DEAR AMY: Recently, my friend and I started dieting together. Even though she lives across the country, we talk frequently about the weight we’ve lost and what we’ve done for ourselves. The other day she told me that she was only eating one meal a day because she wants to be skinny, and today she posted a tweet about how she was going to lower her food intake even more. I’ve tried telling her that it’s OK to eat and that she’ll get sick, but she won’t listen to me. Is there anything I can do for her?
A Concerned Friend
DEAR FRIEND: I am a survivor of virtually every popular diet over the last 50 years, and I assure both of you that dieting doesn’t really work in the long term. Severely restricting your calorie intake seems mainly to suppress a person’s metabolism, so it gets harder and harder to lose weight. It can also trigger an eating disorder, which can bring on a lifetime of struggle.
What does seem to work is finding a healthy balance of eating and exercise. The reason this very boring, non-magical answer to the whole weight-control question keeps surfacing is because — after the last fad diet has faded — a person’s positive relationship to food (and to her own body) is the most important component in maintaining a healthy weight. Eating well and playing joyfully will always be better for you than any diet.
Continue to counsel your friend to eat well. You don’t say how old you two are, but if you are worried or suspect that she has developed an eating disorder, it might be wise to reach out to a family member of hers and share your concern. You should both get medical checkups.
DEAR AMY: I’ve been talking to a guy for a few weeks and our relationship seems pretty serious to me. We go on dates a couple times a week (or at least hang out). He has taken me to his friend’s parties and introduced me to many of his friends, who seem to like me. I’ve gotten pretty close to his friends’ girlfriends. We have both talked about how we obviously like each other a lot. We act like a couple, but we aren’t really “a couple.” Every time I bring up the fact that we aren’t officially dating, he just says that he’s “waiting for the right time” to ask me. He basically says he’s trying to find a cute way to ask me to be in a relationship. I don’t know if I’m just being crazy and need to take a step back and wait, or I wonder if there is actually something more going on here that I don’t see.
DEAR CONFUSED: You want to make the transition from “hanging out” to exclusive dating, and he says he wants to sort of “pop the question.” This sounds exhausting. New relationships are confusing enough without the pressure of someone basically feeling the need to pop the question.
If this official status is something you must have, then set your own deadline regarding your own comfort about this ambiguity.
Once the deadline passes, you should ask him, “So — are we officially dating, or what?” If he puts you off further, and if you simply must have this relationship spelled out and “official,” then you might have to say to him, “I’m really tired of waiting, so let’s take a little break while you figure out what you want to do.” And then — back off.
Generally, the fact that you are struggling with this at the very outset of your relationship should make you a little wary about your compatibility.
DEAR AMY: I loved your compassionate advice to “Anxious Mother,” whose young-adult son was about to move overseas. I especially appreciated your advice that she think about the family members of deployed members of the military.
I am a military mom and have said goodbye to my service member daughter three times now. It is wrenching and heartbreaking, but I support her desire to serve her country.
Sometimes we parents just have to accept that our children have the right to live their own lives.
DEAR MOM: Parents never stop being parents, and those family members who stoically see their children off for military deployment have my unwavering admiration. Our service members could not do their jobs without their families’ love and support. I can only imagine how hard this is on everyone.