I Lost a Lot of Weight But Resent All the Men Who Now Find Me Attractive

Dear Evan,

I lost 60 pounds (hooray!) and physically I am a completely different person. Before the dramatic weight loss, I didn’t really go out to try to find dates. I’m 23 and have never even “talked” to a male let alone go out with one. Being overweight made me very self-conscious physically and since no males ever showed interest in me, I never gave the effort to pursue.

Now, I’ve been fairly OK with never dating: I have career/education goals and I’ve always been independent and very able to take care of myself. Having someone romantically in my life just seemed like another thing to put on my plate. But seeing as 77% of my friends (I did the math!) are married and the other 23% are in serious relationships, I thought maybe I should think about doing the whole “dating” thing. In the past, I would go out to social events with my friends but never had any males approach me. Of course I assumed it was because of my physical appearance, but I always thought “oh well, their loss.” Now I go out with friends and I get bombarded by men, especially since I’m the only one in the group unattached.

I feel cocky to say this, but I know I have a great personality. I have goals, I’m ambitious, educated, really sweet and caring, very funny (I think everyone I know can attest to that,) patient, and just all around pretty easy going. I want to start dating, but I can’t get past the thought, “You know, this guy wouldn’t even give me the time of day if I were still fat.” What can I do to get rid of this or work past it? I know you say that physical attraction really does matter to men, but I have a pretty awesome personality and I want that to be, if not of most, of high importance. Please give me some insight! I’m pretty sure asking every guy that approaches me, “would you talk to me if I were fat?” is not the best way to go about things.

Thanks!
Sandra

Dear Sandra,

There’s an intelligent, successful, charming bachelor in his 40′s. Let’s call him George Clooney.

So George, sick of women throwing themselves at him because his rich and famous, decides to go undercover. He grows out his beard, he gains weight, he starts wearing ripped sweatpants wherever he goes. He’s the exact same guy underneath, but it’s really important that a woman want him for HIM – not just for the dashing image he projects and the life he can provide.

We can’t separate looks from the package. It’s PART of the package, whether we like it or not.

Now, George looks like a homeless man and goes to bars to talk to women. He still has great knowledge of Darfur, Edward R. Murrow, and the politics behind oil. He can still turn a phrase and crack a joke. He still has an amazing smile. He just can’t talk about being an Academy Award winner, lest anyone value him for something superficial. It would probably not surprise you that George would struggle in his quest for love. He may blame women for not valuing him as a homeless man as much they did as an actor – but he’d be the one losing out.

And that’s where you’re boxing yourself in, Sandra. See, we can’t separate looks from the package. It’s PART of the package, whether we like it or not. A store might have amazing and classy merchandise, but if there’s a misspelled sign outside, flyers on the window, and graffiti on the door, you might not go in to find out. Is that YOUR fault for judging the book by its cover? No, it’s the store’s fault for not realizing that looks matter.

Simply put, when a man finds you attractive, he will take the time to learn about your amazing personality. If he doesn’t find you attractive, he won’t. Which way would you rather have it?

The people who do best… are not the ones who try to rewrite the rules of society, but rather, figure out how to navigate them successfully.

On a personal note, I have dated three women who lost over 50 lbs and had the same exact issues that you did. One girlfriend used to complain to me that the men in the gym were looking at her – and remark that they never looked at her before. As if the men were to blame for buying into conventional societal standards of beauty.

Would the world be a better place if being 60lbs overweight didn’t matter? Sure. Would the world be a better place if 5’4″ men fared as well as 6′ tall men? Absolutely. Wouldn’t it be great if a male second grade teacher had as much status and appeal as the C.E.O. of a Fortune 500 company? Yep.

But that’s not the world we live in. And the people who do best in the world we live in, Sandra, are not the ones who try to rewrite the rules of society, but rather, figure out how to navigate them successfully.

It sounds like you have a great sense of self-esteem to back up your efforts to lose weight. If I were you, I’d literally DROP the idea that the “right” guy doesn’t care about looks and embrace the incredible opportunity you created for yourself. You deserve it.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    starthrower68

    Oh gee here I go being first again. Yes, I literally do carry a notebook computer with me for school work. But I digress.

