Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been dating a man who is seriously overweight. I am not a snob about size, but I do think that it is unhealthy to be more than 100 pounds overweight. So why are we dating? He is such a nice guy that he just grew on me. But I am concerned that in the long run, if he doesn't take care of himself, what future is there for us? I have told him that I want him to get healthy, and he says he heard me. He even lost a few pounds. But I'm not sure what to do next. I realize that I cannot control him, nor do I want do. But as I think about my future, I know that I want to have a healthy relationship with a man who chooses to take care of himself. Am I being rude or insensitive to think this way? I'm not saying I want my guy to be a model or a gym rat, just healthy. Do I tell him about my thoughts for a life partner? Or is that rude? -- Feeling Bad, Cincinnati

DEAR FEELING BAD: It sounds like you really like this guy. Your note suggests that you are thinking about the long run, including the possibility of marriage. If you are that serious, be upfront with your guy about his health. Tell him how you feel about him and that you are concerned about him as well. Ask him if he wants to get in shape. If so, consider suggesting that you do something fitness-related together.

Be clear, though, that you cannot change him. He is who he is. If he chooses to get healthy, it should be his personal choice. Your devotion to him may serve as a motivator. At some point you will need to decide if you can accept him as he is. In marriage, couples go through many twists and turns. Without question, one twist that does not work is forcing someone to make a lifestyle change. It has to happen on individual terms.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My 7-year-old son has a friend he spent time with over the summer. They had three play dates and seemed to have a lot of fun. I later learned that this child's parents allow him to drink soda. We do not drink soda in our house. I asked my son if he drank the soda, and he said yes. I was outraged. We have a strict rule about soda, and he broke it. I'm wondering if I should stop him from playing with this child. I have reminded him that he cannot break our rules when we aren't around, but how can I enforce that? -- Friend Drama, San Francisco

DEAR FRIEND DRAMA: Contact the mother of your son's friend and let her know that your son has enjoyed hanging out with her son and hopes to continue, but that you would like to ask that your son not be served soft drinks. Explain that you do not allow him to drink them. Ask if there are any family rules you should know about her son.

Remind your son that if he does not adhere to your boundaries, he will lose the privilege of hanging with his friend.