So many reasons to keep love/sex out of my life. Are they realistic?
June 20, 2013 10:37 PM   Subscribe

I haven't had sex since 1999 (back when I was married) and haven't dated since 2006. I really want to meet men and date and have romance and make out and kiss and have sex, but there are so many obstacles! Are they all just manifestations of low self-esteem or are they real--or some of each?

I suffered from depression for most of my life, but I'm feeling really good now and for the last year. I have returned to school full-time to finish my bachelors, and I love it, and I'm actually making long-term goals now (maybe grad school!). For the first time in my life I feel pretty good about myself and finally feel like I might be a little loveable. I also struggle with social anxiety, but I'm trying to cope. Every couple of months I'll think, hey, maybe I'll hop onto the dating sites and try to meet someone! But then I stop.

I detest and loathe my body and just about everything about it, and I feel fairly certain anyone else would, too. Here are some problems.

Liability #1: I am 53 and very overweight and have a decidedly post-menopausal body. Lumpy and bulgy and very thick-waisted. Fat face with triple chins. No neck to speak of.

Liability #2: I have something called sebhorreic keratoses: large, black, crusty bumps all over my back, some of them standing out as far as a quarter inch from my skin. I also have smaller ones over much of my legs, including my thighs, and my arms, though these are the same color as the surrounding skin. They are completely benign, but really ugly. No dermatologist will remove them: they are fairly vascular and removal would be prone to infection, and besides, they'll grow right back. Gross. When I can bring myself to wear a bathing suit, little kids will point and exclaim about them. I can't even wear white shirts since they can be seen through the fabric.

Liability #3: I have crap teeth, including a few missing ones, one right next to the front ones. I have no dental insurance and have been broke for many years now and cannot afford implants. Not an option for at least the next 2 or 3 years. In the meantime, I wear something called a "flipper" or a small bridge: a removable device that almost looks a little like a retainer, with 2 fake teeth hanging off the front that go where the missing ones are. It looks OK when it's in, though two small wires are visible bracketing the teeth. But I have to remove it to eat, and I don't sleep in it. Not only is this an esthetic liability, but I can't kiss somebody! It's a largish piece of plastic that sits up on the roof of my mouth and would be immediately apparent with any but the driest, pursed-lips kiss. And I couldn't bear to kiss someone without it in and look and feel like a hillbilly with 2 major teeth missing.

I can sometimes convince myself that the first two might be acceptable to a man who might fall in love with me for my other qualities. It's a challenge, but with the help of my shrink and lots of positive self-talk, it sometimes seems possible.

But #3 feels like a deal-breaker. Like there's no way I can even THINK about trying to meet men as long as my teeth are the way there are. That I'm just going to have to wait to develop this side of my life until I can pay for implants. This doesn't feel like low self-esteem or shyness or body dysmorphia. It seems like a true obstacle. I'm right, right? I need honest feedback, not empty positivity and insincere cheerleading. Thanks, mefites.
posted by primate moon to Human Relations (25 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
One of my teachers--an anthropologist over 70 at the time--once said to me "the body is a trickster." And he meant that in the anthropological sense: like Coyote and others, the body is a strange character of seemingly primordial significance that always surprises you with how unsettling and yet interesting it can be.

Yeah, probably most folks over 50 have got some gnarly stuff going on somewhere. You should try to forgive yourself for aging imperfectly and look on that stuff with sympathy or at least neutrality (like a nurse or an anthropologist might). And I suspect plenty of guys have learned the same lessons about themselves well enough to offer you that too.

Based on the number of questions about them here, though, I do wonder if dating sites are really the best option. You're in school, probably with plenty of other older students to hang out with, lectures and functions to attend with more mature folks, lunches and extracurricular events that staff show up for, etc. Seems likely to be a better scene for charming people with your kindness and laughter and that kind of stuff.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:25 PM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]

You're making the mistake of thinking other people are perfect but you're not. We are all imperfect. After age 29, we all turn 30. After 39, we all turn 40. After 49, we all turn 50. And someday, after age 59, you will turn 60. No worries. Everybody else will too.

