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The Big Question: If it wasn’t your fat, what was it? | Manolo for the Big Girl

The Big Question: If it wasn’t your fat, what was it?

Years ago, Francesca went on a blind date with a particular man who turned out to be smart, fun, and good-looking. We ate wonderful food at a romantic restaurant, and our conversation was even better than the food.

Then he didn’t call.

This being years ago, Francesca assumed that the man had been turned off by Francesca’s fat. Because isn’t that always the way? And this being years ago, Francesca was Not In A Good Place, and she called the man to find out why he didn’t want to go out again. She was, perhaps, a glutton for punishment as well as for excellent food (ha!).

Anyway, after all that time that Francesca had been down on herself for being Too Fat for this smart, fun, good-looking man, it turned out — he admitted this after swearing Francesca to secrecy — that he was an alcoholic, and this date was his first in years because he did not want to subject his problem on another person, and he realized after we met that he’d been kidding himself thinking he was ready to date again, and he was so sorry, and in fact he thought Francesca was beautiful.

You see? Not About the Fat.

Often, rejection by a man is about the Fat. However, sometimes, sometimes, it is really about something else. Perhaps he is depressed. Perhaps he has a girlfriend. Perhaps he only likes women with curly hair. Perhaps he has the flu. Perhaps he has a crush on someone and no one else measures up. Perhaps he’s an alcoholic.

Francesca wants to know: In cases wherein you were able to ascertain why you were being rejected by a man, what was it about, other than Your Fat?

28 Responses to “The Big Question: If it wasn’t your fat, what was it?”

  1. AmelieWannabe February 12, 2009 at 10:39 am #

    Oh, without a doubt, it’s that I’m too aggressive, too brash, too brazen. In other words, a real handful. I thank my lucky stars every single day that I met my husband, oh he of infinite patience.

  2. Sarahbyrdd February 12, 2009 at 11:05 am #

    Liberal politics when dating a conservative, dating too soon after the other person’s divorce, and not being a Member Of The Tribe (evidently schiksas *are* just for practice (at least in those two cases)).

  3. jen209 February 12, 2009 at 11:06 am #

    This recalls a very recent dating experience for me. I had a really good date (7 hours long!) with this guy, and then he disappeared for 2 weeks. Of course I spent those two weeks over-analyzing things – was it the fat? was I too aggressive? did I miss signs that he wasn’t having fun? was the goodbye awkward? bla bla bla. Then he calls out of the blue and asks me out again. I am overjoyed, and we once again have a pretty good date. Then after some emails back and forth, he disappears again.

    After the first time I decided I was done over-analyzing and worrying. However, my friends and I have decided that he is a CIA agent, and that accounts for why he disappears all the time. I never really knew what his “company” did, and he never talked about work – and I live in the DC area, so CIA agent is not out of the ordinary.

    Whatever. I deserve more than him anyway.

  4. Linda February 12, 2009 at 12:39 pm #

    Twice it was because the men in question were hung up on their previous girlfriends. Both went back to them.

  5. class factotum February 12, 2009 at 1:11 pm #

    On Monday, I asked my husband this very question — why didn’t anyone want to date me years ago? Was I too chubby? Not pretty enough? He said that there was nothing wrong with how I looked and had a whole list of reasons that had nothing to do with my weight: solitary, intimidating, too self-assured.

    My question when he returns home on Sat will be, “Then what attracted you?” :)

  6. class factotum February 12, 2009 at 1:15 pm #

    Oh! I forgot the best one, though. What if the guy is gay? In high school, Keith U. told me he didn’t want to kiss me (our one kiss) because I “tasted like macaroni.” (Because that’s what I had had for supper.) Then he ditched me before the Christmas formal, after having spent months coming over to my house to hang out, driving me to school, etc, etc.

    I spent years thinking I just wasn’t attractive enough for this guy. After all, he was a star swimmer, a ranger in ROTC — a guy’s guy. I was the chubby smart girl with glasses. You know. A man magnet.

    Twenty years later, I googled him and found him on a gay athletes website. He has a very distinctive last name, so I knew it was he. He was gay! He was gay! It never had anything to do with me. Why didn’t he figure it out in high school and save me the trauma?

  7. BrooklynShoeBabe February 12, 2009 at 1:44 pm #

    To make a long story short, ten years ago my husband and I were in a BAD PLACE. I discovered he was having an affair with plans to leave me for her. I was screaming, crying, and throwing a fit trying to figure out what it was about this woman that made him want to leave me. I ticked off all my self-hate fears: prettier? fertile? smarter? better in bed? My husband shook his head to all of those. Finally, I burst out “is it because I’m fat?” I screamed the question over and over until I fell into a heap. He held me and told me that I wasn’t fat. He told me I was pretty, sexy, smart, and hated when I described myself negatively as fat. The bottom line was that it wasn’t me or my body. It was him. She was an escape from the tough reality we were having. I was real and she wasn’t, so to speak. Eventually we worked things out and revived our marriage, and, in the end, I was relieved to hear that it wasn’t about the fat.

