Advice

Miss Information: Do men really like plus-size women?

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Miss Information: Do men really like plus-size women?

Dear Miss Information,

I’ve been in an on-again/off-again relationship for over twenty years. We’re currently split but communicating, and he’s adamant we’re "destined" to be together. I met him when I was twenty-two and our relationship evolved from friendship to lovers. Through marriages and divorces with other people, we’ve somehow stayed connected and do love each other. I’m forty-three now and I have a fourteen-year-old son. My friend is not the father, but has developed a close relationship with my son and treats him like he was his own. We had lived together for five years, and still share an office space because at one point we had hoped to work on creative projects together.

While the fact that my friend’s pushing sixty hasn’t bothered me before, I feel he doesn’t have the ability to be a suitable long-term partner for me. He’s disorganized, as some artists tend to be; doesn’t make as much money as I do or have much respect for the importance of financial stability; and is not very good at housekeeping, although he tries. We’re both self-employed, but my business is pretty consistent. Because of the slow pace with his  fluctuating career, I’m now in a lot of debt as I tend to be the one carrying the weight of expenses. Every time I send him away, however, I take him back because he promises to do better. And while he makes improvements, I feel like I am constantly teaching him life skills and I’d be better off finding someone who already has those skill sets, before I miss out on what’s left of my energetic years!

I feel awful pushing love aside for more practical considerations. He’s a good person, romantic, gentle, talented, worldly, compassionate, a great cook, and we like many of the same things. He prefers to focus on these happy things about us, while I am more pragmatic and don’t want to waste my time dragging along someone whom I might end up spending the next part of my life having to care for, without ever having had a real partner. I’m tired of feeling like I’m the only grown-up in the relationship and feeling taken advantage of financially. And to cap it off, I have a hard time having sex with him anymore because of the stress from constantly fighting about the relationship. He won’t move on, even though I’ve already updated my online dating profiles. And I’m exhausted.

Obviously, there are multiple concerns here. I just need some advice as to whether I should lock him out of my life completely and never re-open that door, even if we still love each other. Or would I be a fool to lose someone who is completely devoted to my son and I? — Cannibal Kiss

Dear Cannibal Kiss,

"Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice: it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved."

That’s from William Jennings Bryan. He didn’t believe in booze or evolution and was therefore kind of a wang, but he’s right about destiny being about more than faux-promises and manipulative, romantic horseshit. It’s about action. After twenty years, your boyfriend knows exactly what to say to tug at your heart strings, yet remains clueless about what it takes to be a fully functioning adult. Of course he wants to focus on the fuzzy-wuzzy feelings and the fun times. We all do. Avoidance is human nature. But most of us are able to put that aside and take care of our shit when shit needs tending.

I’m hearing a zillion good reasons why you two are incompatible. You are not "pushing love aside for more practical considerations." A big part of love is the practical aspect. You are not dumping a guy who drives a Porsche for a guy who drives a Lamborghini. I doubt this is even about money so much as his attitude towards it. If you dated a guy who made zilch but was ultra-responsible with what little money he did have researching investment strategies instead of treating you as his second-string bank I doubt we’d be having this conversation.

You know what you need to do. Your problem is that you are waiting for it to be easy. "He won’t move on" is the complaint of someone being passive. You can move on all by yourself. You don’t have to wait for his permission. How? You can start by not sharing an office. I don’t care what your reasons are. Better to run your business from a Hardee’s bathroom off I-96 and have it be a clean break. The same goes for "being friends." It’s fine, but only after a period of separation. Constant communication stifles change. Your son’s relationship with this man should be the only exception.

Don’t confuse love with comfort or a fear of the unknown. Yes, dating in your forties with a kid can be difficult, but what you’ve got now is also difficult. Would you rather be unhappy with possibilities, or simply unhappy?

Readers, how have you extricated yourself from a long-term entanglement? Do you think telling Cannibal Kiss to leave her boyfriend is a mistake?

Dear Miss Information,

I  got married in September to a fabulous Navy guy, who’s in a different country at the moment. To get to the point: I’m chubby. I’m not fat, I’m just jiggly, and I can’t allow myself to do some of the stuff my husband wants to do because I’m too self-conscious of how I’ll look. I don’t want to be in the middle of doing something, then have my husband look up and see something even I don’t like looking at. It’s actually prevented me from having orgasms. Do I just need time? Do I need to just forget about it? Should I lose weight? I just want to be confident and not worry about this crap. Any suggestions? — Government Issues

Dear Government Issues,

I’ve struggled (and continue to struggle) with some of the same issues and have come to the conclusion that I’m always going to be the kind of person who worries about "this crap." Even when I was going through a breakup and weighed fifteen pounds less than I do now, the first thought that crossed my mind whenever I was looked in a mirror was, "Geez, I look fat." Now, I can flog myself for being a bad feminist. Or I can accept it as a not-so-awesome trait I’m working on, and focus on my personality’s healthier aspects: I do not fly into uncontrollable rages; I’m relatively good at making small talk with people I don’t know; I know the difference between keeping a clean house and staying up until four a.m. scrubbing imaginary germs in an already-antiseptic bathroom.

I want you to come up with a similar list, Government Issues. Open up a Word doc and write down all the ways in which you’re psychologically kicking ass. This does two things: 1) it shows you that there’s more to your identity than how you feel about your body and 2) it boosts your self-esteem, which can have a trickle-down effect. No one’s ever felt better about themselves by making themselves feel bad. Each time you tell that little voice inside, "Yeah, whatever, big deal," you lessen its impact. So the next time it chides you for not wanting to strut around in a thong, it might speak in a hoarse whisper instead of a shout.

The second thing I want you to do is think about what’s going to make you feel more comfortable during sex. Is it keeping the lights low? Sticking with certain positions? Having a couple of glasses of wine before the act? If that’s what you need, so be it. Screw anyone who says you have to feel comfortable doing whatever, whenever, wherever. This should be about your pleasure. Yes, your husband’s there, too but he should be willing to make some reasonable accommodations. Maybe you agree to try something new, but he has to wear a blindfold the first few times. If you haven’t told him about your worries, do so. He can’t give you what you need until you tell him what you need. Don’t worry about coming off like a prude or losing your reputation as an anything-goes sex kitten. If small changes in the way you have sex will make you feel more relaxed — and  therefore more horny, and therefore more orgasmic — you’ll quickly earn it back.

Your doctor’s the one who can tell you if you need to lose weight, not some advice columnist with a degree in who-the-fuck-remembers. I will say that exercise and the lovely brain chemicals it releases have been known to make people feel better about themselves and more confident if not less "jiggly" and that can translate to a better time in the bedroom. Then again, you could be in the best shape of your life and still feel self-conscious. Body image is an asshole like that. At the risk of sounding like a rehab brochure, working on mind and body is your best bet. Go to the gym if that’s what you want, but put a copy of The Good Body or something similar on the treadmill.

Finally, don’t dismiss the long-distance factor. You don’t see him for long periods and then you expect to have these amazing reunions where it’s all vanilla candles, ticker tape, and orgasms. Realize that it’s going to take a bit to re-establish the connection and cut yourself some slack.

Readers, how do you deal with your appearance-related demons? What works best for you?