When your partner becomes an enemy

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How does our families react to PCOS? We know it very well: its clearly visible symptoms negatively affect the quality of our whole life as the hormonal imbalance influences the image and the perception of body, mood, lifestyle, and parenthood plans. A couple, a family should share everything. 


Arianna is a young woman who came to my studio with her partner. They are 28 years old, they have lived together for two years, but they have known each other for long time. They both have a permanent well-paid job and they feel satisfied with their life. They have turned to me because of Arianna’s disorder: PCOS. The young woman shows the ordinary symptoms of the syndrome although some of them are less serious than she thinks. Arianna is obese: her face is very nice, her skin bright and her hands are smart. She feels uncomfortable with her slight baldness, but actually, no one can notice it as she has got curly hair dark her which she always combs perfectly. Nothing unusual can be noticed from this point of view. She is deeply moved when she speaks with me as PCOS has put her through the wringer: it has influenced her body, her femininity, her sexuality, her social life. She is broken: nobody can understand her, she hardly manages to be on diet. I have liked her at once, I think we will work well together, we have been in sync since the first time we met and she feels welcomed, eventually she has found her shelter.

But out of the blue, while Arianna is telling about how embarrassed she feels when she is in public places, her partner rudely irrupts her: he says he is fed up with putting off his travels and holidays abroad because she is too fat! He will keep on criticizing bitterly her physical appearance all the visit long. 


Actually, very often men show aggressive derogatory dispiriting behaviors towards their partners who are struggling against a disorder which affects the image of the body. Sometimes, parents do the same, as well. Some family members, resistant to the patients’ suffering, try to draw the attention onto their own frustration, disappointment, hanger, and shame. They underline they are fed up with her condition, they say they have helped and supported her all the time but she did not get any results because she is lazy and unmotivated. They say:” She does not have any willpower, because where there is a will there is a way. I was overweight myself, but I have managed to lose weight”. They often make her feel guilty because “she doesn’t want to do anything, she doesn’t want to go out, she doesn’t want to meet her friends”. Moreover, they don’t understand and support her, but they also restate her inadequacy over and over again, she is the only responsible for her condition.


Then, some partners and some families minimize or don’t understand her suffering and discomfort at all. They are used to saying to the woman that her physical appearance is of no importance, and from bad to worse, they think the treatments she is undergoing will be useless. Anyway, this is  not a problem because they like her as she is! Here, every therapeutic procedure to improve her condition. is blamed. A well-planned sabotage to demoralize her is put into practice. If the woman, eventually, gives in, this will be the proof of their opinion: nothing can be done, it’s just a waste of energy, it’s just a waste of money. Please, don’t change anything, he likes thigs as they are!     

This is not only written for PCOS women, but for their partners as well. And for all the family members. It wants to underline something of great importance to treat PCOS and any other disorders. No love means no cure, but love can’t exist without cure.      

We are responsible for our health; we should always try to find the best psychophysical balance. It is something we have to do for us, not for our parents or partner. We must not cure ourselves because we want to please our fitness–addicted boyfriend, but we can’t give up on our health because our partner feels comfortable with our plus size shapes. Every decision we make to please someone else, won’t be successful: we will give it up if we don’t do it for ourselves. The external pressure which aims at keeping us stuck in a physical appearance we don’t feel comfortable with, will end in a failure. Tension will raise, we will feel worse and worse and our treatment will be badly affected. If you have a disorder, you must cure it. You will have to look for accredited specialists and ask them for suitable solutions. You will have to work with them actively to improve your health. Of course, you will observe your pace, your ways, your health condition, and your personal characteristics which the specialists will take into consideration to provide the best tailored treatment procedure. Your husband can’t tell you which your ideal weight is, but not even you! Your nutritionist will set the target, not an ideal one (based on daydream, or wishes) but an actual one according to your own condition and features. It is not a matter of pleasing your partner, of making him feel quiet and comfortable, it is a matter of looking after your own health, of having a fully satisfying lifestyle. 


Now, let’s have a shirt talk about the couple. First of all, no couple is like another one. My partner’s behavior and reaction to my disorder can tell me a lot about him and about our relationship, but it doesn’t tell me anything about my own strengths. The one who is afraid of my personal appearance, who considers it unsuitable and embarrassing, may be looking for the perfect partner who highlights his own person. He wants someone who makes him look powerful and successful. This is a deeply-rooted belief: if I have a beautiful woman by my side, I am respected and highly valued. He can’t show any empathy, he can’t understand his partner’s suffering and, definitely, he can’t look after her. He is interested in her ugly appearance because it is a kind of insult to him, it is an outrage. On the other hand, the one who pretends not to care about his partner’s appearance at all, and hinders his partner’s attempt, drive, or independence to improve psychophysical health, may be looking for a weak unattractive shy woman. So, he will safeguard his influence on her. She will be by his side, she won’t call him into questions, and most of all she will never compare him with other men.

I have told you: there are the polar opposite and numberless middle ways. But only one certainty: if there is no cure, there is no room for love. Ladies, love yourself, and look for partners who love you.

About Barbara Alessio

I am Barbara Alessio, I am a psychologist, a psychotherapist and a psycho-diagnotic theraphyst. I have been helping people in their personal growth, and cure for almost 25 years. I talk with women, I want to help them in their journey, I want to make them feel they are not alone, I want to listen to them, to support them, to soothe their pain and make them lead their life and take care of their health.