How do I learn to be as comfortable around guys as I am around girls?
September 16, 2007 11:24 PM   Subscribe

Quiet, short, fat, female. Never been kissed, only been on one date in my life (now in my late 20s). I'd really like to know how to not be so afraid of men. I hope this question isn't too long.

I was going to post this anonymously, but maybe using my name is a good first step.

I'm not really very attractive, although I clean up nice. I'm prettier than I think. And I do clean up now, although I haven't always cared much about my appearance and maybe that's why I'm so much behind the curve. I'm very intelligent, but it's not something I tend to want to show, and I'm usually surprised when people somehow notice it. I think I may even dumb myself down around men.

I didn't realize I was afraid of men until recently. I've always loved men and I used to dislike women. Now that I've stopped disowning my womanhood, I don't know how to deal with guys anymore. I don't want to just be friends, I've had male friends. But they always find something better. A more lively girl. The ones that light up the room. How do I become that kind of girl? Do I have to?

Guys on mefi always say that it should be easy for girls to get guys, as if men are so desperate. I was reading the Pick-Up Artist thread and that's what inspired me to post. I used to watch that show, and I would think about how attracted I have been to so many geeks who would never give me the time of day. Where I am, there are more women than men, by a significant amount. But maybe I should stop blaming it on demographics.

I want to be a late bloomer, not a never-was. I've always been a dreamer who lives in her head, yet at the same time I have touched the lives of others. But I'd like some romance to go along with all the great friendships and other encounters.

I'm quiet but I'm not shy. Except around men, especially ones around my age. If anyone wants to reply privately, I did set up a gmail account,
posted by Danila to Human Relations (70 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
Personally the way I have been successful in being around guys is to be around them in situations that are already comfortable for me. Love something? Get involved with it. You are already enthusiastic, so you don't have to fake anything. Whether it's Star Trek conventions or cooking class, men like women who are willing to talk. I'm quiet, but get me talking about something I'm passionate about...and I become a queen bee. I'm met almost all of my boyfriends because of my insatiable desire to talk about cooking and food (it doesn't hurt that most men like this topic though).

Don't hide anything or be insincere, but smile and make some effort to be more positive than negative.

First contact...well, it's almost like a job interview. You need to stand out in some way or another (looks or smarts or whatever attracts men).

Of course, because I'm not a natural in the dating game, the internet has helped a lot. I haven't met men online, but once I make first contact and they have a good impression of me, usually some internet scouting/chatting occurs.
posted by melissam at 11:42 PM on September 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Eye contact, smile. Talk. If you decide you like someone, lightly touch them on the arm or hand. Repeat over and over again. I know it seems simple, but the great things always are. Just force yourself to do it again and again until you get good.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:49 PM on September 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

( I hope my answer isnt to long :P..)

Not knowing you in person, its hard to grasp all the potential "issues" you might be going through from reading 1 MeFi post... however, I shall try :P

Fwiw..I was a "late-bloomer".. didnt really feel comfortable in my own skin (or around girls) till just a few years ago when I started my 30's. In fact. I'm still a little nervous around some girls (the outrageously attractive ones that make me lose my breath) but on the whole, I deal with girls in a much more relaxed and confident manner than i used to.

So here is the straight-forward, matter of fact advice I would give you :

On the physical side. Take stock of the things you dont like about yourself (or feel are "unattractive").. then from that list, seperate out the "things you can change" and the "things you cannot change". Put some effort into changing the things you can (better diet, exercise,etc)... and as for the "things you cant change"---my advice would be to find creative ways to downplay those, or turn them into positives. This probably wont be an overnight thing, so dont expect immediate results. Set small goals over a period of time towards the large goal of "You 2.0"

On the mental side, obviously taking care of the physical stuff will help your mental attitude and give you more confidence. The other mental advice I would give (believe it or not) is just to stop caring what other people think. My opinion would be that alot of shyness around the opposite sex is based on fear of rejection/acceptance. If you let go of that need for acceptance, you'll also lose the fear. Relax and just be who you are. Acceptance is not about conformity, its about being the unique person you are. (sounds cliche, I know) As above, play to your strengths. If you are intelligent, then join a local bar-trivia group, or something along that line (book club?)... in those you're more likely to meet geek guys similar to you that might share interests and it'll be easier to strike up conversations/break the ice.

Try not to rush it. (That just makes things worse.) I'm sure thats easier said than done when you've only had 1 date, but the quality guys are out there, trust me. (course, I say this, and I've been single for years, so what do I know :P...)

As for being the "girl who lights up the room"... I've seen those types of people, and my word to describe them is "radiant" (or "magnetic"). Let me tackle the 2nd question first. Do you HAVE to become that type of person?, NO you dont HAVE to. (you CAN, but you arent required to). How do you if you want to?... Radiance comes from the inside, so I guess follow my advice from above and see if that helps you get started. My email is in my Mefi profile is you want to chit-chat more.
posted by jmnugent at 11:53 PM on September 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

LEAD. Leeead lead lead. You get what you want by telling people what you want. Sometimes you have to be crystal clear. All this namby pamby "touch him on the arm" will work great if you find a guy who is into you and is comfortable with taking the lead. BUT, this does not make your chances particularly good, especially amongst nerdy types.

Guys are scared of rejection, just like everybody. So to better your chances, you have to take that risk. Invite him to a party/get-together/your house to see your Star Trek figurine collection/whatever you're doing tomorrow/etc. It's suuuuuuper easy if you make it really casual like you just want to hang out. N.B.: This is NOTHING like a first date. I don't know who invented dates, but they need to be shot.

I'm thinking it must be easier for a girl to get a random guy's number. But you do have to ask. "Hey, I really liked talking with you, we should do it again sometime...", etc.

And at the end of the day, it's a numbers game. Sometimes it'll be on, sometimes it won't, but all you need is one success for it to all feel worth it.

I'm fairly certain that most of the "pick-up" techniques will work on guys, too, if you want to corrupt your brain with that.
posted by trevyn at 12:11 AM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I was going to post this anonymously, but maybe using my name is a good first step.

This feeling of being scared to do something but steeling yourself and plowing through it is indeed exactly the feeling you need to start chasing.
posted by trevyn at 12:19 AM on September 17, 2007 [12 favorites]

I went to Catholic school, so I know from the weird nervousness around men.

First, I think it's important to note that because our culture tends to expect men to make the first move and approach a woman, it's important (if you're interesting in being approached) to give off signals that say "Hi, if you want to walk up and start a conversation with me, that's okay."

But a lot of the signals that quiet/somewhat shy/nervous-of-men girls give off can instead give the impression that they want men to go far away.

I promise that if you put on some lip gloss and go to your local big-box bookstore on a weekend afternoon and browse for a few hours with your head up and an open body stance and a sort of half-smile on your face, some dude will make eye contact, and if you then hold eye contact and smile before looking away - giving the international sign for "Yes, you may" - he will come up and chat with you.

I don't mean to trivialize this process! Dating is sometimes weird and complex, and certainly finding someone who doesn't annoy you can take a while. But I really believe that people make this process seem terrifying and ultra-convoluted, when really, men and women want to talk to each other. We're interested in each other, we want to be near each other, we want to connect. It's not some magical amount of hotness or personality that makes this happen for either gender. If you get up, put on a cute outfit, leave your house and try to look friendly and approachable, someone will make eye contact with you across the NEW BIOGRAPHIES table and say "Is that any good?"

(Don't try to meet people in bars. I'm convinced that the reason the dating-advice industry thrives is that people think they should meet people in bars.)
posted by thehmsbeagle at 12:21 AM on September 17, 2007 [6 favorites]

This is admittedly a bit brutal, but it will do more to improve your luck than you can even imagine: lose weight.

If, as you say, you're fat, you're fighting an uphill battle. Drop the extra weight and you'll be playing a whole different game.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:25 AM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've had male friends. But they always find something better. A more lively girl. The ones that light up the room. How do I become that kind of girl? Do I have to?

