How do I tell my boyfriend that I’m not really attracted to him anymore?

I’ve been with this guy for almost 4 years. I love him. I could see myself with him for a long time to come. I enjoy sex with him. Or, I used to. Lately I haven’t really been very attracted to him. He’s somewhat of a bigger guy, and he doesn’t usually pay much attention to his appearance. I’ve recently started jogging to try and get back into shape, and I’ve asked him to come with me, but he finds excuses not to.

Sticks and stones may break his bones*, but words will not make him skinny.

01-05-06-13-31 / 11

Hello Diner. We discuss how to navigate difficult conversations about turn-offs in this Fortune. But unlike bad breath, weight is challenging because the progress is relatively unnoticeable compared to the effort and lifestyle change you put in. It’s like learning a difficult instrument–long hours of intense concentration and tiring repetition, but the results sound bad long before they sound good. There isn’t that instant validation that you’re doing well. It’s almost an act of faith to torture your body for an unseen outcome.

That dedication has to come from your boyfriend himself. From his point of view, if he sees that you’re the one making him jog to satisfy YOUR tastes, or he’s doing you a favor because YOU are picky, or he’s being judged against YOUR standards; it will just build resentment.

So how do you effect change without all this resentment?

First you must stop expecting change. However irreplaceable you are, however much he loves you, this has to be a personal choice, or the change won’t last without significant effort. Also, if you quietly expect a change but don’t see it, that will make you resentful. Understand that you only have control over your decisions and attitude.

Then you make the decision to change–for your own benefit. Go jog if that helps you achieve a goal you personally set. The more passionate and fun it is for you, the better it will be.

Once you work on this personal goal, and if you have a healthy, communicative relationship with you partner, you will naturally just engage him on your progress. If you don’t have this kind of relationship, this might be a topic that you can start sharing with him. Either way, he will see your passion for it and hear about all the progress, milestones, and activities you experience to meet that goal. This sharing and genuine passion are important for the next step.

When he sees your progress and excitement, there is a chance he will naturally catch that desire. Scientists call it goal contagion. [1] Your goals are quite literally contagious.

Understand that this isn’t a way to direct change. I can’t emphasize that enough. You can’t use goal contagion to plant the habits he needs to stay attractive. There are services for that sort of thing, but it’s beyond Fortune Cookie magic.

To answer your question directly, Diner, you can tell your partner that he isn’t attractive any way you want, but it won’t change his habits–which I think was the point of your question. Sorry.

What you can do is decide to improve your own health without expecting anything from him and being OK with that. If he doesn’t have any underlying mental illness that affects his motivation (which he should address, regardless), he might catch some of that excitement and make your goal his. It’s out of your hands, Diner, so truly: good luck.


[1] Aarts, H., Gollwitzer, P. M., & Hassin, R. R. (2004). Goal contagion: perceiving is for pursuing. Journal of personality and social psychology, 87(1), 23.

* The Advice Fortune Cookie does not advocate the breaking of any bones; however much anyone may deserve it.