By Dr. Timaree Leigh
“I have a weird question and I don’t know if anyone can really answer it. After years of being heavy… no, really, I was fat…I’ve turned my life around and gotten in shape. A nutritionist, 5 times a week at the gym and a lot of sweat later, I’ve lost 110 pounds. I’m now lean and living an entirely new life… and finding myself unprepared for the attention I get from men. Even though I’m 29 I’ve never really dated and I don’t know how to respond to flirting. It’s also hard not to resent these guys too because I know that 110 pounds ago they wouldn’t have given me the time of day. How do I make up for all those years of not being in the dating pool with everyone else?”
First of all, congrats on your spectacular achievement. Major life changes of this magnitude require the kind of unbelievable discipline, hard work and perseverance that will make you a hit on the BDSM scene.
Odds are good that many of these issues will sort themselves out with time, as you acclimate to your svelte new exterior, becoming accustomed to the reactions your appearance garners. But there are some factors to consider that flesh out the bigger picture of what it means to be a new and hopefully improved you.
IT’S A NEW YOU, BUT IT’S STILL YOU
A number of psychological reactions happen in the formerly-heavy, now-fit population. Some people go apeshit on the newfound treasure-trove of booty: trading in their compulsive consumption of calories for excessive tail chasing, either reveling in the newfound power or revenge-fucking the hotties who might have ignored them before. Others continue to feel insecure, having spent so long convinced no one could want them.
Extreme reactions are likely to be an extension of an already extreme personality. Always kind of an asshole? Well, you’ll probably become an arrogant bastard who feels that all this hard work put in on squat thrusts and spinning classes has earned you the right to tear through the dating world like a winter cold. Always a shrinking wallflower? You might be so turned around by the interest of your first suitor that you jump into a serious relationship without even shopping around.
But plenty of people adjust just fine, especially if the weight loss is gradual and they have a healthy support system of people who are honest and caring. I have all the faith in the world that you can adapt to your situation.
GO AHEAD, DISTRUST BOYS
Your resentment towards guys who hit on you may or may not be reasonable. After all, you seem to have insta-constructed a brick Wall O’ Defense around your perimeter that takes most of us years of stupidly, stupidly dating to erect.
It’s probably wise to suspect these guys. It’s wise to suspect everyone to an extent. But don’t let your caution overtake opportunities to get to know people. Just ensure you’re spending plenty of get-to-know-you time with these folks and don’t go flying into bed with dates immediately and you should be fine.
Maybe they wouldn’t have hit on you before, but they’re doing it now. Just enjoy it.
FLIRTING IS AWESOME
I wouldn’t dream of considering myself a flirting expert. In fact, for my years of sexuality education experience, it’s still entirely necessary for me to use training wheels when spitting game. So don’t worry your little head about missing out on years of practice.
I hear that it involves showing attentiveness, asking about their interests, making interesting conversation and some light touching, Fortunately, there are entire books on the subject and you can read them on your own time.
29 IS LESS THAN 40
Some people go a lot longer than 30 years without sex or dating. But most folks who are carrying around some extra weight date unabated. Heavy or thin, they crave sexual and romantic entanglements and when they find someone they’re interested in, they go for it. You, however, managed to avoid dating and methinks it’s because of a lot more than your appearance.
Perhaps it was that you weren’t out yet, had a strict upbringing, social anxiety or any number of other factors that kept you from learning to flaunt what you had before and flirt up a storm. I’d definitely suggest that along with that nutritionist and personal trainer you hook up with a counselor and see if you don’t have a little more to talk about. They can give you tips about adjusting to all the changes in your life this weight loss will bring.
FIND ANOTHER SWAN
This massive life change is a big deal. It’s a substantial part of who you are: you spent most of your life as one person and even though you’re the same inside, the world around you will react entirely differently to you. That’s a reality that affects your self-esteem for a long time. For this reason, I suggest that when you’re out dating, you find another swan who used to be an ugly duckling.
They don’t necessarily have to be another gym rat who used to be heavy, but someone who had a rough youth as a bit of an outsider who, through strength of will, made his or her life better; someone who can understand what you’ve been through, what it takes for you to continue on your healthy path and who will see the value in being compatible as people, not as bodies.
Give it time, talk it through with trusted confidants and be open to making connections with guys in whom you’re interested.
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