No. Very much no.

I'm a firm believer that there is someone for everyone out there. There are your outgoing, talk-to-everybody-in-the-room types, and then there are your quieter, more thoughtful types. I personally usually find the latter more attractive - I'd rather have the full attention of a truly interested girl than 20% of the attention of the social butterfly.

That said, you can still increase your chances of meeting that special someone by following jmnugent's advice - work on changing what you can. Proper diet, proper exercise, maybe even get involved with some activity groups (running, biking, etc.) where you can meet some individuals like yourself. If you clean up well, then make it a point to do so.

Then just get out in those types of places where those types of guys you long for are, and just be who you are. Sooner or later one might just happen along who can see who you really are and appreciate you for just that.

Whatever you do, don't waste your time trying to be someone you're not.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:27 AM on September 17, 2007

thehmsbeagle said:

"I promise that if you put on some lip gloss and go to your local big-box bookstore on a weekend afternoon and browse for a few hours with your head up and an open body stance and a sort of half-smile on your face, some dude will make eye contact, and if you then hold eye contact and smile before looking away - giving the international sign for "Yes, you may" - he will come up and chat with you."

thats the most poetic (and true) run-on sentence I've read in a long time :P
posted by jmnugent at 12:33 AM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: MeFi is still something of a nerdy boy's club, so I wouldn't take the pick up artist thread too seriously. To be sure, though, I've shitted on my fair share of threads with that old saw about it being easier for girls to get guys. Sorry 'bout that. Even after getting my social anxiety in check to an astonishing degree, those scars still run pretty deep, as I'm sure you're aware.

As someone who also lives in his head a lot of the time, I recognize a lot of assumptions and maybe even some circular thinking in your post. Are you not attractive or are you pretty? Are your troubles dating demographic or personal? Do people think you're intelligent or dumb? Is dating easier for men or women? One could bounce these questions around in one's own mind forever and ever, back and forth and never come up with a definitive response. Even in your ideal reality, you're still labeling yourself (late-bloomer vs. never-was).

Here's the thing. Reality isn't something that we observe, analyze and that we're a victim to. Reality is something that we create. If you're going to create your reality to be a "late-bloomer," why not go for broke? You're an international heartbreaker with a world-class, premium choice of suitors... ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS ASK. Trust me, this is actually closer to the reality than you dare imagine, and not just because you're a woman, but because it's the truth for everyone. Just asking with confidence, realistic expectations and good intentions puts you (man or woman) in the 97th percentile of all would-be lovers of all time, because 49% of all people were too afraid to ask and the other 48% who asked were jerks or had ulterior motives. The hard part is taking no for an answer, but you're not a jerk and you recognize that all people have the right and responsibility to choose their own partners. Clearly a person who says no just doesn't fall into that set of world-class, premium suitors at this point in time. That's good to know, because it would be a waste of time otherwise.

A more lively girl. The ones that light up the room. How do I become that kind of girl? Do I have to?
Hell the m'er f'er no! Don't be any kind of anything. Oh, I know this is the most trite advice in the world, but be yourself. Be the best yourself you've ever imagined. Take ownership of your situation and your strengths and your weaknesses, admit to yourself that you have something to give the world and the men (younger, older, same age, no matter) around you. Tell yourself that you'd be doing them a great disservice by not sharing your wonderful self with them. If they don't appreciate that, exercise chutzpah and blame the wind. If you're hanging with a geeky crowd, though, you might keep in mind that a lot of us have the social radar of a turnip and give some men the benefit of a doubt.

Really, the only gender specific advice I've got is that you might consider dating younger men, since some of them might be late bloomers themselves. Methinks I've posted a lot of late bloomer dating advice in previous AskMes. Really, everything that works for a guy (variations on be confident and ask anyone and everyone) works for a girl. Talk to any guy here and they will say that a confident woman is one of the top ten most awesomest things imaginable. I guess the only other gender specific advice would be to be careful. Don't suffer anyone or any situation that doesn't respect your boundaries or your safety. Because, if it is indeed true that men are desperate, then a woman who doesn't yet recognize her own power and beauty could get in a lot of trouble. If ya want me to dig up and or summarize some of the late bloomer advice I've posted elsewhere, email's in my profile.
posted by Skwirl at 12:48 AM on September 17, 2007 [18 favorites]

Don't pretend to be "livelier" than you are or anything you're not first and foremost because you're only doing both your potential mate and yourself a disservice by pretending just long enough to reel 'im in. Work on letting down your guard and making it known that you're available. I mean with your body language, of course... not necessarily with words. And be comfortable with yourself, too! I used to wonder why I always got more attention from men when I was already dating someone than I would when I was single, even if these other men had no idea I was dating. I figured out (or at least theorize) that it was because I was happy and comfortable with myself and my situation, and that showed. So, whatever it takes for you to get right with yourself, do that.
posted by katillathehun at 12:54 AM on September 17, 2007

Best answer: A more lively girl. The ones that light up the room. How do I become that kind of girl? Do I have to?

Hell No. But you need to be happy. A happy woman is a beautiful woman.
posted by foobario at 1:19 AM on September 17, 2007 [10 favorites]

As a guy, the thing I've always found most attractive, I think (it's difficult to be totally sure) in women is self-confidence - but it's a little hard to just make that happen.

I've been really attracted to women in the past who were perhaps not 'attractive' in the modern Top-Model sense of the word, but were really self-confident and comfortable with themselves.

It sounds like you're well on the way there, being mores comfortable with yourself. I think it's probably really hard to get people to notice you where perhaps half the time you're also trying not to have people notice you.
posted by sycophant at 1:58 AM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

As an intelligent, geeky, lives-in-her-own-head girl, I'd have to say ... being a wallflower (so to speak) doesn't really hurt that much.

A while back (7 years) I went to a computer meetup, back in the day. From that meetup, I have so far generated 5 offers of dates, 3 relationships, many friendships and 1 marriage proposal (accepted).

I had zip social skills. In fact, I sat on a desk, reading a book, dressed in my standard comfortable (not overly fashionable or flattering) clothing, ignoring the world, because I'd just been dumped the previous week on Valentine's day and I was a touch upset. My hair was pulled back off my in my standard "i don't care so long as it's not in my face" ponytail.

I didn't care much for my appearance. I wasn't overly fat, but I was a fair bit overweight. I didn't engage in flirting - at that stage, I didn't know how. I couldn't manage small talk to save my life. I was almost painfully shy. I didn't have any body language (yes, I mean none - I was working on it). I was convinced I was ugly (growing up being the only person outside of family you know of a certain colouring can do that).

A guy came up to me and quizzed me about the book I was reading. I out-geeked him promptly, which he thought was captivating, and I ended up being introduced to about half the people in the room. That bloke is now my husband, and he reckons that I'm far and away the most intelligent person he knows - he's biased, of course. I'm still friends with that group of people, 7 years on. And the number of 'dammit! he saw you first!' comments I've garnered over the years is astonishing. Apparently, geeky guys like intelligent women. Fortunately for my love life, I go for geeky guys.

From what you've said above, you seem like you are hiding your light under a bushel. If you're smart, show it. Make intelligent remarks, contribute information to a discussion, and generally be the person you actually are, not the person society says you should be.

