Doctor’s Note: today’s second letter deals with diet and weight loss.
I’m in quite a pickle.
So, I and my boyfriend of three years broke up a few months ago. Long story short, I was miserable for MONTHS and finally worked up the courage to pull the trigger and end things. Needless to say, there were a lot of tears shed that night. I was doing fine until we were standing out by his car while he was getting ready to go and I took my ring off to give to him. I told him, “I’m giving this to you because I want you to have something to remember me by.” He looked at me, tears in his eyes, and said, and I’ll never forget it because it absolutely DESTROYED me, “Thanks but I don’t need it. It’s not like I’ll ever forget you anyway.” That killed me. Like, on all fours in my driveway, inconsolable. Like, screaming because I’m crying so hard type shit.
The breakup was amicable (or as amicable as I could make it). I do not harbor any hard feelings toward him and I hope he feels the same.
Anyway, a few months have passed and I have started to gradually put myself back out there. Not for anything serious. Just for some fun.
I told myself that I wouldn’t be ready to seriously date again for a while. Like at least a year. I’m sure you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see where this is going.
A couple days ago, I started talking to this guy, we’ll call him Scott, that I met on Bumble. Within 36 hours, I found out that he’s a military man, is big into horror (which is a BIG plus in my book), has a heart of gold (volunteered at a children’s hospital overseas and helps his fellow veterans struggling with mental health) AND is very smart (currently working towards a Bachelors Degree in biology with a concentration in molecular and cellular biology). Needless to say, this man is seriously making me reconsider. He is a bit older, I will be turning 27 in March and he’s 33. I don’t have any issue with the age gap but I just thought it’s something you might like to know.
I’d really appreciate your two cents on this matter. If I pursue something serious with this guy, am I somehow betraying my ex?
Couldn’t Think of a Witty Sign-Off
The answer to your question is obvious CTWSO: no, you’re not betraying your ex. He’s your ex for a reason and when the relationship ended, so did your obligations to him. While it’s good to worry about him, want the best for him, or worry about causing undue pain and suffering, he’s not your responsibility any more. That ended with the relationship, and it certainly doesn’t sound like you’ve rekindled a friendship or some other relationship with him.
However, I think a more important question would be why you’re worried that you’re betraying him? I mean, I get it: ending a relationship is difficult, even when you know the relationship needs to end. The longer you were with someone, the harder it can be; you’re functionally having to relearn how to be single after a long stretch of time when your life revolved around being part of a couple. In a very real way, it’s like losing a limb and having to learn how to live without it; there’re so many little things you never realize you’d incorporated into your daily life until they’re no longer there. But it’s like you said: you were miserable for months and you finally reached your breaking point and left. And I say this with sincerity: good. It sounds like you made the right choice.
This is why I wonder why you’re worried about him and giving a relationship that clearly wasn’t meeting your needs this much of your brain. I get that he got the last word in and managed to hit you just right in the feels. I get that you don’t hate him, it was just a relationship that didn’t work and that’s legit. But, again: if the relationship was such a misery that you had to leave, what was left for you to betray?
Is it possible that you feel a little weird about having moved on so quickly? That’s an understandable feeling, but it’s also not that unusual. That part I keep hammering on – that you were miserable for months – is the clue. A lot of folks don’t realize that sometimes the relationship ends before the break up happens. People realize that they’re actually done with the relationship and start to process their feelings before the break up. It’s not that they got over things incredibly quickly, it’s that they’ve actually been going through the emotional journey of getting over the end of a relationship while they were still in it. By the time they actually break up with their partner, they’ve done a lot of the emotional work in advance; as a result, they’re able to move on sooner than someone who got blindsided by it all.
(It also bears mentioning that there’s no set amount of time that it takes to get over somebody. Some folks move on fairly quickly. Others don’t. Both are normal.)
Now one thing I will say is that you’ve only JUST started talking to this new guy. While there’s certainly no time limit you need to observe before dating someone else, 36 hours is waaaay the hell too soon to be thinking that the new dude has serious potential. I don’t doubt that he’s a great guy and he’s ticking all your boxes, but it doesn’t sound like you’ve had so much as a first date. I absolutely can understand getting all twitterpated over The New Shiny, especially after ending a bad relationship, let’s hold our horses a bit, huh? The New Relationship Energy buzz is real, but it’s also all too easy to get lost in it and wind up leaping before you look. Do you want a Pam and Tommy Lee situation? Because this is how you get a Pam and Tommy Lee situation.
