Dating After Weight Loss
8 tips for a smoother rearrival onto “the scene.”
Losing weight can bring huge health benefits. It can lengthen your life and make you look and feel incredible. But one perk can frequently trump all others: Losing weight can make you more sexually attractive and, if you’re single, give your dating life a big boost.
If you haven’t dated as much as you'd like (or dated whom you’d like) due to being overweight, the bounty of new options can be life-changing. While this offers many reasons to cheer, it can be tricky for many men too. The following tips can help you avoid some common land mines when you’re dating (or getting back into dating) after losing a lot of weight.
Celebrate each of your weight-loss victories
This won’t just help you stay motivated, it will reinforce the idea that you are truly accomplishing your goals by dedicated effort. In other words, you’ll be reminding yourself that you’re not a fraud who just got lucky. Celebrating even small victories can help men adjust to their changing shape by letting them take responsibility and credit for these changes, says Madeleine M. Castellanos, MD, psychiatrist and sex therapist in New York.
Recognize that your self-view may be outdated
“For men who are used to thinking that they are undesirable, it’s hard to shed the aura of ‘you don’t want me,’” says Scott Haltzman, MD, former assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and author of The Secrets of Happily Married Men (Jossey-Bass, 2007). Women can sense this immediately, and it may be the culprit if your dating life hasn’t improved even though you’ve lost a lot of weight. The solution? Continually tell yourself that you are desirable — and adopt or keep up good habits (dressing well, initiating contact, not letting one rejection derail you, etc.).
Don’t share too much, too soon
When should you tell a new dating partner that you’ve lost a lot of weight? That depends on several factors, but in general, resist the urge to tell all in the earliest stages. On the first few dates, you don’t owe a woman all the details of how heavy you once were, says LeslieBeth Wish, EdD, MSS, a psychologist and relationship counselor in Sarasota, Florida. While weight loss is a great accomplishment and certainly nothing to hide, a woman who doesn’t know you well may wonder if you’re still in an unsteady period of transition, or if you’ll regain those pounds. It may be better to let her get to know you a bit before risking these judgments.
Lose your “I’d better take what I can get" mentality
Many heavy guys settle for ill-fitting partners because they think they can’t do better, and this attitude may persist even though they've lost weight. “Because you’re used to jumping at the first chance that comes your way, you may not be as selective as you could, or should, be,” adds Haltzman. “You may end up settling for a woman who is not best for you.” Be honest: Is the woman you’re dating the kind of person you really want (and deserve) to be with?
Expect flirting to have more “edge" now
Some men are surprised to find that women take them more seriously after they’ve lost weight, says Carl G. Hindy, PhD, clinical psychologist in Nashua, New Hampshire. Much depends on your personality, of course, but heavy people are often given a bit more license when they make a risqué or flirtatious comment, due to the stereotypes many people apply. Also, many heavy people often cloak flirty comments in humor to soften the anticipated rejection. “The same words and deeds might get stronger responses…and you might not get away with saying some things as a thinner person that you did as a heavier person,” Hindy explains.
Just as being overweight did not make you unattractive to every woman, being slim won’t make you irresistible to every woman.
It’s still going to happen. It may sting a bit more now, however, if you long used your weight as an excuse to soften the blow (say, if you thought, She didn’t return my call because I’m fat). “If a woman rejects you now, you can’t say it's because of your weight,” says Haltzman, and that can make you feel extremely vulnerable. But don’t let it stop you from taking risks! The reality: Just as being overweight did not make you unattractive to every woman, being slim won’t make you irresistible to every woman.
Fine-tune your radar
Women are likely giving you hints of interest more frequently now, but you may be missing a percentage because, well, you’re rusty. Or (for some of the reasons mentioned above) you’re reluctant to believe what you’re seeing. “Learn to be open to nonverbal cues from women, from fidgeting with their wine glass, to flipping their hair, to glancing at you and then glancing down," says Haltzman. If you’re not accustomed to spotting these cues, you might just assume you have spinach in your teeth.
Have confidence in your secret weapons
Having been overweight can give you a distinct advantage in dating: You likely developed several nonphysical traits to attract women, such as kindness, empathy and generosity, says Terri Orbuch, PhD, professor of sociology at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great (Delacorte, 2009). “You have a newfound physical attractiveness, plus the already existing emotional and/or psychological attractiveness,” says Dr. Orbuch. Translated, now that you’re slimmer, your blend of attributes makes you the ultimate dream machine. Or at least pretty close to it.
About the writer
Ron Geraci is the author of The Bachelor Chronicles (Kensington, 2006). He’s certain that being 31 pounds overweight is the only thing stopping him from dating a lingerie model.