewhere else, or electronically to an account you never check at home or from a laptop that goes home. Change your phone passcode now to something random and not guessable, and if you have a fingerprint lock, only unlock it via fingerprint when your partner is around to minimize the risk of your partner learning it. A good excuse is an OS update, if you are pressed about why. Maybe you had a security seminar recently at work! They emphasized good informational security and you are implementing it at home! 🙂

    I think you need to be really strategic about this, because right now your partner has what they consider a perfect situation, and anything that endangers that is going to make them get much more controlling and mean very quickly, so the best way to leave is after careful, slow planning, then quickly and completely, with all your Is dotted and all your Ts crossed.

    • FlyBy said:

      “right now your partner has what they consider a perfect situation, and anything that endangers that is going to make them get much more controlling and mean very quickly”

      Yes, sadly this is the usual result. LW, when you start standing up for yourself, expect your partner’s behavior to get worse. That doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong, it means your partner is an abusive asshole who is trying to control you.

    • lkeke35 said:

      Indeed! Right now your partner has a lovely little situation set up, for himself, that involves you paying for everything, and doing all the work. They have no other plans for their future beyond keeping you in control so as to keep this situation going.

      Once you start to assert yourself, they’re going to feel threatened and will become more abusive, and try harder to keep you under their thumb. So please, please, be careful and be safe.

      • Frost said:

        Also, I would start packing things up quietly and being prepared to make a quick getaway if you need to. People like that tend to respond very badly (and often violently) to someone trying to leave a situation that is terrible for them, but good for the abuser. Maybe give a call to the police on a non-emergency line and explain to them that you are trying to leave an abusive partner – they often have a lot of resources for people who are in that situation, and having a record of it will come in handy should anything need to go to court, or should you need the police’s aid. Also keep in mind companies like Meathead Movers, who will help abuse victims escape their abuser. Having a bunch of huge, muscled guys standing around like guard dogs could help massively with the courage you’ll need to get yourself and your child out of there safely, as well as having someone there to have your back should your abuser try anything.

        • lkeke35 said:

          I think what you’re talking about is a “bug out bag” or in this situation a “bug out suitcase” . Good idea!

          Perhaps off the premises, at a trusted friends house, or a locker somewhere. Along with having a friend hold all your important/essential I.D. and bank papers, you could pack enough clothing for two or three days, until you can go back and get the rest of your belongings. Meathead Movers is a good idea, when you make arrangements to get your stuff.

          And please, take the advice of calling a lawyer. It’s imperative. Your abuser may take steps to keep things that don’t belong to him, but that you consider precious, as a way to keep you making contact with him, as every moment of contact for him, is an opportunity to get you back in his power.

        • Lived!!! said:

          I was merely renting a room in a stranger’s house when things went south- I’d wake to find one of the couple standing over my bed. I was able to call the police as a DV-thing, and when I told them I was in a household where people were taking strong prescription drugs that were not modulating their behavior, and I’d learned one person had a loaded gun under their bed- two cops came immediately. They told the couple very factually that I was moving out. Everything was kept very calm. One chatted with the homeowners while the other stood in the entryway as I made trips to my car.
          I’m so glad these cops had been so well-trained.

        • Just having people show up and show you’re not alone can make a huge difference, too. A friend of mine had to leave urgently and sent out an all-call on Facebook for people to show up that day, and two dozen people showed up, some just to be present as she got her things, others to help move. Most of us were co-workers or friends-of-friends and not necessarily her immediate Team Her, but we came. Because it was important to show her ex that she had support, and that people would notice if anything happened to her. It’s messed up. But it nipped a lot of things in the bud and meant she could take more than just a bag with her.

  23. MJ said:

    LW, I am sick with worry that you won’t leave this terrible person! Please, please realize that you deserve and CAN GET so much better. You’d be better off single, it’s true, but there are partners out there who will love you exactly as you are, and who will take an equal share of the breadwinning/childcare/housework/cooking labor. There is a life out there for you full of joy and peace, a life where you love yourself and you’re surrounded by people who love you.

    The Captain is right, your body is a good body. Its primary purpose is to serve you, not to be decorative for others, but it also would be attractive to so, so many people exactly as it is now. It would be entirely possible for you to live a long and healthy life without losing an ounce. Your body is a good body, but I know from experience how difficult it can be to believe that. So, if you can’t let go right now of the idea that you need to lose weight, please at least know that the things you listed are NOT excuses. They are explanations. They are factors that have been scientifically demonstrated to make it more difficult to lose weight. Lack of rest, stress, lack of emotional support, limited time for self-care – all are associated with weight gain. The eating habits of those around you – especially those in your own household – have a huge influence on your own eating habits. Your partner has you convinced that you should be able to stick perfectly to some fantasy weight-loss meal plan no matter how difficult they make your life. But that’s just not possible! That’s not how people work. You can’t power past every human instinct and reshape yourself through pure will. You’re not a robot.

    And your partner knows this. The Captain is right again – they don’t actually expect you to lose weight. They’d probably be disappointed if you did, because they’d lose a powerful lever. They use your body insecurity to keep you around, waiting on them like a combination parent/servant/emotional punching bag.

    Please find a Team You! Please find your way to a better life! Please write back and let us know you’re ok! We love you!

    • JMegan said:

      So, if you can’t let go right now of the idea that you need to lose weight, please at least know that the things you listed are NOT excuses. They are explanations. They are factors that have been scientifically demonstrated to make it more difficult to lose weight. Lack of rest, stress, lack of emotional support, limited time for self-care – all are associated with weight gain. The eating habits of those around you – especially those in your own household – have a huge influence on your own eating habits.

      I want to call this out on its own, because it’s so, so true. And I also want to add that the eating habits of those in your household will be especially influential when you are required to make their food, and even more so when you are required to make unhealthy food for them. You’ve been set up to fail here, LW. It’s going to be incredibly lose weight under these circumstances – not because of any failing on your part, but because the deck is so heavily stacked against you right now. I wish you much love, and strength, and an awesome Team You who can help you get out from under all this.

