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Cruel and crullers

In high school and college I was really overweight. I started losing weight and found a great guy online. During the year we talked, I went from size 18 to size 12, losing 80 pounds. When we met, I was a little overweight, but in my best shape ever, and we were really attracted to each other. We're now married, but stressed, as I'm the only one working until he completes the immigration process (he's South African). In seven months, I've gained 50 pounds. My problem is that he's insanely direct. If something's on his mind, he'll say it. He's now having a hard time being attracted to me. I do understand, and have committed to losing weight, and plan to have surgery next year to remove the extra skin. I'm excited because I know he'll be all over me, but I'm also scared I'll be resentful. Shrinking

For a man, it's the size of a woman's heart that counts, until her thighs approach the size of small Volkswagens. Now, some men do go for a woman with extra padding not just "junk in the trunk," but junk bungee'd to the roof and hood, and crammed from floormats to ceiling in the front and back seats. Actually, there are about five men who go for this.

On the bright side, the average guy isn't into haute couture thin: those slivers in stilettos who look like they exist on cigarettes and the occasional French fry when they need enough energy to make it down the catwalk without fainting into Anna Wintour's lap.

Still, feminists see a cruel plot against women who eat. According to Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth, there's a patriarchal conspiracy to keep women dieting so they'll be too weak and hungry to compete with men. Right.

Here in the real world, it isn't some brainwashed dim bulb who doesn't let herself bulk out, but a wise woman, assuming she's on the prowl for heterosexual men who aren't, say, Tanzanian hunter-gatherers. Male sexuality is hard-wired to be looks-driven, and research suggests that the body size men look for in a woman corresponds with the availability of food. Where eats are scarce, like in the Sahara, Lane Bryant ladies are in. Where there's food-a-plenty, men go for slimmer women. And yes, that describes our culture, where, if you're foraging for dinner, you're probably not scraping for grubs with a stick, just reaching deep into the cooler at 7-Eleven.

At a certain point, "more of you to love" becomes way too much for your husband to get around. He can't help feeling this way, but because his first thought is something like "Yeah, you're big-boned like a brontosaurus" doesn't mean he should release it into the atmosphere. People get way too much credit for being "direct." Sometimes what passes for honesty is really just poor impulse control.

Your husband needs to take that 10 extra seconds to break things to you in a way that doesn't slap you upside the ego. As for your own impulse control issues, a fork is not a stress reduction tool. Dieting might take off the pounds, but it won't solve the real problem: getting it into your head that the only hunger pangs food relieves are those you feel in your stomach.

For guidance, pick up Diets Don't Work by Bob Schwartz. Whatever you do, avoid reading Wolf, who suggests that until women can shovel down just as many donuts as men do, they "cannot experience equal status in the community."

Premature evacuation

The way you consoled "About To Dump A Keeper," the guy who didn't feel ready for commitment, hit a nerve. You should've warned him that a woman of her caliber won't stay single long. Like many women, I've heard, "You're beautiful, intelligent and sexy, but ... " only to be awakened at 1 a.m. by the guy drunk-dialing, weeping that he's made a tragic mistake. Been There

A guy who wanted regular sex used to have two choices: get married or head over to the questionable side of town with a wad of twenties. These days, women don't say, "I'm saving it for marriage," they say, "I'm saving it for the second date." This means that guys can take the time they need for career and personal development, and a full anthropological exploration of Floozus Americanus, the North American bar floozy.

Now, maybe this guy will soon be drunk-dialing. But missing somebody and being ready to be with them are two different things. Being with somebody really great doesn't change that. As for a "tragic mistake," that's when a guy lets his girlfriend get all misty about their future "I wonder if it'll be like this when we're married" as he's doing the same: "I wonder if I should try a few brunettes."

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail adviceamy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com).

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