Is your body perfect? Nope. But nobody else is either. You're A-OK just as you are! Seek out other people who are A-OK too and have fun! You don't have to take dating seriously unless you meet someone you want to get serious with.

Have fun. You deserve it.
posted by 2oh1 at 11:41 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Don't let this stop you from seeking companionship, if that's what you want to do! What you look like isn't who you are--your body doesn't make you unlovable. Some people are going to be put off by what you look like, but there are going to be other people--probably lots of other people--who aren't going to care, and who are quite likely worrying about their own lumpy bits or weird whatevers. Bodies are bizarre and kinda gross, but that's everyone's body, not just yours.

Also, little kids point and exclaim about everything. Fat people, people with visible tan lines, women with thong underwear showing above their waistbands, people with lots of body hair, people with lots of freckles, whatever. My daughter's old enough now that she's past that point, but there was a period of quite a few years in which I desperately wished I could muzzle her when we were out in public, because my god, the inappropriate comments on other people's bodies.

Regarding your teeth, specifically, this is an anecdote, but might make you feel better. I have a friend who had, when I met her, literally the worst teeth I'd ever seen, so bad that I assumed that she'd been a heavy meth user or something. (She wasn't, and hadn't been.) Her teeth were the color of old wood, and the top teeth were almost all either missing or broken. Her bottom teeth weren't a lot better. But she was a newlywed, married to a super nice, very attractive guy who thought she was fantastic and didn't give a fig about what her teeth looked like, because he was wild about her. Someone will be wild about you, too.
posted by MeghanC at 11:43 PM on June 20, 2013 [14 favorites]

Best answer: I've spent a good many years convincing myself that I am unlovable, that I will never love again, and maintaining a long list of reasons why nobody in their right mind would want to be with me. There are lots of physical things on that list. My body is a bit of a mess too. I've been working on that but still, just ugh. Old bodies.

Recently a wonderful woman came along who did want to be with me, or at least explore the possibility, and I totally and completely blew it. I didn't even give her a chance because I was convinced that she would change her mind as soon as she really got to know me. I kept her at arm's length, even when she made it explicitly clear that she was interested. We remained friends, and she remained interested. At long last I realized that wow, I am absolutely crazy about this person, but by then it was too late. I had missed my chance. I had convinced her that I really was not interested, and she had moved on. And that was that.

I consider that to be one of the biggest mistakes I've ever made in my life. Don't do that. Be who you are. Be open to love. Invite it into your heart. Don't dwell on the negatives or shy away from people. Sure, we all have things about ourselves that we can improve, but that's no reason to resign ourselves to failure. There is someone out there who will find their way into your life and love you for exactly who you are if you just give them the chance, and you have to be ready to take the opportunity when it presents itself. This may sound like empty cheerleading, but I could not be more convinced of the absolute truth of it.

As to the big #3, I am confident saying that when you get to the point where there is going to be a kiss, it it unlikely that your teeth will be an issue at all. Just banish that thought from your mind.
posted by Balonious Assault at 11:43 PM on June 20, 2013 [20 favorites]

Best answer: No, your reasons are not realistic. As I read your question, it seems like you're asking whether the things you dislike about your body make you fundamentally unlovable. They don't. They will shrink the pool of men who are going to ask out, but that doesn't mean you'll never find another romantic relationship. Because you know what's weird? Looks aren't a very good predictor of a happy love life. Look at all the stunningly goodlooking celebrities who have tumultuous marriages and get cheated on and abandoned and divorced. And then, start looking around in public at all the couples around you. Lots of people who are overweight/have bad teeth/skin issues are out there holding hands and smiling, happily paired up.

Now, obviously, looks *are* a good predictor of how popular you'll be on an online dating site. Falling outside the parameters of what the culture considers to be conventionally attractive will mean fewer men ask you out. You will likely face more rejection, and that sucks, and it'll be hard. But honestly, I think a bigger problem for you than your looks is how much self-loathing you're still grappling with. It's the self-loathing that will make you vulnerable to bad relationships, and keep you from doing the hard work of putting yourself out there that you have to do if you're ever going to be in a relationship.