    Evan, I can sympathize with this young lady. I just put myself on Weight Watchers as I have a significant amount of weight I want to loose. I also am very mindful of the position you present as well and I think both sides have valid points. I guess the best we can do is realize that men aren’t attracted to women exactly the same way women are attracted to men.

    I think for those of us who struggle with weight and are successful/in the process of being successful at losing it, it stings our pride. Just because we were/are heavy doesn’t make us any less as people. We are still intelligent, erudite, busy, and contributing members of society. We have a lot to offer. But men are attracted to what they are attracted to, whether cosumerism has taught them to be that way or whatever. This is something I’m struggling with. Our pride makes us want to say, “If I wasn’t good enough for you as a heavy person, then I’m not going to be good enough for you now as the only difference is, I’m thin”. Yet we would shoot ourselves in the foot by doing that.

    One more thought. I wonder if the OP may have used the weight as a means to keep male attention away from her. I have done that. It’s easy to hide behind. If I am heavy, men won’t be attracted to me, ergo I do not risk rejection. If I’m thin and men pursue me, then there’s greater chance of being hurt. I understand where this girl is coming from and like her, I know it’s a defeatist way of looking at things so like her, I’m working on the root issue. I wish her the best of luck and I’d love to know what plan she followed!

  2. 2
    Jenny

    Use your body to get him, use your mind to keep him.

  3. 3
    Cilla

    There is a certain amount of emotional padding that comes with weight, whether intentional or not (even subconsciously). Sandra will have to go through the process of feeling how the loss of that padding changes her and how others perceive her. It is a big reason why people who undergo surgical weight loss procedures have mandatory psychological counseling before and after surgery.

    I commend her for losing the weight. She must be ready on some level to deal with the emotional issues related to the change or she would not have been so successful it. What it says to me is that she has enough self worth to feel she deserves to be healthy and attractive. That’s a good place to start. If she takes that heightened self-esteem into the dating world, she will eventually find someone who appreciates all of her.

    She will be able to discern superficial men from those who are more genuine. Not that looks aren’t a natural part of dating and attraction. But it is important, if she is looking for a more permanent mate, to find someone that values her inner beauty above all of her other assets. Otherwise, if she gains back some of the weight (possible if she has children, goes through a big life change, etc.), he will disappear because he was with her for the wrong reasons.

  4. 4
    Honey

    I would wonder if she used weight as an excuse to hide behind, as well. I knew a girl in college who gained a bunch of weight on purpose so that men wouldn’t hit on her.

    And there are plenty of guys out there who either don’t mind, or are extremely attracted to, heavy women. So I don’t buy the idea that it prevented her from having relationships altogether. She could have found a “chubby chaser” or dated a fellow who was everything she was personality/career/education-wise, but a little heavy as well. Since she didn’t, I have to wonder if she holds a little double standard here?

    But I agree that she should be proud of and enjoy the new body she worked so hard for – and realize that most people with great bodies do work hard for them as well, even if there was never a point when they were heavy.

    Honey´s last blog post…What Flattery Will Get You

  5. 5
    Hadley Paige

    Hey Sandra,

    Congradulations on finding the dark lining in the silver cloud.

    Your letter is an excellent example of how women spend **WAY** too much time thinking about stuff. A guy loses 60pds and women start finding him attractive, he says to himself “Great. I’m thin. I look great, I’m getting more women. Thin is good, fat is not.” –end of analysis.

    I’l tell you something really important to men. Fat or thin–Women who think like this, namely finding the down side of a really good thing, are a turn off.

  6. 6
    Lance

    Wow, is this is a real letter?? She’s now hot and doesn’t want to date? I’m just going to throw this out there, but if she has ZERO dating experience and never even talked to guys previously, she won’t be that great of a catch. She needs the experience, and the dating/relating skills that come with it. My suggestion would be to jump in feet first and date as much as possible.

