The life I have not lived
July 4, 2012 5:49 PM Subscribe
Will I ever be in a ‘normal’ relationship?
I am technically not a virgin, but have very, very limited sexual experience. I had a few (disastrous) relationships in high school, and basically I have not had a relationship since. I really need to figure out what is holding me back from having a long term relationship—or even a not so long one! How do I get past this giant hurdle?
Back story: Since puberty I have struggled with my weight. Combine that with being socially and physically awkward, a major helping of social anxiety disorder, and a struggle with depression. This has resulted in very few connections with members of the opposite sex. I casually dated one guy as a junior in high school, then made the really stupid decision to get involved in a sexual relationship with my best friend’s boyfriend. I bounced back and forth between the casual dater and my best friend’s boyfriend for the rest of high school. A series of stupid choices resulted in me losing my best friend as well as most of the friends in our circle. I spiraled into a deep depression from which I took a LONG time to recover. My resulting shame and self-hatred basically led me to simultaneously punish and comfort myself with excessive overeating.
Eventually by the time I was out of college I weighed close to 300 lbs. (I am 5’ 1”.) There were no men knocking down my door to date me. In the prime of my life, I had effectively built a wall that blocked any chance of having a relationship. (Please don’t take this as a blanket statement about overweight people. I am only talking about myself. I know that being overweight doesn’t necessarily equate to a lack of sexin’.)
Through the years, I tried various diets and had minor successes, but nothing long term. I also tried online dating off and on and heard only crickets. I focused on my career and making a life on my own. I was miserable and lonely, but I coped as best I could.
Two and a half years ago, I had bariatric surgery and was able to lose a significant amount of weight. I am not at goal weight, but I am very close. I eat right and I exercise. I finally feel like I have a shot at a future. At the age of 43, I took a job across the county to start my life over and meet new people. A fresh start with a fresh outlook. Except…
I am still this person with body issues, low self-esteem and little to no sexual history. I am once again doing the online dating thing, but I get the questions about past relationships and I have nothing to offer. This has become a huge obstacle for me. Even co-workers and casual friends ask, “Are you married? Have you ever been married? Why not?”
I don’t know how to respond. Anything I say sounds, frankly, pathetic and weak. On the last date I went on, when I told him I had never been married, he said, “Have you ever come close to getting married?” And I said no. Awkward silence. What do I say that is both truthful and not off-putting? I am not going to tell people, unless I feel very secure around them, that I struggled with long term depression and morbid obesity. That may be the truth, but 1) it is no one’s business and 2) it isn’t going to make me look even remotely attractive to a prospective partner. I am also not willing to make up an imaginary past relationship. I don’t want any future relationship I have to be based in part on a lie.
Since moving to this new city a year and a half ago, I’ve had several first and some second dates, but nothing has progressed beyond that. And while it hasn’t been the only reason, the fact that I don’t have a long term relationship in my past is definitely one of the reasons for that.
Yes, I am in counseling, but whenever I’ve broached this topic with my therapist I’ve never been really satisfied with her response. She doesn’t seem to understand how society can view a person (especially a woman) who is 44 and has never even had a proper boyfriend. I think my therapist is helping me in other areas, such as with my depression and social anxiety, but in this particular area she falls short. So I come to you, Metafilter, to ask for advice. Help!