Your question reminded me of a book I remember reading about: Don't get me wrong -- I'm not calling you ugly. But judging by the way you describe yourself, you think you are ugly, and the author of this book felt the same way, for many of the same reasons. I haven't read it, and so can't recommend it directly, but the description seems promising and the reviews are very positive so maybe it will be helpful to you.

I think it's fantastic that you've made the strides you have in other areas of your life. I wish you the very best in this one.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 11:43 PM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]

You say that you can't kiss somebody with the flipper in. Is it a technical impossibility? Or is the problem just that it is apparent? Because who cares? Tons of people have braces and it doesn't keep them from kissing. I'm sure tons of people have flippers too. This is much less of a problem than you think.

For the rest, I agree with everyone else.
posted by blub at 12:34 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Everyone has lots of reasons to think themselves undateable. Literally everyone. Some of the reasons are outward, some are less apparent, but everyone thinks they have a bunch of reasons why they aren't datable. Yet somehow, most people are able to date successfully. Do you know why? Because people are never as judgemental and harsh on others as they are on themselves. You see "fat face" and "bumpy skin" and "hilly billy teeth". Everyone else probably sees you as an amazing, ambitious, unstoppable woman, in awe over your bravery to go back to school, and a person they wish they could be more like. I know I certainly read this that way.

Rather than seeing all your potential dealbreakers, see everything you have to OFFER a potential mate! From the sounds of things you have a lot to offer.

FWIW I thought myself utterly undateable. Morbidly obese, short, suffer from depression, family baggage up the whazoo, too nerdy, too cerebral, too loud. Hell, I thought the fact that I had a cat was another reason why I would never date. I felt quite alone and doomed to stay that way. The thing is, most people didn't see me the way I saw myself. I saw "Fat", "basket case" and "odd", but others saw me as personable, fun to be with, kind, funny, pretty face, and intelligent. There came a point where I stopped rejecting myself for people and instead I just put myself out there and let them decide for themselves about me. I decided I liked who I was, and while I knew I wouldn't be right for everyone, there was definitely people who would find me appealing. Well, let me tell you, once I stopped assuming everyone would find me repulsive I dated a lot more, and the men I was dating were men I never in a thousand years would have thought would date me.

So stop pre-rejecting yourself. Will every man be attracted to you? No. But no person is attractive to everyone. I know that my fiance would probably reject Jennifer Aniston because she's a blonde, and he really likes Brunettes. You just never know. Someone out there will find all your good points so incredible that they won't even notice or care about all your supposed "dealbreakers".
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 4:58 AM on June 21, 2013 [8 favorites]

"I detest and loathe my body and just about everything about it, and I FEEL fairly certain anyone else would, too." This is your sole problem. Like- and love- yourself, and you can let others love you. There is someone for everyone, but you do have to be willing to let them in. Are you willing, or preemptively killing all possibilities?
posted by Jacen at 5:29 AM on June 21, 2013

Bodies decay. Bodies end up with stuff written on them -- a stint without dental insurance, menopause, exactly these sorts of things.

Fishing in the fiftyish pool you're really unlikely to find a companion who doesn't have his own history inscribed on him somewhere. Yet you seem oblivious to this; your question is all about what you'll be offering. There's no 'What if I meet a lovely gentleman and he's crippled by arthritis; how would I cope with that?' And yet.

I am not the greatest Dan Savage fan out there, but his estimable little talk on 'the price of admission' seems worth linking to here.

I am having a really hard time seeing how #3 would play out problematically anywhere but in your mind. Your dating hurdle is really just the "I detest and loathe my body and just about everything about it, and I feel fairly certain anyone else would" in your head; that sounds catastrophic for a sex life, for one.
posted by kmennie at 5:57 AM on June 21, 2013

Best answer: Boy oh boy. I can feel your pain. After making a point of posting "body-positive" comments here, how I hate that word, to strengthen people who have similar struggles to mine, just last week I had to take a passport-size picture. A close friend did it! He's a semi-professional! People give him money! It looks like something from Annie Leibovitz! In a good way. But *I* can hardly stand to look at it because suddenly all of my strange facial markings (cleft lip, cleft palate) are in high relief. I want to cry every time I think about it. And this after years of therapy. Takes me back to the days of going to the bathroom many extra times to assess exactly how ugly I was from minute to minute--had the situation gotten worse?