    IMO, women should get over the fact that men are hardwired for looks. It’s not an intellectual choice. It’s a biological imperative. It happens, it’s instantaneous, it’s part of being a dude. There are pros and cons to that, but ultimately it’s part of being human and male.

    Lance´s last blog post…Interview with Dream, Founder of the 21 Convention

  7. 7
    starthrower68

    Honey, I didn’t take away any sort of double standard from the OP; if we’re hiding behind our weight – and I know that I have done this – you are just hiding from men. You pretty much assume that none will give you the time of day anyway. She may not have been aware of the “niche” sites for BBW’s. But it’s a moot point. The weight is off and good for her! It’s a struggle.

  8. 8
    Jennifer

    It’s likely that it’s not just the fact that you’ve lost weight that is making men respond to you now. Based on your letter it sounds like you are more open to dating and relationships than you were before and that you are interested in men now, so your attitude is playing a role in the increased interest you are receiving as well.

    Just as you may not be interested in pursuing a relationship with a guy who has some trait you find unattractive (bad teeth, short, no education, whatever) it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a lot to offer and it doesn’t make you a bad person. It just makes you a poor match.

    If you can think of things that way rather than making the guys who didn’t want you before ‘bad’, it may help.

  9. 9
    starthrower68

    Yes yes yes Lance and Hadley, we’re all aware that women should get over this and get over that, but rejection, real or perceived never feels good and sometimes people just have to take time and work through it.

  10. 10
    starthrower68

    You don’t have to be attracted to or even LIKE heavy people. But if you’ve never been heavy then you don’t know what it’s like from the perspective from someone who has. It’s just like when an African American person or a Hispanic person, or Asian person tell us that we don’t know what they go through with their issues. How about a little more compassion and a little less “get over it”.

  11. 11
    Barrett

    I think she should forget she ever was fat because it’s either holding her back or she lost weight for the wrong reasons. All the new men giving her attention just make her selection wider there is no reason to think any of them are more right than the men that would talk to her before she lost the weight. Move on and enjoy the new attention, don’t let the past you hold the present you back!

  12. 12
    Hadley Paige

    RE: starthrower68 post #9 “sometimes people just have to take time and work through it.”

    Sometimes?? How about seemingly all the time. And for hours and hours and hours– with all of your friends. And you discuss how you feel, and then you discuss how your friends feel, and then how you feel about how your friends feel, and then how your friends feel about how you feel about how your friends feel. Enough !! (OK, this was a little rant I had to get off my chest about talking sorry, I’m OK now)

    What’s to work through? This woman just did an extremely difficult thing which resulted in an excellent outcome. She deserves much credit. And she is being properly rewarded for her efforts by attention from men who now find her attractive.

    If she is spending this much time on a good thing, I dread to think how much time she is going to spend on a bad thing. For me>> RED FLAG.

  13. 13
    Steve

    Sandra;

    I was a sensitive kid. Things that would roll off of other boys sank in, deep, with me. I also grew up as a fat kid and a kid who was mocked in all of the hurtful ways fat people are.

    I got athletic when I was 14 and stayed in good shape until my early 30s when old sports injuries caught up with me and made me unable to exercise for a number of years. My weight went up to 260 lbs ( I’m 5 11 ).

    I stayed that way for many years until new surgical ( for my injuries ) and lifestyle options came way. For the past two years my weight has been around 180 lbs. I lost about 48 lbs. I updated my haircut and my wardrobe.

    I know where you are coming from.

    I had ( still slightly have ) the same resentments you do. I also felt bad about myself because I began looking toward more attractive women for dates — because I could. I felt like a hypocrite in the worst way.

    I wish I had a fast answer for you. The long slow answer is to work on 3 things over the long term:

    1. Accepting yourself unconditionally. The fact that you resent men who never met you and who never rejected you is a flag that while you deservedly like yourself you still have some unfinished business about how you judged yourself in the past.

    2. Accepting ( not liking, not endorsing )other people unconditionally for the flawed and unfair human beings that they are.