Do be aware, from what you've said, that geeks don't have social skills. The subtle come-hither look may not (probably won't) work. Of course the guys go off and find different girls - if you haven't said something they probably don't know you are interested. I've had guys that I was seriously lusting after say to me 'Oh! I didn't know you were interested at all' when *I* thought I was wearing my heart out on my sleeve for all the world to see. As a friend of mine said once about being a woman dating geeks - "The odds are good, but the goods are odd".
posted by ysabet at 2:28 AM on September 17, 2007 [8 favorites]

Best answer: i find happiness is definitely an aphrodisiac. find things you are passionate about, and do them, and read about them, and know about them.

that said, there are some things you can do physically to boost your confidence--no matter what you look like, getting your eyebrows professionally shaped, a good haircut and color, and clean, fresh skin will make you look like a more awesome version of yourself, even if you aren't into makeup or excessive glitz. clothes that fit well will always be flattering. exercise is good--not to lose weight or be skinny, but to be healthy and to release the endorphins. the first way to convince someone that you are worth caring for is to show that you care for yourself.

as for the rest--a lot of it is practice. you'll have to get out there and yes, probably face some disappointment.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:32 AM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Try a dating service. Date a bunch of guys, but make it a bit of a rule with yourself that you will just date the first half dozen or dozen guys for only a few dates. This is about learning. After you have had a few dozen dates with a bunch of guys then you can start to let your guard down and start to express your feelings towards the ones you really like. Going through this process will help you feel much less self conscious. The dates should be simple, dinner and a movie then go home alone.
posted by caddis at 4:39 AM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

The following video is unequivocal proof that nerds can be totally and completely hot.

and by that I mean,.. dont over-estimate the importance of physical-attractiveness --OR-- under-estimate the importance of intelligence-attractiveness.
posted by jmnugent at 4:55 AM on September 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

My advice is to get out there as much as possible, and not just in dating scenarios. Join clubs and organizations for things that you are interested in. Join clubs and organizations that might contain people that you might be interested in. Go to meetings and socials and talk to people or even just hang around until you feel more comfortable.

Maybe other people have suggestions for organizations to join. You might meet people that you really like in really unexpected places. If you are religious then church is a pretty good place to start, and if you aren't then a Unitarian church is a pretty good place to start. Writer's groups, volunteering, really you just have to look around for groups.
posted by jefeweiss at 5:36 AM on September 17, 2007

There's lots of useful advice here. The one thing I'll add is to consider practicing your flirting while travelling. Being away from home reduces the nerves factor -- you're passing through, you're just there to chat, not looking for The One -- and each person finding out about the other's home area is a natural topic of conversation. It doesn't need to be a trip to an interesting destination, either; I like to take rest stops on long drives in bookstores, coffee houses, or pool halls.
posted by backupjesus at 5:42 AM on September 17, 2007

Female late bloomer here:

1. nthing "confidence." Fake it til you make it, or go somewhere where you don't have to fake it, because you're already awesome at it. (Writer's group? Pottery class?) Also, if you're not confident about your looks, focus on what you can change immediately. Get a new haircut and have a stylish friend help you pick out clothes that flatter you. They make a lot of cool stuff in plus sizes now. Something will work for you. Don't dress for the boys; dress for you. What do you feel sexy in?

2. Know what you want. What would you want to do on a date? What do you ultimately want your life to look like? In my experience, guys like women who know what they want and who express it clearly. You don't have to be the life of the party, you just have to be able to say, "I like romantic comedies. No, I don't want to see Transformers." Don't be one of those "I don't know, what do you want to do" people.

3. Take charge. Whether or not you have any interest in BDSM, a lot of geeky guys swing that way, and a lot of them really want a woman to tell them what to do. This takes a strong stomach for rejection, and #1 and #2 are absolute prerequisites. But a lot of guys will melt at your feet if you tell them, "This is what we're doing tonight, and that's the way it is." Plus, taking charge builds up your confidence immensely. (Side note: the BDSM scene is much more accepting of larger folks.)
posted by desjardins at 7:02 AM on September 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

For those telling you to lose weight... you really don't have to. And for the love of god, don't delay your desire to be in a relationship "until you lose weight". I was a bit of a late bloomer, and my first couple of relationships in my 20's were just weird because I felt grateful that a guy would date me because I was fat, and I put up with a lot of bullshit.

When I moved to NYC seven years ago, I started dating as a way to meet people more than anything else. I did the internet thing, and I was open about my weight (250lbs) and posted pictures that accurately reflected the way I look. I posted on "regular" dating sites, and on those that cater to fat folks (aka BBW, BHM). I got responses. Lots of responses. I had to weed through a lot of married guys, crazy guys, and guys who just wanted to get laid. But I ended up meeting a lot of really nice men.

The first couple of dates I went on were quite nerve-wracking. But over time it got much easier. I went on a lot of first dates (sometimes I was the one not interested in a second date, other times it was the guy). Some times I went out with guys for a few weeks or months, and I also had couple of longer relationships. And eventually, I found a man that makes me wildly and uncompromisingly happy.

But ultimately, this isn't about finding a way to make guys like you, it's about getting YOU to like you. I promise the other stuff with follow.

Some resources for fashion: Fatshionista, The Pretty Pear, Beauty Plus Power

Some resources for confidence: Fat!So?, Joy Nash and her fat rant

A great resource on dating and sex: Big Big Love
posted by kimdog at 7:28 AM on September 17, 2007 [13 favorites]

The best advice that I've ever been given, and followed and had it work (beautifully): "Confidence is sexy."
posted by rhoticity at 7:42 AM on September 17, 2007

At work, so must have more brevity than I would like.

Never, ever, ever, hide your intelligence from anyone. Anyone who makes you feel like you have to do that is not worth your time. Don't apologize for it either. The world needs more strong, intelligent women. Be one. Someday my daughter might meet you, so be inspiring and unafraid of being inspiring.

Lose the weight now, in a healthy and responsible manner. You'll feel better, and gyms and running events are good places to meet people. (Also, I'm not saying this as a shallow man. I'm saying this as a 36 year old man. Getting into your thirties will not make this any easier).

Elegant is the best kind of sexy.

Don't lower your standards for men. Raise them for yourself. Exude confidence. Don't sell out. Kick ass.
posted by 4ster at 7:47 AM on September 17, 2007 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Confidence is like 10 times more important than losing weight and I would argue that losing weight can't even really happen without building your confidence. Plenty of lonely skinny women out there without confidence.

I think some of this comes down to simply ignoring some of those voices in your head, or at least allowing some different voices in your head to be heard. When I was a geekly self conscious guy, I read somewhere that confidence was all that was required to attract people so I decided to see if I could play a jedi mind trick on myself. I simply ignored the voices of self hatred that I had lived with for 20 years and almost right away I could see (at least small) signs that this works. To this day, I look in the mirror and cannot stand what I see (and I think this helps to keep me humble and self-effacing) but I have accepted that others do like what they see and that's enormously gratifying.

I am tall, average build, exercise regularly but I have known some extremely physically attractive overweight women and it was because they compensated with their confidence, intelligence, and open mindedness. Men like me are your target, not the ones that will rule you out because of your weight.

This thread is moving in an ominous direction...
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:14 AM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh lord do I feel you. There are probably some similar sentiments in my posting history. My problem is a bit different. I used to have boyfriends wall-to-wall when I was young. Now, even though I feel like a much more awesome person in every way, I can't get no love. (And regularly get rejected by those I fall for... : ((( )

I'm in my early 30s and I've heard every reason in the book as to why I haven't dated since my early 20s. Apparently I want it too much, don't want it enough, try too hard, don't try hard enough, am too smart and attractive, am too friendly, am not friendly enough, am too "together", am not confident enough, am too flirtatious, am not direct enough, am not ready, and am too eager. Sigh. If I hear someone say that women have it easy one more time I'll barf. Maybe if I went down to the docks when the ships come in...

Some thoughts:

Being of a similar modest nature, I have found a few things to help my body image. First, looking around and seeing the beauty in other women. Looking at the most average women walking down the street or at work and truly seeing what's beautiful about them, whether it's their ability to dress in a flattering way, or the colours they choose, or their radiant smile, or their crazy laugh, or their awesome cooking or their patience. There's something in everyone I look at -- without exception, if you look for it you'll find it -- and now, I can accept that there might be something redeeming in me too. I used to have a hard time with women too, but learning to love women makes me so much kinder to myself about my own flaws and much more open to my charms and powers.