OK. Long preamble to reassure you that I do, in fact, have some idea where you're coming from.

(1) I differ on the teeth. I think that's the least of it. Keep the retainer (what do they call it?) clean, FORCE yourself to get Whitestrips or whatever to "maximize" your real teeth, just so long as the false ones still match, and done. See, here's a reasonable person WITH SOME PERSONAL INSIGHT into your worldview telling you the teeth concern is a non-concern. At 25, no one has false teeth. At 50 on up, people are beginning to have some idea of what it's about. I have personal experience with something similar to this in a partner, but not teeth, and I'll say, it was weird for 15 seconds when he first told me, and then it wasn't weird. (Then, of course, you wouldn't want non-removable EXTRA teeth that you have to be careful to keep out of the way, would you?!! Just saying.)

I feel like there should be plenty of men on here who have kissed (and more) women with false teeth.

(2) In general. I know that there are many people on here who have had different, more positive, experiences. But many of my intimate female friend group, not just "some of my best friends," I mean people with whom I go back 10, 20 years, are quite overweight. Definitely dateable and sexy, but NOT the mildly heavy, "oh, gee, being a size 16 sucks, let me exercise a little" body type. I mean obese but not morbidly obese. These women have just plain had a harder time dating online than I have, and I have a prosthetic leg. I think the problem arises as soon as you have to check a "body type" box that "sounds worse" than Average. Men looking will likely just check all the boxes that involve "Average" and thinner. SO. What to do?
(a) Honest and attractive pictures of your whole body so that people can see what they're getting. Again, I say this as someone with a prosthetic leg, and I'm not thin, either, size 14, nor am I remarkably beautiful.

(b) Go ahead and send messages. People will ignore you. Hell, look at men. They send tons of messages and women ignore them all the time. What's a regular guy's response rate? 1 in 10? No biggie.

(c) In person is likely easier for a lot of nonstandard people, me included.
(3) Sebhorreic keratosis. It does, in fact, sound a little funky. But my instinct is that it's one of these things that's a lot worse in print than IRL. Wear a shirt that doesn't show them and take it slowly. Start with a date. A strange thing on your back doesn't interfere with a CUP OF COFFEE. Nor with anything else...but it DEFINITELY is not even the merest consideration when DRINKING COFFEE.

(4) People told me to exercise. This is crap, I said. This is always in the context of "oh, poor thing, if you do your best with the unfortunate hand you've been dealt..." Forget about that. I started exercising very mildly and I have a feeling of more control (and less hatred) over my own body. I'm not talking about any change in my appearance. I'm just talking about 1 minute on the stationary bike on day 1, 2 minutes on day 2, etc.

(5) If you're in therapy already, see about one of the antidepressants that reduces intrusive thoughts. I know all about body-related intrusive thoughts. The right pill helps (Paxil?). You just don't care as much.
posted by skbw at 6:17 AM on June 21, 2013 [7 favorites]

Don't let your worries block you from dating. It sounds like you're in a great place in life now to do so. People of all ages, sizes, and appearances date, and find life partners too.

Check your MeFiMail.
posted by xenophile at 6:19 AM on June 21, 2013

If you want to date Brad Pitt look-alikes, then no, you are not being realistic. Otherwise, jump in, the water's fine. Look for men a bit older than you. Look for the nice guy who is kind of shy, kind of awkward, a people pleaser.

I feel you pain on the flipper. I had an adult tooth that never came in- kept the baby tooth in place for 37 years until it had to be replaced. I wore a flipper for 6 months before the implant surgery and I felt so unattractive. The funny thing is, during this time, I met a quirky man who collected false teeth and flippers as a peculiar habit. Who would have thought?! I let him kiss me and it felt just fine. He turned out to be a cad but it got me over my funky feelings. Teens with braces or retainers make out constantly, it's less of a thing than you would think.

