Q. I’m 46 and my boyfriend of six months is 39. The first few months were electric, passionate, and fun — as new relationships often are. Now we’re really getting to know each other, getting comfortable, being domestic, and doing life together as much as we can. It’s still nice, but with the "zing" gone, I worry that he’s getting bored. Here’s the real kicker: he’s adorable and fit, and he can be disparaging about people who are overweight and unattractive. I’m fit and attractive (obviously enough that he’d be dating me!) but with our age difference, I know I will show it sooner than him. When I start to get pouchy and saggy, I worry that he’ll bolt for a younger woman.
I don’t want to cause a problem where’s there’s none (yet?) so I’m afraid to bring it up. I have spent the past seven years single and I want to find someone permanent. I’m contemplating liposuction. Is plastic surgery a viable option or the act of a desperate woman?— Suzie
A. Repeat after me: Love me, love my love handles. Not that you have them, of course, but if you need to worry whether a man’s love is conditional on the shape of your body parts, you clearly don’t have much love for yourself.
It is good to be fit. But the contemplation of surgery (and make no mistake, liposuction is surgery!) as a preventive strike to keep a man from losing interest down the road — yes, that is "the act of a desperate woman."
"The concerns of women to maintain their appearance, to continue to be desired — that is normal and very human," says P. Scott Ricke, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn practicing aesthetic medicine in San Diego. But, "if we have to become inauthentic about who we are, or how we look…that discounts who we are as a person and leaves us diminished."
And let’s not put the onus on all younger men. Many are proud to have a mature babe on their arm regardless of whether her abs are six-pack or two-tiered. Sara Turner, 48, has a live-in partner who is 27 "and a hunk." Turner, a Los Angeles realtor, enthuses, "Whenever he gets a chance, Ricky talks about how proud he is to be with a woman of my age. He sees way past the obvious physical changes and zeroes in on the confident, powerful woman" inside.
Here’s a pre-surgical consult: Is your boyfriend as shallow as you fear, or are your insecurities driving your thinking? Obviously he shouldn’t be making denigrating comments about random people, period. That’s definitely a red flag. But how does he act toward you? Does he imply that if your shape changes he’s making tracks, or does he say he finds you beautiful and attractive no matter what?
Still uncertain where he stands? Bring up worries about your body and encourage an honest conversation. If he feeds into your insecurities, you’ve just found about 200 pounds which should be cut from your life pronto. Can you even trust that someone so crass isn’t capable of dumping you during recovery from the lipo?
However, if he is emphatic that his primary focus is on your inner beauty, it’s likely that your doubt is a product of your own self-image. Are you are defining yourself and your worthiness to be loved by your appearance? According to Marion Ross, co-author of Shift: 12 Keys to Shift Your Life, making a decision coming from a place of fear — like that of not looking fit enough for your partner — will typically lead us into making the wrong choice.
One last plea: Say you have unnecessary liposuction. What’s next — a tummy tuck, a nose job, breast augmentation? Where does it end? Sister, the only thing you need to change is the way you feel about yourself.
Do you have a tough question about dating or relationships?
E-mail Sherry at firstname.lastname@example.org and your question might be featured in an upcoming column.