Second, exercising. Let me say up front that I hate sports and I tire easily. I'm no athlete. But, I bike for transportation, which is partly by necessity and partly because it makes me feel free and healthy. Also, girls on bikes are cute. I even ran for a while, taking learn-to-run classes and did a couple of 5ks. That was the single most revolutionary thing I ever did for myself. I never thought people with my body type were even physically capable of running. But people of all body types were out there. The running community is very inclusive and friendly. I never met a runner dude (too many men in spandex for my liking) but there are all kinds of single people in running clubs and classes. Whatever you do, it's true about the endorphins. I've struggled with depression most of my adult life and after I ran the very first times I told a friend, "Now I know what they meant when they told me exercise would make me feel better." It's all true, what they say, it's not just fit-people propaganda or self-righteousness.

Third, I decided that the way I dressed made me feel worse about myself. I started up a five-step self-improvement plan. (It may have had more steps. I just like the name.) First I started wearing colours. (Prior to this I wore a lot of blah neutrals.) Then I worked on accessories. I got into making some of my own jewellery, even. It's not cheaper but it's fun. Then I started looking at cute shoes. Then I stopped wearing a backpack and started liking proper "bags", even if it was just a Rootote or other cute tote bag. I started wearing just a bit of makeup (just undereye concealer & mascara, sometimes the Almay sheer cream blush that is foolproof, eyeshadow when I go out, always try to have lip gloss on) and it made me feel more polished. I know I don't need these things, but I feel 200% better when I step outside feeling like The Shit. At that point stops being about looking better to the outside world and becomes about my sense of myself when I'm walking down the street. That's the key -- that you've got a good feeling inside yourself that drowns out what other people (could/might) think.

And caring for myself. Being gentle with myself. Doing things I've been saying I want to do but never got around to. (For me recently, drum lessons.) Fixing up my apartment, because even though I tend to procrastinate, when I *do* something I feel really proud of myself and happier in my space. Keeping my place fairly clean. Working on creative stuff when I get the urge. Treating myself like my first priority, even when I don't feel like it.

I really do feel that with enriching yourself, as in other areas of life, "fake it 'til you make it" really does work. I'm not a neuroscientist, but I think sometimes we have to change physical neural pathways in our brains, and part of doing that is deciding on some truths about yourself even before you fully believe it. Just care about yourself enough to give yourself the benefit of the doubt.

All of this is supposed to lead to becoming more attractive to potential partners. For me, I've seen some successes, even if it's just a hot makeout sesh with an acquaintance I don't want to date -- I walked away smiling and feeling like a freaking goddess. But what's the worst that can happen? I'll feel good about myself, I'll feel more fulfilled and have a richer life. That's a worst-case scenario I can live with.
posted by loiseau at 8:21 AM on September 17, 2007 [14 favorites]

The people who are saying to lose weight make me sad.

Look, there's a difference between being a little overweight (which most people in today's America would call fat) and being so obese you'll die if you eat another Twinkie. I don't know where you fall on that scale, and honestly, it doesn't really matter.

I have been fat my whole life (though now I am closer to dying than I am to being "plump"). In high school and college (when it is social suicide to be any kind of fat) I had a very active social life because a) I was pretty confident, sometimes to the point of arrogance and b) I exuded sexuality. Sure, I was looking for a relationship, but I was also looking for some fun. That's where the sexuality came in.

Anyway, what I'm saying is what everyone else is saying: be confident in yourself. Stand up straight and get your hair out of your face. Find a great bra. Be confident and make the first move. You will be well rewarded.

Geek guys are so hot. I miss chasing after them.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 8:21 AM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Some of these responses are indeed stunningly brutal. Oh yeah, way to go, guys.

I liked something I read in Goleman's book "Social Intelligence". It noted that while men are often attracted to the physical, and women are often attracted to 'success', neither of these things are the main attractor. They're just the areas where men and women most differ in terms of attraction. The book said that the main attraction for both men and women was kindness.
posted by DarkForest at 8:55 AM on September 17, 2007 [6 favorites]

A happy woman is a beautiful woman.

The truest thing in this thread. Absolutely.

I'd recommend tackling this problem with your intellect - your strong suit. Take a look at some CBT resources to help you think about yourself more confidently. Then try the online dating route - read everything you can about how to approach online dating in a mature way. Use each contact as a way to learn more about yourself in the dating world, others' responses to you, how you present yourself, what you do and don't enjoy in a companion. Take a crash course and think about it as you go.

You learn about how to have relationships by having relationships. You also learn that while you might get disappointed or a little hurt and you might cry now and then, you won't shatter and burn. You can date and you can be successful with it. What people don't tell you gorwing up, especially if you're somehwat intimacy-impaired as I was, is that dating and forming romantic relationships is a social skill that must be practiced. When you don't make any moves, ever, you assume that you're unattractive because no one seems to respond to you. How could they, though, when you're opting out of the game and sending clear 'leave me alone?' signals? Well, now you're ready to send different signals. As soon as you run them up the flagpole, you'll find an interested response - be sure of it. The challenge will become how to handle the ensuing new social situations and emotions. But when you begin making clear overtures toward dating - and online dating is a great way to go - you'll find that you're in it, and that you're absolutely strong enough to handle it. In fact, think of what you have to lose if you keep the world at a distance. If you're brave enough to post about it here, you're brave enough to start giving guys a chance.

There are definitely people out there -- more than one, many -- who would be delighted to be with you. You have qualities that some men out there are dying to find in a woman. Value them in yourself. You don't need to be anything different - just find your own confidence. Identify what you love about yourself and spend more time on those things, enjoying and enhancing them. Be proud of who you are and your life experience. And just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
posted by Miko at 9:30 AM on September 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

being fat is an immediate symbol of something wrong in your life, maybe gluttony, depression, some sort of imbalance

Oh please. What total baloney. Please don't listen to this. Evaluate independently whether you think there is something wrong in your life, and obviously if there is, start taking steps toward fixing it... but don't listen to this "oh those defective fat people" crap. Feh.

Dress well, in clothes that fit and flatter the way you look now (tv show What Not to Wear has some good advice about this). Get a great haircut. Stand up straight, smile and make eye contact, tell jokes, be openly intelligent.

Also, think about what kinds of activities do you do where you can meet interesting suitable guys, and make conversation with them about some topic other than "so do you come here often?". (Eg: walking your dog, going to a boardgame night, going to singles club at church, going to a cooking or dance class, joining a book club or movie club, joining a recreational sports league, etc etc)
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:35 AM on September 17, 2007

kimdog, thanks for the link to Joy Nash's Fat Rant. That was awesome.
posted by mrbill at 9:46 AM on September 17, 2007

Plenty of lonely skinny women out there without confidence.

Yep, and for a long time I was one of them. In addition, the most confident, outgoing and sexy people I have ever known were overweight/obese. Maybe someone should have told me I needed to eat more twinkies in order to score guys.
posted by desjardins at 9:47 AM on September 17, 2007

four panels: But, this was said earlier, and should be pointed out - being fat is an immediate symbol of something wrong in your life, maybe gluttony, depression, some sort of imbalance.

Once steps are taken to overcome this, such as walking, jogging, no bread/beer/sweets, men will be all over you.

Time is running out. Start today.

Wow. How offensive is that?! Pretty helpful, though: first call someone a glutton, then tell her they need to diet to attract a partner, then further motivate her by telling her that her eligibility period for love is almost over so she'd better hop to right now. Best of AskMe right there.
posted by loiseau at 9:52 AM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Men who eschew women with bountiful curves are timid popinjays who close their eyes in the sack and imagine they're having sex with bony-hipped boys in order to keep their tiny little dicks from drooping.

