Maybe you’ve been there. You log onto PlentyOfFish or Match or OKCupid, you check your messages, and you find someone who looks interesting. If this story went the way fairy tales go, you’d chat with them, fall in love on the first meeting, and live happily ever after. It’s what the commercials promised us, right?
Except that dating in the real world doesn’t go that way. That first date, 50 percent of the time, is probably going to be a disaster. If it is, you’re never going to call the person because it’s just physically painful to think about going on another date. And that kiss, if there was one? What was up with that? So sloppy and full of saliva – yuck. Nope, you’re definitely deleting them from all social media forever.
So what do you do? You’ve got friends and family telling you to not be so picky. After all, you’re fat, and fat means you don’t have a lot of choices here. They tell you to stop being prudish and silly and to recognize that modern dating means settling until you make it. You probably aren’t going to do better than you are right now, so you’ve got to keep going with what you’ve got.
Maybe you, personally, don’t feel like you’re going to do any better, because you don’t feel beautiful, or desirable, or even adequate. So you don’t call the person for a second date, because they probably made a mistake and are dreading calling you. Or they haven’t called in about a week and you’re sure they’re not interested because you were too fat and too plain. Let’s face it, you’re just not worth it. Better stop trying.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: All of those points are lies.
Everyone can be beautiful, desirable, and especially adequate. I know that sounds like a platitude, but I’ve been through this dating game, and I know how it feels. Maybe you’re not even the one doing the rejecting. Maybe you’re the one getting dumped, and every time, it feels like a punch in the stomach. But you’re absolutely desirable and worthy of love, no matter how you look. You aren’t going to be stuck in this dating spiral forever, and here’s how you can change things for the better.
1. Forget about living society’s dream.
Online dating sites and our families try to sell us a dream that says you can only be happy when you’re with “the one” happily ever after. That’s not the case for many adults in this era – and that’s okay! We don’t have to follow our parents’ script to be happy. Live your own dream and find your own way.
2. Love yourself first.
If you don’t feel attractive or self-confident, remember that the majority of people dating today don’t feel that way, either. As a plus-size woman, I struggled a lot with feeling worthy of my life, let alone being loved by someone else. When I found a partner who loved me for my mind, my passion, and my own sense of beauty, it helped me a lot, but before that happened, I had to start loving myself for those things. Breaking through that took some time and some introspection. I had to completely change my thinking about myself. You don’t have to be skinny to be pretty. Why shouldn’t we feel like we can be loved and cherished? If you're human, you absolutely can be.
3. Celebrate your interests.
Be who you want to be. Don’t pretend to like something you don't just to seem more desirable. It’s okay to be different, and if that’s a problem in your budding relationship, then it’s not for you. Don’t settle. You don’t have to.
4. Don’t write history before it happens.
It’s easy to focus hard on “the one” — is this person “the one”? Specifically, is this person the only one who will ever show interest in me? Dating should be, first and foremost, a way to have fun with someone who might become more someday. Stop overthinking it and just enjoy!
5. Don’t imagine what your partner is thinking.
The hardest thing for me when I’m dating is to ignore the inner voice in my head that says that my partner is settling for me. The fact is, people don’t spend time around each other unless they enjoy it. Putting thoughts in someone else’s head is damaging because you really have no idea what they’re thinking. Let them tell you, don’t assume you already know.
6. Remember happiness isn’t 24/7.
You might fight with your partner sometimes, which is normal. No one is always happy. The things you need to focus on are the deep things. Does this person support your endeavors? Does he or she make you laugh? Can you talk about those shared dorky interests that only you two understand and love? That’s how you’ll know if it’s working.
Right now, I’m single. I had a long-term relationship that ended up not working out, and I needed time to get over that. I’m starting to feel like I might want to date again, and a lot of these feelings I’m talking about here have come up for me. But it’s all personal sabotage. I am desirable enough to date. I have just as much of a chance as anyone does of finding someone who shares my interests and with whom I can potentially fall in love.
And the most important part? If I never do fall in love, that’s okay, too. What’s important is that I’m accepting myself for who I am and finding people who accept me, whether we end up together forever or not. The most important part is that in my life, I’m happy.
I think that’s the secret to this dating game, after all.