October 20, 2010

Part of Your World

The other morning, shortly after I got to the office, a friend of mine came in and we started talking about our weekends. She's having man troubles, and I listened attentively and tried to give advice the best I could. I'm a great listener, but I'm always hesitant to give relationship advice since I have so little experience in the area. It's embarrassing to admit, but at nearly 24 years old, I've never had a real relationship with a guy. good listenerThe closest thing was about four years ago - it lasted about a month, then ended suddenly, devastating me for about three years - much longer than it should have. (But that's an entry I'll save for a day when I'm feeling much stronger.)

With dating, I've always felt hindered by my weight. I generally avoided trying to meet guys for the longest time because I didn't want to get hurt, and I didn't see it ending any other way but painfully. To me, fat was a personality trait - no guy would want to date me as long as I was over 135 pounds, and if a guy *did* talk to me, he was probably making fun of me, or else he was on a dare. In college, I met a few interesting guys, all of whom were already seeing someone, or who thought I was interesting and brilliant, but who could not deal with the thought of dating someone at that weight.

While in college, a friend suggested online dating, where I could talk about myself and get to know someone before meeting up. Naturally, I hesitated. I guess part of my apprehension is from my expectations. My Disney Princess fantasy has little to do with a perfect body, but with the allure of chance meetings. My grandparents met on the beach, my parents met in an elevator. I've been raised to expect some delightful happenstance. The storyteller in me practically demands it. part of your worldAnd, as awkward and painful as it is sure to be, I want to get to know someone "the old-fashioned way." I don't want someone to know everything about me before we even go out. I'm not knocking it by any means - one of my very good friends is engaged to a great guy she met online. In theory, it's a great way to meet people, but in practice, I'm just not sure it's the right thing for me. I want to believe that, in a city of nearly three million people, there has to be someone else out there who sees the world in the beautiful way that I do, who also has a story to tell.

Nevertheless, I tried it, and the results were dismal. My one kinda/sorta relationship was with a guy I met online, and unfortunately, that failure was the best of the bunch. Generally, the guys I've met were profoundly shy - and while I am also fairly shy initially, I warm up quickly and have a pretty outgoing personality. There's a fine line between shy and socially awkward, and one of my big problems I have found with online dating is finding guys on my side.

The other big issue I have with online dating is some of the terminology. Even if I fit the description, I hate being called a "BBW." And I hate the idea of someone seeking me out because I am one. Every guy I've ever talked to or gone out with has had a "fat fetish." I don't think I ask for very much, but I'd like to meet someone who likes me despite my weight, not because of it. I understand that everyone has personal preferences, but it just feels like there's a difference between someone being attracted to you and striking up a conversation on the street, and someone openly declaring the preference. come, winds of the caspian seaI had been e-mailing a guy this summer who was not only exclusively interested in BBW's, but he discouraged my wanting to lose weight, saying he knew a lot of healthy people who were 5, even 600 pounds. When he told me he had gained over 100 pounds in the last year and a half and that he had a weight gain/feeding fetish, it was over. Come to think about it, most of the guys I've met online have been at least this bizarre. They tend to be guys I wouldn't approach in real life, but since they seem open to meeting someone like me, I try to convince myself that I will warm up to the oddities and that the whole "chubby chaser" thing doesn't bother me.

Whenever I've tried to meet people online, I always sell myself short. I fear elevating their expectations - if you meet someone in real life, they see you and they get to know you bit by bit. It seems my attempts at online dating have all essentially been an effort to convince someone I am worth dating regardless of the body I am living in. It's like advertising - I have a product to sell, and I have to make sure to describe it accurately. If I say it's a Porsche 911, they're going to be pretty upset when I deliver a Honda Civic. But if I talk up the Civic enough, they might be convinced that despite the flashier and faster cars out there, this one is comfortable and reliable and a good investment.

It's the wrong way to think about dating, about love, about my body - trust me, I know. But part of my problem is that it's the only way I've known for so long. i love you, daddy - that ALWAYS gets meI've always overemphasized what positive traits I have in hope of convincing some guy that I'm someone he'd like to know.

I think this all relates to the "emotional weight loss" I need. I'm doing fine with the physical weight, but adapting to life as a formerly obese person is not going to be easy. I think the fantasy runs parallel to the idea that getting everything you've ever wanted leads to living happily ever after. It does, of course. But there's a long journey between the exposition, the rising and then falling action, and the final dénouement.


Anonymous said...

Aw honey, great post. I know it sounds trite, but I don't mean to be dismissive when I say, "You are so young!" I'm an ancient 41 year old, ha. I think it is so great that you are on this journey at a young age. Still finding your true self, deciding who you want to be and making that happen. I think what you said about wanting a delightful happenstance is awewome. However it happens for you, even if it's not this random out-of-the blue meeting, it will be a delightful happenstance.

Amy said...

What a fabulous post!
First of all, thanks for your kind comment! I have heard about the dime thing through people, but never actually heard of anyone else who actually knew about it and collected them, so that's amazing!!

