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To date, or not to date
I both wanted a partner and didn't feel ready for one, because I wanted to lose weight first
Recently, I was on a dating app. It’s something I do roughly once every 3 or so years, like a religious ritual that happens due to a cosmic aligning of planets and stars.
Amid all the pressure from my family to get married and the loneliness that engulfs me from time to time when I see classmates share pictures of their babies and juniors from college getting hitched, my own desire to find a partner rears its head. Admittedly, the desire has always existed, and it has, occasionally, been fed whenever I’ve briefly dated someone in the past.
I’ve noticed that the reason I only briefly dabble with dating apps is that I can’t stomach being on these apps for long—it surfaces conflicting emotions within me.
It feels devious and disingenuous to me that I can draw someone in into matching with me on a dating app, simply on the basis of written word and photos. Because I am nowhere near that charming with new people in person. That’s not to say that I’m not engaging. However, it feels like I’m a different person when texting someone I’ve never met. I often joke that I’m bravest on text. There is more truth to it than people will ever know.
But the true heart of the issue is what happens when I meet the dudes in person. More often than I would care to admit, the dudes have shown disappointment and disinterest in the days that follow. Sometimes, some of them are bold enough to say things like, “You carry yourself well.” Most of the times, though, they disappear quietly. (The petty part of me wants to shove the app under their face and say, “Did you even look at my pictures?” That is why I put them up.)
Until recently, I took this to be a reflection of my perceived attractiveness (or lack thereof) to the opposite gender. I began to notice that these experiences reinforced my feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness for romantic love due to my appearance, a notion that I was already taught to believe growing up.
The most unfortunate of conclusions that I arrived at was that I had to look a certain way or lose a certain amount of weight before I could meet someone that I would’ve liked to date. Because I believed that I needed to present my best self to them, and this clearly wasn’t it. Anytime I imagined a future where I would be partnered, my own prerequisite would be that I had to look a certain way, having lost certain weight.
It made me miserable. I was dealing with conflicting desires — to want a partner, and yet to feel unprepared to explore that possibility because I wanted to lose weight before I went on dates.
I felt like a hypocrite—how could I simultaneously fight the patriarchy and modern power that pushed these notions of unworthiness upon me while I secretly desired to make myself worthy by trying to conform to the same notion? The desire to be thin(ner) is so great, it feels like self betrayal. It feels shameful to admit.
Only recently did I begin to question my prerequisites and my beliefs in view of what I valued. If I valued making my partner a priority in my life and expected the same from them, anything less would not cut it. So maybe I had to look at appearance, too, as something some dudes valued. Personally, appearance is not very high on my list in what I look for. Why, then, did I generalise that it would be at the top of the list for every dude? And then again, if it was, would that truly be a dude that I would want to date? Probably not.
This time around, maybe I’ll stick around on the dating apps. Or wait, maybe I still shouldn’t want to? 🤔