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. 61
    Cilla

    @ JuJu

    Completely anecdotal, based on my own experience with sisters, friends, co-workers, blog readers, etc. Just my opinion–entirely unscientific.

  2. 62
    Kenley

    In terms of the importance of appearance for men vs women, in the book Evan recommended — Why He Didn’t Call You Back — that author indicated that women are more likely to give men they don’t find especially attractive a chance to grow on them. As a result, women are actually more likely not to go on a second date with a man because of his appearance — his personality didn’t make up for his physical shortcoming. By contrast, men aren’t as willing to give women they don’t find especially attractive a chance to win them over, so for men, physical appearance (as long as she didn’t misrepresent herself online), is less likely to be the reason they won’t go on a second date with women. So, the bottom line is both men and women rule out dates based on appearance. Men as a group just do it earlier in the dating process than women do.

  3. 63
    bdsista

    I really empathise with the writer. I myself have lost weight, gained it and lost it again. But there is a lot of baggage that comes with weight loss (and gain) as others have attested to in their postings. But no one has suggested what I think is essential: she needs to get some professional help and some counseling to deal with her change in body image and what all those things mean. 60 pounds is a signficant life change and what is going on in her head is still indicative of her holding on to fat mental patterns. Her feelings have everything to do with how your image affects your self esteem, IN SPITE of your intellectual and professional accomplishments. I think a good therapist can help her reshape her ideas and attitudes that hold her back and help her to be more accepting of herself and of others. I also recommend she get involved in something that is affirming to women like bellydance. As a bellydancer, I have women who dance and perform with me who are all shapes, sizes, ages and are fabulous! We celebrate our curves and stay in shape and help each other reach our fitness goals whether we are thin or voluptuous! I think being around supportive, affirming women who celebrate their shapes through dance might really be good for her and anyone else!

  4. 64
    Janet

    I think most people decide within mere minutes of meeting whether or not they are attracted to someone and will pursue a relationship. This goes for both men and women and has been borne out by studies on speed daters. There are also studies on sexual arousal that show that women are just as turned on by porn (visual stimulation) as are men–but are less willing to admit it.

    But initial attraction is not the whole story in building relationships, and, as has been pointed out on other threads, is not an indication of the success/failure of anything long-term (since this is a blog about getting to the long-term). You see lots of people of all shapes and sizes, income levels, etc. in happy relationships of all sorts.

  5. 65
    Joe

    WithLove, you just need to go blonde. :D

  6. 66
    Michael

    It is great that Sandra lost weight.

    Women who complain that men do not want to go out with them because they are overweight, who lie about their body type in their online profiles, ought to just lose the weight .

  7. 67
    starthrower68

    Michael, Michael, Michael…..I will pray that you receive wisdom, compassion, and understanding…..

  8. 68
    Jonsi

    Sandra,

    Whether chubby-chasers or hot-babe-seekers initially indicate interest primarily based on looks is not the point. The point is that they will only continue to date you and get serious with you if they are MOSTLY interested in your personality. The notion that most guys just want sex simply is not true, and experienced female daters who know what they want are able to weed those men out in the initial stages of dating.

    Like others have alluded, if you never dated before, hot or heavy, there was also probably some other vibe or attitude that prevented men from showing interest in you. Losing weight is not the only reason men are now showing an interest. You likely exhibit increased confidence and a more positive attitude in all your social interactions, and that ultimately is why guys are showing you attention. They can sense the other changes in you as well. They are now approaching you partly out of looks, but also because they can sense those other changes in you that allow for your personality to shine more bright and more often.

    So give some of these men a chance. You don’t have to get serious with them. You don’t have to have sex with them. Enjoy the attention, and let them get to know you. After all, when you buy a book it is because of the cover and synopsis on the jacket — LOOKS; you don’t know if it’s really something you will enjoy until you are 1/3 of the way in.

