Dating When You’re Uncomfortable With Your Body

Name: Kiranaked_050913120312
:
Comment: I’m recently divorced after a long marriage and I have children.

When fully clothed, I look like I’m in good shape. I work out, I take care of myself, I have good genes and I look younger than I am (I have read enough of your blog to know you dislike when people believe this, so I had to make sure to include it just for fun – of course it’s totally true). I utilize Spanx and push-up bras to good effect – a stranger meeting me might assume I have a nice body. Men and women alike are surprised to find out I have as many kids as I do.

But I don’t really have a hot body. I mean, I had multiple babies – some women come out of that unscathed but not me. The only guys who’ve been asking me out lately are younger (29-33) and I go out with them because it will be fun but I also freak out when I think about how they’ll react to how I look undressed. It ain’t pretty.

I would like to start online dating and will probably look for men who are older than me and who have children, presumably because they won’t be AS shocked to see what my midsection looks like.

Anyway, to get to the questions – how do I manage my hope to date someone who has the same level of athleticism and care of their body as me with the reality that, despite all of my hard work, nothing but expensive surgery is going to make the private body match what the public sees?

Are all men going to be disappointed when they see the real me? Am I setting myself up for being dumped right after sex? Am I destined to only be desirable (even a little) to men who have worse bodies than I do?

It’s so unfair that women don’t get rewarded with BETTER bodies after childbearing.
Age: 36
City: St. Paul
State: MN

I think you’re being smart by focusing your energies on men with kids. You’re right that they have experience dealing with post-baby bodies and understand that pregnancy can drastically change a woman’s body. The younger guys are not going to get it. I rolled my eyes when I listened to Miley Cyrus’s interview with Matt Lauer the other day. She went on and one about how she had heard that, when people turn forty, they become less sexual and stop having sex. That’s a by-product of her age and likely her own distorted ideas about getting older.  Guys in their twenties and early thirties have little to cull from when it comes to dating older women. Everything they think is based on stereotypes and exaggerated stories they’ve heard from friends or seen in porn. They’re used to younger women and haven’t seen many if any bodies of women after pregnancy or after her metabolism slows down.

A guy with experience knows that women use anything from make-up to a push-up bra to Spanx in order to help enhance their looks or body. They’re not shocked by her fresh face in the morning. They don’t expect her to look the same. There’s no outrage when she gets naked. She’s naked. They don’t care. They might be a bit shocked and a little disappointed if there’s a glaring difference, but if they like you, they’ll hopefully  get past it. Only if they weren’t all that invested from the start or if they actually expected you to look exactly the same in and out of your clothes will they walk away. The only men who expect women to look identical in and out of their clothes are men who haven’t seen many women naked.

I think it would be smart for you, when creating your profile, to post photos that are accurate. That means you should include shots that aren’t of you with Spanx and push-up bras. That way you’ll be attracting the men who already have a sense of your body and there won’t be much as much disparity  involved with the reveal.

Next, vet these guys as best you can. Take time to establish a rapport with them offline so you can get a sense of who they are and so you can be comfortable with them should things go to the next level.

Finally, and most importantly, accept your body as is. You have to get to a place where you’re happy with your body. It sounds trite but if you’re insecure about your body, that will make guys feel uncomfortable with it.

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43 Responses to “Dating When You’re Uncomfortable With Your Body”

  1. noquay Says:

