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Dan! I can’t believe you wrote that response to Hawt And Royally Depressed! He wrote because his wife of 10 years had “let herself go.” And you told this asshole to “be honest with her.” Your version of honesty was the verbal equivalent of hitting her with a sledgehammer!

Distressed & Disgusted

I didn’t write that response to HARD. Not one skinny word of it. You see, two weeks before HARD’s letter appeared, I answered a letter from a gay guy with a fat boyfriend. Seeking A Solution, who described himself as outgoing and athletic, wasn’t attracted to his boyfriend. After describing himself as “stuck” and “struggling” with anxiety, SAS said I wasn’t allowed to tell him to break up with or cheat on his fat boyfriend. So I advised SAS to drink heavily and warned him that sooner or later he would sabotage this relationship in order to be with someone he was actually attracted to.

Readers – mostly female – were outraged: Before breaking up, before cheating, before drinking heavily, couldn’t SAS try being honest? Why didn’t I tell SAS to tell his boyfriend that the weight was a turn-off and that SAS was thinking about ending the relationship if the boyfriend didn’t lose those extra pounds? By pushing a breakup instead of a little heart-to-heart, I had revealed myself to be a heartless faggot.

HARD’s letter arrived when I was sorting through all this outraged e-mail about SAS and I thought, “Gee, I wonder what would happen if I cobbled together a response for HARD from all this advice these women sent in for SAS?” The advice you read in this space for HARD – all about being honest and open (including those now-infamous conversation starters like “You have gotten fat and unattractive and my sex drive is nil, so can we do something about it before I bail on you?”) – was written by my female readers. All I did was change the pronouns from male to female.

And guess what? It turns out that honesty – at least when we’re talking about a woman’s fat ass – isn’t the best policy after all. My outraged readers weigh in:

Your advice to HARD was way off. I’m a firm believer in truthful, open communication, but not in this area. HARD needs to realize that being overweight lowers a woman’s self-esteem. He should say absolutely nothing about not being attracted to her and play the “I’m concerned only about your health and well-being” card.

An Angry Fat Girl

Gotcha, AAFG – HARD should play the “health and well-being” card and refrain from being honest. Righto.

I’m sure you’ve been slammed plenty for the advice you gave to HARD, so I’ll keep it short: Don’t EVER tell someone to “bring up the health thing,” as you did in your response. Every one of us fatties learns that this is code for “I think you’re ugly and disgusting but I’m not allowed to say that so I’ll just pretend I’m concerned for you.” All kinds of people – distant aunts, strangers on the subway, siblings’ one-night-stands – who don’t bat an eyelash at your smoking like a chimney or drinking like a fish are suddenly concerned about your well-being.

You’re No Health Guru

Gotcha, YNHG – don’t bring up the health thing. Righto.

A man should be honest with his wife, Dan, but telling a woman she is fat and unattractive and that if she doesn’t lose weight he will leave is NOT sound advice. Instead, HARD should talk to his wife about exercising together and make a healthy food plan. But he should do so without telling her that if she doesn’t lose weight he will never want to sleep with her again.

What Were You Thinking

Gotcha, WWYT – a man should be honest with his wife. Except about her physical deterioration, the impact this is having on their sex life, how miserable he feels and how he’s seriously contemplating adultery or divorce. Righto.

I have to agree with what you said to HARD – and I’m speaking from the other side. While my wife is still at the weight she was when we married 10 years ago, I had packed on 100 pounds. She finally brought up the effect this was having on our love life. It wasn’t a pleasant talk but I’m trying to lose weight. I’m 25 pounds lighter now thanks to her honesty (and a heart scare). Being fat is a health and relationship problem, and our spouses need to speak up and be honest.

Getting Thinner

Yes, GT, but a spouse should only be honest when the fat spouse is male, the honest spouse is female and – shit, we’re out of room. For tons more about HARD, go to www.thestranger.com/savage/hard.

mail@savagelove.net

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