Move your focus from wondering if he will like you to asking yourself who you like. And it's okay to get rejected a few times before you meet someone great. We all get knocked down. It's part of the process.
posted by myselfasme at 6:58 AM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

I am not sure how much a flipper is like a retainer, but I can assure you I can kiss just fine with retainers in. It is evident that they are there, but they don't bother my husband at all. I don't think you need to worry about your #3 concern. Just work on the self-confidence and the rest will sort itself out. Good luck!
posted by Margalo Epps at 7:02 AM on June 21, 2013

If you're asking "Is the fact that I have sebhorreic keratosis a dealbreaker?" I can confidently provide an answer. I am happy to report that, despite their grotesque disability, people with sebhorreic keratosis find love and sex all the time. Which is lucky, because I suffer from quite a few. My boyfriend has them. My Mom has them. Lots of people have them. And despite this disability, we (well, I can't necessarily speak for my mom) have sex all the time. It does not get in the way at all. Because sebhorreic keratosis is just another word for a certain kind of mole.

I don't mean to be flip, and I'm not saying you shouldn't be self-conscious about them, because no one can tell you that. To a certain extent, I'm self-conscious about mine. But you're describing them like they're a freakish disease and they're so, so not. If I hadn't learned that term at my doctor's a few weeks ago, I would be imagining something so much different than what you're actually describing; something that might legitimately get in the way of anyone ever being attracted to you. But since I do know what you're talking about, I cannot help but doubt the reliability of the rest of your account; at the very least, I can guarantee that no one is ever going to describe you more harshly than you just described yourself.

You're a lady in her mid-fifties who is heavier than she'd like, has some moles, and imperfect teeth. Will you ever find love? I don't know. But I do know lots and lots of people who suffer from similar burdens and find people to be with all the same.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 7:12 AM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

Every pot has it's lid.

I suggest that you stop focusing on what your imperfections are, and just live the best life you can. If you're open to a relationship, you're more than half-way to having one.

I would like to point out that my widowed MIL found a beau at the age of 70, and she's very happy.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:15 AM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

It's unrealistic to try to pretend that the realities of your body and life aren't obstacles. But it is just as unrealistic to use them as excuses to not go out and live your life the way you want.

I heard some good advice once- it's somewhat self-centered and disrespectful of other's agency to take your own self-criticisms and assign them to others. Let other people decide whether they are attracted to you, don't prejudge their intent and attractions and just give up before starting.

Also, people are often attracted to someone who is on a good trajectory in life. You are where you are, you look like you look. Are you going to wallow and just let life happen to you? Or are you working to being better?
posted by gjc at 7:45 AM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't have all the answers here -- I would be extremely anxious if I had to start dating again, but a few things come to mind.

1. You need to start working on liking yourself, including your physical self. Some things you can control, some things you can't. What does your body allow you to do? What do you enjoy? Do your legs take you on the walks you like going on, etc.? If you truly loathe everything about your physical self, you need to work on that.

2. You are not your body. You are more than just your exterior. Who do you spend time with now? Do your friends and family love you? Are they able to look past what you see as your physical flaws? If you truly want a partner, and not just a lover, you want a friend. Build some friendships and see if something more develops.

3. Don't spend your customer's money -- a sales manager told me this once, and it applies everywhere. What he meant is that don't pre-decide that the client won't pay that much, or won't see the value -- don't sell yourself short. Put yourself out there, like the person you are, and if someone doesn't like you, that's their problem, not yours.

I know you mention that your financials are tight, but you may want to look into therapy. I have a lot of social anxiety and self esteem issues and talking about them help. Maybe your school has some resources? It sounds like you are happy with parts of yourself so all hope is not lost!

Good luck!
posted by hrj at 8:29 AM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It sounds like your life is going really well - good for you!

I know nothing about dating in your 50s, but here are my ideas.