    I can relate. I chose not to have children but an descended from very obese people. Despite the fact that I have over 100 ultramarathons to my name, my hips are disproportionately wide and my damn legs disproportionately heavy whereas I can clearly count my ribs in a mirror across the room. The 1/4 German peasant genetics from my paternal grandma haunt me to this day though my lifestyle is dramatically different. The only way to get the lard off da legs is going to be to starve everything else down to bone. I too go after older guys who had ( but are now grown and outta the house) kids. They do appreciate a woman more for who she is. I don’t wear push up bras (not much to push, starved em off long ago) nor spanx. I have a good idea if what due emphasizes the damn hips and legs, dress accordingly, I push myself into very hard physical work, and am actually physically stronger, have more endurance than most men in my circle, and I really have to go without food though I am hungry. But folks have to take me as is. It does hurt when a chick with the terrific thin legs that I should’ve gotten and fantastic cheekbones which I should also have gotten (I am half native), gets the guy and I am left with nothing. I work out my sadness, rage by exercising, working harder. You have no choice but to be you despite the disappointment. Unlike Moxie, I don’t suggest settling for an out of shape, not up to par guy because you will never truly love him, he will know it, you will always be looking for better, and innocent parties get hurt.

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    • Rosie Says:

      Do you seriously go hungry? And do men think is sexy to be able to count a woman’s ribs? You sound like you’re taking things to the extreme.

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      • noquay Says:

        Yes I do; its that or doom myself to being alone for good (plenty of time for that later, say at 80) or playing”let’s pretend in the bedroom and publically with someone you have zero attraction but had to settle because you let your body bloat up. Life ain’t fair for us older chix, particularly those with crap genetics. Fact is, when my body fattens up during the school year due to struggling to teach full time, keep da farm running, keep the house clean, do necessary remodels/upgrades on the house, all solo, plus trying to get in enough exercise, I hate myself and what I look like. I also have seen, in my own family, what happens when the fat genes are allowed to take over and the resulting series of interconnected health problems. I am still alive and they aint. Would rather encounter my starved out breasts and prominent ribs any day.

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    • HammersAndNails Says:

      I’m not sure if I’m more terrified, or impressed. You seem extremely intense. I like it.

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  2. mindstar Says:

    Who was it who said “The only truth in advertising is a string bikini?”.

    Kira you will have to be very diligent in your vetting of prospective dates and you most likely will have to adjust your perception of what your league is.

    I could be off base here but if you are solely seeking hard body types, based on your “…how do I manage my hope to date someone who has the same level of athleticism and care of their body as me” question, then you may be setting yourself up for failure or a lot of pump and dumps. The very athletic in shape guys you appear to be seeking will generally be seeking the same and will be disappointed if your body does not match their anticipations. Targeting 40+ guys with kids will serve you better since they will both understand why your body is as it is and have also experienced the physical changes that age and maturity bring. Further, as Moxie emphasized, you must have ACCURATE pictures that show you as you really are.

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  3. E-B Says:

    Moxie’s advice is spot on:
    1) stop worrying about your body,
    2) find someone who cares about you and likes the person you are.

    Pretty much good advice for anybody.

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  4. DrivingMeNutes Says:

    Ha. I get it. She’s flabby in the midsection and unattractive but it’s okay because she has kids. But guys who are flabby must be lazy and unathletic. And guys just don’t get it that she’s allowed to be fat because she has a hall pass. Puh lease. People are overweight for a million different reasons that have nothing to do with character flaws. You don’t get a free pass just because you have kids and you don’t get to judge others for physical defects when you have them yourself.

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    • Rosie Says:

      I’m a mom and I agree. I looked amazing after giving birth, and until my daughter was about 2. Then I let myself go- that’s the truth.

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    • Karen Says:

      I don’t think she is saying she is over weight. Your skin stretches after childbirth. Your body is different. that does not mean you cannot get back to your pre-pregnancy weight but skin does not always snap back right in place afterwards.

      I do not think she is asking for a Hall pass. she is self conscious of it. Most Men if they have not experienced life, older and a bit more mature typically would not accept that kind of body. For some reason most men think they are deserving of a perfect body. OP said she does look good in clothes but pregnancy has changed her whether its stretch marks etc.. (btw, some women’s skin stretches better than others).. so I’m sure the peanut gallery will give all the details of how great they look after a baby. All I can say is that you are one of the fortunate one’s.

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    • LaMotta Says:

      Well, yeah. Guys don’t go through childbirth. It’s not the same.