  24. bat lord said:

    Holy crap, LW, your partner is an awful, awful person. You, on the other hand, are a great person and a wonderful parent, and you deserve so much better than your current situation/relationship.

  25. Modern Culture said:

    It’s never too late to start that Team You secret savings account! Years ago, my friend’s 66 year old mom needed a secret account. She was a pretty good oil painter and started selling paintings at small shows in the area. Her abusive and alcoholic husband dismissed her “stupid hobby” but unbeknownst to him, she was able to salt away a few dollars, then hundreds, until she had a couple of thousand. He died before she had to use it but she was incredibly proud of her feat and it gave her a lot of confidence knowing she could nope out of there at her choosing. There is a way out, LW!

  26. BiancaSnoozes said:

    LW, your partner has everything right where they want it. They get to completely control you by making you feel so shitty that they can make you do all the cooking and cleaning and caretaking. They get to feel powerful doing this. And they also get to watch a lot of television and get snacks delivered bedside, and they never have to answer for their behavior because the only answer they ever have to give is “Yeah, but you’re fat!”

    So, they have absolutely no interest in your actually losing weight or “being healthy” (because someone who actually cares for your health does not tear you down at every turn). They only have an interest in making you feel like shit, and since they are succeeding at this already, their saying that they want you to change is a lie. They are actually pretty terrified of your changing in any way, because that would upset the status quo in which they get to freely insult you and you get to wait on them.

    It IS time to make some changes, but not the ones that they are telling you to make. I hope you are able to get your ducks in a row soon and extract yourself from this. It will be so much better on the other side. You can do this!

  27. zardeenah said:

    Hi, LW!

    I recommend that you put some virtual folks on team you. Your partner’s thoughts on weight and health are all f’d up, and I think you should add some fat acceptance and Health At Every Size bloggers to team you!

    I highly recommend that you start with Ragen Chastain’s “Dances With Fat” and “The Fat Nutritionist”

    Your body is an awesome body, and you don’t need to change it to have a great life and a partner that lives you!!

    • zardeenah said:

      Loves you. Stupid phone.

      • sophylou said:

        Super-appropriate typo though 🙂 “Lives you” kinda works too.

  28. aidy said:

    I think it’s worth reminding yourself that you are lovable now. And there are people who would love you as you are, regardless of your weight. As someone who is well above my culturally ideal weight, I spent a long time entertaining the creepy overtures of creepy men because I thought no one else could possibly find me attractive. I hope you’re not falling into the same thinking I was. You do not have to endure your partner’s abuse. There are plenty of kind, wonderful people who would find you attractive just as you are.

  29. ThtreLady said:

    I am going to have to remember the “My body is a good body because it contains me” from inside this advice. Because that is something I think I needed to hear rather badly. Thank you Captain.

    Dear LW – My heart goes out to you. Your partner is treating you abysmally and I hope you find a way out.

  30. Cyberwulf said:

    LW, ditch this asshole as soon as possible. You’ll feel lighter than air without their dead weight around your neck.

  31. Horse said:

    Bad news, LW. If your partner really cared about your well being, they wouldn’t bully and shame you into bringing them shit or belittle your efforts to keep this family afloat. The body shaming is bad enough on its own, but the fact that they’re the cement shoes in the drowning of your life just makes it worse.

    I can tell from your facetious counterpoints that you know this already. If you were looking for validation, you’ve got it: get outta there.

    • anon said:

      >the cement shoes in the drowning of your life

      This is useful imagery. LW, your life is drowning. But not yet drowned.

      There is no body type that you could blink and use one wish to have that would make Partner stop making you feel like dirt. Partner wants you to feel that way. I’m so sorry.

  32. CommanderBanana said:

    LW, you don’t have a weight problem, you have a partner problem. The call is coming from inside the house, which is actually just a giant Evil Beehive full of Evil Bees.

    You don’t deserve to be treated like a food-bringing, baby-entertaining, money-earning punching bag. I wish you all the best for a speedy exit from this terrible relationship and an amazing new life without Asshole Partner assholing it up all over the place.

  33. LW- I would say that it’s super important to make sure to ask Lawyer about custody and options available. If Partner is abusing you over your weight, Partner may attempt to use shared custody of your child against you (or threaten to harm the child or “you’ll never see our child again” if you leave).

    Also: It’s okay if you are still afraid and not ready to leave. Move as slowly as you feel comfortable. You are not “asking for it” if you don’t leave immediately and burn all your bridges. This is especially true if Partner has a history of violent behavior or threatening violent behavior. Other issues may come into play with LW, such as racial background or gender or type of relationship. If LW is part of a group with lower status and privilege in our society, LW may not be believed or given as many options by police or those in authority. This goes doubly so if LW suffers from any physical disability or mental disease.

    The Captain’s advice for Team You is SUCH a good piece of advice, though, and I soundly agree with it. Even if you don’t leave this week or this month or this year, the most important thing is to have people on your side who can help.

    I know you can get to a better place for yourself, LW. Please listen to yourself and trust your gut instincts. They will never steer you wrong.

    • thathat said:

      If Partner is abusing you over your weight, Partner may attempt to use shared custody of your child against you (or threaten to harm the child or “you’ll never see our child again” if you leave).

      Also, if Partner is doing that to LW now, then there is e v e r y chance that Partner will start doing that to the kid. Maybe it’ll be a weight thing, maybe it’ll be a body thing, maybe it’ll just be constantly telling the kid that they’re “so lazy” for not doing (all of the) chores. But I’d say there’s a good chance that once the kid is old enough to Do Things, that Partner will use this kind of emotional abuse and manipulation to make them feel as though they have to do everything. Or just to make them feel like crap.

