We’ve gained weight – as a couple

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Six months ago, my boyfriend (late 20s) left the area for four months to go help his grieving mother, in another country, adjust after his step-father passed away. Before he left, we had a great sex life. I (23-year-old man) was in great physical shape, and he was in good shape as well. We were a cute couple.

We FaceTimed almost everyday and and kept our relationship intact. I stayed in good shape, and I was assuming he was doing the same. Toward the end of the four months, I noticed his cheeks were fluffier when we FaceTimed, and he said it was just the sun getting him tanned. I didn't think anything of it.

When he finally arrived back home and I picked him up at the airport, his face was still beautiful but his clothes were oddly tight. I tried to play it off, happy to see him. When we got to the car he confessed to gaining 45 pounds from his mother's cooking. He told me he was determined to lose it, but flash forward two months and he's been insistent I skip the gym and eat in excess with him as well. I've gained a lot of weight now too. This has gotten embarrassing, when friends and family see us and we're in too-tight clothing and snacking. He loves how the way I look, but I don't.

I don’t know how to go about telling him that we need to stop swelling.

– Tight

You can't make decisions for him, but you're welcome to change your own habits. I know it's tempting to follow his lead with the new lifestyle, but do your own thing instead. Be honest about why. "I’m unhappy with the way I look and feel." End of conversation.

This is tricky, because if he doesn't change his own habits over time, you'll have to adjust (or try, at least) to being a couple that's on different paths when it comes to food and exercise. There are plenty of partners who do their own thing when it comes to caring for their bodies. It's workable, just a change.

I do wonder whether the time at home altered a lot of things for your boyfriend, even his level of exhaustion right now. He experienced some kind of loss, cared for his mother for months, and returned to a routine that might not work for him just yet. Pease check in with him about how it's felt to unwind from months of supporting a loved one.

I'm projecting a little, but I do remember that when I was caring for my mom a lot when she was sick, 90 percent of my diet was hospital muffins, and I was far more concerned with making her smile than taking a short walk to clear my head. It might take time for your boyfriend to figure out a new routine.

For now, it's about staying honest. If you don't want to snack, let him know. And if you're feeling less attracted to him right now, take the man shopping. Get used to looking at him in clothes that fit. Wardrobe helps.

– Meredith

Readers? Give this time? Do you treat diet and exercise differently than your partner? How does that work?