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I paid a visit to my local supermarket last evening and I was astounded by the shapes and sizes of some of my fellow female shoppers. I’m usually in a rush and have little time to gaze at others but this time was different. Given my early start I was afforded a leisurely shopping experience during which time I noticed that several of the women were obese by any standards. Even more disturbing, many appeared to range in age from their late twenties to early forties—and most with beautiful faces. I’m sure many of the men were overweight, but I’ll deal with them another time.

We all know about the obesity problem in our society. No surprise here. Many health organizations—as well as some feisty Europeans—never fail to let us forget how much we eat, what garbage we tend to eat, and how little we exercise. But this night held impact. In fact, the more attention I paid to my surroundings, the sadder and more confused I became. The experience also caused me concern--not just for the health of these women, but for the health of their relationships.

Medical conditions aside, it’s pretty easy to blame some of these women for their poor eating habits and lack of self-discipline, but aren’t their male counterparts culpable as well. One of the most disturbing things I see in couples/sex therapy is men—especially married men-- who rarely, if ever, attempt to make their wives feel sexy. Sure, they might relentlessly pursue for sex, but what about the space between? During the work week how many men compliment their partners? How many attempt to seduce them? How many use verbal foreplay? Hell, many men still neglect physical foreplay. I’m not talking about buying flowers, I’m talking flirtation.

Women do need to take responsibility for “letting themselves go.” And if I never see another loosely fitted, designer sweat suit again it’ll be too soon. But both men and women need to own giving up on themselves and on one another. A female colleague once said to me that a relationship is like a plant: “It needs regular watering or it’ll eventually die.” I liken it to a dental experience: If you have a cavity you better have it filled or you may end up with a root canal. If you fail to treat a much needed root canal, you may lose your tooth. Adding a little pain by via analogy seems apropos don’t you think?

The seduction process—a process in which a sense of playful, mysterious, flirtatious, and spontaneous desire is conveyed to one’s partner--needs to be employed on an almost daily basis. The reward for this will be a not only be a sexy relationship, but a sexual one in which both partners will see themselves and present themselves as sexy, sexual beings who take pride in their bodies and their attractiveness to others.

This comment is not meant to address large woman, many of whom are very sexy. I believe there can be a distinction between large and obese. My point is that simply blaming women for their obesity might not be productive. If a man has an obese partner, he should take a close look at his potential contribution to enabling the obesity, and injuring the sex life of his relationship.