    3. Accepting that looks count. They count for men, that is natural and that is fine. Looks also count for women and they count for you. It is a fact of life. People who tell you otherwise are trying to sell you something or sell themselves something. Decide to draw the line at who is “shallow” if looks count first, if looks count the most, if ONLY looks count or if they count more than other things.

    Evan brought up a good point. In the end you will be the only person being punished with your current attitude.

    Aside from improved health and self esteem I’m sure having a better dating life as a result of weight loss was something you looked forward to. Your current ( justified ) attitude is going to cheat you out of those hard won opportunities for good times.

    At the end of their lives few people wish they spent more time at the office. The memories that comfort them are the ones they made in relationships with other people.

    You are insanely young with many opportunities to build wonderful memories. Don’t piss it away being angry. If you have to, find a professional to talk to.

    Steve

  14. 14
    Steve

    @starthrower68 post #1

    I’m in IT for a living, but I am a luddite outside of work, so carrying around a laptop still impresses me. However, it is my understanding that all of the “cool kids” post to the internet now from hand held phones.

  15. 15
    Jennifer

    @Steve #12- wonderful advice.

  16. 16
    starthrower68

    Hadley, here’s a bit of enlightenment for you: there is NOTHING negative, mean-spirited, unkind, etc. that you could say to a heavy person that would make them feel any worse about themselves than the negative chatter going on in their heads. As far as women talking talking and talking, maybe it’s a “biological imperative” for women since we are relationship builders. I truly hope for your sake that you never need anybody’s compassion or mercy.

  17. 17
    starthrower68

    Steve, I commend you for the kind encouragement that you have expressed toward Sandra. Just because some think what she feels is wrong or inappropriate, it doesn’t make her experience any less valid TO HER.

  18. 18
    Steve (a different one)

    You can’t negotiate with attraction: it’s there or it’s not.

  19. 19
    texasdarlin

    @ Steve post # 12- Great post-nailed it.

    @ Hadley post # 11 -”What’s to work through? This woman just did an extremely difficult thing which resulted in an excellent outcome. She deserves much credit. And she is being properly rewarded for her efforts by attention from men who now find her attractive.”

    It really isn’t all that easy. One of the reasons most of don’t make any sort of changes, whether it’s losing weight or anything else is that true change is hard. Not only that, it’s damn uncomfortable. I admire Sandra for making a commitment to herself, it must have been difficult, but there are still underlying issues that need to be dealt with. Sandra obviously has enough self worth to commit to being healthier, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that she is or will be comfortable with her new self image. She mentions a lot of positives about herself as a person, but again, it does not mean she real believes in herself, especially in this new social arena.
    I can use myself as an example. I am very confident and sure of myself in my professional life and in my relationships with family and friends. I’m not as sure of myself when it comes to dating. For various reasons I did not really date until I was several years ago after suffering some serious health issues. Sure, I had relationships, two of them serious, but for lack of a better term, I fell into those. As Lance (post # 6) advised I jumped into it feet first. I’ve learned a lot along the way and have survived various dents to the ego, some of which were self inflicted, if I’m honest about it. One thing that continues to come up (in my mind at least) is that thought what happens when I tell him? It’s something that I have to work on and get past. I know it & I’m doing it

  20. 20
    delicia

    Sandra, congratulations and good for you! I mean this in the most sensitive and encouraging way possible, but get over it! The quicker you can let go of the “baggage”/issues you have around your weight and why guys are attracted to you, the better! Like someone else said, this may be a classic example of how a woman would tend to over-analyze the situation whereas a guy (in general, I know not EVER woman or guy would think this way) would just be like, sweet! :) I wish you all the best!

  21. 21
    starthrower68

    Steve, I don’t think anyone is denying that. Yes, attraction is there or it isn’t. But I’d like you to engage in a little exercise and try to see this from Sandra’s side. You see in her letter how she basically rejected herself by avoiding men BEFORE she lost the weight. In a sense, she may still be doing that because she has and still does have some fear of male attention. To take it a step further, who wants to admit, “I’m not datable because I’m fat and ugly”? No, that hurts to admit. So instead we say, “well it shouldn’t be that way or this way”.

