Ask Dr. Nerdlove by Harris O'Malley

Am I Too Fat to Date?

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m am 23 and in my last semester of college. I am a virgin. The closest I’ve come is with a girl at a team party who approached me and made the first move. We were about to get down then she changed her mind at the last minute. How do I deal with being fat friend? I feel like whenever I go out with my friends I am the only one who never gets approached by girls. I feel like when we go to bars or parties I’m immediately ditched for my better looking more in shape friends. I can tell its because I’m fat.

I feel like when I go up to talk to girls I’m just wasting my time and theirs. I feel like girls everywhere we go just see my friends and then me the designated fat friend. I can help but feel like I’m not good enough for any girl. So I just become quiet and reserved. It’s hard because I see people of all sorts having sex or are in relationships. Sometimes I feel depressed and suicidal (nothing serious) I can’t figure out what’s wrong with me. I’m doing the basics right. I always dress nice( I thank my dad for that one) I have lots of female friends that describe me as funny and charming. I’ve met very few people I couldn’t get along with. I couldn’t  I’ve done what parents said would make me happy. I am a collegiate athlete, I am a member of a popular fraternity. Yet none of these things make me feel better about myself. 

Thanks for seeing me Doc. 

Designated Fat Friend.

DEAR DESIGNATED FAT FRIEND: DFF, I think you have problems. It’s just that they’re not what you think they are.

To start with: you sound like you’re dealing with depression. Not just “feeling a little down today” blues but full-blown, chronic depression. I can tell because quite frankly you sound a lot like I did when my depression was at it’s worst. I mean, holy s

t dude, “sometimes I feel suicidal but it’s not serious”?  Feeling like the best thing you can do is just end things is GODDAMN serious when you’re dealing with depression.

Here’s the sneaky thing about depression: it lies to you. Depression feeds back all the worst things you already suspect about yourself, except as irrefutable fact. It’s the emotional equivalent of confirmation bias; you only see the things that validate the awful way you feel about yourself and ignore just about everything in your life that tells you otherwise. And it’s especially insidious because you can be doing everything “right”, have an amazing damn life and still be depressed. In fact, it’s often worse because now you’re getting down on yourself for being depressed in the first place when you have nothing to be depressed about and other people have it so much worse than you do.

So my first suggestion for you is that you take advantage of the fact that you’re still in college. Go to the Health Services Center and see about making an appointment with a therapist to talk about the way you’ve been feeling. They may recommend a few different potential therapies, including medication if need be, which can help you with the way you’ve been feeling lately.

Now, all that aside, let’s get to your other problem. Because, you see, the problem isn’t that you’re fat, the problem is the attitude you have about yourself. You’ve bought into the idea that you’re Fat with a capital F and this somehow has rendered you unf

kable and undesirable, and adopted this core identity of The Fat, Loveless Virgin. The fact that you see yourself this way completely affects just about everything in your life. You don’t believe that women can possibly find you attractive, so you don’t even try; you just withdraw into yourself. You’re not talking to anyone. You’re not really making an effort. You’re sitting there, quiet and withdrawn and sending off vibes that say “It’s ok if you don’t want to talk to me, I wouldn’t want to talk to me either” and wondering why people don’t approach you. And here’s the thing: the way you label yourself affects how other people see you too. You’ve turned Fat, Loveless Virgin into your personal brand, and people are buying into the stereotypes because, honestly, you’re not really giving them anything else to work with.

I mean, hell dude, let’s be objective here. You say you dress well, you’re funny and charming, you make friends easily, you’re an athlete and a member of a popular fraternity. By most people’s standards, you’re a catch. So what’s the problem?

The problem is that you’re getting hung up on the fat thing. And it’s understandable; body size is one of the few things society still views as acceptable to shame people for. I mean hell, I saw well-known men’s magazine that had an article called “The Portly Man’s Guide To Fashion” that’s 99% fat jokes, 1% fashion. Something that promises to help – because finding clothes that fit and look good when you’re big is a legitimate challenge – and all it does is swing for the balls instead. So even things that promise to be helpful are just insults in disguise. That sort of s

t is going to wear down your soul, man. So I get why you feel the way you do.

