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Until recently (like, six months ago), I was in a longterm relationship. We parted ways after almost three years together, but thankfully, the breakup was mutual. Despite the whole “no hard feelings” between my ex and me, I’m feeling super insecure about returning to the dating scene because of what happened in the last couple of months we were together. Basically, we stopped having sex. A part of this was the lack of intimacy that led to our relationship’s demise, but the part that is haunting me is my insecurity with my body.
I gained some weight in the last year, and — despite all of the body positivity I thought I believed in — my inner voice hasn’t been very kind. Any time I would undress in front of my partner, I would hide as much of myself as possible. I was self-conscious when they would touch my belly or if they saw me right out of the shower. This proved to make sexy time not so sexy at all. And now that I’m redownloading dating apps, I’m terrified to meet up with any of my matches. What if things go great on a date, and they want to take things further? The idea of someone seeing me naked makes my skin crawl.
I know dating isn’t the answer to everything, but I want to put myself back out there. I genuinely enjoy being in a relationship and know deep down that my insecurities are silly. But there’s the logical side of my brain and the mean-girl side of my brain, which sounds like a cliche ‘80s movie cheerleader. Ugh, what do I do? Do I put myself out there and just rip off the band-aid? Or do I need to accept that I’m not ready yet?
What should I do?!
Insecure But Ready To Mingle
Dear Insecure But Ready To Mingle,
Setting insecurities aside for a second, let me skip straight to the point — there will never be a right time to start dating again. If that mean-girl Regina George voice in your head is not talking about your body image, she will be whispering some other fabrication, “Your obsession with Gypsy Rose Blanchard is so weird. No one will ever find that attractive.” I’d bet someone out there wants to make you heart-shaped pizza and binge her prison confessions until you’re both half asleep on the couch. Your internal monologue will always be around, trying to hold you back.
It’s not my place to comment on your weight, but I hope to remind you body weight is meant to fluctuate over time. Nothing is wrong with this. Actually, I’d argue it’s beyond normal. However, validating how typical this experience is likely won’t mend your body insecurities. Still, I hope it is a reassuring reminder that you’re a human being and your body is working! That’s something to celebrate.
Looking at your slightly changed body in the mirror can be daunting and understandably bring up uncomfortable emotions. We all have fixed statements in our head about weight gain stemming from comments Aunt Cathy would make every year on Thanksgiving, “Wow, another serving, mija! You must really like those mashed potatoes,” or in the middle school changing room when your friend Emma would stare at herself with her shirt half lifted and complain about how “fat” she looks. We pick these things up. Absorb them. Believe them. Honestly, it’s so sad that ALL of us give so much power to how our bodies look. It’s such a small part of who we are. Working on our fixed notions will take a lot of time and patience. You don’t deserve to wait until your unjustified beliefs are slightly better to kindle a new flame. You deserve to be happy and explore whomever you want right now!
That said, dating and hooking up can be more challenging when insecurities are consuming your thoughts and leaving your palms sweaty, even with a partner of three years — someone you most likely trusted immensely and felt secure around — so much so that your intimacy died. Sure, your insecurities played a part in that, but I can guarantee that was not the only reason you ended your relationship. I’m choosing to believe your past partner fell in love with a lot more of you than just your wet post-shower body. Attraction goes way deeper than physicality. The good people — the kind of people you’d want to get to know — are attracted to more than just what’s on the outside: your ambitions, your desires, your bad jokes, even your obsession with Gypsy Rose. All these things make up who you are; your body is a small piece of the puzzle.
It seems like you’re ready, even excited, to get back out in the dating scene, but the only thing holding you back is Regina George. Think about what makes you feel sexy. What do you like about yourself that isn’t physical? How long has it been since you dug through your nightstand drawer to recharge that vibrating thing? The self-love train is an eternal route of constantly getting kicked off and running a marathon to get back on at another stop. I’m not suggesting you redownload all the apps today, but I hope you don’t wait until you’re “healed” to see what and who is out there.
You’re right; dating isn’t everything, but putting yourself out there can lead to more than a potential partner. A little flirting never hurt anyone, right?
Lastly, I provide a shameless therapy plug because talking about these things OUTLOUD is essential!! Non-judgmental advice and, frankly, just someone nodding their head is how you get back on that train. Talking to someone about getting back into the dating pool is one of the best tools to find the confidence to scream at Regina and tell her to STFU! No band-aid ripping around here; instead, baby steps to get yourself back out there.
A betch who knows best