    Yes, that’s the way it is. What I’m trying to point out to the Hadleys on here is yes, looks count, but let’s have compassion for the deeper issue that still brings some pain to the person asking Evan for help. She’s only 22; she is still learning about herself and who she is and it’s not suprising that she is struggling with this.

  22. 22
    starthrower68

    Delicia, you are thin, hot, and never without dates, right?

  23. 23
    delicia

    Starthrower! What I meant by my post is that the more quickly she can accept the imperfections in the world (as laid out by Steve, for example) and get herself out there, have fun, and not over-think, over-analyze, and second-guess every guy’s motives/intentions and how they reconcile with her past life as a heavier person, the more positive a vibe she will send out there and let go of what may have been a painful past and accept it for what it is/was.

  24. 24
    delicia

    ^^^ Life is short!

  25. 25
    JuJu

    Please, if I hear yet one more time that it’s only MEN (bad, bad human beings!) who have the distinct need to be attracted, I think I’ll scream.

    I wouldn’t even consider a guy who is that much overweight! I dunno, 10-15, maybe 20 extra pounds at the most I could deal with, but no more than that.

    That is how I know all these male superficiality arguments aren’t worth the air they consume.

  26. 26
    Mikko Kemppe

    Hi Sandra,

    It is normal to have unresolved feelings about dating to come up after you have gone through a major change in your life. I want to congratulate you for taking the steps to become more healthier. I am sure it was not easy.

    All of us deserve to be loved no matter how we look. But the truth is as Evan stated that now that you are more healthier and taken responsibility about your weight you have become more attractive to more people.

    Just apply the same determination to resolving your conflicting emotions that you applied to losing your weight. You deserve to be loved for just the way you are.

    -Mikko Kemppe

    Mikko Kemppe´s last blog post…Interracial and Intercultural Relationships: Can Love Overcome All Differences?

  27. 27
    Steve

    @ starthrower68 , post # 21

    I’ve not only seen it from Sandra’s side, I’ve spent a fair portion of my life living there.

    Some of the cavalier responses have been just that.

    Regardless, the comments section of a blog is not the best place to go into things deeply. Given that limitation, as someone who has been down the road Sandra is on, my intent was to point out, in this limited media, the direction she should go in to get to the destination she wants so she doesn’t have to waste time with taking wrong turns.

  28. 28
    starthrower68

    Ok stupid question delicia and I do apologize. But what I’m trying to point out is, when someone has a deeper issue they are struggling with, they don’t just “get over it” unless they are one of those rare exceptions. I don’t get the sense that she’s trying to over anlyze every guy’s motives. What I see going on here is she is still somewhat rooted in rejection whether other kids or family constantly criticized her weight, or someone else rejected her, or whatever. What I’m getting at is this is a process and may take some counseling. The reason I can speak to this confidently is because this is something I have been working on for 6 years, since my divorce. I have been rejected for my weight. I was criticized all through my childhood and adult years by my family for it. I have gotten to the point where I love and accept myself so that I can do something to change it, and yes I will enjoy some male attention when it’s gone. But I didn’t get there overnight. It’s been a process.

    Another thing that I’d like to point out is that again, nobody’s denying that looks count; we all know that. If Sandra didn’t know that she wouldn’t have taken herself out of the equation for so long. As I said, you don’t have to be attracted to or even LIKE fat people. But be aware of how you’re treating them. Be careful not to contribute to the poor image they already have of themselves. If you’re looking upon them with contempt and misguided notions, just remember that somebody may someday look at you that way too.

  29. 29
    delicia

    Juju, HOLLA! In fact, that is my primary dating “issue”. I meet plenty of nice guys who would probably be great boyfriends/companions/husbands, but I feel NO attraction. Zero. You just can’t force it. I’ve heard of people where it “grew over time” but I’m guessing there was SOMETHING there initially and then became stronger but didn’t start at 0. Sigh.

  30. 30
    starthrower68

    Ju Ju, I think Hadley did a fairly effective job of calling women out on the carpet so it doesn’t appear to be a male-bashing thread.

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