  8. Erinn February 12, 2009 at 1:58 pm #

    Many moons ago, before I found the man of my dreams and was still looking for love, I had a lovely thing developing with a friend-of-a-friend who came into town to visit friends and family over a Christmas holiday. We met by chance at our mutual friends’ house, and long after our friends had gone to bed, we sat on the front stoop of their house talking. The whole night went by in a flash, and we watched the sun come up together.

    While I wouldn’t consider our subsequent time together as dating, we did enjoy one another’s company, and it seemed like there might be *possibility*, even if that possibility was only for friendship.

    After a few heavy make-out sessions, the final time I saw him in person, we hit that ol’ home run, so to speak – and he stopped talking to me. Now, this isn’t the sort of guy who would just ditch a friend and lover. I thought at the time that he was just not happy with my physical performance.

    I’m not the type to beat myself up when others don’t accept my as I am, but it still occurred to me to think about what I could have done to alienate him. Was I not pretty enough? Maybe I was too forward? I know what I like, and I’m not afraid to ask for it.

    After some thought, and some shared ruminations with mutual friends, I decided that the problem he obviously had wasn’t about me. Although I can’t confirm it, based on a truthful look at all the evidence and the personalities involved, I think his own fears about intimacy played a role. Possibly the idea of being emotionally committed to someone who lived far away was too daunting for him.

    Don Miquel Ruiz says, in his book _The Four Agreements_, “Don’t take [things] personally…What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.” I can only figure that, if my former friend was interested in endeavoring, with me, to overcome whatever issue he has with me or himself, he would have approached me and asked me to participate.

    A funny dénouement – he married a woman about a year later who shares my name (minus the extra “n” in mine). Maybe that’s the Erin he was supposed to meet! (-:

  9. Ravna February 12, 2009 at 2:19 pm #

    Oh, wow.. there have been many different reasons.
    One time it was because his grandmother(!?!) didn’t like me and even investigated my background and then bullied him into breaking up with me. Since I wouldn’t want to be with a backboneless person like that anyway I didn’t shed any tears over it. I got really mad though!
    Other than that it has been that I’ve always been too Independent and not helpless enough. Somehow men seem to want to be the hero from time to time. My husband, whom I adore is also that way. He knows I’m perfectly capable myself but he taught me I don’t need to do everything myself. It’s alright to let a guy take your bags, open the door and be a gentleman :)

  10. Twistie February 12, 2009 at 2:44 pm #

    For a while I kept meeting and being attracted to guys with an agenda no woman can possibly fulfill: that of the beautiful, intelligent, independant-minded woman who agreed with every single thing that particular guy thought about life, the universe and everything.

    I knew it really was their problem rather than mine when two exes of mine stood there in the middle of a party where I thought we were all getting along just fine and announced to the entire room that they found me terribly threatening.

    Yeah, five-foot-two, eyes of blue little me is really scary.

    Oh, and the day I told Mr. Twistie I didn’t like a song he’d written, there were sighs of relief on both sides. He didn’t change a thing about the song, because he loved and believed in it, and as it turned out everybody else in the world really liked it. But he was relieved because he knew I would always tell him what I really thought of what he wrote even when it wasn’t what he wanted to hear, and I was relieved because he could take the criticism of his song without being threatened and without assuming that my opinion of it was more valid than his. He listened with respect, considered what I’d said, and decided what was worth taking on board and what was not. A couple of criticisms I’ve made have resulted in changes in songs. Others haven’t. The important thing is that I know I’m being heard and valued, and he knows I’m always going to be honest about what I think.

    Unlike the others, I guess he really did want an independant-minded woman.

  11. Kai Jones February 12, 2009 at 2:48 pm #

    Well, I’ve been told reasons; some of them I believe, others not so much. On the list: I wanted to go farther than he did (more than just kissing, that is); he wanted to date other women, not just one; I didn’t share *any* of his ideas about what life was supposed to be like, what tv to watch, when to go out and when to stay home (that was true and a good reason); he’d been dating someone else all along and they got “more serious” (have heard that line from more than one guy).

  12. zanthine February 12, 2009 at 3:33 pm #

    I’ve been too tall for a couple of guys (this was both before and after I was heavy) which just seems weird to me. Is it really that big a deal to have a girl taller than you? Guys = weird!

    I’ve also been too independent; but at least I understand that one!

