This is just a short one, but I was wondering if you think it is OK for a boyfriend to tell his girlfriend that she is eating too much?
I was at my friend’s house the other evening and we got some pizzas in. At one point, her boyfriend told her she’d “had enough, don’t you think?” and told her to put the slice of pizza down. She looked really uncomfortable and didn’t eat anything else.
I was absolutely horrified!!! I don’t think it’s any man’s right to tell his girlfriend / wife / partner that she can or can’t eat. However, when I brought this up with another mutual friend (please don’t think this was us maliciously gossiping – it was a concerned conversation as opposed to a gossip) the other friend thought I was overreacting and said that the boyfriend was just showing concern for his girlfriend’s health.
I really can’t wrap my head around this theory. Maybe this is going too far, but I think what he said shows signs of controlling / abusive behaviour.
Am I overreacting?
I’d like to keep this anonymous to protect my friend’s identity.
The boyfriend’s remarks made your friend feel ‘really uncomfortable’, therefore he crossed the line making it wrong of him to tell her that she had already eaten too much and to put the slice of pizza down.
Your friend probably felt embarrassed and humiliated, especially as these comments were made in front of you. Your friend is not a child and even if she was of ill health or he had concerns about her weight, I repeat, your friend was made to feel uncomfortable therefore his conduct was not justified, no matter what reason. The consequences of comments made in this way have proven to be damaging. I have learned of cases where similar comments have made where the recipient was left feeling nervous of eating in front of someone and so subsequently they have starved themselves or binged on the quiet.
Abuse in a relationship is disguised in many forms and if I knew more about your friend’s relationship I may be able to form an opinion as to whether her boyfriend’s comments were his way of controlling her or whether it was a careless blunder which he now regrets. In this instance, I am hoping it was the latter and that your friend felt comfortable enough to let her partner know how he made her feel.
Communication is one of the fundamental keys to a healthy relationship. Understanding and sensitivity are also vital. It may be that the boyfriend really cares about the health of his partner, which would makes this a topic that they could discuss maturely and constricutively, with the correct respect given to your friend’s autonomy to make her own choices. It is important that any such conversation is carried out in a private, caring and reassuring manner so that your friend is made to feel loved and worthy, not embarrassed or controlled.
If you continue to be concerned, check in with your friend more frequently. Unless she mentions the incident with the pizza, I would not bring it up as she may have sorted that issue herself. Discreetly monitor the situation when you meet in the company of the boyfriend and if the same type of incident happens again, then I would assume that there is a problem with your friend’s relationship. Following this repeat incident, I advise that you meet with your friend on her own, maybe a nice walk where there are not many people around , enabling you to talk freely. Let her know your concerns and that you are there to offer her support. Your friend may not be ready to accept your judgement or, she might be fearful of her boyfriend’s reaction which would be indicative of difficulties in their relationship. Either way, stay attentive to her situation and be ready to offer a helping hand when she needs you.
I hope this helps😊