Bad Boyfriends & Body Image Struggles

by | Jul 9, 2021 | Body Image and Young Women, Dating

LOVE BLINDERS

My body changes couldn’t have come at a worse time in my mind. I was in the midst of an unhealthy relationship (disclaimer: I did not know it was toxic at the time) with a boy that was crumbling. We’ll call him Brad (not actually his real name). To make matters worse, this was also my first romantic relationship I had ever had. Juggling a boyfriend and your girlfriends is difficult to learn, but especially when you don’t have free time to begin with. At the time, I was a junior in high school, on the fast track to college. I was busier and more stressed than I ever had been before between my honors classes, extracurriculars, sports, after-school (and sports) job. I constantly felt as though I had so much to do, and never enough time to do it. Regardless, I continued to help everyone I possibly could with everything I could possibly get my hands on. I didn’t dare say “no” when someone reached out to me. People needed help and I could provide it with quality and assurance.

Relationships require work and intentionality though, two things I had neither the energy nor the time for. I would have done (almost) anything for Brad though. And sadly, I did. I was fifteen when we first became friends, and that’s when the love blinders went up. I naturally choose to see and focus on the good in people, but this was different. Reflecting back now, I overlooked a lot of red flags and things that were just not okay. I loved this boy before we even began dating though. He was perfect in my mind and I felt that God knew the same. We were just meant to be. Except that we weren’t…and friends, the fact that I couldn’t see this really brought me to an unhealthy place of disordered eating and incessant striving to be better for him.

YouR BODY IS not the problem: MENTAL & EMOTIONAL ABUSE

When Brad got jealous because I had a conversation with another guy at school about one of my classes, I thought I just needed to be more reassuring to him. When Brad ranted to other girls behind my back about me, I thought I needed to be more loving and open so he knew he could always talk to me. When my boyfriend took another girl out alone to teach her how to golf, I told myself I just needed to be more trusting. When my boyfriend kept seeking out time with other girls to “talk about our relationship,” I thought my body changes were the problem. I know, crazy right? How did his lack of commitment become my changing body’s problem? I thought if I were prettier than Brad wouldn’t want to talk to other girls. His problems became my problems because I was too blind and too kind to see anything other than the best in him.

I have never outright admitted to anyone before that I thought my new, slimmer figure would restore my relationship with my boyfriend. It’s naïve to think a better body will fix all your relationship problems, but I truly did. Friends, if you listen to nothing else in this blog, please here this: His/her problems are not your problems. His/her lack of commitment is not your body’s problem, so don’t make it your problem. His/her lust problem is not your problem (we’ll come back to this in a moment). His/her lack of love or acceptance for you as you are is not because of your body and/or any changes you experience. And if it actually is the problem, then this partner is the wrong person for you! They don’t deserve you if they won’t love you until you lose 15 pounds, get a bigger butt or slimmer thighs. It sounds harsh, but you need to dump them. A true man or woman will love you for who God created you as.

PORNOGRAPHY & BODY IMAGE

His/her lust problem is not your problem. Lust and porn are two temptations more people struggle with than we care to know or accept. Two temptations that can easily destroy our relationships. Heather Creekmore writes:

His lust problem is not about you. He isn’t looking because you aren’t enough. I want you to use a Sharpie and write that on your arm if you have to. Believe it. Please, believe it. His struggle goes far deeper than a sort of your body versus her body comparison game. The faster you can accept this to be true, the sooner you will be able to actually help him deal with his sin in a healthy way.

For more wisdom and advice on handling body image struggles when a partner struggles with porn, visit Heather’s blog post His Lust Problem Is Not About You.

BREAK UP WITH YOUR BAD BOYFRIEND

I came to a point in my relationship with Brad when I knew something needed to change. Though I still wasn’t sure if breaking up with him was the right decision, I was struggling physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and I needed space to work through the depression I had fallen into. So, I finally broke up with my bad boyfriend. He tried to keep me from leaving, and once I did, made me seriously doubt myself by making my life miserable for the next year until graduation. Friends, don’t let bad boyfriends manipulate you. Don’t let them mentally abuse you. Don’t let them tell you that you need to lose weight or eat less. This is not okay. This has everything to do with them and nothing to do with you. Don’t let their sins and insecurities fuel your own and your body image struggles. Be strong and seek God. More of him and less of them. I decided to focus on rekindling my relationship with God, and I’ve never looked back.

Reflective Questions:
  • Is he/she noticing and commenting on how much I eat?
  • Is he/she suggesting I lose weight or get more toned?
  • Is he/she suggesting or demanding different clothing?

*These could be red flags that the boy or girl you’re dating is bad for your body image.

Reflection Songs:
  1. Slow Fade by Casting Crowns
  2. Oh How I Need You by All Sons & Daughters

Amber Clemens author at Compared to WhoHi there, I’m Amber! I am a newly minted college graduate from Messiah University with my bachelor’s in Public Relations. I’m a sister, daughter, soon-to-be aunt, friend, writer, athlete, life-long learner…but most importantly, I’m a beloved daughter of God.

I’m just a 22-year-old perfectionist from a small suburb that knows what it feels like to lose hope and to struggle with love, worth, acceptance, grace, body image, comparison, the list goes on. My passion is to serve and bless others, spread kindness, and share the love and hope found in both knowing Jesus intimately and walking through life with him. My prayer is that everyone may be filled with the eternal love, joy and freedom that only comes from a relationship with Jesus, so that they may overflow with love for others and glorify God in all they do.

bad boyfriends and body image struggles

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