      • In addition to treating Child directly as another victim, and/or using Child as a hostage, it’s quite possible Abusive Partner might start using Child as a weapon against LW.

        It’s what I saw going on just down the block, in the years before my friend’s parents finally divorced. Friend’s father was constantly telling Friend stuff like “Your mother sure says some stupid shit, doesn’t she?” Friend learned to run to her father when she didn’t like the restrictions/discipline her mother tried to enforce; she learned early, given the way her father talked to her about her mother, that when Mom Says No, Dad Will Say Yes, and Dad Will Also Say Mom Is A Stupid Worthless B—-h For Having Said No. Friend became quite expert at using her parents against each other–because her parents were using her against each other.

        So, yeah, as Child gets older, I could totally see Abusive Partner bending their ear with “Don’t you think LW’s fat?” — basically, directing some of the omnipresent verbal abuse into a stream of nasty things said about LW to Child. Abusive Partner might use that sort of talk to undermine LW’s attempts to be a good parent and provide necessary limitations. “What? LW won’t let you have cookies for dinner? But that big fat hypocrite eats cookies for dinner all the time! How do you think they got so fat?”

        Child might not necessarily even know these are nasty things to say; Child may just feel reaffirmed that an adult is taking their side against “the Mean Parent,” or just proud to be treated as a grown-up confidante rather than as just a kid.

        Hell, that shit would have worked on me, especially given how many adults *weren’t* on my side even when they should have been (long sad story about an uncle who bullied me my entire childhood, recruited my older cousins to join in the bullying, and enjoyed the enabling of every other adult in the extended family in this).

        It sure worked on my friend, whose father successfully groomed her to hate her mother for a long time, and to disrespect her for even longer.

    • Reading “Why Does He Do That?” By Lundy Bancroft will help unravel some the the distortions Partner’s been feeding LW, too. Another member for team you is a hotline for domestic violence or partner abuse.

  34. johann7 said:

    The only thing I have to add is well-wishes; we’re rooting for you, LW!

  35. LW, you don’t have a weight problem, you have a partner problem.

    So true. And this is how you must think of it — that you are not the problem.

    This is an extremely stressful situation and stress shorts out our brain and keeps us from thinking and planning and doing. So use the errands the Captain so wisely suggested, and your lunch hour, and whatever time you can get that is away from this toxic environment; to think for yourself, to feel what you are really feeling. Then you will find your intelligence and capabilities coming back to you.

    Remember, they must undermine your confidence so you will stay with someone who has few qualities to recommend them at this time. Best of Luck!

  36. MorbidDeathFatIsNotAThing said:

    Why has no one addressed the fatphobic, outright inaccurate, blatantly harmful ideas LW and their partner have equating size to poor health and EXPLICITLY suggesting it will cause death?

    The total lack of acknowledgement of this is shocking, triggering, and dangerous. LW asked for advice– dissolving their dangerous misconceptions about fat and health is a potentially life-saving part of the needed advice that is GLARINGLY ABSENT here. Why???? This is a dangerous and frightening omission.

    • Drew said:

      Because right now, the life-saving help the LW needs is to get away from Shitty Partner, rather than the long process of changing ideas about weight and health. Once she’s out from under Shitty Partner, she will have time and space to work on other things.

    • And also, that’s what the comment section is for! Though the Captain is wise, she is not infallible, and will occasionally give advice that some feel needs padding. Which, again, is why the comment section exists.

      • mamacitaconpistoles said:

        ❤ wee ramekin

    • LW’s whole post read as very sarcastic to me. They were repeating stuff their partner says to them in a deadpan tone. It didn’t indicate to me that LW believed that stuff, anymore than they believe “my partner is unique in wanting to sleep late” or “playing with my kid shouldn’t make me tired”.

      • Leonine said:

        You know what’s funny about that? I didn’t see any sarcasm at all–I read the whole thing completely straight–but if I’m a Reading Superhero, satire is my kryptonite. I never, ever recognize it as an attempt to be humorous. It just reads to me as horrible people being horrible to each other (“Bonfire of the Vanities,” I’m looking at you.) So I’m completely willing to admit that I completely misread the tone of this letter. But I actually don’t think it matters. There’s still a horrible person (the partner) being horrible, and the advice is the same either way.

        Honestly, I think it might be better for the LW if he or she is *not* being sarcastic. If the letter is straight, writing it out and then seeing how everyone responds to it might give the LW a real epiphany about the situation. If he or she is being sarcastic, to me that implies a certain resignation. The anger is already there, but it’s being channeled away from its proper target. It’s a question of bursting a dam versus turning a river’s course.

        LW, if you’re reading this and if you were intending a sarcastic tone, I suggest you try backing away from sarcasm in general. Sarcasm is a way of disguising hurt and sadness and anger not only from others, but also from yourself. I know it’s hard–I KNOW it’s hard–but instead of disguising those feelings, try feeling them. It will be scary at first–you’ll feel incredibly vulnerable–but letting yourself feel how you feel is the first step in recruiting yourself onto Team You.

        • EzzyOD said:

          ‘If I’m a Reading Superhero, satire is my kryptonite’

          Just dropping in to say ME TOO! I was also unsure of LW’s tone, but I agree with your point that it doesn’t really matter.

          I hope LW gets out, as intact as possible, as soon as possible.

      • Jack V said:

        It sounded to me like LW had absorbed those messages their partner had pressed onto them, but didn’t want to believe them, but was scared they needed to. That they felt they were failing, but wanted a reality-check from someone else that saying those things to them wasn’t ok, that even if they weren’t perfect, it was ok to tell their partner to back off. Which hopefully they’ve had!

  37. Amphelise said:

    It’s just SO full of bees.