  9. 69
    girl-with-glasses

    Well, to frame the issue another way, maybe it’s human nature to find attractive people attractive, and to like another person because of it, but is it love? By losing weight, the OP will get greater social currency, and have an opportunity to get out more, to possibly have a more ‘enjoyable’ time in life, but if she goes in with a naive attitude that just being social or having fun will provide more emotional sustenance than it is inherently capable of providing, then she’ll be disappointment and conflicted. Alot of men are good people to know, and they can be good company, but that doesn’t mean they are willing to ‘love’ you, love I mean in the effect of an healing of soul or acceptance condition. The OP is at a wonderful point in her life. 22! my goodness, she should take the opportunity to socialize and date. Looking for a more genuine and mature connection can wait after she experiences what the opposite sex really has to offer first.

  10. 70
    WithLove

    Thanks Joe! But already been there and done that! Thanks for tryin’! :)

  11. 71
    hunter

    It’s all about looks, and looks. I remember, making note of how many good looking women were boarding a cruise boat I went on. Very few. Then came formal night, the transformation is unbelievable, I have to say, almost every woman looked like a goddess.

  12. 72
    Ann

    I wonder what people would say if a guy writes in with the problem “I just made a lot of money and now all kinds of girls want to go out with me, but no one would when I didn’t have money. I’m afraid that these women are all gold-diggers and only want me because I’m rich.” That would be considered a normal response to his situation, right, and not one that needs “counseling.” And the advice wouldn’t be just to get over it, that of course women are only attracted to guys with money. The advice would be to go find someone who loves him for himself, right?

    I wonder why the difference?

  13. 73
    zann

    Sandra! Way to go & congratulations on your hard work AND your insight. (Everyone else: Give this girl a break — she’s young! I wish I’d been half as reflective at her age.) There’s no single answer for why we react to other people the way we do, because everyone draws on a different history of experience. I especially liked the responses from bdsista and girl-with-glasses, as I think they offer wise counsel to someone in your situation. But definitely don’t let your bitterness — justified or not — rob you of the rewards you deserve. Body size is only a part of your identity in the world & it will keep evolving.

    Regarding women overanalyzing — I agree that women tend to analyze & investigate — usually with other women — our reactions to how men treat us. But so what? Why is that a bad thing? It just means we’re complex and discerning. If men make Pavlovian, knee-jerk decisions and follow their noses (or genitals) every time eye candy walks by, that doesn’t mean women are “overthinking” things because we don’t do the same. It doesn’t mean we’re kill-joys. Personally, although it’s tempting at times, I prefer not to think like a guy. There’s enough trouble in the world with just GUYS thinking like guys. Har!

    Last & for what it’s worth, (surprise!) I want to make a comment on one part of Evan’s response. Maybe it’s me, but I don’t think being an overweight woman is really comparable to being a homeless male (even if it was George Clooney) trying to attract a partner in the dating world. That analogy seems a little skewed to me. A woman can be overweight and still be able to move about freely in almost any social setting, and her career and financial status may make it unnecessary for her to be concerned about the more basic stressers, like shelter, food, health care. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure most homeless people I encounter aren’t all that worried about their dating life OR their weight. One is a partly-genetic, partly-lifestyle issue; the other is a socio-eocnomic issue. Just sayin.

  14. 74
    Michael

    I wonder what people would say if a guy writes in with the problem I just made a lot of money and now all kinds of girls want to go out with me, but no one would when I didn’t have money. I’m afraid that these women are all gold-diggers and only want me because I’m rich. That would be considered a normal response to his situation, right, and not one that needs counseling. And the advice wouldn’t be just to get over it, that of course women are only attracted to guys with money. The advice would be to go find someone who loves him for himself, right?
    A guy or girl could hide the fact that he/she makes a lot of money (unless he/she hangs out in extremely expensive nightclubs regularly).

    Could men and women hide being overweight whenever they go out?

  15. 75
    Steve


    Ann Jun 5th 2009 at 07:57 pm 72

    I wonder what people would say if a guy writes in with the problem I just made a lot of money and now all kinds of girls want to go out with me, but no one would when I didn’t have money. I’m afraid that these women are all gold-diggers and only want me because I’m rich. That would be considered a normal response to his situation, right, and not one that needs counseling. And the advice wouldn’t be just to get over it, that of course women are only attracted to guys with money. The advice would be to go find someone who loves him for himself, right?

