My Fitness-Trainer Boyfriend Insults My Body and Insists I Wear a Shirt When We Have Sex. Is that Normal?

Trainer Boyfriend Insults My Body and Insists I Wear a Shirt When We Have Sex.

Dear Evan,

Your blogs and advice has definitely changed my life into a positive direction in regards to relationships, understanding men and myself. I just have to say I’m very grateful for the knowledge about relationships, men, dating, communication etc., that you have shared. Thank you so much!!

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for about a year now. He’s a personal trainer and manages his own personal training business, so his purpose in life is based on health and fitness. He’s told me the majority of women that he has dated/prefer have been “fit”- flat stomach, abs, etc. I on the other hand, am fit, 130lbs, 5’5, I believe I have a great body (great legs, arms etc.) except that I have some fat in my stomach. My stomach is not flat and I hardly have abs. He says I’m beautiful, I have nice legs and that I’m fit but I still need to lose some fat.

When we have sex I keep my shirt on because of the fat I have in my stomach and he says for now it’s a good thing to keep it on because he may get turned off, he says keeping it on will motivate me to lose weight but at the same time he supports me on my weight loss. He says he’s not going to just end the relationship because of my weight but losing weight will increase his sexual attraction to me. He doesn’t even prefer seeing me in a bathing suit and says he gets turned off, which does hurt and he’s aware of that and has empathy towards me and I appreciate his honesty.

I understand his purpose is health and fitness but is it wrong to be with a man where I don’t feel comfortable being naked around, who doesn’t prefer seeing my stomach, who prefers that I keep a shirt on during sex but at the same time supports me losing weight? He does give me nutrition advice and sometimes I’m afraid to eat a cookie around him because he’ll think I’m not serious about losing weight. I understand he’s a fitness trainer and a fitness trainer would most likely want a woman with a nice physique but I just feel like it’s wrong to not feel comfortable being naked around your boyfriend or accepted when naked. What is your opinion on this?

I appreciate you taking time to read and offer your advice.


This makes me furious.

Furious at him for being such an insensitive dick.

Furious at you for not even realizing that you’re dating an insensitive dick.

So listen up, and listen good:

You’re not his project.

You’re an independent woman of normal proportions.

You may want to lose weight for your own purposes.

I know, I know: Your boyfriend is into fitness. He’s “just being honest.”

Your boyfriend may even be a useful tool (word carefully chosen) to help you in that process.

But his demeaning treatment of you is completely unacceptable.

Love is about relaxing and being yourself, you cannot relax or be yourself if you are afraid of being judged or dumped.

I know, I know: Your boyfriend is into fitness. He’s “just being honest.”

But insulting your body and insisting you keep your shirt on during sex so he’s not turned off is completely different than not agreeing that you look like Angelina Jolie. And you should absolutely, positively, not spend one more second in this kind of relationship.

I know it’s a lot easier for me to say than for you to do, but here’s the quick script:

“Hey, Dick (I’m presuming his name is Dick),

I just wanted to tell you that I’ve been thinking a lot about the things you’ve said about my body. The way you always make me feel insecure. The way you always tell me to keep my shirt on during sex so you won’t lose your attraction to me. The way you seemingly threaten to break up with me because I don’t look like a personal trainer. I understand that fitness is important to you. But you know what’s important to me? Unconditional love and acceptance. I don’t want to walk on eggshells if I have a Coke or eat a cookie or order a steak. I don’t want to feel shame when I take a shower in front of you, or go in the pool with you, or undress during sex.

And so there’s nothing left for us to discuss here. You go find a woman whose body you don’t have to micromanage. I will find a man who accepts me as I am. For what it’s worth, I think I’m going to have a far easier time than you will.

Goodbye, and don’t contact me any longer. I only like to associate with people who make me feel good, not people who tear me down. No hard feelings, but I don’t have any room in my life for people like you.”

How about you dump his ass so you can both find what you’re looking for?

