Hello Captain and Co.!
Here’s my super sad background: I am a fat (stats redacted), black, straight, able-bodied, 33 year-old woman. I haven’t had sex in 13 years. I’ve come to realize that my one sex partner kinda raped away my virginity. I basically kept dating and sleeping with my abusive date rapist. Yes, I’m in therapy.
Despite my unfortunate past, I’d like to date but have been extremely unsuccessful. I try very hard not to think that it’s because I am fat and black and over 30 and both inexperienced AND damaged goods, but it’s hard to stay positive. Online dating hasn’t worked. I’ve been on exactly one date and I’ve tried online dating on and off since 2006. Set-ups are rare and typically don’t pan out, though one did result in 6 dates with a man who was WRONG for me, but it was still something!
I have, probably ridiculously, got my eye on this beautiful specimen of a man. He’s like a kind, friendly, sorta urban Lex Luthor. I may not have a chance; I think I have a lovely face and I do my best to look pretty, but men don’t seem to look beyond my size or blackness or horrible personality? I end that as a question because I don’t know what my problem is.
I try my best to smile and make pleasant conversation with Mr. Luthor. I even emailed him once as a follow up to one of our talks. (He wrote back!) I don’t know if he’s single, but I don’t think he’s married. If he isn’t single, I’d like to be his friend because someone that beautiful and kind must hang around other beautiful and kind people, right? Maybe my new friend could introduce me to someone great! And he seems pretty great. Win-win!
I think he has gazed at me more than once during our weekly chats, but I’ve been talking myself out of those thoughts because really? I’m so out of practice would I even know if he was? However, when he talks to me, I sometimes get the feeling that that’s how he’d talk to a friendly puppy, like even with all the possible gazing, he may not see me as a woman to maybe do pants things with.
Can you teach me how to excuse his beauty and not get so flustered when he’s around? Can you teach me how to show him that I am a woman, dammit, but in a way that won’t get me fired because our interactions happen when he visits my workplace a few times a week?
Thank you for reading and helping!
Then read this.
Keep going to therapy. What happened to you is a big deal. Be nice to yourself and do whatever you need to to heal. Hopefully you will get to the place where you realize that someone else’s shitty acts are not a reflection of who you are. You didn’t cause them to happen to you, and they don’t have to define the rest of your life.
Racism and fatphobia are real things in dating, especially online dating, and there are some people in the world who will reject you on sight because of who you are. That hurts, for sure. BUT there are also people who will like you just fine and find you beautiful as you are. And there are a lot of people in the world whom you would reject on sight (or after a 2-minute conversation or exchange of messages). So one important shift that you could make in your thinking is to not see it as THE ENTIRE WORLD vs. YOU and tell yourself a story about how everyone rejects you. You rejected (or will reject) plenty of them, too, and if you doubt me, browse the “okcenemies” tag on Tumblr sometime. Do you want to play legos with the guy who has a Tasmanian Devil/Confederate Flag tattoo? No. No you do not.
I do not know if this hot Lex Luthor dude will like you That Way. There’s pretty much one way to find out, and that way is “Hey, it’s always so great to see you when you stop by the office. Would you like to have a drink or dinner with me sometime?” Since you have his email and he has yours, ask the question! Ask now, before you get too invested in the fantasy of what it could be like or psych yourself up too much. If he says no, or you guys don’t actually click, it will be sad, but since you can’t date everyone in the entire world you have to figure a certain amount of romantic rejection is normal and not a referendum on whether or not you are awesome. Just do it in the most straightforward, clean way possible and don’t get hung up on mounting a campaign of seduction, or, er, “showing him that you’re a woman.”
You might get flustered around him, and that’s okay. Sometimes we get flustered when we have feelings for someone.
I can’t teach you how to love yourself instead of apologizing for your body and your face, but I can tell you straight up to stop calling yourself “damaged goods.” To stop apologizing for your existence, for your body, for your history. To ask people out when you’re interested in them. To act like you have a right to exist and a right to want love.
Going forward, this is pretty much what you can control:
- Work on loving yourself. It will be a lifelong project. Two things that helped me immensely were:
- Seeking out images of fat women. The “fatshionista” community on LiveJournal and the huge variety of fatshion blogs have been very inspiring and helpful to me.
- Stopping the habit of negative self-talk. Other people might say or think mean things about me, but I’m not going to do their dirty work for them.
- In your free time, find activities and friends and spaces where you feel awesome. Do things that are fun, challenging, stimulating, creative, and that bring you into contact with other people. Find some outlet where you feel most yourself. That is where you are most likely to encounter people who might date you (or introduce you to people who might date you), and that is where you build a great life for yourself.
- When you meet someone cool that you’d like to get to know better, ask them out. Sooner rather than later. If they say no, give yourself three days to feel sad and then write them off. It wasn’t about you.
I don’t know if this helps you, but I’m a rape survivor and a great big fat lady in love. It was mostly dumb luck, like in that linked post. But the work I did in therapy, the work I did to stop talking trash about myself, to stop apologizing for myself and hating myself, the work I put into having a good life and not putting things off for some magical future, the work I put into believing I deserved every good thing sure as hell helped me know love and believe in it when it showed up.
You deserve every good thing, Letter Writer. Whether it’s this Lex Luthor guy or another foxy fellow down the road, I hope you get the romantic relationship you deserve. The first step is to talk about yourself and see yourself in terms of the great things you have to offer and not as a list of perceived deficiencies. In other words, give the love you deserve to yourself.