    I wonder why the difference?

    1. A response can be perfectly normal and still require counseling if it interferes with a person’s happiness and they do not want it to.

    2. Some people would advise the man to “get over it” – do something to solve his issue instead of just agonizing over it.

    3. Yes the advice would be to find someone who would love him just for himself.

  16. 76
    Ann

    To Michael:
    Don’t get your point at all.

    To Steve:
    Sandra does not seem to “require” counseling to me. She sounds like she’s got her head on pretty straight. I would tell her not to get over it. I would tell her what we tell rich guys who want to avoid gold-diggers: Use that feeling you have–the one that is telling you to watch out, because you have a lot to offer in a relationship, maybe more than most, and yes, there are shallow people out there, people who want to take advantage of you, people who will use you. Next step after getting your health issues sorted out is to develop the skills of discernment that allow you to weed out those who would be with you only to take advantage and those who would love you just for yourself. Maybe Sandra has not had the opportunity to develop her street smarts re: dating. You develop street smarts by being out there–not by sitting in a therapists chair. There are plenty of guys out there who would love her big or small. She needs to find those guys, and that requires discernment.

    Agree with the comment that homelessness is not the male equivalent of a woman being overweight. Just as on the millionaire thread, a gambling problem is not the same as being in a lower income bracket. Homelessness and gambling addictions make a person non-functional and are very often related to a mental illness; being overweight may mean a person is non-functional and may be related to a mental illness, but not usually. Most people in the U.S. are overweight incl overweight guys who supposedly arent attracted to overweight women. Maybe guys need to get over it.

  17. 77
    hunter

    During an interview, actor, Tom Selleck, said, “Where were all these women before, I became rich and famous”?

  18. 78
    Ann

    “Oh, Tom. Just get over it. Women are hard-wired to be attracted to guys with money. They decide right away whether or not they want to have sex with you based on how much money you have. Call it whatever you want, but that’s the way women are, and there’s nothing wrong with it. There’s something wrong with you for questioning it. Maybe you should go talk to a therapist about it–because after all, you were poor and unknown for all those years, so something must be wrong with you. I’m just telling you the way it is, not the way it should be. So now go out and enjoy yourself with all these women!”

    See how ridiculous that sounds? But that’s what people here have been telling Sandra.

  19. 79
    girl-with-glasses

    @Ann, I’m new to this board, I don’t know your background / situation, and I’m not trying to pick a fight. But I find some aspects of your attitude bewildering.

    ” There are plenty of guys out there who would love her big or small. She needs to find those guys, and that requires discernment.”

    To me dating is a social exchange. People have a lot to offer, fun, support, experience, and yes, even status. What’s wrong with looking for the bright shiny stuff at this stage in the OP’s life. If she has her head on straight, why are supposedly self-possessed women looking for complete acceptance from the opposite sex, most of whom are strangers at this stage? I don’t believe judging men on those criteria really frees a young woman to value them or get the best dating experience she can get. Like you said, finding the right guy will require discernment, but I don’t believe you get there by categorizing men who value appearance, or so-called ‘superficial’ aspects, as less worthy potential mates right-off-the-bat. I’m saying that I believe most men are way more committed, deep, loyal, and hardworking than they let on or women give them credit for AND those same men are visually driven and appreciate pretty women. To me, that’s more of a fact and not a value/moral issue. Younger women going into the dating scene should get their own self-esteem issues in check so they can look at men accurately. After all, dating isn’t about me-me-me, at best both parties should be enriched.

  20. 80
    Evan Marc Katz

    I’m about to go to a wine tasting, but I had to respond to Ann:

    Women ARE hardwired to want men with money. It wasn’t always about money – not in pre-money societies – but women have always desired men who can provide and protect. We, as men, may lament the existence of golddiggers, but we’d be pretty foolish to pretend we’re just as desirable as office temps as we are as CEOs. It’s easy to say that you’d love someone regardless of looks or money – it’s a lot harder to DO.

