The fear of dating.

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for awhile, but it’s kind of a hard one to write, so bear with me.

I may have mentioned it before, but one of the main reasons I want to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle is so that I can feel comfortable dating.

I haven’t dated anyone in a long time. To my knowledge, there are only about 3 guys who ever liked me “in that way.” Instead, I’ve always had lots of male friends; more close male friends than close female friends, actually. I saw my girlfriends cry and be miserable in their relationships. It seemed like  their relationships brought them more pain than enjoyment. I guess my constant interaction with my guy friends provided me with enough testosterone in my life that I didn’t always feel like I needed a boyfriend. Their attention and friendship was enough to sustain me even though there was never really a physical aspect to our friendships.

My only significant relationship was a dysfunctional one in college. I do think the guy, who I’ll call Lee, liked me – but he was an odd duck, and had a hard time telling me (or anyone, for that matter) how he felt. I fell fast and hard for Lee. I was truly in love with him. About a month after we met, I traveled 6+ hours with him to meet his parents. Not long after, he went on vacation with my family. Our first kiss was at night, on the beach. At the time, it was the happiest moment of my life. After that, Lee and I were together all of the time. We often joked about how we acted like a married couple.

The underlying issue with Lee was that there was not much of a physical aspect to our relationship. I chalked it up to the fact that neither of us were comfortable being the  initiator, and neither of us were terribly experienced in relationships. We kissed, but never really “made out.” This is what made our relationship so confusing to me. It felt like we were definitely more than friends, but not quite boyfriend/girlfriend.

I tend to be a very black/white person. I like to know exactly what’s going on. I like things to be well-defined. I don’t do well with gray areas. As much as I don’t like to admit it, I definitely have a Type A personality. Lee was the total opposite. He was irresponsible and didn’t pay attention to time or rules. He was brilliant, but socially awkward. He lived in a constant gray area.

But I was in love with him, so I pushed him, trying to get him to give our relationship a definition. He resisted. About 4 or so months into our “relationship” , I told him I loved him. He told me that he felt it too, but couldn’t say it. He told me he didn’t even tell his own family that he loved them. I, on the other hand, grew up in a family where we said ‘I love you’ all the time. I thought that seemed like bullshit, but I didn’t call him on it for fear that whatever was going on between us would end. By this point, I was convinced that Lee was the man I was going to marry.

When it (whatever “it” was) ended about a year later, just around graduation, I was devastated. It didn’t end well. We had a huge argument and didn’t speak for 6 months. I swore that if we were ever going to speak again, it was going to have to be him that reached out to me. I had been the one who had always tried to make it work, and I wasn’t going to do it anymore. Finally, he did call, and he apologized for his behavior. We continued to talk regularly over the next few years, but I hardly ever called him. He always called, and the fact that he needed me more than I needed him made me feel great. He admitted that I was the person who knew him best in the world. I liked that power. In the end, it took me about four years to totally get over Lee. It’s only now that I can see him (we have lots of mutual friends and see each other a few times a a year) and not feel anything.

The thing is…I know why my relationship with Lee never really got off the ground. He never said it, but I knew. He wasn’t physically attracted to me.

I tried to ignore that fact, to convince myself that it wasn’t true. But the words that my mother said to me once, when I was in my teens, always stuck with me:

“Guys don’t want to date a fat girl.”

Those words damaged me in a way I can’t begin to describe. They have rung in my ears every day since I’ve heard them. Yet, I know that those words aren’t true for all guys. I know that there are a lot of women out there who are overweight who have dated, fallen in love, and gotten married. Sometimes the guy is overweight too, sometimes not. I know that it’s within the realm of possibility that I could meet someone tomorrow and they could like me just the way I am. I think the main problem is that I have trained myself to automatically assume that no one would ever be interested in me unless they are totally desperate or have some kind of fetish.

However, I have tried to stop those thoughts and feelings. Over the past five years, I have joined Match.com and eHarmony several times. I never had an overwhelming response, which I always attributed to my weight. There were a few guys who showed an interest, but I never actually met anyone in real life. I emailed back and forth with one guy for a few months. We tried to find a time to meet up, but were both in the midst of graduate school and lived across the state from each other, and it never worked out. I think, though, that the main reason we didn’t meet was because of me. I was terrified of what he would think when he saw me. Now I had not marketed myself as a “thin” or even “average” sized girl. He had seen a fairly recent picture of me. But for some reason, I felt like by not telling him exactly how overweight I was, I was misleading him. I was afraid that he’d see me, be totally disgusted and turned off, and walk away. This is how it always played out in my head, but I never even gave it a chance to prove otherwise. In my mind, it doesn’t matter that I am nice, funny, and smart. It’s all about how I look.

As I get older and continue my lack of a serious relationship, I begin to doubt that I will ever have one, whether or not I lose weight. I know that there are many other people who are my age – both overweight and NOT overweight – and haven’t had a significant, long-term relationship. And that does make me feel slightly better, but it doesn’t change anything.

I guess what I am looking for is for someone to share their own experiences with me. Maybe you know where I’m coming from, maybe not. Maybe you’re overweight and in a great relationship. I would just like to know what other people have gone through so that I can get a realistic view, because I know full well that my view is totally skewed. Any thoughts would be sincerely appreciated.

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2 Responses to “The fear of dating.”

  1. Jenn Says:

    I’d like to email you about this … can you see my email (i know it’s not published … but not familiar w/wordpress)

    Let me know.

    • Erin Says:

      Hi Jenn – I can see your e-mail address. I’ll send you one now so you can have mine as well. I’ll look forward to hearing what you have to say!

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