How you present:

We all make the most of what we've got. Every one of us. You would be able to tell us your best features but I wonder if you could use some ideas about how to emphasise them.

How to Look Good Naked - nice guy shares ideas about dressing

Makeup look for over 50s - if you're the makeup type you might like this video tutorial for a subtle look

Some ladies like to wear lingerie to strategically enhance their features. You might like the smoothing effect of thigh high stockings for example. The keratoses would be under clothes most of the time anyway, right? And if your skin is soft and warm and smells delicious and womanly that will be enough.

Keep your hair in good condition and get the best cut you can afford.

I don't know what they told you when you were growing up, but there are a lot of men who really like round-bodied women, almost to the point of worship. (If you doubt me, google 'fat women tumblr'. Much soft porn. Definitely NSFW.) Nigella Lawson is older than you too and is an international sex symbol.

How you feel:

If it's been some time since you've had sex, you need to get back into the groove. And you can.

Move your body. Dance (at home or at classes), swim, go to the beach. Be 'intimate with yourself'. For fun, put in some ben wa balls when you go shopping. Exercise and strengthen your pelvic floor with kegels.

There's a lot of advice about dating, but in the end we are as attractive as we feel. Sounds like you have been unlearning some untruths about yourself. From your other posts you sound nice and smart and giving, and I see no reason why you couldn't enjoy the company of someone similar.

Good luck, and have fun!
posted by inkypinky at 9:24 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

As far as the sebhorreic keratosis goes? I was picturing something hideous till I read pretentious illiterate's response and then I steeled myself to google for (still, I thought, hideous) pictures and went ... oh! That's what that is? My ex (male, I am female) had quite a few of those. I didn't even know there was a name for them, didn't think of them as a horrific deformity at all. They were just a part of him, and I loved him, and I didn't really notice them.

And I am not some saint who doesn't care at all about the appearance of people I'm with, etc. But on the list of appearance dealbreakers, that didn't even cross my mind.

Also, little kids WILL point and laugh at anything. I was mortified when, as a teenager, my little niece commented that I had fat thighs; I weighed something like 105 pounds at the time.

I'm not trying to minimize the realities of your body--as gjc says, it's unrealistic to minimize them--but it is possible that you are seeing at least some of these things as bigger hurdles than they will be for someone who thinks you're awesome.
posted by tiger tiger at 10:06 AM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I am sitting here in tears. Tears of gratitude for all the honest, straight-talking, and incredibly compassionate and encouraging responses from you all.

Some great practical, concrete advice, but mostly such kindness. Thank you all. Maybe I'll feel a little different today when I go out among The People and am just a little more open and unfettered.

Thank you all. Really.
posted by primate moon at 10:23 AM on June 21, 2013 [9 favorites]

Oh. Here's a thing implicit in my earlier comment that I didn't say straight out. Let's say that your case of sebhorreic keratosis IS, in fact, a little wild. Worst case, right? Let's say that it's more of a "whoa" situation and less of a "mole" situation. Imagine the max. bad scenario with it.

OK. The guy has already made the decision, by the time he encounters your back, to give it to you. You're hugging and stuff. You say, listen, don't be alarmed, but, like, these things on my arms and stuff? I have more of the same on my back, except they're black and kind of gross-looking.

Whatever, the man says. I am here to have sex with you. Your back, in the sense of back, does not concern me that much.
posted by skbw at 10:54 AM on June 21, 2013

At 25, no one has false teeth.

This is unfortunately (but hopefully reassuringly for you) not true. I'm an ER doc and I work with a lot of people with extremely poor dental hygiene. I've seen children as young as 7 years old getting adult teeth pulled (at the dental clinic for people who can't afford real dentists, so I doubt they were even going to have flippers much less implants) because their parents allowed the kids to ruin them. So, just wanted to make you aware that there are so many people with lost teeth and bridges even at the youngest ages you can imagine. And many many of these folks come in with their spouses or significant others. Heck, a friend of a friend has a family member who electively got ALL his teeth pulled out as a young man because he was "sick of brushing them", and he's apparently on his third wife. So there's that, too.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:02 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

My mother has a partial removable bridge on the bottom right in front. And is missing two other teeth on top that she can't afford to get implants to replace. She says that with the flipper she had before and the nicer partial, denture adhesive has made a world of difference in the comfort and stability of wearing them. Even to eat with.

