By Terri Trespicio for HowAboutWe
A woman named Jen recently wrote to ask me if she should stop dating until she lost weight. She was admittedly on the heavy side, but had never tried to mask it in her online profile. She'd gotten some messages and gone on a few dates, but several of the men she'd met would be more interested, they said, if she'd been a few pounds lighter.
I'm sure that wasn't easy to hear. In fact, ouch. She was ready to quit dating entirely until she could wear a size 6. She was already taking strides to live healthier, and she figured she'd just... wait. Right?
"Not a chance," I told her. Here's why: Because if she waited to be the right weight before she went on another date, she'd likely come up with another excuse once she lost the weight -- she needed the right hair or the right job. I reminded her that there is no set height and weight requirement. It's dating. Not the f*cking Rockettes.
Does that mean she should abandon her weight-loss goal? Nope. But her efforts to change her life and body are not mutually exclusive from efforts to meet people, nor do they have to be sequential.
If you're holding off on dating until you've lost the weight, bought better clothes or are awaiting the arrival of an brilliant future version of yourself, you've done yourself a huge disservice. Because it's not the goal that's holding you back.
You're not an Apple product set to launch sometime in 2014. You may think you'll be shinier, cooler or more desirable in the future, but really what you're saying is that you don't think anyone could like you now. You think you're planning. But you're really just procrastinating.
In the immortal words of Sweet Brown, "ain't nobody got time for that."
This idea that you should "work on yourself" before you start dating is what I call living in the future perfect tense. (Also, read why "taking a break" is a bad idea.) This notion that you'll be perfect in the future is crazy -- and plops a ton of pressure on you to be the perfect weight, to look a certain way, to make a certain salary, etc. etc. before you try to connect with another person.
Then, when the Future Perfect You -- ideal weight, great haircut, designer jeans -- steps out for the first time and gets rejected (which happens to EVERYONE, by the way), what then? It'll hurt even more because you'll think, "If no one wants me now, after all this, how could anyone ever?" (Find out why getting rejected is critical to the process).
My advice to Jen was to keep doing what she was doing: Stay active, eat well and keep setting up dates.
The best relationships in the world must grow and evolve -- they don't start and remain perfect. The same goes for your relationship with yourself. Embrace the process of growth and change with a forgiving spirit, and you'll set the stage not just for personal satisfaction, but for the kind of intimate relationship that can evolve along with you.