You're a prize just waiting to be unwrapped. Smart and confident is sexy, at least to men whose sexuality was shaped by real women, and not by airbrushed anorexics with implants in some stroke book.

Be you, be confident, be kind.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:55 AM on September 17, 2007 [14 favorites]

I would nth the losing weight, if only for the confidence boost. I'm not saying you need to be skinny, but losing 5 to 10 pounds even, can make all your clothes fit better and make you feel more like "one of those girls" who guys hit on and date.

Also, clothes, hair, makeup, they matter. It may be shallow, but so is basic physical attraction and it also signals to people you want to be noticed. I think for some women they see the clothes, the hair, the makeup, as being sort of for the cheerleaders in high school and to embrace that is to go against who and what they are. What you need to do is separate yourself from what that girl is and that you need to throw a part of yourself away to be that. Rather, you need to find a way to make it your own. I think taking control of your physical appearance will give you a lot more self awareness of how others see you and will give you more confidence.

Another thing to remember is that women are far harder on themselves and other women, than men are. I used to think all men wanted models because they wanted to date girls that were "hot" or "cute". Not true at all, I'm am constantly surprised at how my guy friends describe girls that I find to be very ordinary and plain as being hot, so don't underestimate your appeal to the opposite sex.

Also, everyone here is telling you to be yourself and to be confident. I have yet to figure out how to just be confident. Personally if I could flip a switch and "just be confident" I would. I really have no advice here, I just have never understood this line of reasoning.
posted by whoaali at 9:58 AM on September 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

If you feel your weight makes you unattractive or uncomfortable, try doing something about it. Or, decide not to and just be happy with who you are.

The biggest factor for me in determining whether a woman is attractive is whether she is self-confident/likes who she is. Someone like that makes me want to share time and experiences with her. Those who complain about their lot just kind of depress me.

Those who are happy with themselves seem to smile easily; those who aren't seem to try to be something they aren't (through clothes, makeup, whatever). I'm not real sure how to tell the difference between being who you are and who you want to be, but if someone tries too hard at the latter, it shows.
posted by Doohickie at 10:21 AM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

For all those fuckers who are simply saying: "loose weight" - fuck the hell off. You do realize that the entire range of the human species fits into a wider genetic breadth than "twiggy", right? Genetics plays a factor, some people just simply tend towards putting on weight - no matter how little they eat or how much they excercise.

I don't think anyone is trying to stigmatize people who are overweight or deny how difficult it can be to lose weight, or at least I'm not. My point is while there are definitely men who are attracted to heavy women, just like any other physical trait, it is far less common. I think you can run around calling everyone superficial, but sexual attraction is the difference between being just friends and possibly being something more.

Speaking from personal experience, I certainly don't need a "hot" guy and am attracted to a pretty wide range of guys, however when I have tried to date someone I just wasn't particularly attracted to it didn't work. At some level it is all kind of chemical and while attraction can grow, it rarely appears when there is zero initial attraction.
posted by whoaali at 10:33 AM on September 17, 2007

The weight thing is totally out of control. Because, seriously, I think everyone I know thinks they are fat. My wife is 5'3 and 120lbs and she freaks out because seven years ago when we met she was 103. Look at Jessica Alba(or any other celebrity really) recently, some sort of holocaust survivor diet.
Stop it. Just stop it already.

I have yet to figure out how to just be confident...I really have no advice here, I just have never understood this line of reasoning.

Being confident is accepting yourself. That's it. The women I find most attractive are the ones who are comfortable in their own skin. If you sit around hating your weight/face/elbow curve/whatever it may be you lose the ease of being yourself.

Keep your head up, make that eye contact with everyone. The more contact you make the more you get back.

I've spent most of my life looking at the ground. I know all about tile/grout/carpet/pergo/linoleum. It's only recently that I've gotten to know blue/grey/brown/black/hazel/green colored eyes.
posted by M Edward at 10:36 AM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

girls on bikes are cute

That's true. I'm a straight guy & I'm fairly certain that guys on bikes are cute too. Mainly because I seem to get more smiles when I'm riding my bike. I think it's because I'm happy & doing something I enjoy and which seems worthwhile to me. Those are attractive traits. I don't get many smiles when I'm checking out hot girls, maybe because "I look at girls" isn't a very interesting or attractive trait.

As for losing weight, I'm trying to lose weight myself & there are two sides to that. On the one hand there are a lot brutally fit attractive people in Seattle and it can be depressing. On the other hand exercise is a huge class of things that can involve happily doing stuff you enjoy. Happiness and confidence are partly about saying "these are the things I enjoy & consider important, and BTW, I do them."

Exercise is just a common example of this sort of thing. What's your thing?
posted by Wood at 10:48 AM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Not too much more to say but just to pile on.

If you are confident, your plusses become PLUSSES and any flaws you have become interesting eccentricities.

Play up your intellect. That is a real turn-on for most men, and those men who are threatened by a smart women, well would you really want to date them anyway?

I don't know how fat you are but in a culture that lambastes Britney Spears for being fat *, but I am wondering how fat you really are. If you can barely move or people stare, well then this will imact health, that should be first priority. If you mean a bit zaftig that is attractive to a large number of men, it speaks of being a real woman with an appetite for life. You should frankly not shy away from it.

* Speaking only about the stupid comments on her weight, not her talent or lack thereof or any other parts of her life.
posted by xetere at 10:49 AM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Those who are blithely asserting that just losing weight will solve the problems are quite naive. I've been fat and I've been thin. While it's possible that some men who wouldn't be attracted to fat me would be attracted to thin me, the new attractees also correlate strongly with the type of men I wouldn't want to date.

When your body changes faster than your self-image, this can become a problem. It's not always a good problem to have. Meanwhile, since it's very possible to be overweight, confident, and attractive, there's no reason to assume that being thin, confident, and attractive is going to attract better or more interesting men.

I'm happy now that I'm of average weight, but confidence and engagement with others came first; they did not result from weight loss. The sudden onslaught of attention from undesirable men that may begin upon losing weight is not necessarily the positive relationship experience the OP is looking for.
posted by Miko at 10:49 AM on September 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

I have yet to figure out how to just be confident...I really have no advice here, I just have never understood this line of reasoning.

Being confident is accepting yourself. That's it.

Yeah, sorry I still don't get it. Things like "be confident" "be yourself" "accept yourself", have always just seen like abstract feel good statements to me, that I could never actually apply to my life. I'm not saying that doing all those things wouldn't be supremely helpful, I think they would. I just see them as the end result of something else, like being happy. I mean I became more confident in my body when I worked out more and dressed better. I became more confident with guys when they actually noticed me and showed interest. I became more confident at my job when I had the experience and knowledge to do the job right. I feel that confidence is the result of past successes and new knowledge, not something you can just be because you want to be.

Sorry, I'm really trying not to be snarky, I just really never understood how someone could "just be confident".
posted by whoaali at 10:58 AM on September 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

Replace "just be confident" with "just act confident." The inner confidence will follow.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:10 AM on September 17, 2007

Ok, I understand the fake it until you make it line of thought, but that wasn't what I thought people were saying.
posted by whoaali at 11:16 AM on September 17, 2007

Do you have high blood pressure? Diabetes? Heart disease? Have trouble getting around? Some other medical reason to lose weight? If not, you are healthy and that's the most important thing! Exercise can improve your outlook, release endorphins, give you something to think about and something to have in common with other people, but don't stress out about weight, love yourself.
posted by MiffyCLB at 11:18 AM on September 17, 2007

Remember one thing, no matter who you are, or what you like, you are SOMEBODY's fetish.

That may sound like a wierd thing to think about, but sometimes people are insecure because they fear that they won't find anyone who likes them. Knowing that everyone likes something and someone's likes will fit you can build that confidence you need.
posted by slavlin at 11:18 AM on September 17, 2007

Best answer: It is possible to just be confident. It's a question of what internal messages you pay attention to. To be confident is to stop the chatter of messages about inadequacy that you send yourself, and to let go of anxiety about how others must be seeing you. To forget completely about that.