  38. entendante said:

    LW, everything that the Captain and others have said about you are true: you are a gorgeous, hardworking badass and we can all tell this without ever having even met you. I also know that it’s really, really easy to start coming up with instant rebuttals to positive things people say about you (if they’re strangers, they don’t know you well enough to compliment you; if they’re friends, they’re biased; if they’re people who don’t ordinarily like you, they’re trying to butter you up…. brain weasels are extremely inventive little monsters).

    So on days when you’re not quite ready to believe you deserve better, know at least this: we can agree that your kid deserves better, yes?

    If your kid grows up into a fat person, they deserve better than to have their parent’s voice echoing in the back of their head talking about how fat people are terrible, disgusting slabs of grease. If your kid grows up into a not-fat person, they deserve better than to learn that this is how fat people should be treated. No matter what your kid looks like as an adult, they deserve better than to think for an instant that this is how relationships are supposed to work.

    I’m not saying this to guilt you into any particular course of action – I don’t think you’ll be surprised to know that I think you’re probably better off without this partner of yours, but I also know that’s far easier said than done and you have tons of context to consider. But if one of those pieces of context is “it’s not that bad, I can put up with it, and anyway, I probably deserve it and Partner is probably right,” then hopefully this will help short-circuit that line of not-reasoning. Your partner is saying these things to your child, too – and it is that bad, and neither of you should have to put up with it, and your partner is definitely. not. right.

  39. RobinG said:

    LW, my heart goes out to you.

    What struck me was the part about you going to the gym. When you start exercising, you will most likely start to feel stronger and more energetic. You will not get thinner instantly, and that is okay. The fact that they made you stop immediately when it turned out that a few gym sessions don’t magically make you skinny, shows very clearly that they never cared about your health in the first place. How did *you* feel about going to the gym? Did you notice changes in what your body can do? Did it make you feel good? Did it give you a much-needed break from your partner and kid, in which you’re doing something good just for you? You shouldn’t need your partner’s permission to go to the gym, and it should certainly not be conditional on you losing a certain amount of weight. If you want to go to the gym, you need to do it in a healthy way, where you decide, together with your doctor/trainer, what your goals are. Losing weight can be one of them, but it is not likely to be the most important one for your health/happiness. It’s also a tricky one, because you are likely to gain weight, especially at the beginning, as your body is getting more powerful.

    I have a hunch that your partner perhaps realized that you going to the gym might actually make you realize what your body can do, make you feel better about it, and make you strong. They want you instead to lose weight by not exercising (they know very well that playing with your kid is not the same as going to the gym) and not eating. They want you to be weak.

    • CommanderBanana said:

      Yup, this.

      I don’t think the LW’s partner actually wants them to lose weight, because if they did, they’d have to find a new “problem” to berate the LW with. I have actually known several people (hmm, all men, now that I think about it) who bitched about their partner’s weight…and yet wouldn’t babysit so their wife/GF could go to the gym, complained if their partner stopped keeping the house full of snacks or started cooking healthier meals, sabotaged their weight-loss efforts, made fun of them for working out, etc.

      The partner is just a shithead.

    • JenniferP said:

      Gentle reminder: This is not the site for talking about how to lose weight.

      • RobinG said:

        Thank you! That was not my intention at all. Weight loss is a bad way to measure the success of going to the gym, and it shows that Partner is not prioritizing LW’s health. It is highly concerning that Partner stopped “letting” LW go to the gym when it didn’t immediately result in weight loss, even when it may have been good or even just fun for LW (the letter made it sound like LW wants to go).

        Partner is willing to sabotage healthy activities that don’t emphasize weight loss and don’t directly serve partner, and encourage unhealthy ones (simply eating less without consulting a doctor will likely do more harm than good).

        LW, I hope you know to your very core that partner is not arguing for your health. This is not a case of your partner being right, but using it to abuse you. Partner is wrong *and* is abusing you.

    • Susan said:

      And, don’t forget, if LW actually loses weight, her a-hole partner figures she might attract another guy (he doesn’t realize she’s beautiful just as she is and that might happen anyway) and then where will he be? Working for a living and frying his own donuts and that is nowhere he has any intention of ending up.

      Please take care, LW. I had a Dad who treated me and my sister like this growing up and an ex-husband that worried far too much about my weight. When I left the ex, I had internalized the messages so much I was sure no one would ever love me because I was so fat. I was engaged and married to my wonderful husband within 18 mths. It really is possible to change your acceptance about his definition of you but, in order to do that, you first have to get out.

      • B. said:

        The LW is using “their” to refer to the partner. We really ought to respect that, since we don’t know the gender of LW’s partner.
        The topic of mysogyny and its patterns present in the LW’s letter has been adressed further uptrhead, in the first comments, if you’re curious 🙂

  40. thebewilderness said:

    …so that you’ll feel like crap and like you have to earn their (shitty, too small, sour) love and affection.

    As was said upthread, take it from a child who spent years trying to earn the shitty, small, sour, love and affection of an abusive parent and then a partner, it only gets worse for everyone.

  41. LW, you are living with a villain of cartoonish proportions.

    And, surprise! Your weight has absolutely nothing to do with how that person treats you!

    Your partner found an aspect of you that you mayor may not have been self conscious about, and then drilled at it until it became an emotionally crippling problem. If you had an “ideal figure”, they would have found something else. And if you achieve an “ideal figure”, they WILL find something else. Your hair, your nose, your hands, spider veins, the sound of your voice, the way you chew, the music you like, your friends, your family…it doesn’t matter!

    They will find ANYTHING to make you feel bad about yourself to keep you feeling broken and wrong and alone.

    What happens when your partner begins using this manipulative and hurtful control method on your child?

    • My mother did that, criticizing the most random things about my dad (closed-mouth chewing was too loud) and then turned it on me. It is hell. I grew up thinking, “How can anyone love me? Even my own mother didn’t love me, or even like me.” Needless to say, it was all her, but I didn’t have enough life experience to know that before it did damage.

