I met my husband on the first day of classes in January of 1998; I was a junior, he was a grad student. A compulsive flirt, I (inadvertently) tipped my hand early on in our interactions such that it was plain that I dug him right away. He asked for my phone number; I gave it.
Then he didn’t call. Weeks passed, and nothing.
I don’t actually remember thinking too deeply about it at the time; we saw each other in class twice weekly and we were still friendly, so I figured he’d changed his mind, or forgot, or whatever.
Years later, he would confess that part of his long indecision in calling me for a date was rooted in the fact that I was fat, and he’d never dated a fat girl – or at least, a girl as fat as me – before. Leaving aside this common double-standard of a fat guy being reluctant to hook up with someone equally fat or fatter, I’ll note we were were both less fat back then – I was working too much (in a convenience store), partying too much (rest in peace, ManRay), and stressed out all the time (both of the above plus full-time studenthood), and was descending to the smallest I’ve been in my adult life, which was around a size 18/20. But I was still fat, for sure. Hearing this honesty from him so many years after the fact was weirdly gratifying, as in those days I was often wondering if potential paramours who weren’t calling were put off by my fatness, or whether it was something else. It was a pure moment of “I KNEW it!” out of the obscuring fog of my friends at the time repeatedly telling me, “No, you’re not fat, I’m sure that’s not why so-and-so isn’t interested!” Maybe not, friends. Denying it doesn’t make it go away.
Most of my romantic endeavors prior to this were a balancing act of knowing, realistically, that I was less likely to get macked on as a fatty, versus working (really hard) to believe that I nevertheless deserved romancing by someone who sincerely dug me back, regardless of my size.
Clearly, the guy who would become Mr. Lesley eventually got over his worries and called me. And we dated, yadda yadda yadda, we’ll be married six years in August. That’s not the happy ending to the story, however – marriage isn’t for everyone, and merely landing a significant other doesn’t necessarily erase the worries that one is undeserving of romantic attention.
The happy ending to the story is the fact that I was ultimately successful in my efforts to learn that I was valuable and worth romantically pursuing even as a fatty. That I was – and am – intelligent and interesting and occasionally hot, no matter what my body looks like. As much as I love my husband and I love being married, coming to realize that, independently of any would-be beau’s interest in me, was the best part of all.
You don’t need someone to be actively loving you in order to believe that you deserve love. Ideally, when it happens, it should be a confirmation of what you knew all along: that you’re awesome, and worth being pursued, and worth loving.
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