Dear Miss Information,
I am twenty-nine years old, six-foot-one, and fairly overweight. I weigh close to 300 pounds and am always afraid that this is all women see when they look at me. Losing weight is not an easy option. I am diabetic and have to maintain a certain calorie count which prevents me from losing a large amount of weight. I am not the smoothest man when it comes to dating and honestly haven't even been on a date in almost three years. Not for lack of trying — I go out to the bars and clubs and chat women up and get nowhere. That, or I end up as the big brother or the best friend. I am just tired of being alone. So let me ask you this: does being overweight really scare women off? Can anything I do make a difference? — Confused and Lonely
Dear Confused and Lonely,
Let's not use the word "scare." You're overweight, not a swamp thing or a werewolf. Does being heavy limit the number of women who are attracted to you? Yes. Notice I said "limit" — not "obliterate" or "rule out the possibility of" or any of that other absolutist bullshit. Whether you believe the obesity epidemic is real or a Dateline segment trumped up beyond all recognition, cruise through any online personals site or pass through a bar on a Friday night and you'll see that having a perfect body is not a prerequisite for dating.
Would slimming down, assuming you were able to do it, help you meet women? It depends. Some people lose weight but find that their brains — and the various insecurities and neuroses that have taken up residence there — haven't changed. They get approached more, but don't have no idea what to do when the flirt hits the fan.
I don't know if that's you, though, Confused and Lonely. The fact that you're still going to bars and clubs and reaching out to people speaks buckets about your untapped player potential. Do you know how many emails I get from people who are so freaked out that they can't even initiate a conversation? That, or they try it once, get rejected, and never do it again?
Three things I want you to do to get yourself on the road to finding a girlfriend:
1. Work on making yourself more attractive. Losing weight is an obvious one, but physique isn't everything. Attraction has multiple dimensions. You may be The Heavy Guy when you first approach a girl, but you can also be The Heavy Guy Who Has The World's Strangest Hobby or The Heavy Guy Who Dances Like He Doesn't Give a Fuuuuck (I find this one particularly hot) or The Heavy Guy Who's Not a 'Teddy Bear' But Crazy Sarcastic and Hilarious. People break from their so-called "type" all the time. Mojo — that magical combination of self-confidence and charm — is what drives the switch. Yours is there. Unbury it.
2. Switch up how and where you look for dates. Are you only looking in bars and clubs? Try going online. Hit the other side of town, or take a different group of friends. Take one friend. Are you passing up the girls with a few extra pounds or avoiding hitting on the skinny ones because you think you don't have a chance? Why not hit on whoever the hell you want to and see what happens?
3. Round up some more opinions. You've already got mine, so that's a start. I'm sure you'll get more from readers in the comments. Ask a good friend what they'd do — other than lose weight — to meet more women if they were in your situation. Find a fellow diabetic and see if their calorie requirements are as stringent as your current doctor says. Not only is collective input free, you can always take what you want and chuck the rest.
Dear Miss Information,
Is it okay to settle when you get to a certain age? My mom, who has been divorced from my dad for eighteen years, finally fell in love again and has been seriously dating a man for the last three years. He is a nice man and I'm happy that she now has someone to do fun old-people stuff with. The thing is — he's married! He and his wife are living in separate cities because they both refuse to give up their careers, though they still own their family house and have children and grandchildren together.
My mom seems to have the attitude of, "I'm old so I'll take what I can get, nobody is perfect, I can make sacrifices for him…" etc. My mom spends much more time with him than his wife does — the wife really only sees him for a one-week span during holidays, so my mom is the main woman in his everyday life.
Do you think it's okay to settle for less-than-perfect when you get to a certain age? Should I back off and let it happen, or does she need an intervention? I would love to see my mom in a caring relationship so I know she won't be alone as she gets older, but this wasn't exactly what I had in mind. — Farmer's Daughter
Dear Farmer's Daughter,
Does the wife know about the other woman, a.k.a. your mother? Does the relationship have her approval, or are the two of them doing "fun old-people stuff" without her consent? There's a big difference between doing something out in the open, and clandestine antiquing followed by smutty rice-pudding innuendos at Bob Evans. If this woman knows about your mom and your mom isn't holding out any hope that the man will divorce his wife and marry her, then I say to hell with it. Let her have her fun. Marriages dissolve. One spouse dies before the other. Life is terminal and unplannable. I've heard of worse arrangements. Finances are the only area where I'd throw out a caution flag. Is she dipping into her retirement money to buy him lavish gifts? Paying his utility bill while canceling her cable?
Of course, if it's an affair according to the classical definition of the term, then it gets more complicated. Not only could your mom get hurt, she could hurt other people, and not just the wife. Everyone's got aunts, uncles, children, and grandchildren too. Yes, the boyfriend bears the majority of the blame, but just because someone chooses to act like a dick doesn't mean you have to be there to help facilitate.
If that's the case, what can you do? Not a ton. Tell her what she's doing is wrong. Ask her to put herself in the wife's shoes and think about the consequences of her actions. You know all those platitudes she used to spit at you back in the day? They still hold up. Because they're good. (Except for the one about not going into dimly lit-bars without any windows. That's where I've met some of my favorite people.)
Three years into a relationship is a little late for an old-fashioned shunning, but don't feel like you have to buy your mom anniversary gifts or go out of your way to cover for anyone, either. If she wants to lie to the rest of your relatives, that's her choice, but don't join in if it makes you feel shady. There's something to be said about consistent, quiet disapproval. It gives a person the space they need to come to an epiphany on their own with the right amount of guilt to help drive the change.
Readers, have any of you taken a passive approach with a friend or partner who was behaving in a less than ideal manner and had it work out?
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