      LW, you are awesome and good enough and you deserve so much better. Quietly get a saddle for your Nopetopus and nope out with your kiddo, whenever you feel you can. *offers Jedi hugs and reassurance*

    • Lived!!! said:

      THIS. I just had a flashback to the Sonny and Cher show, and the two of them standing there while she swung her beautiful Armenian hair, resplendent in yet another original Bob Mackie gown, singing in her great big voice- while he relentlessly made “jokes” about her nose.

  42. Mel Reams said:

    Oh, LW. All the jedi hugs, that sounds hard and painful and exhausting. I kinda love the sarcasm in your letter, not even your jerkface partner can stamp out your fire!

    The one thing I really want you to know is that the way your partner treats you has NOTHING to do with you or your supposed failings or your weight or ANYTHING you do. It is about your partner and only your partner.

    When I was in my late teens/early 20s, I dated an emotionally abusive jerk. There was absolutely no way to make him happy, but trying sure kept me too busy and distracted to ask any inconvenient questions like “why am I the only one who ever cooks?”, “why do I pay all the bills outside of your half of the rent?”, “why is everything bad that ever happens my fault?”, and “why aren’t you nice to me, you miserable jackass?”

    One of his favourite ways to tie me up in knots was to complain about how I never opened up to him. Of fucking course I didn’t, according to him everything I ever said, did, thought, or felt was stupid. There is simply no way to win with people like that.

    Someone who actually wanted me to open up would make it safe for me, and someone who actually wanted you to lose weight would make it possible for you instead of actively sabotaging you at every turn. If you woke up looking like a supermodel tomorrow, your partner would just pick on something else. Suddenly you would be the worst parent ever to parent, or the least organized person ever to be disorganized, or mysteriously unable to dress yourself to partner’s standards or whatever it took to make you feel bad about yourself.

    You are great the way you are, LW. I suspect your partner knows they’re not good enough for you on some level and that’s why they work so hard to tear you down.

    ps. even if you were eating out of spite, I would totally support that 🙂 It’s your body, and your decision what you do with it. Plus if anyone deserves a good spiting, it’s your partner. Hell, I’m going to go eat something delicious to spite them and I’ve never even met them.

    • Very well said. 🙂 Embrace your fire, LW!

    • AndTheRest said:

      I once had a partner a bit like the LW’s, who was always on my case about my weight — although mine did most of the cooking, and it was healthy food. Still, the harping on the weight was just one of many topics he criticized me for — it didn’t matter what it was, he could always find something to try to “put me in my place.” He was always putting me down in one way or another. And I hate to admit it, but I did occasionally eat certain foods out of spite when he wasn’t around; I needed that small sort of rebellion then. But I’m glad I got rid of him a long time ago, because after a while, the spite tended to ruin the flavor and enjoyment of good food. But for now, I think I’ll join you and also eat something delicious to spite LW’s partner! 🙂

  43. Anyanka said:

    LW, I promise you your problem here is not the weight. If you woke up tomorrow at the exact weight and thinness of your partner’s fantasy person, they’d still be cruel and abusive. You have a partner problem.
    As a fat person, it is so easy to internalize the message that we don’t get to say ‘no’ to weight ‘advice’ (cruelty disguised as advice or else well-intentioned but cruel advice), that we deserve to be put down, controlled, monitored, concern-trolled, and just plain hurt for our bodies. We do not. It doesn’t matter if we are healthy and fat or unhealthy and fat, if we need to lose weight for medical reasons or are perfectly strong and healthy at the size we are. We do not deserve to be treated badly. You do not deserve to be treated badly.
    May the separation be easy and final, and may this asshole become a conquered monster in the story of your life.

    • anon said:

      THIS ENTIRE COMMENT!!

    • B. said:

      Amen.

  44. RSVP said:

    On an unrelated note, anyone who is fretting about their weight should read the fascinating “Secrets From The Eating Lab”, by Dr. Traci Mann. Some of the points made by the book:
    Underweight (by BMI) people actually have the highest mortality rates and health profiles of everyone apart from the most extremely obese.
    Obesity isn’t the death sentence that the commercial weight loss industry has made it out to be.
    Exercise and fitness is actually more important to health and longevity than body size.
    The longest lived, healthiest people are actually moderate exercisers in the “overweight” BMI category.

  45. Myrtle said:

    I got this great visual of the ex being dumped on the porch and the door slammed, like the Flintstone’s saber-toothed tiger gets in the end credits. Complete with door slam. Just put glass in the windowframe so he can’t jump back in!

  46. Dear LW,

    I love your sarcasm at the end of your letter. I admire your kindness and bravery.

    I hope that you and your child will soon be free of your abusive partner.

  47. Jo Carter said:

    I had a husband who brought my weight up in conversation a lot, wanting me to lose weight. He wept when he told me that he could no longer be attracted to me at that weight. And even if what he was saying was sincere, I came to see it as him saying “I want *YOU* to change how *YOU FEEL* about your body, because *I* cannot change how *I FEEL* about your body.” That makes it clear exactly how problematic this behavior is, I think.

    • I am so glad he is in the past tense, because wow, so not okay — and that’s it, bang on. I hope you feel damned good about your body.

    • Leonine said:

      I’ve been married for over ten years and my weight has fluctuated a lot. When I was at my lowest weight, it suddenly occurred to me that my husband had not said a single word to me about all the weight I had lost. My cultural conditioning wanted me to be mad about that, but I wasn’t: I realized that he hadn’t said a single word to me when I had gained weight, either. It just wasn’t important to him. He doesn’t love me if #L < x. He just loves me. He's a keeper.

      LW, yours is not a keeper. Throw them back.

  48. Part-time Jedi said:

    The ill effects of being “overweight” are pretty exaggerated by the multi-billion dollar diet industry, and are perpetuated by health professionals who are in no way exempt for socialization around what the “correct” size for a body is.