He will stammer. He will flail. He will apologize. He will backpedal. He will say he’ll never do it again. And you will not believe him.

He is a shallow and narcissistic personal trainer looking to mold you into his clone.

You are a normal woman looking for love and complete acceptance.

How about you dump his ass so you can both find what you’re looking for?

Join our conversation (93 Comments).
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  1. 1

    Amen Evan!!!

  2. 2

    hi amanda, evan’s right. When i was reading through your question certain things you told me about your bf made me pause and think this is totally wrong. A guy who loves you shouldn’t make you feel bad about your body b/c by doing so defeats the purpose if he wants you to lose weight for his purposes. He’s mean and insensitive especially during sex when women are most self conscious about getting naked. You should say bye and find a man who doesn’t need to change you to get turned on!

  3. 3

    “Hi Dick (I’m presuming his name is Dick)” Lol!

    And this part isn’t very impt, but 5 feet 5 and 130 pounds is quite a healthy weight. Like Evan said, if u wanna lose some weight because u’ll feel more confident, that’s fine. But a bf acting like this, especially when u’re a normal weight, is not right. I promise u that there are better guys out there who will think your figure is slim and sexy.

    And don’t take his criticisms to heart. U’re not fat, he’s unreasonable. I once had a guy diss me about my weight (although he looked a bit sheepish when he did, and I wasn’t dating him), and at the time I was 5 feet 4 and 115 pounds. U can’t please everyone.

    I pity this guy’s future wife, can u imagine how disgusted he’s gonna be with her when she’s pregnant..

  4. 4

    It sounds to me like she has her own issues with self-esteem. Of course, most women have insecurities about their bodies, but this guy absolutely should not be twisting the knife by criticizing her and telling her she’s better off keeping her shirt on so he doesn’t have to see her belly (and she shouldn’t be tolerating it). Most women, even at a healthy weight, have a little pooch, especially if they’ve had children. I’m about 20 pounds overweight but when I lose it, my belly will still be there. It is part of being a woman and I actually wouldn’t change it. They need to break up so each of them can find the partner they really need.

  5. 5
    A Reader

    Reading this made me wonder if the boyfriend bats for the home team, if you know what I mean, as I’ve never yet met a hetero guy who’d react like this to a woman’s body, especially a body in such good shape, that he’s lucky enough to view and enjoy au natural on a regular basis. Maybe his closet isn’t as roomy as it once was…

    1. 5.1

      Great point !! Sounds like he’s looking for male abs

  6. 6
    Tracy L

    I totally agree with Evan; she needs to move on and soon. This guy is an emotional and mental abuser–highly toxic. I believe men like this deliberatately seek out women like Amanda who may have flaws that these men know they feel insecure about, focus on that in order to mentally, and emotionally abuse them–that’s why it is always a bad idea to announce certain insecurities you may have to anyone.

    Why would a fit guy (a personal trainer even) who claims that he wants an extremely fit woman as partner get involved with a woman who he feels falls short of his expectations physically to commitment to and why is he still with her? I believe the answer is, he really enjoys putting her down to build himself up due to his own insecurities and finding a perfectly fit secure confident woman wouldn’t be worthwhile for him–he would probably try to find something wrong with her in order to constantly put her down as well if she allowed it.

    My advice to women is try to look the best you can and not focus too much on you physical flaws and if you are finding it hard to do so when you are with your partner try to muster up all the false confidence you can find and never let them see you sweat.

    I feel that if Amanda hadn’t let on about how bad she felt about her belly fat he wouldn’t have made it an issue however he would have just found something else wrong.

  7. 7

    I don’t know why this woman is with this guy. He reminds me of those cosmetic surgeons who try to make their perfect woman. I don’t get it.

    However, being a guy reading this, I’d like to share a few thoughts knowing it will stir the pot a bit.

    First thought was like I stated above.