I'm not saying it's easy, but it's possible. The confidence you feel when you're thinking about a set of temporary conditions like whether you're working out or not, or what outfit you have on, is not the same thing as a deep pride in who you are and your basic sense of self-worth. That feeling is not dependent on your actions, and it is available anytime. It's a habit of thought. It can be learned through practice. People who say "just be confident" are indeed making a difficult mental change sound simple, but everything else you can say about it is just a gloss on the basic idea that it's possible to just be confident, for no reason at all, though many of us think confidence is only 'allowed' when we met a certain set of criteria that make us OK. That's nonsense.
posted by Miko at 11:20 AM on September 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

Wow. How offensive is that?! Pretty helpful, though: first call someone a glutton, then tell her they need to diet to attract a partner, then further motivate her by telling her that her eligibility period for love is almost over so she'd better hop to right now. Best of AskMe right there.
posted by loiseau at 12:52 PM on September 17

There's a scene in The Great Gatsby where Nick happens upon someone at a party, with shaving soap dried on the side of his face.

No one bothers to tell the person there is shaving cream there, and so it remains - either everyone is cruel and selfish, or polite and kind - either way, not wanting to disturb the universe.

Ask Metafilter is a place where someone can come to finally, somewhat anonymously, get real advice from people just like themselves who are looking for a little direction, or ways to simply enjoy being human in different ways.

When you decide that your own brand of censorship is moral, and that your own prejudices should be hoisted onto others, it not only does the site disservice, but is insulting to the poster who has come here in honesty and with a genuine concern for herself.
posted by four panels at 11:35 AM on September 17, 2007

It was offensive and probably incorrect.
posted by caddis at 11:54 AM on September 17, 2007

You have to be OK with yourself as you are before you can change anything about yourself - the advice about "weight loss" is coming from men who are using the perspective of "What would make *me* want to sleep with you?" Given their attitude, I can pretty much assure you that you wouldn't want to sleep with any of the ones posting here, so I'd disregard the whole boys' club verbal abuse in the guise of help and focus on what the girls are telling you in this case.

Find something you love to do, and join a social group that revolves around it. I've found that roleplaying groups and comic book places always have guys around; if you're attracted to the geeky types, they will be abundant there - and as a rule, they're much more interested in personality than appearance.

If you are genuinely NOT OK with your body, or it's restricting your ability to move or live a normal life, certainly work some exercise in - regular exercise naturally improves your posture, releases endorphins, and really does make you feel more confident. Just exercise as an end in itself; the whole weight loss thing to please men is just ridiculous - it's not about them, it's about finding an individual you connect with who is compatible with you, not about attracting the hordes of shallow out there.
posted by medea42 at 12:07 PM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Apologies if this should be in Meta, but if someone specifically mentions being overweight in a question lamenting her lack of a dating life, is it really so terribly, offensively inappropriate to suggest working on getting in better physical shape as one possible tool in improving her chances of getting asked out more often?

I understand weight is an incredibly touchy subject with some people, but I think there is a lot of overreaction going on here. If the asker had taken out the word "overweight" and replaced it with "chronic halitosis sufferer" would people find it just as offensive if someone mentioned "work on improving your oral hygiene" as a suggestion to make her more attractive to the opposite sex? Would people be as quick to protest ("Don't listen to anyone telling you to brush your teeth twice a day. Anyone who cares what your breath smells like is just a superficial asshole who isn't worth dating anyway")?

I'm not suggesting that only people who are perfectly fit supermodels have satisfying dating lives. But I think it is a disservice to the questioner to pretend that basic physical attraction is not an important part of the courtship process and that taking healthy steps (eating better, getting on a regular exercise regimen) to improve her appearance *may* possibly be of help here. For the record, eating healthier and starting a regular gym routine which improved my physical appearance did wonders for boosting my own confidence after a bad breakup, so I'm coming at this from the perspective of somone who was helped immensily by the "get in better shape" advice (given to myself by myself) not as someone who only finds stick models attractive.
posted by The Gooch at 12:07 PM on September 17, 2007

My feeling is that men are attracted to women for reasons different than the attractiveness most women believe they need to exude.

I also agree with slavin. there is enough to go around for everybody.

I've been doing yoga for almost 20 years and teaching for 14. For all that is said about yoga, I like to narrow it down to 2 basic things - it makes you feel good and it allows you to feel comfortable in your own skin. in our culture, that is huge.

Confidence or (for me, more importantly,) presence seems to be enhanced when you connect to your body in a physical way be it dance, yoga, martial arts, etc. A physical connection to one's body is important, especially for one who "is in their head a lot." For me, confidence comes and goes, presence is pretty constant as I also feel that "there is who we think we are and what actually shows through."

We all become pretty good at convincing ourselves otherwise.

And vulnerability is just as sweet. Women who feel the need to show uber-confidence when I can sense that they need to be held bother me. I like women who give me things I can sink my teeth into.

The woman I am seeing now is a geek/MIT grad. She is also a dreamer who "lives in her head." I don't have a problem with that. I am a pretty attractive, strong, healthy and charismatic guy who still goes through bouts of crippling shyness. I met her a party and liked the fact that she smiled, was working for a living and I could have an intelligent conversation with her. Needless to say my inner geek has been brought out.

This also maybe a little off topic. In some ancient traditions, your timing on wanting to change this is on the button. In astrology, there is what is called "Saturn Returns" It happens every 28 years (the time it takes for Saturn to revolve around the Sun.) Essentially it is a time where you let go of what you don't need and take with you what is important for you on your next 28 year cycle. In Native American traditions, there is the Medicine Wheel which acknowledges a similar cycle. There are many other "wheels" in other cultures that express the same thing.

Be yourself. Become more visible. Your timing on wanting this is impeccable. And you awesome for posting this.
posted by goalyeehah at 12:26 PM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

In my local SCA dance group, we used to joke a lot about taking in and socializing the unsociable. There seemed to be a lot of truth to it, though -- we'd get folks who were so timid they seemed afraid to step heavily and offend the planet, let alone even TOUCH a member of the opposite gender. We'd get them doing a simple hand-holdy dance once or twice a week for a while with a skilled partner, and do whatever we could to keep them coming long enough for confidence to start setting in.

I've been the "lead" in this vein with dozens of girls. The pattern was usually that they would hang around long enough to get some confidence going, at which point they'd find something in common with one of the newer guys doing the same ritual, and nature'd take over. Most times we'd rarely see them again after that... but mission accomplished, I suppose.

Your local options may differ, but if there is a social dance group in your area (i.e., one where you are not expected to bring and use the same partner every week), I highly recommend trying it.
posted by Pufferish at 12:49 PM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you for your responses. I have learned a lot from this thread. I have saved everything so that I can really reflect on the advice and experiences offered here. I appreciate everyone who took the time to answer.

Confidence, Joy, Kindness...I can do that.
posted by Danila at 1:10 PM on September 17, 2007

Brief message because Im at work

In defense of the men who say lose weight you will feel better they are saying it for good reason. It isnt necessarily because omg skinny = teh hawtness. Well they may be saying that.

But as an overweight person who lost a significant amount of weight (about 30 lbs) the "normal way" (exercise and diet change) I can tell you it significantly boosts up your self esteem and confidence. Your clothes will fit better, you will have more energy, and most importantly you will have accomplished a goal you set out for yourself through hard work and determination.
posted by Tinen at 1:38 PM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is going to be long, because I have a lot of friends going through this and so it's been on my mind.

Go out. Be active. Don't scare yourself by immediately framing every interaction with a guy as a spotlit audition for a date. Maybe this is not what you're doing, but I've seen it happen a lot. I didn't find the relationship that turned into my marriage until I'd given up and stopped looking, with the plan that I'd start looking once I moved for grad school. So I was relaxed and not self-conscious when I met him. We struck up a great friendship and eventually started officially going out.

