Dater X: What You See Is What You Get

It gives me great pleasure to inform you that I HAVE A DATE THIS WEEKEND.

I was so busy complaining about being stuck in the single slog, that I failed to mention I’ve been casually chatting with a nice gentleman on OKCupid. I try not to get my hopes up these days, and wasn’t even sure our conversation was going to go anywhere, but one thing led to another and bam — we’re meeting on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Despite my I Give Up On This Shit attitude about online dating, I saw a message come through my inbox a few weeks back that wasn’t the usual “Damn baby, you lookin’ good,” or “Sup girl?” So I took a peek.

“The first thing I noticed was your smile,” he wrote. “A beautiful one like yours stands out from the crowd. Now what kinds of horror stories have you heard by opening yourself up to that question?”

He was responding to the part of my profile where I opted to ask guys what they first noticed about me, rather than answering the question myself. Not only was his compliment well received, but his counter question suggested he actually read my profile. He made it past the pictures and the desire to message me something stupid just because I have boobs. He was interested in me. Refreshing.

I read his profile and liked it, too. Like, really liked it. He’s a police officer, good-looking, seems to have family values, went to a great college, and is witty. Under the “I’m Good At” section of his profile, he listed a bunch of typical things like cooking and changing flat tires, but ended strong with “handsoming” and “chivalrous deeds.” Handsoming needs to be a real word.

I should be excited about our date, but instead, I’ve been panicking. I’m overcome with the same sweats I have every time I dream about all of my teeth falling out and having to wait at least a week to see the dentist. The opportunity to go out on a date with someone who shows actual potential has got me worrying that Officer Handsoming won’t like what he sees in person. I have a pimple, am still suffering from post-turkey bloat, and got my hair “trimmed” last week, which was really just an excuse for my hairdresser to go buckwild and lop off four inches of my brown locks. (My hair is supposedly my best feature!) But that’s not really it. At the core of my insecurity is the weight I’ve gained over the last few years. I’ve packed on about 30 pounds in the last four years, which is pretty significant considering I was the same weight from age 16 to 22.

I’m hardly fat. In fact, I’m not even overweight. I’m a totally average-sized woman. But ever since my bad breakup with Patrick Bateman, and ensuing move into my own apartment where the takeout is aplenty,  the number on the scale just kept going up. As my hours became longer at work, and I indulged in more burger cravings, I found my size 4 frame becoming a smushier size 8/10— a change I’m still not completely used to yet. For a while, I embraced the extra weight and told myself that any guy worth dating will love me at any size. And deep down, I know that’s the truth. But two years ago, I used to look in the mirror confident that I’d win over anyone who wanted to take me out. I still know that my personality will kick ass (obviously), but I’m lacking in the self-esteem department when it comes to my appearance. Now, when I look in the mirror, I see a woman in a body I barely recognize. My belly button is more concave, I have faint stretch marks on my inner thighs and my cheeks are rounder … but it’s still me. I thought I had moved past the middle school stage of life where I waste time worrying about acne and fat rolls, but apparently not. I’ve reached a point where I’ve actually begun to consider that my body might be repelling the men I date.

When I recently confided in a friend about my lack of luck in relationships, and suggested that it might have a direct correlation to my weight gain, she told me that my size wouldn’t affect my love life — but the way I view my size and scrutinize myself might be evident to others. In other words, my insecurity about my new body may be a turn-off to the men I’m dating.

“Confidence is the sexiest trait a woman can have,” she said. “So stop doubting yourself.”

Oh riiiight. Let me just snap my fingers and forget about my newfound thigh chafing. It’s easier said than done, girlfriend. I will say that I am working out more often and trying to eat healthier, but I’m still doubting myself. In preparation for my date with Officer Handsoming this upcoming weekend, I keep obsessing over my pimple and my hair, and have been eating salads so I don’t look bloated.

But do I really need to do all that? From what I know so far, Officer Handsoming is kind. The first thing he ever said to me was a compliment about my smile— and that certainly hasn’t changed.  I shouldn’t be eager to get home so I can go to the gym and work off that muffin I ate for breakfast, before applying an exfoliating face mask and doing squats. I want to be able to relax after a hard day of work, and see a Victoria’s Secret commercial without it making me feel bad about myself. I want to look forward to a date, eager to meet someone new without being consumed with self-doubt about my thighs. I want to feel happy in my own skin again, and not feel the need to wear all black and keep my hair pulled back so I appear slimmer. How do I gain my confidence back without focusing on all of my other unwanted gains?

I’ve decided that the only way to make it is to fake it. At least for now. I’m going to go home, walk right past the exfoliating face mask, eat that burger I’ve been craving all week and pick out something sexy to wear on my date this weekend. And fuck all black. Blue brings out my eyes.

[Photo from Shutterstock]