Bear with me, y’all. Just… trust me.
After a handful of posts I’d written and seen discussed not only here but on other websites, I’d started receiving e-mails about dating overweight people and not wanting to do so after one has lost weight.
When I originally wrote,
when you’re in a position like mine, you start to notice a lot about people’s dating habits. You also wind up making friends with guys who admit their dating preferences freely, knowing that – since you’re no longer fat – they won’t offend you. I’ve had men admit to me that they get chewed out for dating so many non-Black women, but they don’t seek out women who are simply non-Black – they seek out women who are fit. They seek out women who work out. They meet women and make friends in the gym, the one place where they spend all their non-work time, and want a partner that not only understands that but will be right there with him…working out. They don’t want a partner who complains about how much time they spend “up in the gym, just workin’ on their fitness.” You and I might know that now, but I certainly didn’t know it before.
…this triggered people to ask me if this is a legitimate reason to want to not date someone who is overweight.
The answer is no, it’s not, and I’ll tell you why.
Even though I’m far more fitness-minded than I used to be, throughout my journey I dated men who were of varying sizes. To me, it was far more important that I find a man who was open-minded, encouraging, supportive, secure in himself, possessed father figure qualities (I felt like I screwed up choosing a good man to help me create my child… I wasn’t going to choose another and wind up right back in the same situation, or worse), was thirsty for knowledge and always wanted to learn, was emotionally stable, and financially solvent. If he was always willing to learn plus emotionally stable and was overweight, then dating me would’ve resulted in him adopting my healthier habits, anyway. I mean, I do all the cooking and I always encourage “fit dates” – by that, I mean “dates that don’t revolve around food” – so, as long as he didn’t have the weird attachment to food (read: emotional eating) that I had and as long as he was willing to learn and adapt to my habits, there was no problem with his size, for me.
All throughout my life, I’d never really chosen mates based on their appearance. I’m far more smarts-driven than I am looks-driven – and yes, we could discuss whether my unwillingness to judge my own looks manifested itself in how much weight I gave appearance in my men – and would much rather have a partner who could explain civil responsibility and economics to a young 23-year-old me, than have “the guy all the girls are fawning over.” And while I’m sure that both qualities can exist in the same man – brilliant and attractive – I’m also certain that competition is high for him, or he might have a third quality that might make me want to vomit. Whatever.
The reality of weight, to be honest, is that while there are many of us who have emotional issues that result in weight issues, there are also plenty of people who aren’t dealing with that, and are simply swept up in the habit/environment/activity cycle. If a potential partner is willing to learn and open to change, then he’s halfway there. If you tell him about your day and, after you say “after I work I usually hit the gym…” if his response isn’t “the gym? Is that because you don’t have better things to do?” or “yeah, I don’t do the gym… or working out at all.” then assume you might have a shot, here.
When I hear people say they don’t want to date someone who’s overweight, it simply reeks of fat prejudice. What you’re really looking for, is an easy way to ascertain whether or not someone “has problems” or will prevent you from handling your biz, and being fat looks like a great way to identify “excess baggage.” And, while I get it – time is limited, you don’t want to waste it on someone who has more problems than you’re unwilling to work with, yadda yadda – it’s still lazy work. There are thin people who binge eat and hide it well, there are people with emotional issues that never manifest themselves negatively in a person’s appearance (notice how often you hear folks joke about how “crazy always hides in the pretty”), and there are people who are naturally thin and simply wouldn’t understand your incessant need to always be doing something. That’s also a huge problem.
I don’t know, y’all.. it just seems like it’s so much easier for me to have a partner who has what I want personality-wise who is also willing to become more fitness-minded than to have a partner who is extremely fitness-minded but is also a jerk. And while, of course, you can have both a great guy who is also fitness-minded, that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about whether something as innocuous as body-size should count as a strike, and why.
When I started dating my current partner, he wasn’t in perfect shape. He just kind of fell into this weird combination of habits that resulted in him gaining weight. As I wrote before, we did a lot of talking. He was interested in my past and how I got to the point where I am now. He wasn’t approaching it from the standpoint of “oh my gosh how did you do it so I can do it too,” it was just from a “if I’m going to be a part of this woman’s life, this is what I’m going to have to accommodate” perspective… and it was fun. I had to meet him where he was and he had to do the same for me – compromise, yay – which eventually resulted in us doing five mile walk/runs a day as a family – which turned out to be a great bonding experience for my daughter and him – and a much healthier, happier him, also losing a little weight in the process.
To make an unnecessarily long story short, the problem isn’t the weight. The problem is a combination of negative qualities that people think they can spot in a person just because of their size… and it’s simply not the case. “Problems” are not size-specific; being thin doesn’t preclude you from being unsupportive, and being overweight doesn’t mean you’re going to automatically make your partner gain weight. It’s much more about the qualities that contribute to a willingness to adapt, reflect and compromise (which, unsurprisingly, are necessary in long-lasting relationships anyway, IMO) than anything else, and those exist in all body-sizes and types. A reader wrote in talking about how her husband was super fit but didn’t want her working out at all – how does that fit into the narrative?
I may be the only one who does this, but I have a hierarchy of qualities for when it comes to picking a mate. Things like “great father figure,” “compromising” and “brilliant thinker” rank awfully high. Things like “secure in himself” and “exceptional lover” are middle-ground. “Be built like The Rock?” Chile, bye.
(But if The Rock happens to give me a call, someday… um, let’s just hope he calls before the wedding. Or let’s just hope my almost-Hubby is pretty understanding.)