Dear Rosanna: boss makes jokes about my weight

on a boss's cruel joke, trying to change a partner, ditching a frenemy and should you tell when size does matter

Rosanna Davison

Q My boss made a joke about my weight in front of all my colleagues some weeks back and I am still reeling from it. I knew I had put on more than a few pounds and already felt down about it, but to be publicly humiliated about it was the last straw.

Yet instead of this cruel jibe spurring me into a healthier lifestyle, I have started eating even more junk food than before. I know that comments like this in the workplace are now deemed unacceptable, but I work for a small company and don't think now is the time to be creating a fuss as jobs are thin on the ground - no pun intended!

A I'm really sorry to hear that you found yourself at the receiving end of an unnecessary and unprovoked attack about your appearance. It was deeply insensitive and mean of your boss, and he should know better than to risk commenting on a woman's figure, no matter what the situation. He may have said it as a spur-of-the-moment joke and doesn't realise the extent of the hurt he's caused.

I advise you to deal with the situation in two ways. Firstly, you must find closure by speaking to your boss and explaining how his joke hurt you and, while it may seem trivial to him, it is a highly sensitive issue for you and many other women. He needs to realise that he should never make personal jokes about you or anybody else in the office, and this will prevent it.

Secondly, you're doing yourself a great disservice by bingeing on junk food. You're inevitably going to end up feeling unhealthier and more self-conscious than ever. Take it upon yourself to fight the urge and prove to yourself and everybody else that you are a healthy individual in control of your body. I suggest you get some nutritional advice from a trained professional who will devise a proper food and exercise plan.

QMy boyfriend of five years puts his friends, hobbies, work and previous family (that includes ex wife, children and grandchildren) ahead of me. He won't talk about the possibility of us living together, never mind marriage and babies and I'm lucky if I see him twice a week. He can also be verbally abusive to me and I am at the point where I am afraid to say anything to him in case it sets him off. I am in my late 30s (he is much older) but I love him very much.

AOne of the most important things I have ever learnt about maintaining a successful relationship is that you should never try to change the other person. Bullying somebody or forcing them into being somebody they're not will cause anger and resentment. You should be with your partner because you love them and support them for who they are. What you have described sounds like a nightmare relationship and I'm amazed that it has lasted for five years. Your boyfriend doesn't respect you, and doesn't act like he's planning a long-term future with you. You need to ask some serious questions here. Why do you love him so much? Are you hanging in there to try to change him? If that's the case, my strong advice is to get out of it. If you're not being respected and treated like an equal partner and your emotional needs are not being met then I would cut all ties.

QCan you tell me how to end a toxic friendship where you still have to see this person all the time? My pal and I go back years but it took her way longer to climb the work ladder. Now she takes pops at me for no good reason in the company of friends. After a few drinks one night she told me that I make her feel bad about herself and then went on to point out all of my failings as a friend. I want out.

AThis does not sound like the type of person you should have as a significant part of your life. She brings negativity and tension and doesn't contribute love and support. As she admitted, she is envious of your achievements and the real reason behind her behaviour is jealousy.

As you don't want to upset the dynamics of your group, my advice is to gradually phase her out of your life. Avoid communication with her and situations where you will have to sit beside her or be in her sole company. She will soon realise that you have had enough. If she confronts you, recount the times she has belittledyou. You will be better off without her in your life at this stage.

QA guy in my college that I have fancied for ages finally noticed me and asked me out some months back. We totally clicked and have lots of shared interests plus the exact same sense of humour. I tend to take things slowly so it was months before we finally slept together and, without being graphic, I was disappointed and unfulfilled size wise. I know it shouldn't matter but it does bother me. I do not find him attractive anymore but I cannot tell him why.

AThis is a tricky situation because you cannot face admitting the real reason you don't want to be with him. It's great to hear that you get on so well, though, and you should definitely try to maintain the friendship. Are you satisfied that you've given him every chance? Sex with a new person for the first time can be disappointing and it's often wise to get used to them before totally dismissing their capabilities.

However, if you're certain that the attraction is just not there, my advice is to gently explain that you feel you'd be better off as friends. Let him down in as kind a way as you possibly can, and say that you would have better chemistry as mates.

I agree that it would be far kinder not to admit the absolute truth. Good luck.