That took a few months. If you're thinking of pop culture versions of eye contact --> instant attraction --> 1 date --> couple, don't. Unrealistic expectations just make everything more stressful (not saying it doesn't happen, but that it doesn't seem to happen as often as casual introductions --> acquaintances --> friends --> couple, with attraction occurring anywhere in there prior to becoming a couple).

So don't rule out the friends thing, but don't be too passive. Some of your guy friends may have been attracted to you, but never could tell whether you were attracted to them, and thus gave up in favor of a more demonstrative woman (not necessarily just a perkier one). That transition stage, where you are attempting to flirt/demonstrate interest, can be scary as hell, I admit. Case in point:

My then-friend C. said something along the lines of "No one would date me if I were the last guy on earth." <>
Me: *mumbling* "I'd date you even if you weren't the last guy on earth."

C.: "... What?"

Me: "Errr..."

C: "I didn't hear you. What did you say?"

Me: *turns red and cannot muster words* "glugh ... asdfjkl ... nothing, really, NOTHING. Oh hey, look over there!"

If I'd just gone through with it and repeated myself, he would have asked me out right there and we'd have started dating much earlier.

It would have been a great time to practice a little cognitive therapy on myself: What's the worst thing that could happen? Okay, I repeat myself clearly, and he says "Oh, I didn't mean *YOU*" or some other rejection. In which case it's not like he wouldn't have rejected me later anyway. So I had nothing to lose, and in the end it was a lot more awkward to try to back out of it than to go through with it.

If you're not in cognitive therapy, I really recommend it for helping you quit doing any self-defeating behaviors that may be holding you back. If you really don't want to do that or can't, then try asking yourself those kinds of questions. Really, what's the worst thing that could happen? What's the best thing that could happen? And is the best thing worth risking the worst thing?

Finally, I know a lot of women in a wide range of body shapes who have become so totally fixated on their weight that they have essentially paralyzed themselves socially. Focusing on that will more than likely backfire.

Why did the OP mention it, then, you ask? Because we have been taught that is the #1 thing wrong with us and if we fix it (which is soooo easy, of course!) then everything will be fantastic! We have been trained to mention it and then to apologize.

Fuck that.

There are plenty of quiet, short, fat females out there in happy relationships with a wide variety of men (and women). You might as well be one of them.
posted by wintersweet at 4:00 PM on September 17, 2007 [4 favorites]

Let me just say that I am a "fat girl" who has so much self confidence that I'm nearly narcissistic. Now, I know how to dress for my body type, my nails and toes are always done, I don't go out in public without looking cute, even to just run to Publix to grab a gallon of milk. That's not because I'm fat, it's because of my personality-I'm a total priss and would be whether I'm a size 18 or a size 8.

My point is my weight has NEVER held me back from dating-and I'm shy when meeting people for the first time. I have to nth everyone else that confidence is key. I walk into any room and I KNOW that I am one of the top 5 best looking women in there. I didn't always feel like that, in my 20's I was terrified of being in public settings and worried that people like some in this thread would think less of me because I have a round behind and a tummy. Now, I don't really even give it a thought AND I've never dated someone who specificially was into me because of my weight. The men I dated thought I was teh hawt because they like my personality and the way I took care of myself. Havin the booty was just icing on the cake.
posted by hollygoheavy at 4:32 PM on September 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: wintersweet, you really nailed me there. One of the reasons I'm nervous around men is I think they must be sizing me up, and finding me wanting. Even if I'm not even trying to start a relationship. I need to be able to just be a human being around guys. The male friends that I've had, I initially met on the internet or over the phone, some other way rather than in person. But because I like men a lot and have had male friends, I didn't even realize I had such a problem interacting with them.

hollygoheavy, I know that there are awesome women like you, and you give me hope. I don't want to be you, but want to love me. This thread has really shown me the light.
posted by Danila at 5:10 PM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Quiet, short, fat.

Ain't got nothing to do with it in my opinion. Go live life and enjoy, that is how you will bump into people with similar interests. I have an old friend and she is a physically beautiful woman - she didn't come around to be 1/2 as interesting as she is now until after she divorced her first mistake. She then did the same thing I will suggest to you:

Get involved with various activities around where you live, stretch your comfort zone just a bit (indoor rock climbing perhaps or a seminar on jazz or even a Habitat for Humanity project....and on and on and on). Do this and being involved makes you interesting to be around, will put you in touch with people (men and women) and further social situations will help in your possible shyness. Do this enough times and Mr. Right Now might come along and you'll be ready.

Being in situations such as the above might help you with the quiet/shy part. Short is just that; I never made it to 6'4" and am still bitter about that one. If 'fat' is a bother, than consider taking a class to help (see above paragraph as it will also get you out there doing some interesting stuff. Otherwise, fat is relative - be happy or go start to change it but please don't try to emulate the Cosmo girl - photoshop is not reality, etc. etc.

When will things change? Who knows, but my hope for you is you will be so busy doing things you barely will notice. Have fun!
posted by fluffycreature at 5:37 PM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

One of the reasons I'm nervous around men is I think they must be sizing me up, and finding me wanting.

for what it's worth, i do this all the time, and i'm small (5'3, 115 pounds dripping wet). and someone upthread mentioned going out and feeling like they didn't stack up compared to all of the other beautiful women. i do that CONSTANTLY--i'm in a city right now where all the girls dress ridiculously cute and do more fancy high maintenance hair and makeup stuff by default--and it makes me ill. i tell myself i just need to effing stop it, stop the voices in my head. and also, a lot of the women i get jealous of are curvier than me. so it's not just a fat thing. at all. we all have to go out, have fun, stop caring so much in that insular useless way, and learn to appreciate our own unique hotness, it's true.

this thread is so inspiring. i'd like to add as a "fat girl resource" wendy shanker's the fat girl's guide to life, by the way. nthing big big love and marilyn wann, too.
posted by ifjuly at 8:49 PM on September 17, 2007

I'm a straight guy. I lost 40 pounds last year and the difference in the way women react to fit me versus chubby me is very, very dramatic. Having people react positively to you when you walk in a room is a huge boost to your confidence... and confidence is sexy.

Now, of course, you could work only on your confidence. But I'd say losing weight is slightly easier than pulling your confidence up by its bootstraps... and in the end, you may just find that you have gotten both for the price of one.
posted by specialfriend at 10:56 PM on September 17, 2007

Response by poster: Now, of course, you could work only on your confidence. But I'd say losing weight is slightly easier than pulling your confidence up by its bootstraps... and in the end, you may just find that you have gotten both for the price of one.

specialfriend, I appreciate the good faith advice and your own experience. Losing weight is different for men and women, and for a woman with PCOS like me, it is extraordinarily difficult to lose even 5 pounds. I asked this question because I feel I can't put off life anymore, and relationships with the opposite sex can be an enriching part of life.

For years I've daydreamed about the great life I'd have if only I were thin (because then I wouldn't have to work at all), or taller (be less invisible, weight distributed better), or more extroverted (people couldn't ignore me, I'd make an impression right away). It is now my belief that none of those things need be altered in order for me to have positive relationships.

I included those facts about myself in the question, partly because I wanted to know how to feel more confident around men, given these circumstances. I don't think quiet, fat girls get much attention or advice, beyond "lose weight" or "be sassy". Everybody says that what men most find attractive is confidence, and from observation that definitely seems to be the case, but I had no idea where confidence is supposed to come from. I've been given a lot of good advice in this thread on that subject.
posted by Danila at 11:20 PM on September 17, 2007

I can remember the first time I realised I could be even slightly attractive to the opposite sex - I was 17 and had just gotten together with my first boyfriend, and I was sitting on the train wondering what on earth he saw in me. And it hit me - I'm actually quite pretty, I'm quite smart, I'm a bloody catch!