      On the other hand, guys have it genetically harder to get rid of midriff fat. But women seem to intrinsically take that into account, since they don’t expect guys to have toned abs, really.

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  5. Raving Lunatic Says:

    I wonder, with the way the OP is putting pressure on herself, if she’s expecting the men she finds to actually meet that same standard she’s worried she’ll be held to. She’ll be disappointed if she is, and I hope she’ll be as forgiving as she wants them to be. Own your body and don’t be ashamed of it; by the same token, don’t expect perfection from your dates when you don’t have it to give, either.

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    • Kira Says:

      I just want them to work out a few times a week and prefer healthy food. I can’t be with a couch potato who only eats, well, fried potatoes. I can be forgiving of many body issues if the enjoyment of exercise and attention to healthy eating is there. Not looking for perfection by any means, but I’m worried that even men with imperfect bodies will reject me.

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  6. Howard Says:

    Enough of the “Kum byah yah” let’s get some reality into this. Yes I do feel for you and the pain of trying to put yourself out there when you feel a little insecure. We have all had that at some point. For me, at some time in the distant past, it was being broke and unemployed. I am trying to remember how I handled it back then to channel what would be the appropriate actions on your part.

    I had no problems dating an unemployed woman more broke than me. And if I dated someone, I can remember distinctly saying that I was unemployed and not doing that well for money. I may not have said it when I met the person, but somewhere on the date, I would be sure to mention it.

    At the end of the day you have to decide what standard you set for yourself, regarding informing the persons you date. You may not wish to adopt my standard of informing, but I would strongly urge you to do so in a light-hearted way at some point before you sleep with anyone.

    If you don’t, you will be back here claiming “pump and dump”. We are all a little materialistic. Need I remind you of your line at the end your letter.

    “Am I destined to only be desirable (even a little) to men who have worse bodies than I do?”

    So you don’t necessarily want guys with a body worse than yours, but you feel guys with a body better than yours should play nicer than spice with you. Hmmmmm!

    So given what you said at the end of your letter, please don’t villainize any guy that is uncomfortable with your body. In spite of what Moxie and all the glad-handlers on this board say, it’s still about being accepting of what our level is. Play the lottery, you may get lucky and get that desirable guy. But if you have problems getting him, don’t be mad, after all, you are not that enthused to give the guys with bad bodies their shot.

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  7. GI_JANE Says:

    The type of guy you attracted in your 20’s usually won’t be the same type of man who is attracted to you in your mid 30’s, especially if you’ve had major changes happen to your body.

    So you do totally need to adjust your exceptions of the type of man who will be attracted to you as well as yourself.

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  8. Kira Says:

    Hi, this is the OP. Thanks for the comments so far. I feel like I need to clarify a few things.

    1. DrivingMeNutes said: “Ha. I get it. She’s flabby in the midsection and unattractive but it’s okay because she has kids. But guys who are flabby must be lazy and unathletic. And guys just don’t get it that she’s allowed to be fat because she has a hall pass. Puh lease. People are overweight for a million different reasons that have nothing to do with character flaws. You don’t get a free pass just because you have kids and you don’t get to judge others for physical defects when you have them yourself.”

    But I’m not overweight, nor unattractive. I’m a fit size 6, if that’s overweight I guess I’ll just quit now. There is a difference between being overweight/flabby and having the loose skin/deflated boobs associated with bearing large babies. I don’t look the way I look as a result of laziness or lack of working out and I’m not seeking a free pass. I work out hard but exercise cannot fill my chest out or get rid of excess, stretch-marked skin. It’s completely different from men, because, last I checked, they can’t get pregnant, so even if they have kids, their bodies don’t bear the same scars as the mothers of their children.