(Hopefully without all the drugs, revenge porn and attendant misery.)
So no, you’re not betraying anyone. Your ex is your ex and as the sage once said: he’s not the love of your life any more. That relationship is done, along with your obligations. However, you have an obligation to yourself to not leap into a relationship with someone – no matter how exciting – that you don’t know at ALL. Enjoy the thrill of the new, have all kinds of fun with the new guy… just be sure you keep your head on straight in the process.
I’ve turned my life around health-wise in the past year and have managed to lose around 90 pounds in my weight loss journey. I feel happier, healthier, and much more ready to take on my imminent future as a guy graduating college. Deciding to start exercising and watching what I eat has been one of the best decisions of my life, but it has left me with one glaring problem- loose skin. Essentially, I let myself gain enough weight that it stretched out my skin. After the weight loss, the skin sags excessively, especially around my legs and stomach. I kind of hate it! I’ve met with a dermatologist and talked over my options, and there’s a chance that the skin won’t regain its original tightness. I’ve accepted that- I did treat my body pretty horribly after all. For financial reasons, unfortunately, I won’t be able to do loose skin surgery for quite a long time.
What is the way you would recommend dealing with this in a dating setting? Before I lost the weight, I never really did have any luck with women romantically and had all my advances turned down. No experience at all. Now, I’ve finally found some small successes and have managed to go on dates with a couple of people, but the loose skin proved to be quite a roadblock in these cases. With it being a possible dealbreaker, I’ve tried to bring it up a few dates in or around the time when they’re more comfortable with talking about physical matters. I try to give them a fair idea of what’s going on under my shirt so that there aren’t any surprises when it comes off.
I thought this would be the right thing to do, but it didn’t seem to work the one time I got close to having sex. I had told her about my loose skin the date prior, and after seeing a few pictures of how the condition looks on other people she said it should be fine. When the clothes came off about a week later, however, I could see that she was a bit disappointed. She seemed like she was really in the mood before the shirt came off, but now it really didn’t look like her heart was in it. After a good while of trying some foreplay, she apologized and said that she wanted to stop and I obliged.
I was kind of crushed by the encounter. Getting so close to finally tossing away the v-card and having it stop at the last moment is quite frustrating, to understate it. Especially after working on myself for an entire year. Obviously, she had every right to call things off- consent is consent and all. I just can’t help but feel kind of disgusting after everything, though. When I texted her the next day, she did say she was sorry but that she didn’t expect it to “look that severe”. She made no invitations for another date and never hinted at wanting to try again, so I figured that was the end of that. With the way she made me feel, accidental or not, I don’t know if I’d trust her anyways. To be honest, it might be a little bit before I let anybody else see me like that again.
I’m wondering if I did anything wrong in this situation and if there are better ways to approach body issues such as these that are not apparent at first? I’ve wondered if sending a picture of my loose skin if they request it beforehand might mitigate any shock, but I’d be extremely worried about the picture being spread around. Do you have any thoughts on this situation?
Hey, congratulations on your hard work, CR. I’m glad to hear you’re feeling happier and healthier and that these changes make you feel better about yourself!
So, you’re dealing with something a lot of folks don’t realize is an issue; when someone loses a significant amount of weight in a relatively short amount of time, they’re left with a lot of loose and sagging skin. The skin’s elasticity just isn’t enough to snap back immediately, especially with rapid weight loss – such as after pregnancy or bariatric surgery. While folks who have a more gradual weight-loss have less of an issue with sagging skin, it can still be a problem. And while it can be unsightly and leave people feeling unattractive, it can also be painful; the loose extra skin can cause chafing and sores from excess rubbing against cloths or even against the rest of their body.
While there are ways of addressing or alleviating some of the sagging and excess skin after significant weight loss – including building muscle to replace the adipose tissue, a diet rich in leafy green vegetables and lean proteins and drinking plenty of water – these are mostly effective for relatively small amounts of loose skin. If you’ve got a significant amount of loose skin, body contouring surgery is really your best option.
But if you can’t afford it… well, unfortunately there’s not much to be done in the short term.