    Men who ignore women’s desire for stability, money, and protection are no different than women who think that it’s “wrong” for men to desire youth, beauty, fertility and nurturing.

  21. 81
    Steve

    @Ann, post #78

    I have no intention of offending you, but your writing is coming off as if you have an axe to grind.

  22. 82
    Janet

    Ha! A woman with an axe to grind–what a horrible thing!! Seriously, Evan, if you’re going to be making these claims about what women and men have always wanted in relationship, you really should read the book I mentioned earlier, “Marriage, A History,” by Stephanie Koontz. What you are claiming is not accurate historically. And lest you think the book is some feminist rant about the subjugation of women (you know–by a woman with an axe to grind :) )–not. The author is married herself and highly credentialed in the field of family research, and the work is informative and easy to read. But I can see Ann’s point. A lot of the stuff you read on dating websites about what men and women “are” and “want” and “do” is just nonsense.

    Yeah, I know. I’ve no idea why I am even writing here, seeing as it isn’t my issue.

  23. 83
    Tammy

    Evan
    That hard wiring changes when the woman has the money!!! LoL As a self proclaim cougar with funds I find myself looking for sweet young meat!!!

  24. 84
    JimmyE

    Here’s an alternative solution:

    Sign up to an online dating site and write a brilliant profile that advertises your wonderful personality to the full. Then, either leave it photoless, or better yet, submit a picture of yourself from your pre-weight loss days.

    This way you can guarantee that any guys who agree to meet you are not just attracted to your new svelte figure

  25. 85
    Ann

    Agreed, Tammy. I just don’t see all of these rich old man-pretty young thing couples, and I don’t see many couples where the guy is the only one with a career while the woman sits home making babies and dinner. And I don’t see people who have been together for years and years. I see people paired up who are about the same level of attractiveness, about the same age, both people work. And I see a lot of overweight married people everywhere. So not sure what’s going on in the dating world, but it doesn’t seem to have a lot of connection to what’s going on in the relationship world.

    But I should go–I have an axe to grind, because I’m so unloved and unhappy and nobody finds me attractive. You know how it is, I speak my mind and a man once called me fat, so, well, guess my fate is sealed. Off to castrate men and eat young children for dinner!

  26. 86
    hunter

    Sandra, you keep that small waist,,,,,,,, a man will ask you out on a date,,,,you don’t have to go very far out of your way….

  27. 87
    texasdarlin

    Several thoughts here-

    1. I think it takes a fair amount of courage to write in and then read not only Evan’s but everybody else’s responses. I’ve noticed that like several other threads this has generated a lot of commentary.

    2. A lot of us, myself include, have made comments and suggestions based upon a) What Sandra wrote and b) personal experience. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    3. Only Sandra really knows what’s going on, whether any of our assumtions were on target or totally off base. It’s up to her to choose what do.

    4. I don’t see Ann as having an axe to grind, but as expressing her opinion. I don’t agree with it (#’s 72 & 78).

    5. I do see where both Micheal (#74) and Steve (#75) are comming from. Steve-you have a lot of valuable input, but that’s just my opinion.

    6. It’s been my personal experience in online dating that many men leave their income blank and many men state in their profiles the explicit desire to have a very attractive woman. This is by no means all, but I do see it and I’ve been doing the online dating thing off and on for a while now.

  28. 88
    Ann

    just a shout-out to Sandra. I’m a dancer, and I know about women and body issues and how men try to neg on women about this. This is what I am talking about: you meet a guy who talks a certain way about women and the way women look, and you run in the other direction, even if he isn’t directing his comments at you. And that includes people on this board.