    2. I can see where I came across as shallow when I wrote, “men with worse bodies than me.” I meant that exercise and eating right are important to me, and I would also like to find someone who values those things. I certainly don’t need anyone with a perfect body, my ex husband didn’t and I’m often attracted to guys with more than a few spare pounds. But what was lacking in my ex and some of the heavier guys was that shared enjoyment of physical activity and healthy eating.

    I guess I’m just wondering if, because of my age and unappealing chest/tummy, I’m going to have to settle for men who don’t work out ever because the guys who DO work out like I do will be disgusted by me. I’m not trying to date out of my league, I think I have a realistic impression of what I look like (average, cute-but-not-beautiful face), so it’s not like I’m planning to chase after Greek gods.

    I don’t even need guys to be close to that, I just want them to like to exercise and try to keep in good fitness. If they lost weight and have loose skin, that’s fine with me! If they exercise hard but have a genetic predisposition for a spare tire, no worries from me there, either. Scars all over their bodies? I don’t care. But will those guys, with their imperfect bodies, still prefer to chase after a woman with a more perfect one than mine?

    So, in the end, this is less about body type (well, not about the body types of the MEN, as I’m clearly concerned about my own) and more about activity levels. A guy with a reasonable level of fitness is usually going to look like he has a reasonable level of fitness, and won’t have to worry about how having babies made him less desirable when naked. Reading this blog it seems most men are concerned with looks first (they want a woman they want to have sex with) and everything else comes after that. Considering I’d likely sleep with a man before there’s some big commitment, how often am I going to be dumped in the dating game because childbearing wasn’t kind to me?

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    • mindstar Says:

      Well you won’t know until you try and in your own words they won’t see your “imperfect body” until you’re naked. Hopefully, they will have demonstrated that they are not overly judgmental before they reach that point.

      If you’re dating online mention in your profile (just as you did here) that you’re seeking “a guy with a reasonable level of fitness” and clarify that gym rats need not apply. You might want to consider meeting them for a mile jog early on in your dating since that will weed out the posers. A better option might be joining a running group or a fitness group that caters to a slightly older crowd.

      Lastly, and this is merely an observation on my part but I trust that you do not make comments such as “childbearing wasn’t kind to me” in the presence of your children. They are likely to be a far greater reward to you than many of the men you will meet.

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      • Kira Says:

        Oh, I absolutely don’t say that to my kids. Thanks for your advice, that’s a good idea about joining a running club or something similar.

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    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

      Men with imperfect bodies will still reject you because, just like you, they will have an excuse as to why it’s okay for them to be imperfect but not you. Maybe they are busy at work and don’t have time for extensive ab workouts. They are not fat. They are not ugly. They play a pick up game on the weekends with the guys. Why shouldn’t they be entitled to The Best just because their job makes it hard to have a six pack. All his guy friends agree too!

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      • Karen Says:

        DMN if any Man rejects her it’s all for the better then. Not all will and she never said she would reject a Man with an imperfect body… really?

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        • DrivingMeNutes Says:

          Well, her original concern was that she might have to settle for a fat man. In a rational word, such a focus on physicality from someone concerned about her own physical imperfections would be nothing short of bizarre. But, this is not that world. This is this world and her attitude is par for the course for both genders. I agree it’s all for the best for everyone involved.

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          • Karen Says:

            no one is perfect, not the person who thinks they are. Everyone has some kind of flaw. It’s about finding compatibility. The older you get the shed the shallow stuff. My concern if OP talking about the younger Men & that’s not the answer or the route to go.

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    • Karen Says:

      OP, I am size 4 and I also had large babies. I get it. Generally, men are that shallow the younger they are. Moxie hit it spot on. consider Older men with children. Even if you could pull younger Men as you say I wouldn’t for various reasons. Especially if you have a few children, concerns of being accepted with post pregnancy concerns with your body. As Moxie said find someone that really likes you and the rest will fall into place. It’s not really about finding a fit Man, it’s more about concerns with your own body issues. because of those body issues does not mean you have to accept someone who does not work out & not concerned with their fitness.