    Second was women make projects of men all the time. Reminds me of the saying, “Men get into relationships hoping the women will stay the same. Women hoping that the men will change.” A bit different I know. But can we at least agree that trying to change someone is wrong?

    Third is I support this guys right to be a narcissistic prick. He’s not being hypocritical and he’s upfront about it. He wants his clone but needs to find that fitness buff and not try to create it.(And just to be clear. He is being a real douche about how he is going about it.)

    Not sure why some posters are talking about this woman being a healthy weight. Not really relevant when someone really fit is looking for someone really fit. He shouldn’t have to lower his physical standards, that he himself meets, and she shouldn’t have to put up with his crap. I just can’t believe she put up with it for a year.

    1. 7.1

      Classic double standard.

      It’s OK for a woman to want to and actively try to change a man into what she wanted before she met him, but it’s not OK for him to try to do the same.

      Women want it both ways- they want to be treasured and adored exactly the way they are, but they unabashedly show that they feel no obligation to do the same when they try to change a man.

      Women rationalize it and deny it by manifesting it with incrementalism- they try to make small changes, one at a time, over a period of time. She buys him a shirt ‘here,’ she suggests a different haircut ‘there,’ she trys to get him to like the music she wants him to like, etc. Incremental but accumulative.

      As for him- this guy has every right to want what he wants and to say what he wants. Isn’t communication important in a relationship, or is it important only when she hears what she wants to hear because he says only what she wants him to say?

      As for her- this gal has every right to want what she wants and to say what she wants. If she wants acceptance as she is, outside of the bedroom and in, she can easily find it. The expression “for every woman, there is a man who would love her” is only too true and could be modified as “for every woman as she is, there is a man who would love her as she is.”

      There are plenty of guys who would accept her and love her as she is.

      The problem she has is the guy who treats her poorly is the guy who she really wants. He is obviously more fit than her, maybe more overall physically attractive than her… He has a high Sexual Market Value or Marital Market Value- one or both- and she tolerates him because of his high value.

      The guy who would treat her well would probably have a lower SMV or MMV, so she wouldn’t want him.

      Many women set this trap for themselves and then self-sympathize when they find themselves ensnared in it.

      What is the solution? There isn’t one because she is bombarded with advice to “never settle,” that she should “never lower her standards” of what she wants in a man and that she “deserves more.”

  8. 8

    Wow. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. This is not okay or normal, Amanda. He has made his needs clear: he wants a woman who has a goddess body with rock hard abs. Good for him. That is his prerogative. You are not that girl so either he likes you the way you are or not at all. He’s not wrong for wanting what he wants, however crazy that might be. He’s wrong for making you feel bad for not matching his ideal. He knew what he was getting.

    If you want to lose weight and he wants to help you, that is fabulous. However, I’d like to give you another perspective on the situation. My husband is a body building nut. It’s not how he makes a living but he’s a muscled beauty 🙂 and is as knowledgeable as some of the best trainers I know. He’s VERY hard on himself; even when I think he looks great, he finds something he’d like to improve. I realize that his yardstick is different from mine; he measures himself by body building standards and I measure him by good looking, well muscled man standards! I am just shy of 5’6″ and I fluctuate between 130 and 135. Like you I also have a small belly fat problem. It is of endless surprise to me that my husband loves my figure. He makes jokes about there being “more of me to love” in the years since we met because I keep bemoaning my weight. I’ve never been in doubt about his attraction and he has never suggested that he would like me more if I lost a few pounds. I can’t imagine having to hide my figure around him. He is the one person who is supposed to accept me, flaws and all.

    I really hope your boyfriend is a good, misguided guy who thinks he is helping you with his hurtful actions but I suspect he is really just a giant jerk. In any case, it will become clear once you tell him how you feel and you get a chance to see his reaction.

  9. 9

    Bam !!! Great response Evan .