    My most recent story: Last year I had an injury, took a day gig where I sat at a desk all day. I put on about 15-20 pounds practically overnight, still in the normal BMI range, but not feeling good for me. I also tried internet dating at that time and went out with a lot of guys. I have very nice professional shots — because of my performing I know the “how to sell yourself” routine, even though that isn’t me, either. Three who kept pursuing me were all financial guys–a trader, an invesment banker, and a hedge fund guy — supposedly what I am “looking for” because he’s so rich and I’m so nice-looking, yes? All three were very overweight, two of them drank to an extreme degree. The trader was actually really sweet, just not for me because of the drinking. The other two were super critical of the way women look–I am talking about Serena Williams, Maggie Gyllenhall, Renee Zellwigger, personal trainers–any woman who crossed their field of vision, practically. And these guys had big ole guts hanging out!!! But because of their money and Ivy League MBAs I guess they thought they had something going on. Also, even though they made tons more than I (presumably) I paid my share–and they made sure that I did, thinking, I suppose, that this is some female equality thing. If they were into fitness and health and being sexy for me the way I am for my guys it would have been equal and it wouldn’t have been a problem. But dude–if you’re going out with someone because she’s hot, and you’re not, you better pony up. That’s your game, so play it right.

    If you aren’t into that game, give it up and find a new way. I did. I’m not into that game. I’m now seeing a school teacher who is really nice looking and fit, takes me to the ballet (not the motorcycle show), which he loves as much as I do, and he pays. I have a problem with him paying all the time, and so I’m trying to finesse this situation and talk to him about it in a sensitive way, because I’m not sure where his paying is coming from. Doesn’t seem to be about control, more about generosity. Whatever. It’s a confusing time in gender relations so I have to work this out with him.

    The reason I am so passionate about this: I have known so many dancers who were young, like Sandra, and abosulutely gorgeous, going around thinking they were fat and starving themselves and getting involved with awful guys who played on their insecurities. It seems almost built into the so-called “traditional” dating system. But it won’t affect you if you refuse to play that game. And how can a good relationship come out of that game, anyway?

    Listen to yourself, Sandra. You will find a good guy if you want one, in your own time and your own way. I think you have your head on straight and that there is nothing wrong with you for being tentative about the male population.

  29. 89
    Cilla

    @ Ann (and Sandra)

    Funny, as a former professional dancer myself, I spent my teens and twenties thinking I was fat (I was about 100 pounds soaking wet at 5’3″).

    Then I had a baby at 30 and gained 53 pounds (lost about 25 pounds of that before I left the hospital). I quickly lost the rest of the baby weight (scared sh**less to weigh that much).

    A bad marriage where I ate for comfort, leaving the dance world, going back to school–I gained 20 pounds.

    Took up long distance running and martial arts, got a divorce–lost 20 pounds.

    Knee surgery and ten years of dating, some of it good, some of it really, really bad–weight has yo-yo’d up and down. I’ve finally settled somewhere in between my thin weight and my heavy weight (with a wardrobe that spans the entire spectrum LOL).

    And you know what? I finally feel sexy. I may have been thin when I danced, but I never felt like a woman. Now I look at 40- and 50-year-old women who are that thin, and so many look ropey, sinewy, and masculine to me (Madonna is good example, in my opinion, and apparently, Guy Ritchie’s). I’m in relatively good shape but refer to myself as “curvy” not “athletic and toned,” as I would have in my dancing days. I feel like a juicy mango, not a piece of beef jerky.

    You know what else? I have so much more interest from men than I ever did when I was younger AND thinner. I’m sure it’s a combination of dating experience and body confidence (and actually having some attention to give to the opposite sex vs. focusing all my energy on a compulsive workout schedule and what I’m not going to eat on any given day).

    All the commentary on this thread and others that tells us we need to love ourselves first before we can love someone else is absolutely right. Being comfortable in your own skin is, in my experience, the most attractive quality of all to potential mates, and seems to overcome a vast number of so-called impediments to dating happiness.

  30. 90
    starthrower68

    Ann, I didn’t think you came across as having an ax to grind, but thank you for sharing your story. I rather like how the guys who thought they had something going on didn’t end up with you, and the nice schoolteacher did. I think your story speaks volumes about how people in general can be.

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