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      • Kira Says:

        Thanks! Yes, I am completely self-conscious, but also more accepting of my body now than when I was in my 20s and pre-babies. The older I get the less I care, but I still care too much about how others think I look.

        For the record, I’m not trying to pull younger men at all, they just seem to be the only ones asking me out. I’ll be giving online dating a try soon and I plan to make my age range skew older and would be hesitant to go for a relationship with someone who doesn’t also have children, for many reasons.

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    • LaMotta Says:

      Here’s a crazy idea… find some guys who (as you put it) “lost weight and have loose skin”. There’s quite a few out there.

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      • Kira Says:

        Well, that’s just it, isn’t it? None of us can know what’s underneath the other’s clothes until they come off. We judge first based on what the clothed body looks like. I wouldn’t be repelled to see something different under the clothes, maybe because I know what I’m hiding under mine. I just fear a negative reaction to what MY body looks like.

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    • noquay Says:

      Kira
      I get what you’re saying; despite my crappy legs and hips, I am a size 4-6, on a 5’7″body. Yep, none of us are perfect, yep, some of us work damn hard to stay in shape but still do not look the way we want to. Where the problem lies is between someone who exercises self care and someone who doesn’t care. An active and a sedentary person seldom mesh well. Not just attraction but everyday stuff such as who does the work, what meals are eaten, what activities you engage in together. Day to day incompatibility breeds resentment on both sides, plus creates an unhealthy, stressful environment for your kids. Not good. Folks that are heavy due to poor lifestyle face a multitude of severe health problems, usually starting in middle age, joints, heart, kidneys due to hypertension, circulation, diabetes; these all feed off of one another. Have been going thru this with my dad for nearly 20 years, it ain’t pretty.

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    • Rosie Says:

      I think you’re worrying too much. Deflated boobs happen to us all (whether we gave birth or not). I think you’ll find someone that likes physical activity, but might not be in the best physical shape at the gym. Or have you tried joining a meetup for physical/social activities? Even if you don’t meet the man of your dreams you’ll have some fun.

      From a woman who has more male than female friends- men don’t worry about deflated boobs as much as you think.

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  9. D'Alias Says:

    Op, I think you need to learn to be comfortable and proud of your new body. If youre that unhappy with your midsection after working out a few years, then maybe you are a candidate for surgery (I know it’s expensive, but I have no clue what your budget/credit is like).

    If surgery isn’t realistic for you, then I think you may want to do a little self inventory. 1.) not all people who take health seriously, eat fairly well, and exercise are slim. Go into any gym and you’ll see obese people working out right alongside you. 2.) My cardinal dating rule: picture your ideal couple. Objectively evaluate how fat away you are from your feminine ideal. Then, aim for men about as far away from your masculine ideal as you are from your feminine one. 3.) Experiment a bit to see if you can be into men that you never would’ve given a chance when you were “hot”. 4.) Don’t make excuses for your flaws because it sounds insecure. Just fix them or accept them. 5.) No need to de-spanx, unmakeup, and droop yourself. Most MEN know we use these things. They’ll just assume you aren’t capable of looking any better than you do in your photos. 6.) Accept now that there will be men who blow you off, pump and dump, or treat you below what you consider a minimum standard. It happens to the hottest girls/guys out there every now and then. 7.) always remember, your goal is to find the man you care for who cares for you. The rest are just distractions or learning tools. Try not to let them get to your head. 8.) don’t forget to have fun. Good luck.

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    • Karen Says:

      sorry for my bad sentences… I’m trying to type & multi task. I meant to say not even the Person who thinks that they are perfect ARE PERFECT. we all have flaws. My perceptions have changed every decade from 30’s to 40’s and now early 50’s. I worry about those that have the same insecurities that they did in their 30’s when they turn 50 yet I see it all the time. everyone has to experience some growth and realize that when you are in your 30’s the perceptions of a person in their 40’s to early 50’s differ. age range makes a HUGE difference. OP if you are in your 30’s you will work through these insecurities and grow from seeing and learning what is out there and what works for you. Don’t bend to fit someone else’s mold. It’s about fitting together.

