The Washington Post

Boyfriend unfavorabl­y compared her chest size with his ex-girlfriend’s

- Carolyn Hax Write to Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com. Get her column delivered to your inbox each morning at wapo.st/gethax. Join the discussion live at noon Fridays at washington­post.com/livechats.

Dear Carolyn: My current boyfriend’s exgirlfrie­nd had, and I know this is crude, much larger breasts than I have. I’m fairly flat-chested. We’ve been together 21/ years, but I recently

2 found out that, in the early part of our relationsh­ip (like six months in), he told one of his guy friends that “he’s happy he got the chance to be with someone with bigger breasts before dating someone who he loves but is flatcheste­d.” And I don’t know how upset to be about this.

It obviously hurts to think there’s a way someone you love is settling for you, but I’m not sure how I’m supposed to expect him to not be subject to the biological preference men have for bigger breasts. It feels like a dealbreake­r somehow, but it also realistica­lly feels like it can’t be one.

— Insecure

Insecure: May the taste gods strike me down, but you need to think bigger.

I thought that’s what you were doing with the clause that began, “I’m not sure how I’m supposed to expect him to.” My advisory brain filled in the rest of your sentence with, “prefer every single thing about me to all the other possibilit­ies in the world.” Because although we’re all pretty good at loving each other holistical­ly, we also “settle” on countless little things to make our partnershi­ps work. And some big ones. Physical traits, intellectu­al interests, geographic ties, cat- or dog-personhood, whatever else.

We say we wouldn’t change a thing about someone because we love the someone it all adds up to, not because we love every single thing.

I’m guessing that, in most cases, we make this mental adjustment consciousl­y, fully aware we’re getting X despite a preference for Y. We do it when we think this entire person is amazing, so, okay, X it is, because amazingnes­s is what matters, and X just doesn’t. If there isn’t enough “amazing” to cover it all, then that’s a different story. But when it works, it works because of maturity, self-awareness, acceptance and deep love, which is way more romantic than if every box were perfectly checked.

So the question you’re really wrestling with — I hope — is not whether your man can truly love a flat-chested woman, because your 21/ years say he can, or

2 whether it’s “settling,” because it probably is, or whether “settling” itself is a dealbreake­r, because it’s something everyone does, although I prefer to call it “not having ridiculous expectatio­ns of specific people or of romance in general.” The real question is whether you can still love someone who not only did a boob retrospect­ive bro-nalysis of women he’s loved, but also found some way for you to learn of it two years after the fact.

For some, this would be a dealbreake­r. Some, not. For anyone of integrity, it will depend not only on your values and feelings and your boyfriend’s character, but also on your own history of bonding with friends by picking over your partners’ assets — past and, ahem, “current.”

If you’ve been there yourself, then the only question left is whether you need your partners to be at least a little discreet.

Now’s probably a good time for me to mention that “the biological preference men have for bigger breasts” and/or for boob rating is not a mess I care to clean up today. Thank you.

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