Hopefully you’re putting money away for future surgery in a savings account. I’d also suggest talking to a doctor – either your primary physician or a cosmetic surgeon – about whether the potential health issues from sores and chafing would mean it could be covered by your health insurance. But in the meantime, there’s not much you can do besides work with what you’ve got.
I’m not surprised you feel uncomfortable about your body right now. It’s absolutely legitimate; after all, it can be hard to feel sexy when you feel like you look like a sad bulldog when you take your shirt off. But many times, the folks with the excess skin have a harder time with it than the people they date. As I’m often saying: attraction is a holistic process, and one that involves more than just the body. Plenty of folks who have bodies that fall outside of the conventional norms of beauty have partners who think the sun rises and sets in their pants.
One thing that’s important to consider is how much our partners and potential partners take their cues from us. For example, I wonder if your date was less put off by your body and more by how you were responding to it. If you were clearly uncomfortable with being physical because you were self-conscious about your skin, that’s going to put a significant damper on the mood. Even the most hornt among us has a hard time keeping things going when the other person is feeling weird and undesirable,especially with basic skin-to-skin contact. Learning to accept this as just being how you are (for now) can make a significant difference. You don’t need to necessarily frame it as a positive or something that makes you extra sexy; rather, you want it to be just a fact about yourself. It’s not good or bad, it just is. This is going to be a much easier lift for you to make, especially in the short term and one that can make you more comfortable overall… especially if you can frame it to yourself as a temporary condition while you get the scratch to pay for body contouring.
Another thing I would suggest is to slow things down – as much for your comfort as for your future partners’. As I said: sexual attraction is holistic; it’s about everything about you as an individual, not just your body. Taking things a little slower with your partners – making out, rolling around together and mutual masturbation, but without getting completely naked – not only lets the sexual tension build, but it gives you time to get used to each others bodies instead of going from zero to naked and sweaty. Someone who’s rolled around on the couch with you and let her hands run over and under your shirt (and pants) is less likely to be surprised or shocked when your shirt does come off. It may also help to get comfortable with each other’s bodies in non-sexual situations, so that you can get comfortable with one another without the pressure of having to perform at a time when you aren’t feeling your sexiest.
What I wouldn’t do, however, is treat this as a dark and disgusting secret that you must shamefully reveal to dates and potential partners. If you’re treating this as something you need to apologize for or warn people in advance so they can brace themselves, you’re priming them for a negative reaction. I mean, how would you feel if someone you were dating were to tell you about how unsightly her breasts were because one is significantly smaller than the other or warning you that she’s not as attractive with her clothes off because she has stretchmarks from childbirth? You would be primed to expect the worst, which would affect your mood and behavior, even if it turned out that nobody could tell without making an incredibly close examination.
This means you want to watch how you talk about your body and your skin. Rolling it out as something that makes you repulsive is obviously not a good idea, but neither is joking about how unslightly it is. Even when you think you’re diffusing the tension by poking fun at yourself, those self-deprecating jokes only serve to reinforce the idea that you’re ugly and unattractive – not just with her, but with yourself. It’s one thing to make jokey-jokes when you’re confident and comfortable with yourself. It’s another when it’s clearly an issue that bothers you.
By that token I think “here, have pics so you know what to expect” is the wrong move. This still falls in the “I’m sorry I’m so hideous, here, desensitize yourself in advance” outlook that you want to avoid that just makes you feel worse about yourself and sets her up to have a negative reaction when she might not have otherwise.
Now, if you do take the “take things slow” route, you can explain that part of the reason is that you prefer this because you’ve lost weight and have loose skin. Or it may be something that comes up during conversation – you lost a lot of weight, but you’ve still got the excess skin so you’re saving for the surgery. Either way, you want to present this as just a neutral fact about you, no different than your hair or eye color. If you frame it as a negative – even as a joke – you’re setting yourself up for a bad time. However, if you can accept this as just being a fact about you, neither good nor bad, then what you have is no longer a disadvantage but a super power. What you now have is the ability to instantly tell if someone is right for you or not. Anyone you want to lose your virginity to should be someone worth having sex with – someone kind, compassionate and caring who’s interested in your mutual pleasure. Your skin is one thing about you, and not even the most important thing. How they react to it, however, tells you everything you need to know about them. And if they have a bad reaction? Well, that was someone who wasn’t the right person to sleep with; they certainly weren’t someone you want to have sex with.