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  10. Erin Says:

    The original OP clearly states that “guys who work out will be disgusted by me”! More than anything else if the OP is clearly the small size she says she is whether her body changed because of birth or not she sounds like she has issues in her own head she needs to deal with before she begins to seriously date. It sounds like either you are not being truly honest with your body size or YOU seriously have issues in your own head that NO MAN thin or otherwise will help you fix until you fix the issues yourself.

    ANYONE thin or fat, fit or unfit, wealthy or poor, successful or unemployed etc., etc., etc., who is going to make so many judgements before even meeting a person is setting themselves up to be desperately unhappy. Whatever the category you are concerning yourself with you can do exactly as this OP is doing and judging people before you even meet them as to what they are going to think of you is off the charts crazy. Deal with your personal body issues and either change them or accept them and go about meeting someone in the real world. They are either going to like you or not like you but more than likely it will have more to do with attitude than stretch marks and loose skin I never had children so I am not familiar with the issues you speak of personally but I have many friends who have given birth and they deal with the issues. As many people have said before me you seem to want some guy in perfect shape who will not judge you but you are judging them before you have even met them. I know you said you don’t care if they have extra pounds but your attitude says otherwise.

    Remember this, you can date a guy who is in perfect shape and has every wonderful imagined quality you have ever dreamed of and the next year he could get cancer and die a slow agonizing death very much out of shape and unable to do anything. YOU never know what life is going to throw at you each and every day that you are alive on earth so you really need to grow up and figure out what is really important. Your issues in your own head are holding you back and only you can work on those issues.

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    • Jesse Says:

      Easy there! You need to please realize that some women suffer such body changes as a result of pregnancy that afterwards their mid sections are highly distorted — really freak-show stuff, unimaginable if you’ve never seen it firsthand. I’m not talking mere stretch marks.

      It’s all nice to tell someone to live with it, but in practice it is very difficult. Someone suggested plastic surgery, which while helpful, will not restore the appearance to that of her pre-child days. Though she seems far along accepting her situation, she still is in a hurtful and vulnerable place.

      Sounds corny, but perhaps a friends-first approach with sex delayed until a strong relationship has developed, one where one’s superficial aspects can be more easily overlooked, might lead to what she is looking for.

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      • Tinker Says:

        I agree with a lot of your comment but plastic surgery can cause real improvements and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. And I’m afraid long-delayed sex may just set her up for disappointment (either hers or his). I think the point some other posters have made about some men being more familiar and okay with these post-pregnancy body changes is valid. Take heart OP, not everyone needs/expects perfection.

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    • Kira Says:

      I really came across poorly if people think I want someone with a perfect body.

      I am unhappy with my body and feel (possibly irrationally so) that no one I find attractive will also find me attractive. I’m NOT saying I’m only attracted to people with perfect bodies, not at all. I am saying I want to be with someone who exercises regularly and eats well most of the time. In MOST cases, that is evident by how a person looks, in general. Again, I’m not looking for perfect, but I would absolutely not be attracted to an obese man. People don’t become obese by eating right and exercising regularly, so obesity is a fairly clear indicator that a person does not, in fact, exercise or eat well. If I were a man stating I wouldn’t date an obese women, I don’t think anyone would bat an eyelash. But because I’m 36 and have kids apparently I’m not allowed to have hope to be with someone who’s not seriously overweight.

      I am being totally honest about my size. I’m a size 6. I get approached by men when I’m out. I smile a lot, I have fun and it shows, I’m not shy, my arms and legs are toned, my waist even looks relatively flat when clothed (even without Spanx). I even look moderately ok in my underwear if it is high enough, though my stomach muscles are separated and I have stretch marks. But there’s loose skin and a “flap” from c-sections. Google c-section flap or overhang to get an idea.