Secondly, I can say that on some scale (pardon the pun) I know exactly what you're going through... and here is why. It's all about self esteem. All through high school I was the heaviest of my friends... actually elementary school too. My friends all had boyfriends in gr 6, 7 and 8 and the boy I was madly in love with just wanted to be friends. Come high school all of my crushes felt the same way. Friends. Oh the friend. I liked so many different guys and we would become so close and they'd always date someone else, even though I was the better suitor. I hated it and longed to have a boyfriend or a first kiss. I had zero confidence in myself, in that body. I knew I could look better deep down and that definitely held me back.
Then I lost the weight... and all these guys became attracted to me and I didn't like it. This is the curve ball to losing your weight, and probably not something you've thought of... but it'll likely be an issue you'll deal with. I started to think, why does he like me? because of the way I look now? Would he like me if I looked the way I looked? It's a whole new ugly can of self-esteem worms.
By grade 12 I still had never been even kissed (besides in a spin the bottle doesn't count situation). I ended up kissing a guy wasted in a bar the first time. Classy.
Come university, I had been my weight for over a year and felt comfortable with who I was. I liked myself. I dated a guy for a couple months and it didn't really work out (understatement of the year). I found out later that he'd been hooking up with a bunch of other girls too.
In second year I think was the first time I was finally in a place where I loved myself and who I was...and that's when I met my boyfriend.
I truly believe you find someone when you a) love yourself and b) stop looking.
We've had our issues in our relationship now since I have regained my weight and then some, because I've stopped loving myself, and that confident woman he fell in love with doesn't really exist anymore - but we have a strong relationship so he stands by me.

I can't imagine how you must feel having had guys only want you because of your weight. I think it's a really weird fetish that I definitely cannot understand. My cousin just dated a guy for almost 2 years and he had a fat fetish (and some other really creepy issues), and she didn't learn about it until she was too far in love. He really liked her being overweight, and didn't want her to lose weight - while she wanted to. I was so happy when they broke up, because he just didn't encourage a healthy life for her at all.

I think you'll likely end up meeting someone that understand what you're going through. Someone who has dealt with weight issues in the past or someone who is conquering them too. It's important to be able to relate to someone in that regard when it's been such a huge part of your life.

I'm not sure if you read the blog A Merry Life, but she felt all these things before, and ended up meeting her now fiance through blogging. He has lost hundreds of pounds, and she's still on her journey. It's such a cute story, and maybe some good inspiration for you! :)

Anonymous said...

When the time is right, you'll meet the right person. The right person will love you for who you are on the inside and out. No one out there is perfect and you don't want to find someone that is searching for Ms. Perfect. You want someone real and someone who will appreciate you for being who you are, not what they want you to be.

I agree that online dating has some major flaws. I did it and met a few nice guys but other than a friendship, nothing developed. What everyone says is true... just let it happen. That doesn't mean sit on your sofa waiting for a man to barge through the door professing his love.

It means be yourself, go out and enjoy life. If you see someone you may be interested in, strike up a conversation. He may not be Mr. Right, but he could have a friend that is! I met my fiance through a mutual friend.

Anonymous said...

Great post. As someone who has been married for 23+ years now, I can say that when it happens, it happens...and esteem is a big issue. I was smaller before but I didn't love my body and am bigger now (although losing) and learning to love my body. My hubby has ALWAYS loved my body and finds it difficult to understand why I don't. Grrrr. I'm working on it.

Ann (-50 lbs in -60 lb challenge) said...

You are the same inside, whether you are 345, 296, 240 or 177 ... you have the same sense of humor, language abilities, intelligence, creativity, love ... and once you come to accept those qualities are who you are - not your weight - you'll gain much more self-confidence, and THAT is what attracts people into your life. I think you are doing a great job of losing weight (!!!!). Continue your efforts, certainly, but don't focus on that, but rather on who you are as a person. You'll find gaining self-confidence difficult if you keep shifting your focus on the outer appearance, because if you think about it, at what point do you feel you will be comfortable, and lose the need to apologize for your weight? I know people who've reached GOAL weight, and still feel the need to "explain" their appearance.

If you aren't comfortable, it comes through.

If you ARE comfortable with who you really, truly are, that comes through too.

The keeper is the guy who recognizes who you are, whatever your weight may be.


Teresa Mof said...

I used to get so mad when people would tell me "when you least expect it and aren't looking, the right guy will show up"...blah I hated that. By that time I was somewhere between 30-35 and feeling very much like my life was slipping by in a haze of food and weight issues. I also used to joke that mr right would have to come to my door, knock, and say "hey I hear you have been looking for me"; because I didn't go to bars and really didn't meet many single men. So anyway, one day 10 years ago I stopped by my parents house to watch the first Al Gore - George Bush debate and my Dad had invited a friend of his from the golf course home for dinner. Well let's just say the rest is history and everyone was right -ok he didn't show up at MY door but my parent's was pretty close :-) Keep believing, being who you are ... and it will happen when the time is right - not when you want it to!

Sonya @ Eyes on the Hourglass said...

I totally could have wrote that myself!!!!!! You are soooooo NOT alone!