So let’s work on changing it.

Here’s the thing: women love a wide variety of body types from the heroin-thin to swimmer’s builds, to barrel-chests to straight-up fat dudes. What makes someone attractive and/or datable isn’t whether they look like an underwear model, it’s what they bring to the table and how they make people feel. From everything you’ve said, you bring a lot to the table… but while you’re clearly capable of making people feel good, you’re not really doing it. That mental identity you’ve chosen for yourself is filtering out all of those opportunities to go out and wow people with your wit and charm… and I’m more than willing to bet that you’re missing out on people who are interested in you. When you’re convinced that you’re unlovable or unf

kable, you end up ignoring even some of the most blatant come-ons because you’re convinced that they couldn’t possibly be interested in you. Trust me, I can relate: there was a time in college where I missed out on a hook-up with a girl who straight-up invited me back to her place for a hot cup of F

K ME TILL MY EYES BLEED because I thought I was misreading things.

I’m assuming that you want to get better, yes? I’m also assuming that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to learn how to get better with women and feel better about yourself. So I want you to trust me and do what I tell you, without hemming, hawing or otherwise arguing with me about why something is impossible or can’t work.

First: start visiting these blogs – Chubstr and Chubby Guy Swag. If you want to deprogram the bulls

t idea that you can’t possibly be attractive, cool, sexy or badass, you need to see other hefty dudes just killin’ it. You need some positive reinforcement in your life.

Second: dress sharp. I know you already say you’re a snazzy dresser, but I want you to kick it up a notch. Why? Because not only will it help you stand out the right way, but it’ll make you feel sharp. Our clothes are an outward extension of who we are. When you dress like a million bucks, you feel like a million bucks. I’ve got some tips specifically for bigger dudes when it comes to how to dress better and big-man fashion blogs like Chubstr can help you put styles and outfits together.

Third: I want you to stop pretending you’re a mind-reader. You’re making a whole lot of unwarranted assumptions about what other people like and whether they could possibly find you attractive. That’s your jerkbrain talking and you need to quit listening to it. Instead, I want you to go into interactions with people assuming that you’re going to be friends and that they’re going to like you. You’re not “wasting their time”, you’re the cool guy they should want to get to know!

Fourth:  I want you to start faking some confidence. That means holding your head up high, walking with your back straight, your shoulders back, a s

t-eating grin and a swagger in the step that says “walked into the library like what up, I’ve got a big dictionary.” Yes, it’s going to feel weird at first. But here’s the crazy thing: it’s going to make you feel more confident. Our brains take emotional cues from our bodies; carrying yourself like you’re confident means your brain is going to make you feel more confident. That helps form a biofeedback loop that’s going to make you feel better about yourself overall.

Incidentally, this means no hiding in corners or curling in on yourself when you’re out with friends. You already know that you can be funny and charming and get people to like you. Time to prove it, even if you have to psych yourself up to it by assuming a persona at first. If you want to be the cool guy people approach, you have to give off approachable vibes; that’s not “quiet and withdrawn”.

Finally: This is going to be a bit woo-woo new-age-y pop psychology sounding but stick with me. Every morning when you’ve gotten up, gotten dressed and are about to face the day? I want you to look in the mirror give yourself a compliment. In the middle of the day? I want you to give yourself a compliment. Before you go to bed? Compliment yourself. It can be something as simple as “Damn, I’m looking good”, or it can be acknowledging something cool you’ve just done. But I want you to do it regularly. You’re spending most of your time beating yourself up. Now it’s time to be good to yourself. You need to build up your sense of internal validation and being that means being willing to acknowledge your good side… something you don’t really do.

As I’m always saying: dating success is 80% attitude… and that includes your attitude about yourself. You’ve got the tools. You’ve got the talent. Now you need to realize it.

Talk to health services. Get your depression under control. And then start practicing some self-love and recognize how much you bring to the table. You need to recognize your awesomeness. DFF. Because you’ve definitely got it.

Good luck, man.

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