There are comments scattered across this blog and the Internet at large of women talking about how they’re choosing to lose weight to make themselves more appealing in the dating world. “It’s hard out here for fat girls,” they’ll tell you. “It seems like people only want to screw, not marry, fat girls,” they’ll say. It hurts to listen to some folks talk about this.

At the same time, I occasionally receive e-mails that lowkey call me a hypocrite. At worst, I lost weight to get a man and was successful in doing so. At best, whatever happened with me, I still serve as an example of weight loss resulting in being more able to find a partner.

This conversation has been on my mind a lot because of an article that appeared last week—while I was overrun with children thanks to Spring Break… you’d think that having the older kid home would make it easier to watch the younger one… not even a little bit—on the New York Daily News website.

I can’t even describe this properly. Just… I mean… just read the excerpt:

When it came to dating in New York as a 30-something executive in private equity, Dan Rochkind had no problem snagging the city’s most beautiful women.

“I could have [anyone] I wanted,” says Rochkind, now 40 and an Upper East Sider with a muscular build and a full head of hair. “I met some nice people, but realistically I went for the hottest girl you could find.”

He spent the better part of his 30s going on up to three dates a week, courting 20-something blond models, but eventually realized that dating the prettiest young things had its drawbacks — he found them flighty, selfish and vapid.

“Beautiful women who get a fair amount of attention get full of themselves,” he says. “Eventually, I was dreading getting dinner with them because they couldn’t carry a conversation.” [source]

Make no mistake about it, this is the phenomenon that many of these women are responding to, regardless of the fact that this is what awaits them once they reach this level of socially acceptable attractiveness. It doesn’t matter that the men who seek out these “hot” women talk about them like they’re hunting deer in the wild, eager to parade them like trophies, only to lament the fact that these women—like deer—are incapable of the level of human interaction they’ll ultimately require in order to maintain a relationship.

“When men see beautiful women, they are more concentrated on how she looks because they want to ‘have’ her, and so they don’t want to go deeper and get to know her,” says Isabell Giardini, a 22-year-old Italian beauty signed with Major Models. “And that’s why at the end of a date they wonder, ‘Oh that girl is so beautiful but so empty.’ That’s happened to me often.” [source]

I think, sometimes, people get a serious case of “grass is greener” syndrome. People presume that the main reason they are unpartnered is because something’s wrong with them and, when they ask themselves what it could possibly be, they look at themselves in the mirror and assume the culprit is their size. Then, in that moment, the size becomes the fixation, never minding the fact that even if losing weight might mean lots of people approach you now, it doesn’t necessarily mean quality people are approaching you.

Pardon me for assuming a few things here, but I look at this like this: when it comes to my own situation, I didn’t find my husband because I lost weight. I’m not going to pretend that being more ‘stereotypically’ attractive didn’t help, but when I think about the way our relationship works, it becomes clearer to me that we’re not together because he thought I was pretty when we first met.

Physical appearance is given far too much weight, no pun intended. It’s an awkward and frustrating irony that people use physical appearance to determine whether or not they even bother to find out the stuff that actually matters: what matters to you? what are you interested in? what gets you fired up? what scares you? what do you see yourself doing five, ten, twenty years from now? are these things I could see myself caring about?

The other awkward and frustrating irony in this world is that there are many people who, recognizing the weight the world puts on appearance, fixate so much on having a flawless appearance that they realize, sometimes far too late, that they don’t know how to answer those questions, either: what matters to you? what gets you fired up? who do you stand up for? what do you see yourself doing a decade from now? what excites you in a partner? what could you talk about for hours on end?

Personally, my own marriage didn’t come because I was thinner, but because I could finally answer those questions. Remember, I was already in a relationship when I first began my journey, a relationship that ended mainly because my answers to those questions didn’t match his anymore. I was young and fixated on moving Mini-me and me back to Florida and getting my Ph.D, not a relationship, which signaled the end. He ultimately married the next woman he was involved with and is, hopefully, happy.

I was 300lbs in that relationship which lasted several years, with a brilliant man who wasn’t small himself, a law student working at a law firm. That was an illuminating relationship that started me on the quest of asking questions, being skeptical, and just generally ushering me into intellectual adulthood. It helped me become more able to hold a conversation; more curious; and to seek out people who were equally curious about the world around them, and hang out where they hung, and develop my own set of interests. It was those very friendships that led to me finding my husband, someone I met during my own self-imposed celibacy. If anything, it wasn’t the weight loss—it was the time I took to figure myself out that did it. That time helped me figure out my emotional eating, research things that mattered to me and, yes, what I wanted my life to look like in the future.

Do you see what I’m getting at?

It’s easier to believe that being thinner is going to mean more people are approaching you, but I’d suggest that partnerships built on a foundation of appearance instead of mutual interests is the actual problem. It’s easier to believe that you need to change in order to find a partner, but I’d suggest that a partnership that exists solely because of you not being yourself is a partnership only destined to leave you unhappy. It’s easier to believe that your problem is related to your size but I’d suggest, again, that the problem is an eagerness to find a relationship that doesn’t cater to who you are, what matters to you, and where you see yourself a decade or two from now. If your wants and needs aren’t at the center, then your relationship isn’t destined for success, regardless your size.

And how could you find a partner who shares those mutual interests and desires if you can’t answer those questions for yourself?

Look. It doesn’t take a Daily News article full of people complaining about the seeming vapidness of “hot people” to make this point for me. We’re all guilty of fixating on the wrong things at one point in time or another. But we have to ask ourselves, what do we truly want? This is part of the reason why, deep down inside, I feel like people on weight loss journeys shouldn’t date until after they’ve figured out their groove and started moving closer towards their goal; so much has to shift in order to make that possible, that sometimes adding a new person to that makes it far more complicated and can actually sabotage it.

If you want to lose weight, do it because it is for you, satisfies your desires, and will further your health, wellness, and personal goals, not because it can potentially result in more people being interested in you. Changing for the prospect of a relationship only means you might be leaving behind things that actually matter to you, a recipe for unhappiness.

It is okay to spend some time without a partner, which is nowhere near the same as being lonely or alone. These things don’t even have to matter as much as the world tells you they should. Spend some time figuring out what matters to you and what makes you happy, and you’ll find people who share those interests and are attracted to that and you.

My last point on this? I’m on year 6 of my marriage. I’ve been at my leanest and, post-childbirth, my heaviest since my journey all while with this man. If he were someone to whom my weight mattered a great deal, do you think he would’ve stuck around with a woman who, a year after childbirth, still didn’t lose all the baby weight? If I lived under the threat of my partner leaving me because I still had baby fat, how do you think I would’ve fared all while living with post-partum depression?

Life happens. Life happens. And most people are simply not ready to handle the kind of life that permanent partnership can throw at them. You can’t figure out how well a person can handle those kinds of challenges all by how they look, and changing your appearance doesn’t mean you’re more capable of handling them.

I just don’t want people chasing the wrong thing, and I certainly don’t want to be a part of furthering what appears to be a nasty narrative about what it takes to “get a man.” Find out who you are, and don’t be afraid to take some time to do it. And, if you decide to entertain a date or two in the process, then do your thing. But don’t let anyone tell you that you have to change in order to get it, and for damn sure don’t let anyone tell you that there’s something wrong with you for taking your time.