I’ve always been a perfectionist who ties my sense of self-worth to my physical appearance, which is why all of my relationships have been pretty casual and none of them have ever lasted. Every time I consider seriously looking for love, I convince myself that I need to lose 15 pounds first. Now I realize that’s just an excuse to avoid being vulnerable.
- Staying in shape is just hard. A lot of us work a 9-5 office job that frequently turns into an 8-7. Then we go home and write or read or do other tasks that require sitting. Getting dinner on the table, running errands, having a social life… it all means that something has to fall off the to-do list. For me, it usually ends up being my hopes of going for a run, doing yoga, or going to the gym.
- Losing five pounds makes me want to date again. When I do find the time or make the time and start to lose weight, I feel like my body is my own again. That makes me want to, you know, use it. But it also gives me the confidence to meet someone new and feel like I’m on equal ground with them. When my body isn’t where I want it to be, it makes me feel like I’m at a disadvantage.
- Online dating is still terrible. Even though there are more options and some apps use different gimmicks to make online dating easier for women especially, it’s still highly image-based. I often put pictures on my profile that I took when I was feeling healthy and happy. I start to freak out that if I meet a guy in person and I’m 10 pounds heavier than that girl in the pictures, that’s all he will be able to focus on.
- Confidence is the most important thing about dating. The rumors are true—confidence really is the secret sauce. Confidence makes other people feel secure around you because they can subconsciously tell that you like who you are. It often doesn’t take much more than that to convince someone they should like you too. When you don’t feel confident, it can make you feel incredibly vulnerable. This is one of the major reasons I can’t date if I’m not feeling my best.
- I want to give my best self to someone. It’s hard to imagine being in a serious relationship when I haven’t been able to reach my own goals. My inability to lose that weight and keep it off makes me worry that’s a symptom of a larger problem. How can I make promises to a significant other if I can’t keep the promises I make to myself?
- This is all an elaborate excuse. When I look hard in the mirror, I know that part of the reason I can’t lose the weight is a fear that when I finally did, I’d suddenly lack an excuse to live my life fully. Telling myself my body isn’t ready is a way of hiding that my heart may not be ready. Dating is a big deal whether you’re jumping in entirely confident in your body or not. No one is ever completely happy with every aspect of themselves. If we let this stop us from making ourselves vulnerable, there’s a real danger that we’ll never connect with others.
- Other people are as imperfect as I am. When you focus on your own imperfections as obsessively as I sometimes do, there’s a chance you’ll miss the battles everyone is fighting within themselves. The person you’re looking for may not be their ideal selves right now either, but if they stop looking for you because they’re insecure and you stop looking for them for the same reason, where does that leave you?
- Maybe four feet are better than two. I don’t have to do all of this alone. Studies show that working out in a crowd or with a friend or significant other can make it more likely you’ll stick with it and keep pushing. Find someone you trust who won’t judge you for only being able to do pushups on your knees and let yourself be vulnerable in front of them. That’s good for your friendships and your relationships. You don’t have to come to a relationship as a perfect person, just as someone who is ready to try. That’s what I’m telling myself!
- I can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I’m always in the process of losing that 15 pounds that, in my mind, would take me from a pretty girl to a stunning woman. But while I’m an advocate for taking the time you need alone to work on yourself, that philosophy has kept me single for longer than it should. Just because I haven’t found a way to lose that weight for good and metamorphize into my own ideal woman doesn’t mean that I should permanently put my romantic life on hold. Instead, I want to say goodbye to that excuse, face my fear of vulnerability, and jump in.