    Amanda you may want to do some reading about narcissists and how to recognize them easily so you don’t get involved with someone so destructive again

  10. 10

    Ya just can’t make this stuff up. Anytime you feel like the bad little three year old who has to sneak the cookie, that’s beyond ridiculous.

  11. 11

    C’mon girl! Listen to your gut and stand up for yourself. It’s nice to get confirmation from a professional dating expert (and Evan is the best), but God blessed your great self with a mind and a voice. Don’t ever be afraid to use them. There are too many douche bags roaming the earth.

  12. 12

    Excellent advice and so well said. I hope Amanda uses those great legs to run, not walk away from this douche.

  13. 13

    Girl, really do run for hills. I have a friend, her BF is into extreme fitness, healthy eating. Girl is not keeping up with his desire of slimness. She looks great but just can not attain his desired proportions… some bodies have its limits… meaning stick slim. U think she is happy… noooo. That she does not leave him is her choice.
    I dated a bf that complained about my weight. Mind you I run 5 days a week 5 miles… and I still was not skinny enough… Enough said, he did not get me in bed anymore…

  14. 14

    I don ´t think this guy wants to hurt her, after all he is in a relationship with her and he sure loves her. also while he may like to look at really fit people he might love to touch chubby girls. i bet if he wanted to be with a super slim fitness girl he ´d be with one. he might just be teasing her and she is having so strong insecurities that she is aggravating the situation.
    My fantasy would go like this. she thinks: oh i am so fat, i have to hide my belly, so i ´ll keep on my shirt.
    he sees that and says: huh? why that? well never mind, it motivates you to lose weight. let ´s just have sex.
    what she hears is that he is turned off, even though he is not!
    i think better advice would be for her to learn to like her body as it is.

    1. 14.1

      I think you misread the OP’s letter. She clearly states the following: “When we have sex I keep my shirt on because of the fat I have in my stomach and he says for now it’s a good thing to keep it on because he may get turned off.” AND “He doesn’t even prefer seeing me in a bathing suit and says he gets turned off, which does hurt…”

      This is abuse. I hope she dumps this sore loser ASAP.

  15. 15

    Ughh…cringeworthy. I could barely read past her quoting him about wearing a shirt so “he doesn’t get turned off”.

    Perfect advice Evan. Dump him. Don’t even give him a chance – he’s not worth it.

    A good guy *wants* you to feel good about yourself, and will promote you feeling good about yourself. This guy is nothing but selfish. And you’ve been dating him for a year? I know this is hindsight, but you should’ve dumped him the first time he criticised your body/looks.

    Excellent advice, all-around Evan.

  16. 16
    Jenny Rugeroni

    Amanda, I am almost 40 years old and overweight. I will never have the body of a 20 year old girl, but still I love myself and think I am beautiful. I have been with my boyfriend for 6 years, and both of us put on weight in this time. Sometimes we make fun about it, but still he thinks I’m attractive just as I am. A man who can’t love you as you are does not deserve you…

  17. 17
    Kimberly Pittsley

    Every woman is different. From the sounds of it she has an amazing body she should be proud of. I doubt it is far but rather a pouch that a lot of us have when we aren’t working out for toned abs. But that really isn’t the important part. The important part is this dick who can not and will never accept someone outside his narcissist body image for his partner. Great advice, Evan. I hope she takes it

  18. 18
    Kim p

    Tell him to wear a “bag” over his face while having sex cause your use to dating better looking guys. Then tell him he can take it off after sex this way YOU wont get turned off … Better yet. Move on… Fyi. Im a personal trainer too and unfortunately many are very superficial. Your justice here is that NOBODY will be perfect enough for him and he will die miserable and alone

    1. 18.1

      This is the best comment that you could give more than any..!!!

      1. 18.1.1

        AGREED – paper bag prince of garbage… i’m ashamed i almost fell for the same shit… RUN the F away, imagine when you get pregnant or sick or ill… who will be there for you 🙁 This blog will be!!