      I am completely guilty of having a bad self-image and having the deflated chest and saggy skin from pregnancy and c-sections makes it worse. I try my best to not let it show, though.

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    • noquay Says:

      Erin
      There’s a huge difference between a person getting cancer due to a bad “luck of the draw”, certainly one would see them through it if one had any sort of decent character vs. a person getting cancer because they refused to stop smoking or had a major stroke or heart attack due to decades of poor lifestyle choices, long before they ever met you. In either case, if you are in a committed relationship or married to this person, yep, it is you that will be doing most of their care, driving them to medical appointments, spending your money on what they need as they may never be able to make a living again. A good many folks have no or inadequate health care coverage, especially if theyre of average income or lower. The OP would also be still raising her kids or putting them thru college. Kinda like investing in a car; one can buy a used car that looks good, runs good because it was well maintained, or you can settle for a car that wasn’t taken care of so it’s easier to obtain. The former may have parts wear out but hopefully repairs will be minor if done in a timely fashion. The latter is almost guaranteed to break down and leave you with huge repair bills, take away a lot of your time, and probably leave you stranded in this middle of nowhere in a snowstorm.

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  11. LostSailor Says:

    Kira, I agree with Moxie’s advice. Younger men will presumably have more options and may be more likely to be looking for someone who looks a put-together undressed as they do dressed. And if they don’t have more options, I’d bet they aren’t really positive relationship material.

    I think you’ll find better results by trying the field of men older than you are, for several reasons, including the ones Moxie notes: they probably have more experience with women who have less than perfect bodies and won’t be “shocked” when the clothes come off. Plus, while it’s been argued endlessly around these parts, it’s still true that those men will be looking most for younger women, which puts you right in the wheelhouse.

    You may be surprised. A while back I got into a FWB situation with a woman about 5 years younger who was naturally slim and attractive. But she, too, was very apprehensive when we first got together because she had gone through a number of surgeries for gastrointestinal issues, and her abdomen was crisscrossed by a lot of scars. Frankly, it made absolutely no difference to me.

    Mainly because good chemistry is more than just a taut body and any physical flaws are usually balanced by other, sometimes more important, factors. If you’re interesting, engaging, pleasant to be around, and enthusiastic in bed, I doubt an older guy is going to care much about a little excess skin or less than perky breasts.

    But one of the things, as Moxie noted, that will definitely affect how chemistry develops is your own attitude toward your body. And what seems to be a slight chip on your shoulder about the results of childbearing that don’t affect men; you mention it several times in the OP and your comments. If you’re going to be “freaked out” about what you consider an “unappealing chest/tummy” that’s going to be evident and may be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    To echo Moxie, if you’re uncomfortable with yourself, that will make guys uncomfortable with it. Or, to look at it another way, if you’re uncomfortable and unaccepting of your own body, why should you expect guys to act differently?

    Take a deep breath. Relax. Work on and worry about what you can change and let the rest be…

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    • Kira Says:

      Thank you, this was a very good response and you are right, my own attitude toward my body could ultimately be my undoing. I try my hardest to act more confident than I am but my insecurities could still shine through. I’m just privately very concerned about the potential for negative reactions to my body because my middle doesn’t match the rest of my body.

      Also, you’re right, I do feel a little jealous that men don’t have to go through the same issues related to childbirth – they can work out hard and typically be rewarded with a good body in the end. I’m not bitter toward men because of it, I just wish that working out could alter MY body to my satisfaction. Only surgery can do that.

      I wrote to Moxie because I wanted to be prepared – to get opinions from people about how badly my post-baby body might be judged by men who are otherwise possibly expecting me to have a nicer stomach and chest than I really do, based on what they see when I’m clothed.

