SweetBrownIf you’re holding off on dating until you’ve lost the weight, bought better clothes, or are awaiting the arrival of a brilliant future version of yourself, you’ve set the worst goal ever. Because it’s not a goal. It’s a slippery slope defined by—what? An arbitrary number on the scale? The day your bangs grow out? Til you’ve achieved an unassailable state of self love?

In the immortal words of Sweet Brown, ain’t nobody got time for that.

You’re not an Apple product set to launch sometime next year. You may think you’ll be shinier, cooler, or more desirable in the future, but really what you’re saying is that you don’t think anyone could like you now. You think you’re planning. But you’re really just procrastinating.

A woman named Jen wrote to ask me if she should stop dating until she achieved her goal weight. She was admittedly on the heavy side, but had never kept it a secret or masked it in her online profile. She didn’t mince words, and neither did some of her respondents. She got some messages and went on a few dates, but a few of the men she met would be more interested, they said, if she’d been a few pounds lighter.

I’m sure that wasn’t easy to hear. In fact, ouch. She was ready to quit until she could wear a size 6. She was already taking strides to live healthier, and she figured she’d just…wait. (More on why taking a break is not a great idea.)

But I told her no. Here’s why: Because if she waited for this, she’d likely come up with another excuse later for deferring. I reminded her that there is no set height and weight requirement here. It’s dating. Not the fucking Rockettes.

Does that mean she should abandon her weight-loss goal? Nope. But her efforts to change her life and body are not mutually exclusive from efforts to meet people, nor do they have to be sequential.

In other words, there is no official start date. Dating is a process and it’s ongoing and there’s no better time to start than now. No matter what size you are.

The idea that you should “work on yourself” before you start dating is what I call living in the future perfect tense. Tense being the operative word here. This notion that you’ll be perfect in the future is crazy—and confers a ton of pressure on you to be the perfect weight, to look a certain way, before you endeavor to connect with another person.

Then, when the Future Perfect You—ideal weight, great haircut, designer jeans—steps out for the first time, and gets rejected (which happens to EVERYONE, by the way) what then? It’ll hurt even more because you’ll think, “If no one wants me now, after all this, how could anyone ever?” (Find out why getting rejected is critical to the process).

My advice to Jen was to keep doing what she was doing: Staying active, eating well, and reaching out, setting up dates, meeting people wherever she goes. The best relationships in the world must grow and evolve—they don’t start and remain perfect. The same goes for you and your relationship with yourself. Embrace the process of growth and change with a forgiving spirit and you set the stage not just for personal satisfaction, but for the kind of intimate relationship that can evolve along with you.

Originally published on The Date Report

7 replies
  1. Jill
    Jill says:

    I’ve been thinking about how weight loss factors into dating. I’ve lost about 30 pounds in the past six months and I’m on track to lose another 20; I’ve wondered if I should tell people that my physical appearance will be changing or if I should explain that I look slightly different now than in those photos from this winter I use on my online dating profiles.

    While I probably should update the photos, I’ve decided it’s best not to talk about my weight loss during the getting-to-know-you process. First, few things are more boring than listening to someone talk about their diet. Second, if my date is only interested in me because I’m going to lose weight, we probably don’t have a connection worth pursuing.

    Reply
    • terri
      terri says:

      Hey Jill!

      OK, well, first things first: Always update photos, especially when you’ve had such a dramatic change (and congratulations by the way!). I think you should just add a line about it, saying you’ve lost a bunch of weight and continue to lose it, etc. There’s a difference between setting expectations and telling someone where you’re at and boring someone with a diet, which you’re right, new dates may not care to hear about.

      Your last line is what sticks out–sounds like you getting defensive. Fact is, a 50 lb difference in a woman is a big deal. And chances are he’s not interested because you’re “going” to lose weight (everyone says they’re going to, after all). The connection is the connection–don’t get defensive about what an imaginary person thinks of your efforts before you’ve even met him (or her). It’s not fair to judge someone for judging the same you would someone else, right? As long as you provide an accurate depiction, great–and just say that you’ve been having great success and have lost weight and continue to lose, etc. Don’t apologize for where you are–and don’t be defensive either.

      Reply
      • Jill
        Jill says:

        First, thanks!

        Second, I should have elaborated on that last sentence. I meant it more in the spirit of not apologizing for where I am; while my weight is changing, I want someone who is attracted to me as I am right now rather than putting the focus on where I will be in a few months. In other words, I want my dates and relationships to take place in the present, regardless of any potential future changes.

        I’m not worried about people judging me (hence the laziness about the old photos) and I understand that everyone (including me) has their own preferences — and some people preferred the larger version of me. I feel that my weight-loss is about me and making better choices for myself rather than an effort to make myself more attractive to others. I do feel that I look better, but that’s completely subjective. Losing weight actually hasn’t changed the way I date; I’ve always had a lot of fun dating, regardless of size. 🙂

        Reply
  2. Alicia
    Alicia says:

    Terri, I love your attitude! I just read this post and the “taking a break from dating” post together, and they’re fantastic. I wish more of my friends had the open. honest (with yourself and others) attitude toward dating that you do! Your combination of self-acceptance, an eye to personal improvement, and throw-down makes this blog one of my favorite reads.

    Reply
    • terri
      terri says:

      And you just made my day. Thank you so much Alicia. When I know people like you are reading, it inspires me to write more (and slack less 🙂

      Reply
  3. May
    May says:

    Terri, all I can say is thank God and Google for your site… Sometimes we ourselves don’t realise the sorts of excuses we make to delude ourselves….mine include: ‘I want to work n myself first, lose weight, become more confident, have higher self esteem’ before dating…and ‘

    Another excuse of mine is ‘I’m not ready yet’…’there’s no-one decent out there’. Having been single for 7 yrs and having been on numerous dates, I rarely extend to the second date even if the guy is decent and i tend to run a mile if they say ‘I’m looking to settle down or get into a serious relationship’.

    I think I’m scared of getting close to someone or/and am scared of rejection or hurt…i manage to keep my distance by a) judging him before he can reject/judge me b) judge too early on the first date thereby jeopardising the possibility of the second date…

    Your site has made me realise that a) dating is a fun process to be engaged in to learn about yourself b) you’re not taking enough risks if rejection isn’t a regular feature c) every guy is a prospective date in every setting/ scene d) the time is now.

    Any advice or help you can suggest for someone in my situation would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks

    Reply
  4. Cinnamon Girl
    Cinnamon Girl says:

    Terri,

    Thanks for the encouragement. I keep feeling like giving up until I lose 30 pounds.
    But I look around at all my married friends and I am about the size of some of them…. it is only in the singles realm that people who are 40 pounds overweight are treated like lepers.

    I am struggling with the weight loss. I have a hormone imbalance, medicine and I took a very active job so I am really doing the best I can. So even though I feel like waiting until I lose weight.. it is possible my hormones will bring the weight back so I would truly rather find someone who loves me as I am now.

    I was married for almost 20 years to a man that did not know how to love and almost never had sex. I left him emotionally years ago …. so I fell very ready for a true love relationship.

    Reply

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