My Boyfriend Thinks I'm Fat


Woman with a tape measure around her stomach
How to deal with a boyfriend's disparaging weight-related remarks.

I am worried about my brother-in-law, my husband's younger brother. He is a 22 year-old who's generally a good kid, but exhibits severe self-destructive behavior due to (I think) him being a closeted gay. It's been pretty obvious to my husband and me for several years now that he's gay, although he makes anti-gay jokes and tries so desperately to put on a tough-guy demeanor. He lives with us and doesn't have a car. Occasionally, he'll ask me to come pick him up from a "friend's house." When I arrive, it's obvious what the situation is. Here is my worry: every time he comes home from of these "dates" or "hook ups" or whatever, he spends 5+ hours in the bathroom, showering again and again. He also suffers some sort of OCD-like anxiety disorder which ends with him picking at his skin to the point of injury and infection, which has landed him in the hospital twice.

My husband and I are afraid to sit him down and say "listen, it's obvious you're gay, you don't have to lie about it." It seems to me like his issue isn't that he's afraid of telling other people, but that he can't admit it to himself. I feel like if he just didn't want to be open about it, the 5+ hour bathroom time and the anxious skin-picking wouldn't happen. My husband and I both agree that this isn't a problem for us to confront, but a trained professional therapist. The problem is money for a therapist. My husband and I are just scraping by, and though my BIL has a job and is able to pay his bills, he wouldn't be able to afford regular therapy either. I've looked for free or pro-rated therapists, but everything I've found seems to be for drug addiction. Any suggestions on how to just be there for him without coming right on out and saying "I know you're gay" would be very helpful.

— Concerned Big SIL

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