    But even if it were truly dangerous to you to be whatever size your are, the effect your weight may or may not be having on your long term physical health cannot possibly compare to the toll this relationship with a toxic partner is taking on your mental health. Mental health is a part of your health. Brain weasels can be just as debilitating and deadly as diabetes or heart disease.

  49. TO_Ont said:

    LW, I get the feeling from your letter that you know this is a bad relationship, and that this guy is no friend to you. So what’s stopped you so far from leaving him? What’s the barrier? Fear of his reaction? Concerns about custody, or about the emotional effect of a split on the child? Practical things like where to live? Fear of the unknown? Of loneliness? Feeling like it’s giving up somehow, or feeling responsible for his survival? These are all understandable fears, and not necessarily easy, but ultimately, they are solveable. You can do it.

  50. LW, you already know you have to Dump This Major Flamin’ Arsehole. You’re mainly writing here to get approval for your decision, right? So here it is: I approve 110% of your decision to get your partner the hells out of your life.

    Your partner is not worried about your weight, they’re worried about your independence. Especially since you’re the one who has the job (and therefore the money to leave, should you choose to). This is why they’re piling more and more crap on your back in an effort to try and keep you weighted down (and the abuse regarding your weight is just part of it) – I suspect things started to get really bad once you got the job, right? You’re already (from the sound of things) responsible for the financial health of the household, and also for looking after the cooking and the majority of the childcare responsibilities, and given the rest of this I seriously doubt your partner is exerting themselves to the extent of actually doing any, let alone the majority, of the household chores. So if you leave and take your kid with you, what are you actually going to be losing?

    (I mean, aside from the massive barnacle that is your partner…)

    From the sound of your letter, you recognise what your partner is telling you is bullshit. So your next question for yourself has to be: why the hell am I staying here? Once you know the answers to that one, you’ll know what you have to do in order to move on. I suggest listening to the advice from the folks who have already replied with information about how to get out of abusive situations, and start taking steps to set up Team You. You deserve better, and you can do this.

  51. LW, as someone who did get out of an abusive relationship, please do listen to the Captain’s wise words. They’re how I was able to get out. Heck, they’re how I was able to start defining my relationship as “abusive”.

    It was terrifying. It was the scariest thing I have ever done.

    But the scarier thing? Was staying. Because he had escalated things to physical aggression. He was going to hit me, but he’d already hurt me — badly, with words, with actions, with everything. Food and body sizes were a big part of it, so I just want to hug you and tell you that you are wonderful and amazing and he is full of shit.

    We’ve mentioned the book “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft a few times and it really REALLY helped me, because I was able to look at things he said and did and see them in the book and realize it wasn’t just me, that other people had this happen to them, and that it was NOT OKAY. Despite the title, it talks about abuse from different genders, and is applicable towards any pronoun. If it’s safe to borrow it from the library (or read it there) do so. If it’s safe to get a copy on your computer or phone or whatnot, do so. Be safe. Be careful. Ask for help. Because you know this isn’t okay, and other people will know it’s not okay too (look at all the people in the comments here!).

    Also, if they do this to you, they will do this to your child. Kids should not be thinking about their weight. And you’d better believe they are hearing what you are saying and what your partner is saying and listening really, really hard to it.

    I worried about my friends and family judging me because they adored my partner. Guess what? They loved me, too, and because leaving let me stop being miserable (and afraid, and exhausted), they were 100% behind my decision and only wonderful and supportive.

    It took me a while to stop being scared. It took me even longer to start feeling happy. But I am now, I am so happy and free, and I love my body and its shape and the stuff I can do with it because it’s MINE and only MINE and even my doctors recognize this and agree with me and have never, ever, ever said anything about changing it.

    I love even more that I can go grocery shopping and buy foods I want to eat and not have to defend them to anyone. I eat sweets. I love sweets! And my body is happy and healthy and my brain is happy and healthy and my heart is happy and healthy. Because I decide what makes me happy. Because I decide (with the assistance of my doctors) what is “healthy”. And a big, big, big part of healthy… is being happy (and not stressed, and not afraid, and not working yourself to the bone, and not hating yourself and the body you’re in).

    All my love, all the Jedi hugs I can send, LW. You can do this. For you, and for your kid. You absolutely deserve it. You deserve happiness! You deserve to be loved the way you want to be loved, and to have your body respected as YOURS and nobody else’s.

    • *stands up and cheers*

      Please LW listen to this. ❤

  52. jenfullmoon said:

    There are plenty of fat people in the world who are able to have happy relationships where they aren’t being fat-shamed out the wazoo. This guy is not your only option for love. Or “love.”

  53. Tanya said:

    You have a weight problem all right. It’s called your partner, who you’ve been literally carrying for years. Dump the three digits of asshole and I promise you you’ll feel better.

  54. Jessica said:

    It isn’t your weight, your partner wants everything about you–your time, your money, your health, your well being, what you want– to be made smaller and smaller, until there is no you, only your partner.

    I never felt so small and invisible as I did when I was with my ex and so much of your letter hits the same notes: unemployed and doesn’t contribute to the household, but you’re the lazy useless one; demands that all of your time and your energy be used to serve their interests; resentment and belittling comments; somehow making it all about what you aren’t doing and what you’re doing wrong.

    When I finally left, all of the reasons, which had prevented me from leaving, seemed so insignificant. They seem silly, really. Why was I worried about *him* and how he’d cope? Why was I worried about financial stability when I was paying for everything, including a freeloader? Why was I worried about people judging my failed marriage, when that relationship was a disaster whether everyone knew it or not? Why was I worried about not being loved, when my partner obviously thought I was awful?

    LW, you don’t have to be small. You don’t have to shrink everything about yourself to fit around this immense person in your life. You deserve to take up space and have needs and passions and to be seen.

  55. Sparky said:

    Hey, LW, I hope that you’re one of the letter writers that sends a follow up letter to say that they broke up with their abuser and are doing much better. Do you know about the http://friendsofcaptainawkward.com webiste? It’s a forum where people who enjoy this site can discuss things or ask for more advice or share their stories. You might find some ongoing support over there.