  13. Oskiette February 12, 2009 at 4:07 pm #

    I read this entry, and all the comments, and I thought about my love life, which I’ve always considered a disaster area. Then I realized… that it’s never been about my fat, and yet somehow over the years I’ve gotten it into my head that it’s ALWAYS been about my fat. How did I let that happen? The men I’ve been with have always been not so good men (my first and only boyfriend cheated multiple times, and the fling I had this semester with a best friend ended when he started treating me like something scraped off his shoe in the intervals between intimacy). It was always… them. And never, ever my fat. Sure, I thought about my fat (“omg he’s touching itttttttt”) when we were in bed, but now that I think back, HE didn’t care… it was always me. Now my ex boyfriend is engaged to a girl who happens to be a fatter fat than I, and my fling has continued to see every blonde blue eyed Abercrombie specimen who goes to our college. So it continues to be NOT about my fat, but about everything else… and yet I can’t get rid of the feeling.

  14. Syd February 12, 2009 at 5:00 pm #

    Well, I think my love life was about my fat because I made it that way – I never got out there and tried for what I really wanted because I felt no one would want me. However, I don’t know if that is true since I never allowed myself to find out. I eventually made friends with a great guy online and was worried when he really saw me he would hate me – but instead the instant he saw me he thought, “That’s my wife” – and so I was :)

    I will take a moment to say something else on my mind, about doctors that think you are fat ergo you are unhealthy and any health problem you have is simply because you’re fat. I have had 3 doctors tell me that my wheezing as I breathe was because the fat made my throat too small. I have always had the fat, but not the wheezing! Finally it took a lowly resident without preconceived notions to identify in less than 10 minutes that I had asthma. Hello!! What is the matter with this picture?

  15. class factotum February 12, 2009 at 5:07 pm #

    I have often wished it were my weight because that’s something I can, in theory, control. If it really is just me — my personality, whatever — then do I have to do something to change how I am? Does it mean I am essentially unlikeable?

    Weight is easier to fix.

    But it’s usually the guy. :)

  16. Constance Kent February 12, 2009 at 6:23 pm #

    I must echo what others have previously posted:

    1. political incompatibility (he was a rabid Republican, I’m ultra-liberal)
    2. religious incompatibility (he was a born again Christian, I’m agnostic)
    3. my personality (too loud, too outspoken, too independent, too demanding)
    4. my IQ (I was clearly smarter than he was and just couldn’t dumb myself down enough for his comfort level)
    5. he was already “committed” to someone else and was just looking for a little diversion (this has happened more times than I like to admit)
    6. cultural differences (he was Turkish and wound up marrying a nice young Turkish girl his mother selected)

  17. Jane February 12, 2009 at 7:32 pm #

    With my ex-husband, he SAID it was about my fat, but I believe in my heart that it was about his depression.

    Since then, I’ve gone on a bunch of first dates, a couple of second dates, and a few more with this one guy who tells me I’m beautiful.

    I don’t have complete data, but I know one guy went back to his ex and another realized his mental-health issues didn’t allow him room in his life for a relationship. If anyone thought it was about my fat, he was nice enough not to tell me, and I was able to say “Next!”

  18. lacie February 12, 2009 at 9:01 pm #

    The hardest rejection I got was about a man liking me too much.. I wanted a casual romance and he was afraid I’d meet someone and he would have to watch me fall for someone else.

    I’m learning that it is rarely about body because I’m still the same cute, chubby girl and men seem to like it just fine!

  19. emmme February 13, 2009 at 2:10 am #

    In college, a guy I was casually jumping and to whom I was rather disrespectful because of it ended our liasons because I was “very condescending.” I said I was surprised he could spell it. I’ve never had a guy say it was about my fat. If they hated it that much, they wouldn’t ask us out. Mostly I think my breakups were because I was either too cold or too clingy.

  20. Rosa February 13, 2009 at 12:50 pm #

    Ummm – Francesca? Plumcake? Twistie? Some of these comments are perilously close to – if not over the line – in terms of anti-semitism and homophobia. Now, I know that most people here get weirded out whenever I bring up anything same-sex or lesbian or use the f-word – yeah, I mean feminism (b/c god forbid, we may be fat but we too get really queasy about society’s linkage of “big girls” aka fat women with feminism or lesbianism) but comments like: I was rejected because I wasn’t a “Member of the Tribe” or because he “should” have figured out he was gay in high school just aren’t cute.

    Getting over one’s own self-loathing shouldn’t entail trashing other categories of people
    and I really expect better of this blog.
    Oh, and by the way, it’s spelled “shiksa.”

  21. rabrab February 13, 2009 at 1:29 pm #

    The one I *really* know the reason for was kind of odd: we were both in high school and both had plans for what we wanted to do/be that hinged on first of all getting the hell out of the insular town we lived in and getting college degrees.

    The problem was that the best colleges for his field and the best job markets for it were on either coast, while the best for mine were in the Midwest.