  19. 19

    A year? A whole year spent dating this turd? Amanda needs to work on her self-esteem. I think she feels so happy to have such a hunky boyfriend that she’s all-too-willing to overlook the fact that he’s a creep. I also think it’s weird that he is dating Amanda, but he probably has a strong need to be controlling and/or abusive. Run away.

    1. 19.1
      Karl S

      I also had to wonder if the OP was allowing herself to be blinded by the looks of Mr Fitness, who presumably has his own set of chiseled abs. The guy is clearly obsessed with physical perfection for himself and his partners. The OP might need reflect on what men she’s choosing. It’s not wrong to want to share an interest in exercise if that’s your thing, but the script Evan wrote out for the OP outlines the qualities that are truly important.

  20. 20

    I’m usually only motivated to post when I have a challenging or contrary viewpoint, and this is really an open-and-shut case. Obviously, his treating her like a project is unacceptable. However, I think a lesson that much more of us can take away from this story is that it shows us how much it can hurt when we have a partner who treats us like a project, while realizing that most of us aren’t really as different from this guy as we’d like to think. Think about the times when you may have wanted your husband/boyfriend to change the way he dressed, or eliminate certain mannerisms, in order to be more “presentable” (i.e., look how you want him to look in the presence of your friends). Think about the times when you may have wanted him to quit certain hobbies and change career trajectory in order to “maximize his potential” (i.e., make more money). A lot of people do these sorts of things… this guy simply is more socially inept because apparently he hasn’t learned to apply euphemisms, or present it under the guise of “coming from a place of love”, to get what he wants. I see women all of the time trying to get their husbands/boyfriends to lose weight – so often that it wouldn’t surprise me that some of the commenters here have done the same at some point in their lives.

    Another interesting thing is the response/lack of response to the choice to use the term “dick” to describe this guy. No one’s offended, and some have chosen to join in and call him a “dick” as well. Some preferred the term “douche” to describe him, and one person chose to go the homophobic route and question the man’s sexuality. Meh, call him whatever you want, I suppose. I don’t think people should really be offended by words. However, I have to wonder if many of the commenters would be offended if someone chose to use the c-word to describe a woman did the things I noted in my first paragraph. For example, would you be offended by someone saying: “that c*** has no business asking him to change for her.”? I bet you would, but it’s the exact same thing as calling a guy a “dick”.

    1. 20.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Fair point, Chance. I was the one who called him a dick, so I’ll be the first to say that you’re right. I was doing it to give the OP the courage to dump him, but is absolutely the same thing as calling a woman a name because she tried to change her boyfriend.

    2. 20.2

      1) Your point about name calling is well taken but I think your comparison is unfair. Even though they are both body parts, “dick” does not have the same negative connotations as “cunt”. Neither is nice word but one is a lot worse than the other. Replace with “bitch” and I agree with you. In any case, I saw the whole “dick” thing as more of joke than anything else.

      2) I liked the fact that you looked for takeaways in a horrible situation but again, your examples are unfair. All of us can be improved in some way and it is natural for our partners to wish, in their secret hearts, for change. I mean if my husband could have me without all my flaws, why wouldn’t he want that? Most of us understand though that it is not correct to change a person for our benefit and we fight the instinct to effect change, some more successfully than others. Sometimes we succumb to gentle prodding anyway, couched in words of love and caring. That’s not what OP’s boyfriend is doing though. Under the guise of truth he’s actually being cruel. It’s akin to saying: “your penis (or substitute other appropriate part here) disgusts me, please make sure it is covered before it comes near me.” A comment like that cannot be described as anything other than hurtful.