    Best of luck to you, you can do what you need to do! You’ll feel so much better out of this relationship.

  56. Please make sure that you, and only you, are the only one authorized to pick up your child from daycare. Your daycare may have a procedure for a nasty separation/split, but that won’t work if they aren’t aware of the need to use it.

  57. Clarry said:

    Psychological insight is supposed to be helpful. It’s not supposed to be a weapon used to hurt. Yes, we do need to take responsibilities for our problems, and yes it’s not other people’s responsibility to fix us, and yes just agreeing to make the argument go away isn’t productive, and oh God this is reminding me too much of my parents who would tell me that I was being a whiny kid because I was hungry without taking any parental responsibility to give me regular meals. They could ignore both legitimate complaints and illegitimate ones because of my psychological state. (I did get fed nearly all the time, but when it was inconvenient and they skipped a meal, they didn’t think it was their problem when the kid acted like a kid and got cranky.) That’s what stands out as something I can relate to in this letter. I’m reminded of Freudian analysis: “Ah, your current behavior is due to this that and the other thing from early childhood. Now that I’ve told you this, problem solved.” Yeah right. The problem will be solved when you remove your partner’s influence from your life.

  58. The Other Side said:

    Dear LW:

    Getting out and moving on is TOTALLY WORTH IT. There will be grief. It will be difficult on all sorts of levels. And you totally have the courage to make those plans and put your feet on this path, let alone the strength to meet any challenges that come your way.

    I know it may not feel or seem that way right now. I know that it may look huge and daunting or totally impossible.

    Baby steps. And you’ve already taken one by writing in and reading all of the awesome love and support from all kinds of folks from all over the Internet.

    ***

    First, the way your partner is treating you Isn’t Your Fault. You did nothing wrong. You did nothing to deserve their awful treatment of you. You are perfectly fine, just the way your are and you don’t need to be “fixed”.

    Those “fixers” can Just Honk Right Off.

    Second, Economics!
    — As someone upthread mentioned, take an inventory of all the labor–paid and unpaid–that you do. If you know how and/or are eager to learn, put these into a spreadsheet–that you don’t keep at home or access from home.
    — Unpaid labor can include things like household chores and errands, managing the social calendar, being a caregiver to kiddo, transportation of self and kiddo to/from care, scheduling any home or vehicle maintenance, managing the household finances, etc.
    — Assign a row for each task
    — In a column, break out how many hours per day/days per week you do each of these things
    — In another column, assign a wage to each of these rows.
    — In a third column, multiply the columns together (e.g. hours x wage)
    — Total all of these numbers together.
    — Make a similar spreadsheet for partner and include all of the labor paid/unpaid that they do and follow the steps.

    Sometimes, running the numbers is a real eye opener.

    Sometimes, the difference is enough to put toward any dream or life milestone or bucket list activity. If not for you, then, then maybe for kiddo. Want to take kiddo to something fun? Want to take kiddo to visit friends or family who may be at a distance? Want to get kiddo a tricycle/bicycle etc?

    Third, some ideas on retaining a Lawyer/Attorney. CAVEAT: This is US-ian
    — If your employer has an EAP plan, sometimes those also offer legal referral services. Can’t hurt to look into this and/or ask for the details of your EAP plan from your employer.
    — On a computer not at home and/or on a phone only you have access to, check with your local (county or state) Bar Association. They may have a web site or at least a phone number.
    — Ask for 3-5 names of folks who specialize in Family Law and/or Domestic Violence.
    — Once you have a few names, give them a call. Keep it short (about five minutes). Write out a script, laying out your needs and the facts, and read it if you have to.
    — Usually, the initial “intake” phone call and consultation are free.
    — During that initial consultation, ask about their retainer fee, payment options, and fee schedules.
    — Find the best match for you, your kiddo, and your finances.

    Fourth, a little bit of a share:
    My most recent ex started down this path with me and he is just as much of a hypocrite as your current partner. Mine also did the health-undermining thing, but along a different set of axes (e.g. I have medical condition(s) and need to follow a medically-supervised diet).

    I can count the number of months since the break-up on one hand.

    And I can tell you that my over arching feeling is one of relief. I have a huge chunk of my energy back. I no longer have to spend precious time trying to plan my diet and meds around someone else and their discomfort/controlling behavior. My Team Me tells me I look and act more like myself. My doctors and the lab work are showing a marked improvement.

    My life is far form perfect and there are things I am attending to.

    It is also far, far better than it used to be, even though it can feel/seem overwhelming at times.

    • I’m so happy that you’re out of that situation! Isn’t it amazing how quickly things can upswing once you’re not fending off someone else’s abuse?

  59. Evil bees are afoot. LW, you are so cool- you’re an awesome parent to your child, you work hard all day, you cook food/wait on a person who treats you terribly. Why do you have to be a perfect size/weight to be treated with kindness and respect? Some well meaning people out there try to convince their loved ones to lose weight, but they are still respectful and loving day to day.

    Partner sounds like (s)he’s making mean comments, and it also reeks of sabotage- Partner won’t “let” you go to the gym. I think if you made changes to your diet or lifestyle, partner would criticize that every step of the way- whether it be complaints that it costs too much money, time, or energy that could be spent on hir, or that your diet was also lacking in some way. If you lost weight, Partner would say you were too skinny, or accuse you of losing the weight for a lover rather than hir. You can’t win. I’m so sorry. The Captain is right. You will be a lot happier once you leave this sad little person.

  60. Anonchalance said:

    LW, regardless of whether or not you choose to follow the Captain’s advice and leave, if your body and relationship are such that you can become pregnant accidentally, do whatever you need to do to secure your method of birth control and/or get a back up method that you don’t tell your partner about. Abusers FREQUENTLY use reproductive coercion as one of their tools when it is applicable to their relationships.