    This was in the late 70s, so long-term, long-distance relationships were much more expensive to maintain (no internet, no IM, no unlimited-minutes phone plans). We both knew that neither one was ready to trade in our own dreams to tag along on someone elses.

    We agreed to go our separate ways.

  22. Sara A February 13, 2009 at 5:21 pm #

    One notable told me that I was too good for him and that he wasn’t capable of loving me in the manner I deserved, turned out he was right.

  23. Synnamin February 13, 2009 at 10:01 pm #

    I get “intimidating” a lot. I’m self-assured with great posture and I’m successful and polished. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve been told that I’m intimidating and “mysterious.”

    thankfully my current guy only finds me “mysterious” and thinks that I’m the hottest thing on two legs.

  24. Jo February 14, 2009 at 10:30 pm #

    It’s interesting that my ex-husband left me after I found what I’d wanted to do with my life, and before I got fat…but I always couched it in terms of being about the fat.

    The woman he left me for (and whom he’s still with) is indecisive. And kind of weak. And flighty. And not really interested in being strong, or tough, or putting work into herself. I can say that, because for fourteen years, she was the best friend I had.

    Funny, how after I went to school and discovered what I was good at and what made me confident and self-loving, he turned to her. He couldn’t brain-fuck me into being a skinny, un-confident, off-balance little demure wife any more.

    So. It *so* ain’t about the fat. A lot of times, it’s about the things that we’ve developed *because of the fat*–the brains, the self-reliance, the toughness, the humor.

  25. Francesca February 17, 2009 at 5:29 am #

    Rosa-

    I understand your point. And, I think everyone here understands that when discussing past relationships, which are complex and emotional, people express
    themselves with a sort of abandon that reflects more about their
    feelings about the relationship than it does about any category of
    people. I didn’t see the comments as anti-Semitic or homophobic
    because it never occurred to me that our readers would, on average, be
    those things. It may also be a regional thing. In New York, for
    example, there are so many Jews that saying one is not a “member of
    the tribe” is considered simply a familiar, jocular way of referring
    to oneself as a gentile. It is also more acceptable to make light of
    someone’s gayness in a subculture where homosexuality is an accepted
    part of the social scene.

    Again, Francesca understands your concern, and if she herself saw any
    bigotry in the comments she would delete them. What she sees, instead,
    is women who probably hang out a lot with Jews and homosexuals — we
    have a fairly urbane audience — dealing with painful dating histories
    and making light of themselves and their exes.

  26. Catherine February 17, 2009 at 1:26 pm #

    I’ve only been dating for a year and a half or so, was married for a decade and a half before that. I am very clear with everyone that I date that I’m only looking for something rather casual. At first, most guys will say that they are fine with this, but I’m finding that many men don’t know what to do with someone confident enough to draw that line.

    So… while I obsessed during the declining years of my marriage that I wouldn’t be able to meet anyone, I’ve found that without losing a pound, I can meet all kinds of people. I just can’t get over the idea that I’d have to give up my freedom to continue to see them.

    You just never know.

  27. JenniferP April 25, 2010 at 12:00 pm #

    This was linked at the bottom of another recent post, so I circled back and re-read, and something really struck me about how many times the word “intimidating” came up, because I get that a lot from people too.

    I wonder sometimes how my large body has freed me from a lot of B.S. I *can’t* fade into the background. I take up a lot of space, physically. This body is a big canvas, so I dress it – awesomely. I have a big personality and a big laugh. I don’t second-guess myself much. I speak up in conversations like my opinions matter.

    I have many female friends and get along well with women and love them, so I’m not claiming that “I get along better with men than women” thing, but I know growing up I had a very hard time fitting into mainstream/conventional female groups, so a lot of my friends were boys and men OR other girls who had a hard time getting into the cool crowd. So those endless locker room and lunch table conversations where girls enforce the status quo on each other – “I’m so fat!” “You’re not fat!” – I witnessed them, but wasn’t a part of them. I didn’t go to the mall with groups of girls on the weekends. We didn’t do each other’s hair or trade clothes. I felt like I was being excluded then, but maybe I was free of a lot of policing and subtle bullying, too – like, I couldn’t fit in anywhere, so I HAD to stand out, so eventually I owned it and chose to stand out. I wasn’t considered pretty, and I felt unpretty, so I never learned to lead with pretty. So I led with smart instead. Or funny. Or, in bad low-self esteem times, mean & funny, but I’m mostly recovered.

    So in dating situations, I get called “intimidating.” Sometimes that takes on a really creepy cast if the guy turns out to be not-so-nice, like “Your self-confidence is all out of whack with what you should be settling for,” so I usually answer that with “Really? Thanks!” and move on.

    One of the things I love about this blog is that it’s about being beautiful. Like I can be TEH SMRT and also have really well-groomed eyebrows. It’s that girl-training I missed out on in high school and college, but without all the self-hating B.S.