I know for a fact that I was not the only mother who did a happy dance when I entered the house after returning from carpool on the first day of school. Many others did their own version of a touchdown dance. Slowly but surely, the world is returning to a version of what it once was. I hate the term “new normal.” But that’s what it is. Traffic is back to what it was six months ago. People are slowly returning to work, eating out to some degree, shopping – and dating. Just as it has been six months since my daughter has stepped into a school, so, too, it has been that many months since people have gone out to date, not dated; I literally mean have gone outside to date. I know for a fact that during COVID people dressed for a date similarly to the mullet hair style – proper on top and pajamas, jeans, and slippers on the bottom (while the mullet is business in the front, party in the back). Many felt safe dating from the coziness of their homes. I’m not only referring to people with social anxiety disorders, but to those who weren’t comfortable dating in general. They got used to clicking on Zoom and dating.
I received an email from someone who is scared to meet the fellow she has been Internet-dating with for about a month. She is afraid he won’t like her once he sees her up close and personal. No, she didn’t lie about her looks, age, profession, or anything like that. In fact, she has been very truthful about all – but it’s what the camera hasn’t shown that scared her the most:
I have been dating someone for a few weeks on Zoom, but now that polices and rules are relaxing, he has suggested meeting in a park. I would love to meet him in person. The Zoom dates that we have had have been great. You may be thinking, “How can an Internet date be great?” but they have been. We have a lot in common, but come from very different backgrounds, so we talk about our experiences and families and then round it out to how we came to where we are now.
I have been honest with Allen (not his real name) about everything. But I am terrified to meet him. And it is not for any of the reasons you may be thinking of. I am afraid that he won’t like me physically. Yes, I know he has seen me on our dates, but he hasn’t seen the whole me. I’m the type of girl who is one size on top and another on the bottom. From my waist up, I’m a size 8. From my waist down, I’m a size 12. It’s referred to as “pear shape.” I don’t think of myself as fat, but my lower half is a bit thicker than my top. I never cared about this before. It’s not as if I gained weight during COVID like a lot of people joke about themselves; I’ve always been this way. My mother, one of my sisters, and my aunt are like this, too. It runs in the family. I’ve always been able to dress well and have worn clothing that flatters my figure. But I know that my bottom half has been the reason why a couple of guys I dated have told shadchanim that they don’t want to go on a second or third date with me. I’m not upset about it. This is life. People say that children can be cruel, because they have no filter and say what they think, but adults can be cruel in other ways – by having a third party deliver the message, “He likes you, but he’s looking for a different type of person,” or “He’s very health conscious and doesn’t see it going anywhere.” Like you I wonder why shadchanim just don’t say, “He had a nice time, but he doesn’t think things will work out,” or something like that. Do the shadchanim and the guys think I don’t know what I look like? But do they know that I don’t make a big deal about it and I live a healthy lifestyle, but this is my genetic makeup and no matter how many times I go to the gym or diet, my body basically stays the same. I am proud to say that I told one shadchan who asked me about my weight if she minded if I asked about her family medical history. She didn’t understand what I meant. I told her that I knew what she was referring to and that if she saw my family, she’d see that we are literally cut from the same mold, so if she is asking me about my family medical history, I wanted to know hers. Fair is fair.
Anyway, getting back to Allen. He mentioned something about wanting to get together in a park, “with or without masks” – he said it was my choice. I really like him. I’ve never felt like this about myself before – self-conscious about my body. Maybe because I know it has affected shidduchim before, I’m scared that it’s going to be what turns him off and he won’t want to continue dating.
Any advice? Or can you give me a pep talk?
Thanks for your email, Shani, and your wish is my command: Pep talk it is!
Firstly, I think you have a wonderful sense of self. You are aware what people may (or may not) find unappealing about your physical appearance, but you also know that it’s out of your control and don’t live your life trying to work on something you know is part of your genes. You wear form-flattering clothes and I’m sure you do as you have written – live a healthy lifestyle – but people confuse living a healthy lifestyle with eating kale, tossing around an eight-foot tractor tire, and looking like Olive Oyl from Popeye. The world has begun recognizing all different body types as “beautiful.”
I roll my eyes as I type it, because it sounds like they didn’t think that women are beautiful besides those shaped like an hourglass until a couple of years ago. True, I’m seeing different types of women – and men – on my television pushing a brand or product, and the point of the model or actor is to cause the viewer or reader to think, “Hey, I look like this person, with a gap between my teeth, pink dyed hair, and a tattoo on my shoulder, too, so I should use the soap, makeup, shampoo or whatever else they are “hocking” because they are now selling to the regular person, not just beautiful models. OMG. I know companies are getting with the program and changing their image to fit the narrative, but by doing so they may be giving some the message that we made you think you looked like a freak before and shouldn’t use your product, but now we know you’re okay and it was the beautiful size-2 models that are the freaks, because only a handful of people can look like them. “Ugh. Whatever!”
Getting back on track here and not getting lost on that tangent, I support you and how you think of yourself. I wish more had your confidence. I also wish that many possessed your seichel to realize that even if a shadchan tells you something, it does not mean it is the truth, correct, or right, and being a shadchan doesn’t give them a “free chance” at critiquing someone’s physical looks or character in the guise of “helping them find their bashert.” A true bashert will love someone for what and who he or she is and not just on looks alone. But I’m not naïve or an idiot; I realize looks do count in a relationship.
Shari, I can understand why you may be anxious about meeting Allen, but the anxiety is because of what others have told you in their unsolicited advice. You never alluded to the fact that you were thin all over. You haven’t lied to Allen, according to what you’re telling me. Truthfully, I can fully understand what it’s like to be two different sizes at once, because at one time I was, as well. But it’s not as if you like the elephant man with a deformity. You aren’t an eight on top and twenty on the bottom. You said it yourself: You wear form-flattering clothes and you know what you are. You are already ahead of most people.
You have dated Allen for a few weeks, so you probably know something about him and his character. Do you think he is the type of person to be scared off or turned off by how you look? And like I told another recently, if he is that type of person, better to find that out now. Give Allen the benefit of the doubt. He may not even notice something you have been aware of all of your life. I have found that men don’t pay attention to details at times, and what would bother a woman has no effect on a man. Your shape/weight may not matter at all. You have gotten to know each other, have had several dates, there must be more than your looks bringing him back for more. Like Judge Judy says, “Looks fade, stupid is forever.” Allen likes your personality. Just go with the flow and don’t make yourself crazy over it. I’m glad that I didn’t read that you started working out and are making yourself crazy over this, but I can understand your worry.
I would never want to add to your worry, but have you thought that Allen may be having the same thoughts. He may be worried about meeting you, person to person, because he may think you don’t like his features. Maybe he “looks tall” online and in reality he’s 5 foot 3 inches tall. I don’t know, I’m just giving an example. But he may be as anxious as you are.
Just breathe through it and you’ll do fine. You sound like a no-nonsense type (with how you answered the shadchan – loved it!). You will find out what type of person Allen is. And no matter what, you will still be fine after the date, no matter what he answers.
Hatzlachah to you all!