  61. LW, on the chance that this helps: I have mentioned in a comment to a previous thread that I play roller derby. I don’t know how it is in other women’s sports, but your typical women’s roller derby league will contain just the widest variation of body types, from waif-like slender to Ton Of Bricks, and all of them are strong and healthy and athletic and inarguable assets to their team. I guarantee that if you watch a bout (plenty available to watch online), you will see someone playing the game who looks a lot like you.

    Not that you necessarily have to DO that, of course. Contact sports aren’t for everyone! Sports, period, aren’t for everyone. But just know that whatever shape or size you are, someone out there with a very similar shape and size is being a Fearsome Goddess On Skates even as we speak.

    There is no wrong shape to be.

  62. Lily said:

    Am I the only one to think that he tries to actively manipulating LW’s body into being bigger (fried donuts, etc) so that she feels worse about her body? While telling her she needed to loose weight? I think Fugitivus had some similar stories about abusers who messed with the body of their girlfriends.
    (Not that there’s anything wrong with being big, but society’s fucked up beauty ideals plus an abuser doing his work to shred the dignity of his victim)

    • JenniferP said:

      Oh yes, Partner is sabotaging the LW with this behavior. It’s despicable.

  63. Heavyweight said:

    LW here. Wow. I’m overwhelmed, in so many ways. I didn’t expect a tenth of this. First, that the letter would get answered in hours. I was expecting weeks, if ever. Second, the huge, overwhelming, outpouring of support… can I say love? Thanks. It’s inspiring. I’m going to be coming back and re-reading these threads many times, I know. I’ve done it already, many times, I just haven’t been able to reply, because – I’ve said overwhelmed, I think. (Also, of course, work, life, family… but really the overwhelmed part.) Wow.

    Finally, the actual “get out” advice I also didn’t expect. I was anticipating advice for intermediate steps I could try. I wonder if I overdid the description? It’s all true, but I obviously didn’t write everything. There is no physical abuse. There are arguments, but everyone argues. Partner is not that terrible a person, really, and they don’t have that easy a life either. They don’t have a job, which is pretty hard on them, it gives a feeling of worthlessness. At least I can go out to work and can see that I’m being at least somehow productive in the world, they can’t. No doubt that is contributing to their lying in bed with TV shows and candy. And partner isn’t a millstone. They do do things, I don’t do everything, I just didn’t list everything our family needs, they do the stay-at-home parent stuff, the interaction with schools, with other parents, setting up playdates, general paperwork, even more that I can’t write here. Also, breaking up is hard. My parents divorced when I was young, and it was really hard both for the single parent and the child, not just financially (which wouldn’t be the main problem here, as I wrote, I’m the one with the job), but physically, in terms of there just not being time to do everything, and emotionally, the loneliness, for both parent and child. That’s scary. And, well, when things are fine, making my partner happy is really the best feeling. You know, that love feeling? I don’t want to lose that. I appreciate the advice, and will be rereading it often. But I’ll at least try to make it work out a bit more. Try to be a bit more assertive about what I need, less of a doormat. You didn’t say that, but just reading all this support makes that possible.

    Thank you so much, Captain and everyone. You are wonderful.

    • JenniferP said:

      I’m glad you got what you needed from the thread. I’m really pessimistic that someone who speaks to you so contemptuously and berates you this way is going to be the partner you need in the long term. Lots of people have their own problems and self-esteem issues. The difference between a regular sad person going through a hard time and an abusive person is that the abusive person makes it all their partner’s fault and tries to make themselves feel better by belittling the other person. No bueno. I don’t want to throw “BUT YOUR CHILD” at you – let’s be clear; when I suggested leaving, I meant that you should leave for you, to save your own prospect at a happy life. However, please listen to the “children of divorce” who were relieved to be away from a situation where one parent verbally abused the other. How your partner talks to you about your body = what your child is learning about bodies and about how it’s okay to treat you.

      Let me give you some intermediate scripts:

      “Please do not comment on my weight.”

      Partner: “But I’m worried about you!”

      “Please do not comment on my weight.”

      Partner: “But I’m not attracted to you at this weight!”

      “That makes me sad. However, please do not comment on my weight.” (Hey, also? You do you, obviously, but my personal policy is “Don’t have sex with people who tell me they don’t love my body.”)

      Partner: “But if you really cared about me you’d work out more & try to lose weight!”

      “We talked about this. Please do not comment on my weight.”

      See also:

      “It’s just not a conversation I can have with you.”
      “When you harp on me about my weight, it massively hurts my feelings and alienates me from you.”
      “I’m not gonna pretend I’m 100% free of body issues. But the way you talk about my body makes me sad and angry, and I just can’t go there with you.”
      “We talked about this; NEW TOPIC.”

      Be a boring broken record about it. Do not invite mean scrutiny of your body. See a counselor if humanly possible.

      And now is where I drop some links:

      Health At Every Size by Linda Bacon. Short version: She’s a scientist who discovered that people who found a way to move their bodies regularly in a way that is healthy & sustainable for them had better health outcomes when exercise was separated from the goal of losing weight.
      But Don’t You Realize Fat is Unhealthy? (Shapely Prose) (+ the FAQ there is gold).
      The Fat Nutritionist
      Fat Body Politics
      Gabifresh – gorgeous plus size stylist and designer, when you want to get aspirational about beautiful things to wear.
      The Fat Girl’s Guide To Exercise and Other Incendiary Acts by Hanne Blank who also wrote the excellent Big Big Love.
      You Don’t Have To Love Your Body by Ijeoma Oluo Message: You don’t have to love your body, but you own your body, so, make peace?
      Dances with Fat

      Above all, be nice to yourself, and remind yourself that you are a good person and you do NOT deserve this treatment from your partner.

      ❤ ❤ ❤

      Closing thread now.

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