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      • LostSailor Says:

        Some men will be judgmental about it, some won’t. It’s a matter of character that you’ll have to decide as you get to know them. Hell, even you are judgmental about it. But that you can change…

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  12. Bogey44 Says:

    To echo what others have said, your own insecurities about it will be the biggest hurdle you’ll have to come, not whatever physical limitations you feel you have. Some men my have a problem with it, but the mature ones who like you for who you are won’t. So any guy that takes issue with how your stomach/chest looks with the clothes off, consider that a bullet dodged. Any guy that makes that big of a deal about it, while understanding that you have children, either has a low level of maturity or an unrealistic view of what a normal woman’s body looks like and that kind of person is not someone you want to be with anyway.

    In my opinion, the biggest thing you need to cut out is feeling sorry for yourself because of what child birth did to your body. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but we all have physical limitations that we’re a little insecure about and CAN NOT change. To say or believe that one has it worse than others is just going to seep into your behaviors and cause issues. For example, I’m 5’6″. I’m short, and most women find tall men attractive. If there was a way to gain two or three more inches in height would I take it? Sure, but I can’t so why worry about it. Instead I screen online dating profiles for women who don’t make an issue about height, generally go after women who are shorter than me, and understand that some will still reject me because I’m not tall enough. And that’s okay, after all if a virtual stranger rejects me simply because of my height and for no other factor it’s no skin off my back, and I wouldn’t want a person like that anyway.

    You sound like you work reasonably hard to look the best you can so take pride in that. Next time you’re in the gym look around at all the other people working out around you. Chances are the vast majority have some physical flaw they’re trying to work through. Some you’ll notice, and others you won’t. It sucks that childbirth is rough on a woman’s body, but while you may not have known the extent of it the first time you gave birth you should have had an idea you wouldn’t look the same. And the next time of birth you certainly knew this fact. It’s your circumstance now and you have to own it. You made a choice with at least some level of knowledge that this would be the result, and you were blessed with gifts (your children) for it. There are plenty of people who will never be able to completely overcome their flaws no matter how hard they work. I have a friend who, no matter how hard he works out, will never have a six pack. He’ll never be skinny. He’ll always look a little on the husky side. His parents are both big people, and presumably other members of his family are as well. It’s the way his genes are wired. So while he may never get over the hump so to speak, he’s still a lot better off than if he let himself go completely. I have another friend with the opposite problem. He’s 5’9″ and weighs about 140 pounds. His metabolism is so strong that he literally can’t bulk up. He’s super skinny and at one point was going to the gym 5-6 days a week doing intense lifting exercises, heavy weight, low reps, short rest, all of that. He spent a lot of time researching muscle building routines, diets, protein supplements, etc, and guess what? Over that time he actually lost weight and got skinnier. He still works out, but he’s realized he’s probably not going to be a muscular dude. My point is you need some perspective. One could look at my skinny friend and think he’s lucky. He can eat pretty much whatever he wants and not gain a pound. But he’s insecure about being so skinny, so it doesn’t really “help” him. Or my other friend, who no matter how hard he tries can’t get past a certain point. He could hear your complaints about how unfair childbirth was to you and think, “well what about me? I still have a bit of a gut no matter how hard a try and I don’t even have anything to show for it.”

    We’ve all got issues and when we start feeling sorry for ourselves is when others start to resent us. Whatever toll childbirth took on your body, it gave you what many people would consider the greatest gifts one can receive, your children. Focus on that, and consider anyone who has an issue with the way you look with your clothes off as a bullet dodged. Good luck!

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  13. Betty Says:

    “The only men who expect women to look identical in and out of their clothes are men who haven’t seen many women naked.”

    BOOM. Fact.

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  14. Llyne Says:

    Just pointing out that I think it is inaccurate to state that simply because a man is young he won’t “get” a womans body after having children. First off, plenty of young girls have children and have had their bodies affected by it. Not to mention just because a woman is young, does not mean she will have a perfect body like in porn. Not even young women who have had no children look like that. I know plenty of young women with cellulite, loose skin and flab. So I disagree that only “older men” will be comfortable with a post baby body.

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