Anecdote: A woman is getting dressed for a date. He cancels on her at the last minute, saying that he would date her if she were thinner.
Granted, this is abominably rude behavior. That goes without saying. The lady had great good fortune in learning that this is a person of low character before she got seriously involved with him. Imagine if that scenario had played out while she held a bouquet, standing at the altar. None of that is much consolation, though, considering the crushing blow to her self-image. Rejection hurts.
The real pain seems to come from the idea that body weight might be on someone's list of deal breakers.
I have two diverging takes on this idea. One is validating and the other is somewhat more provocative.
I dated a younger guy when I went back to school to finish my degree. He broke up with me with these words: "You're just not attractive enough for me." I've never cried so hard in my life. Um, I look exactly the same as I did the day we met? Um, and you're not so hot yourself? I went sobbing to my friend's dorm room and told her what happened. Why should I be judged by my appearance? It was so unfair! She consoled me, but then she gave me the great game changer of my life: GAMES HAVE RULES. Friendship is beyond such matters, but romance includes appearance.
My friends rallied around me over the next couple of weeks, giving me makeup and fashion tips, accompanying me to the gym. I was out for blood-sucking revenge and nothing but the guy's total annihilation would do. I avoided and ignored him for weeks. Two totally surprising things happened. I noticed that random strangers were far nicer to me now that I had done the makeover. I hadn't lost any weight yet; just changed my hair and clothing style and started wearing makeup. This made my blood boil. O, this dumb old world! How dare people treat me like a lesser person just because I didn't meet their beauty or grooming standards?? The other thing that happened was that I got a 20% raise at work. This made it worse, briefly, as I dealt with the realization that my appearance had probably cost me tens of thousands of dollars in my career already. Then it sank in that I was essentially being paid thousands of dollars to shave my legs and underarms.
Oooh, did that last detail make you jump? Yes, I still think it's unfair that people would dare to judge me for having natural body hair. But I like money more than that, so I got over it.
The third thing that happened was that the guy, Mr. You're Just Not Attractive Enough For Me, pursued me again. "You've been looking really good these days," he told me. We started dating again. That lasted for about three weeks. Then he broke up with me again, because he was attracted to someone else in one of his classes and he wanted to be available just in case. Well, gee, thanks for the honesty at least... I got the boy, only to be humiliated twice. I learned to be on the lookout for signs of narcissism, which was very helpful. I heard through the rumor mill that his next girlfriend criticized him relentlessly, and that was also very helpful. Heh.
The moral of the story is: don't bother trying to change (anything) for an ambivalent romantic interest. Do it for your career. When you have a better job, you'll meet more interesting people anyway.
Romance is a mix of the pragmatic and the mystical, and what blend of attributes might turn into sexual attraction is purely subjective. (Or is it?). What eludes most people is that romantic success is about a click with one specific person. What works with one person will not work with someone else. Ideally, there's a spark between you that neither of you will feel elsewhere. The lack of this click might be attributed correctly, but it probably won't be. It's something ineffable, usually outside our awareness.
I've turned down romantic advances from men over the years due to all sorts of reasons, including facial hair, gum-chewing, and habitual wearing of roller blades. Many years later I realized that my big deal breaker is Obligers. I've been rejected because I don't drink coffee, because I can't have kids, and because I happened to own the Throwing Copper CD by Live. Probably the fact that I've been vegan since 1997 played some part in these rejections, even though the gentlemen didn't say so. When the click isn't there, it isn't there, and it's probably a confluence of factors.
We rule people out unfairly all the time. I used to say I would only marry a man who could beat me at Scrabble, until 1) I fell in love with an aerospace engineer and 2) I pictured marriage to a competitive Scrabble player. Many of us would rule out a partner who couldn't spell or had bad grammar. Would you date someone who didn't finish high school? How about middle school? How about grade school?
Isn't that classist?
Would you date someone older? 25 years older? How about 40?
What's your track record for dating people of a different racial background?
Imagine the band you hate the most. Now imagine that the new love interest rolls up, blaring their most annoying song out his windows.
What if he's also wearing a campaign t-shirt for the wrong candidate?
Whether someone is "datable" consists of a mix of situational, behavioral, and personal factors. A plus in one area can level out a minus in another. For instance, it would take a whole lot of sex appeal to make up for ongoing unemployment or a felony record. Someone with a fascinating job or great sense of humor will be more compelling, while a picky eater or bad tipper will be less so. Mostly, we'll stick with people roughly within in our own bracket of education, age, race, social class, religion, and of course body weight. 74% of American men and over 60% of American women are overweight or obese, so while this is on the list of dating issues, there will still be plenty of matches for everyone at every size.
I promised a provocative story, and here it is. The day I met my current husband, we liked each other right away. We quickly became daily lunch buddies, and then we started talking on the phone all the time. However. There was no romantic spark. Over a year of constant conversation, but no spark. Where was the spark?
We started dating after I got a promotion and a raise, got my own apartment, and dropped four dress sizes.
We got married after I got two more promotions, learned to cook, finished paying off $8000 of debt, and moved into a house.
In both cases, he initiated the subject and talked me into giving him a chance.
After we got married, I dropped another three dress sizes, grew out my hair, ran a marathon, and started my own business. I do these things for myself, but they do unavoidably impact how I am perceived by my true love. We've been together over ten years now and we're arguably more attracted to each other today than the day we met.
I was "the same person." We had the same friendship. We did the same things and talked about the same things. When we met, though, I was near my top weight, working as a temp, renting a room, sleeping on an air mattress, in debt up to my eyeballs, and basically in crisis mode all the time. The difference between Friend Zone Me and Marriageable Me involved several level-ups. One of those happened to involve obesity. If I'd been the same size but was debt-free, knew how to cook, and had my own house instead of a roommate, maybe we would have started dating sooner. It's impossible to say. If I'd lost the weight and grown out my hair first, not having made the other changes yet, would he have been wrong to start being attracted to me?
For people who are single and hating it, there is usually at least one reason that is obvious to everyone else but them. Constant complaining is one of them. Aggrieved entitlement - where is the [whatever] that was promised to me?? Being snarky and sarcastic. Never going anywhere to meet new people. Doing nothing interesting. Underemployment. Too many cats. High drama quotient. Undisciplined, bratty kids. Passively coasting through life. Messy house/car. Being a taker more than a giver. Fixating on the "missing partner" rather than existing friendships. Envy. Low self-awareness and lack of insight. Bad temper. General dislike or suspicion of people of the chosen gender. What your car, clothes, hair, personal space, and body look like are on the list, but they're just multipliers.
I'm an achiever by nature. I look at marriage in the same way I looked at dating, which is that if a man is worthy of my love and devotion, I will do my utmost to make him the happiest man on earth. I will study his likes and dislikes, and spoil him utterly. In return, I expect a man who will meet my standards. He has to rate a position on my zombie squad, and he has to carry me around on a little satin pillow. Marriage should be with someone whom you respect and admire, who is your funniest friend, and with whom you also have off-the-charts physical chemistry. Nothing less will do. If you knew that person is out there waiting for you, and there was only one thing standing in your way, would you take care of it?
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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