Just realising the good points I had helped me to put things into perspective. I have definitely found that faking confidence helps a great deal, looking people in the eye and knowing you have the right to be there, and that the people you are talking to are no cooler or better than you makes a big difference.

I wish I could say that this message sank in for me straight away, but it's something I've had to learn and re-learn repeatedly. Even in friendships I've found that I've had this feeling of inferiority - and it's NOT TRUE. High school was a long time ago, we don't need to believe the high school lies that people tried to tell us.

hope that helps! :)
posted by jonathanstrange at 1:27 AM on September 18, 2007

I want to be a late bloomer, not a never-was.
A more lively girl. The ones that light up the room

I've noticed that most people I grew up with who weren't the natural extrovert bloomer, but who bloomed into far more impressive people, the blooming doesn't just happen, something makes it happen. A very common one is travel - someone leaving their country for a year or more, on their own. While they're off having a good time seeing the sights, they might not even be aware of it but they are constantly having to adapt and deal with new circumstances, and they start growing as a result. And when they come back, they're blooming. They are more decisive, confident, can talk to anyone, about anything, know themselves, and so on.

Other people take different paths with the same results, travel is just a common one. And many people never deviate from their fairly straightforward established life, and never have that growing, and usually remain somewhat mediocre or forgettable or less than what they could have been.

So the bad news is it doesn't just happen. The good news is that it totally does happen if you want to make it happen.

That whole "do something every day that scares you" approach seems like too much effort to me - you actively have to find such things and organise yourself to do it. Much easier to just put yourself in a situation where shit is going to happen just as the normal course of the day, and over time you naturally just rise to the occasion without even being aware of it.
posted by -harlequin- at 5:07 AM on September 18, 2007 [3 favorites]

specialfriend: see my comment above about my experience with different weights. More attention from men does not necessarily equal better relationships. It brings with it its own set of emotional and intellectual problems and can initially have a negative impact on self-esteem as you realize that there is a large portion of the opposite sex responding to outward cues more than to personal characteristics.

Now that I'm in my late 30s, I know several men who earlier in life married a 'hot' girl who lacked other good qualities. As they've peeled off from those relationships and experienced miserable divorces, one thing they have in common is opening up their horizons to looking at women who are outside that narrow 'hot' mold they held themselves to before. Perhaps because they understand that bodies will change through aging, lifestyle shifts, and sometimes childbearing, they become more philosophical about the temporal nature of the way we look anyway, and begin looking for women they enjoy being around, women who make them feel happy, secure, and sane, women who can be an interesting partner day in and day out, women who are good family members, and so on. I'm not saying that they don't care what a partner looks like, but appearance falls more into balance as that nature of a long life together with a partner becomes better understood.

Those who say "thin and hawt is the only thing men want in women" are speaking from a pretty narrow point of view. It's quite possible that point of view is influenced by age; amount of life experience; perhaps insecurity in the men themselves ('I can't be seen with someone substandard; what if this is the best I can do'), and personal taste. But it's not the universal male attitude, as I can personally attest.

So while losing weight might make a woman appealing to more men, the men the person is now suddenly appealing to may not be the ones she'd want to choose. And after you lose weight, it becomes hard to tell what's in the minds of men who are attracted to you. Once you've been overweight, you know how easy it is to slip back into bad habits if your routine changes, you have a stressful event such as a family death or a job change. You know it's always possible that 15 or 20 pounds could creep back on while your energy is occupied elsewhere, and that knowledge gives rise to its own fears about how this would impact a relationship built with someone who thinks of you as a thin person and was at least partially attracted to you by that appearance. It's great to feel athletic and healthy and as long as you can maintain good habits, you can stay thin. But it's still miserable to know that it takes constant maintenance, and to wonder "What if I had a bad three months and got fat again? Will he begin to reject me?"
posted by Miko at 8:08 AM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think that learning to love yourself is part of the solution. At least, that's how it worked for me. For a long time, I just felt myself to be unattractive (and partly because of my weight). It was only after I began to be more comfortable and happy with who I was, regardless of how others might judge my appearance, that I met someone who loved me that way. And I think I was more open to meeting him (and probably more attractive to him), because I was more confident in myself.
posted by jb at 9:25 AM on September 18, 2007

Miko: And after you lose weight, it becomes hard to tell what's in the minds of men who are attracted to you

I know what you're getting at here, but I'm not sure I completely buy into the idea that putting forth the effort to look your best, which may include an improved diet and regular exercise, which may in turn lead to weight loss, dooms you to end up in an unhappy, superficial, shallow relationship.

I met my wife when I was in the absolute best physical shape of my life due to a strict, rigid diet I kept at the time, vigorous workout routine and, being single and childless, I had the extra cash to spend on supplements, tanning beds, the latest fashions, etc. Perhaps it would have been better had we met a few years previous when I had scrawny arms, a concave chest and a belly that looked like it was a few months pregnant. Even better, the night we met I should have worn the rattiest clothes I owned and neglected to brush my hair or teeth. That way I could have been certain she was interested in me only for the depths of my soul and not for anything so superficial as maybe thinking I was good-looking.

Obviously I'm being silly here. I agree that for a long-term relationship to last there has to be more there than a mutual physical attraction. But I also have problems with this head in the sand attitude where we pretend that only the absolute most superficial, shallow, not-worth-your-time-anyway types would include some sort of physical attribute as *one* criteria in looking for a mate.
posted by The Gooch at 10:36 AM on September 18, 2007

Oh man, I was so, so like this a couple of years ago. Total late bloomer, always the friend, never the girlfriend. Until I started taking care of myself. I don't been by losing weight (I am and always will be a curvy girl, I could stand to lose 20ish pounds, but I'm not too stressed out about it anymore), I mean making myself happy. I started therapy, and that was HUGE. As were anti-depressants, but I'm not saying you need those. In the past couple of years (through tons and tons of online dates - good and bad ones) I've realized that there are guys out there who love girls with curves, love nerdy girls, love girls that will talk to them like they're one of the guys, love all sorts of girls. And I think what everyone's been saying about confidence is so, so true. Once I realized that there are guys out there that think I'm hot, everything got a lot less stressful for me. I don't know if that makes sense, but there seems to have been a moment where I realized how awesome I am. And after that, it hasn't been so bad.
posted by echo0720 at 12:25 PM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

I previewed, I swear. "I don't been" should be "I don't mean".
posted by echo0720 at 12:26 PM on September 18, 2007

An girl that is like a 2 on a scale to 1 to 10 can get a guy that is a 5. Guys have a harder time getting to know women my advice is just put a pic of yourself on craiglist or some dating site and say looking to have dinner and such. The average girl get 20 times the mail that the average guy gets if you dont get a single mail then you mighth ave to lose some weight but i am sure there is enough guys out there that are hungry for affection.
posted by Rolandkorn at 11:36 AM on September 19, 2007

Best answer: Once again, I'd like to thank everyone who contributed answers. I printed them all out and tried to take the best from everything.

I've had my eye on a man for months. He's tall (over 6'3), dark, conventionally handsome, and rather popular (although I think he's naturally introverted). If it matters, he's also lean. Whereas I'm short and fat, as I've already mentioned. In other words, not the sort of guy I'd ever even think of going for before, even though I really like him. He's sweet, intelligent and loved by children and animals.

Anyway, last night I walked up to him, told him I like him and think he's interesting and nice, and I asked if he'd like to exchange numbers. And he said yes! Thank you Metafilter. I took the bull by the horns, felt confident and beautiful (was wearing a fly outfit), and figured the worst that could happen is he'd say no and we'd barely speak, and that would be the exact same situation as before. And I'd still have the experience of facing my fears. But it paid off. I really like him, and I went for what I wanted, and made my own miracle.
posted by Danila at 1:47 AM on October 9, 2007 [3 favorites]

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