In November 2011, I took on a new client -- a woman who was 45 and had never been married. She was bright, kind, and had a fulfilling -- yet demanding -- career. The idea of dating coaching was exciting to her, but when I actually tried to schedule our sessions, problems arose. First, with her 17-hour workdays, she didn't think she could make the time to date so, as a freelancer, she wanted to wait until she was on hiatus and could focus on dating. Then, she thought she'd be more comfortable and get better responses if she lost those 10 extra pounds.
"Don't you want to meet someone who will accept you as you are?" I asked, fearing that this quest for perfection would become a never-ending cycle of obstacles that she would continue to throw between herself and a potential mate to avoid the pain of rejection.
It wasn't that I didn't relate to her desire to be thinner. Those same 10 pounds have played hide-and-go-seek with me since I was in elementary school. The thought, "If I could just lose the extra weight, then I will be happy, then someone will love me," danced through my mind. So in high school, I lost them, but by college they were back with a vengeance. When I met my husband, I was nowhere near my thinnest weight, and I've spent the last 10 years reminding myself that his love for me has nothing to do with the number on the scale.
By January, my client and I still hadn't begun working on her dating plan. She said she just needed seven more weeks to get her life in order and then she'd be ready to begin looking for a long-term relationship.
Seven weeks passed and I heard nothing. Seven more weeks and she still wasn't ready. At that point, I wrote her off. I figured she was one of those clients who hired a dating coach to feel like she was doing something about her singlehood -- much like those who think simply having a Weight Watchers account means that they are dieting.
Then an email from a friend of hers landed in my inbox. I fought back tears as I read that my client had suffered an aneurism and just like that, she was gone.
Nearly a year and many pounds up and down the scale have passed and I still think of her constantly. I hear her voice when a client says to me, "I'm too tall, so I usually wear flats on a date so that I don't intimidate a guy." I see her silhouette in the way a woman adjusts her dress to cover the thighs that the bully in 6th grade once referred to as 'thunder.'" I feel her every time I study my stretch marks and think, "If I could just eat a few less carbs maybe these would disappear." Now all of it makes me mad as hell.
So yes, those 10 pounds are keeping you from meeting your match. They are keeping you from loving yourself unconditionally. They are a crutch that keeps you hobbling through your dating life. They are the thick, wool coat that insulates you from being left out in the cold. But if you keep shielding yourself you may never really feel the thrill of falling and being caught by another person or freezing yet being cuddled in someone's arms.
You are too fat.
You are too tall.
You are too smart.
You are too ugly.
You are too old.
And the one who is really right for you will love you for all of it. You've heard a million times before that you should live each moment as if it's your last, but you never actually think that it will be. Neither did my client. She haunts me now as a constant reminder that today is always the first day of the rest of my life. I hope this is the first day of yours.
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