      I was willing to cut the guy some slack because he may be under the impression that by being tough, he is actually motivating and helping his girlfriend. If this is the case, an honest conversation will resolve the situation. Also, we only have one side of the story. I’m sure OP’s own insecurities play some part in how she views the situation. But these two sentences clinched it for me: “he says for now it’s better to keep [the shirt] on as he may be turned off [by my stomach]” and “he doesn’t like seeing me in a bathing suit”. With a boyfriend like this, who needs enemies? 😛

      1. 20.2.1

        Skaramouche, I agree with you completely, and you articulated what I tried to say better. I do believe that his intent was both, to innocently motivate, and just his own hurtful selfishness

      2. 20.2.2

        Good points Skara.

        You’ve made me stop and re-think my blanket condemnation of the guy. I still say she should run from him (and shouldn’t have stayed past the first criticism of her). But I do have to wonder about the conversation that produced those two sentences you quoted:

        “he says for now it’s better to keep [the shirt] on as he may be turned off [by my stomach]” and “he doesn’t like seeing me in a bathing suit”

        Not that it matters much now, but did he offer those two statements, or are they her paraphrasing of them, or paraphrasing his response to a question of hers?

        This was covered in a recent post by Evan (the one where the OP was hurt because her boyfriend “said” he though she wasn’t as pretty as Angelina Jolie, when it turns out she *asked* him if she were). So I just wonder how this conversation came to be – it sort of goes to the idea you mentioned of “tough love”.

        Not to defend him, I’m just curious to understand his (and her) perspective and how this kind of conversation occurs in the first place. I wonder if both of them demonstrated some shallowness early on (i.e. “I only date people in great shape”), and this sad situation came out of that.

        Again, the answers won’t affect the advice to her – dump him, now – but would provide some clarity as to avoiding this kind of situation.

    3. 20.3

      Oh sure, so now we cannot call the emotional abuser with what he is, cause at some point of our lives we hurt someone? Please.
      How you approach someone about certain changes and how you react to their effort or refusal is the major key in here.
      Encouraging your SO to get fit by asking to join you at the gym is not the same as shaming him/her everytime they get naked. Asking your man to wear the new shirt you gave him is not the same as mocking any outfit he puts on.
      Healthy people can bear little flaws of others (and if they consider them huge, they just don’t get into a relationship with someone *that* flawed or leave them) and they don’t strive for perfecting their “project” (some progress, if at all achieved, is “good enough”).
      The thing with people like Amandas’ bf s that they have an unhealthy need for control. They will not stop until you became exactly what they want and nothing less (destroying your self esteem on the way to their goal).
      So yeah, the guy IS a dick, douche and whatnot.

    4. 20.4

      “Think about the times when you may have wanted him to quit certain hobbies and change career trajectory in order to “maximize his potential” (i.e., make more money).”

      Or the times when your boyfriend asks that you watch a porno together so that you can ‘get ideas’ (code for: be more like said pornstar and his fantasies).

      Both sides sometimes have a had time truly accepting their partner and wanting to force their partner into roles.

      But this guy takes it to a new low. This is probably my most favorite response ever by Evan. I guess that’s my own biasedness because I also struggle with my experience of men being critical of my body.

    5. 20.5

      I would never stay with somebody who used a negative term to address me. C*nt, dick, bitch, ho, A-hole, etc.. one is NOT better than the other if used in anger or said in a manner that is not joking. I can also think of better ways to joke than to call somebody names.

      Also, when is it OK to be demeaning to the other person because you don’t like something about them? I’ve seen both men and women do this. Most recently, a friend calling her husband names because she thought he spent too much time playing video games. She spends about the same amount of time watching sitcoms and dramas, so does she have a right? No. She wants him to sit with her and watch TV together. For him, that is torture. He wants to be active while he is entertained. So when she turns on the TV, he grabs his laptop, or goes to his gaming computer. She has said some very unkind things regarding his gaming. The nicest thing simply being that he is immature.

      I was the only female that took the guy’s side. Why is it so hard for other women to see that there is no difference between gaming an watching TV other than one requires you to be actively engaged, while the other does not. And why do some men and women think it is OK to mentally and emotionally beat up their partner?

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