She's also bordering on obese and in her late 50's. Has pretty bad Keratosis Pilaris, which is not as extreme as sebhorreic keratosis but still unsightly. What works for her is not trying to make herself different or "better", but doing the best with what she has. Smaller things that make her feel better about herself as a whole. Lousy teeth, but she takes care of her face and has a great haircut. Round and lumpy, but has bras that fit and although she has no sense of style we've managed to find clothing that is mostly flattering and makes her look well put together as well as comfortable. Being confident that the easier things that she can control are as reasonably nice as she can make them makes her confident enough to not think about the things she can't control so much that it cripples her in her day to day life.

Just so you understand, she also has ADHD and panic disorder, so it isn't as if she's ever actually been graceful and put together and comfortable with herself. Her progress started after she stopped comparing herself to other people and accepted what she had to work with and what she was both willing and able to do without making herself feel worse. Doing what other people do or think you should do limits you to what they think is possible or right; find what is right for you in your situation, whatever that is, and be confident that you're doing your personal best.
posted by monopas at 1:25 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I also wanted to jump in and say that I have no physical deformities, and in fact don't really know anyone that has any (or know that they they have them). I'm also a lot younger than you.

So you would think that my life is just peaches and unicorns and everyone loves me and I felt super lovable all the time. And so do all of my hot, young friends prancing around in our unmarked skins.

Well... not so much.

I think we feel as lovable as our experiences have led us to feel, whatever we look like on the outside. I have friends that are models (literally, they are paid for their looks) that feel terrible because "they can't get a date", and friends that are US size 12 and feel like they are so fat no one would ever want them. Or that they are old at 30. Etc.

The fact is that whatever comparison set you have, you can feel inadequate next to it. If you're a model, you compare yourself to other models and you're too short or fat or your nose is too big. If you're a healthy woman of 29, you compare yourself to 24 year olds and feel like your skin isn't as smooth.

I have felt unlovable for most of my life, and I'm a pretty ordinary-looking person with no obvious physical flaws. So I always felt unlovable for my personality, my experiences, my family baggage, my memories, and other things that hurt me.

We focus on what we think needs work... and sometimes that's a sign to fix it. But it doesn't mean it's why others don't love us. IT'S WHY WE DON'T LOVE OURSELVES.

With all of that said, it sounds like all three of your health conditions are TREATABLE. And I would make it your HIGHEST priority to do so. Like getting a second job high priority. Or like trying to find some way for insurance to cover treatment. Be creative and really try, because I think you've identified these because they are the leverage points in your life.

So, according to the Mayo Clinic, seborrheic keratosis can be treated with freezing, burning, and scraping to get them off. And they also say that if they itch or cause you pain, then insurance should cover it. Hmm...

And for your teeth, if they interfere with eating, cause bad breath, etc. the same.

And for obesity, well, the AMA just declared that to be an official health condition, and you should be able to get some treatment.

So... I would focus on finding a way to get these things treated. Better insurance, a second job, medical tourism, home treatments, student clinics... there's some way to make it happen.

But they are not what is making you unlovable. You are already lovable. :)
posted by 3491again at 3:18 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

I want to add to what everyone has said above:
The fact that you are so honest about what you don't like about your body, and expressing your desire to maybe date again, is really admirable. Honesty and good characters may not shine through online dating profiles, but they add so much to people's lives around you in the real world.

And I assure you that there are persons who will want to be friends and share their lives with you regardless of your age, weight, body, teeth. Not everyone will be able to see who you are-- in fact, maybe only a few people will-- but the people that see more than your exterior are the ones who are worth it anyway.

I wish you the best and I commend you for your honesty!
posted by ichomp at 10:33 PM on June 22, 2013

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