One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

ASK RONI Q&A

A Weekend Quote All Mixed up with an Ask Roni about Dating that I don’t know how to Answer.

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I’m combining this weekend’s quote with an Ask Roni. The truth is, I was going through the queue of question I have preparing to do an Ask Roni video yesterday. Then I hit one that stopped me in my tracks. Jennie stumped me. I understand what she’s asking, I can empathize and put myself in her situation but I can’t solve it. Everything that popped in my head sounded like a cheesy attempt to inspire with no substance. No specific advice.

Her question stayed with me all day today. I found myself contemplating it while driving. Every time I had a free moment it seemed to pop in my head.

Roni,

I have been fat for a long time, and I am also kind of rebellious by nature. I made a decision about a year ago that I would not beat myself up about my weight and wouldn’t try to lose weight again until I could do it out of love and care for myself rather than out of self-hatred. Recently I have started working out and paying better attention to what I eat and I have lost almost 20 lbs so far. Ultimately I would like to lose about 110 lbs. Despite this progress toward taking better care of myself, I am still stuck in the mentality that I will do this or that after I have gotten rid of the weight. I remember you mentioning that it’s important to go out and live life before you lose weight, just the way you are now. I completely agree, I have tried to do this as best as I can, and my question relates to this: How did you get yourself out into the dating world even with your extra weight to meet new people, date, and ultimately meet your husband? I know that fat women everywhere put themselves out into the dating world, but I have been unable to do this, AT ALL. Thus I am 26 years old and have never had a situation where I was interested in someone who was also interested in me, and I haven’t even kissed anyone, ever. I’m not looking to be married anytime soon, but I am falling well behind my peers with my lack of experience, and I want those experiences too! I know this is outside of the realm of the questions you usually receive, but I’m sure I’m not the only fat girl out there who has trouble with dating. So, how did you do it?!

Jennie

First let me say, Jennie, GOOD FOR YOU! You are taking the first steps in the right direction. I love that you said "I made a decision about a year ago that I would not beat myself up about my weight and wouldn’t try to lose weight again until I could do it out of love and care for myself rather than out of self-hatred." What a great attitude! One that is VERY hard for some of us to get a handle on.

Ignoring the dating aspect for a minute I think you are doing the right thing by "trying". You say you are "doing this the best you can" that is, to live life before you lose the weight. Well, I’m here to tell ya, that’s all you can do, the best you can.

The funny thing is, the more you do it. The more you live life. The more you accept yourself, step out of your comfort zone and do all the things you’ve been avoiding because of your weight, the easier and easier it gets. I hate to use the word contagious but it’s the only word I can think of. You build confidence just like you lose weight, by taking baby steps. It’s better to do it slowly. Just as you can’t expect to drop all the weight overnight, you can’t expect to have a change in attitude and self-confidence overnight either.

I found this quote today and I think it’s genius…

“If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything.”
Win Burden

It made me think of you and your question when I saw it. Even though I think you are already coming to this conclusion all on your own I think it’s important to be reminded that things will never be "right", We will never be thin enough, pretty enough or perfect enough to do whatever it is we want to do.

Take me for instance. On more then just the body image front, I have always been super self-conscious of my writing. It’s not my strong suite, I realize this. My grammar sucks, I mix up then and than, I can’t spell and no matter how many times I proof read I miss major mistakes. I’m very aware of my lack of editing skills but if I waited to be a "perfect writer" I would have never started this blog. I decided to throw myself out there, bite the bullet and accept the fact that I can’t wait to share my ideas. People will have to accept me for what I am and more importantly, I will have to accept myself. I have things I want to accomplish, people I want to help. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard. I cringe knowing my posts aren’t perfect. I find mistakes in old writings and realize that they have been seen thousands of times (yikes… getting self conscious again… don’t think about Roni, don’t think about it.) But I still do it and I’m so glad I do or I would never meet awesome people like you! :)

Ok, back to this dating thing. This part of your question is so hard for me to answer as I’ve been out of the dating world for 14 years. FOURTEEN YEARS! Boy I’m getting old, that’s how long I’ve been with the husband, we met freshman year of college and I haven’t dated since. Back then I never cared much for dating, if I met someone great, if not, I was happy alone. Then again I was 18 and in no rush to meet anyone for a long term relationship. Little did I know… fast forward 14 years and look at me now.

It would be really easy for me to say, just wait. To tell you that if you live your life as an independent, happy, confident women that everything else will fall into place as it did for me. But I realize I’m lucky in this department and I also realize I’m not alone. I have someone. That’s why I say I understand what you are asking but I really don’t know how to answer it. So I’m going to relay on some of my friends to chime in. I think you’re right when you say there are others out there that will relate to you. I hope by sharing your question some of them will speak up and share their insights and perspectives.

Thank you Jennie for your question. I hope we get some comments and start a good discussion to help inspire you.



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Discussion

There are 29 comments so far.

    pam

    December 14, 2008

    I met my husband when I was heavier than I am now. When I read this post I don’t think I had ever thought of that before. I was always a person with many interests… a ” joiner”. I wanted to do things. Some of those things obviously got me to the heavier me…ex. drinking beer and eating pizza at 2am. ha ha! Despite my weight, he found me and loved me for other reasons. Which makes me love him even more! I can only suggest to Jennie that you get out there and start doing stuff that you love or dive into volunteering. I have personally found that when you start doing things for others….you will gain more than you give. What a perfect season to do this!!! In the process it will get you thinking less about the person you can be and more about the person you are already!!! A beautiful person on the inside and out!! You may even find the man of your dreams in the process….or the aunt of the man of your dreams and she’ll introduce you???? WHO KNOWS WHAT COULD HAPPEN! :) Good Luck Jennie!

    Rachel

    December 14, 2008

    I can totally relate to Jennie. Eight years ago I lost 120 pounds with Weight Watchers and up until that point had little if any experience with men. I was her age as well, or close and I understand completely how she is feeling.

    I didn’t start dating until most of my weight was gone, not because I felt too big but simply because it never occurred to me that I should. I was focused on my health and getting happier along the way. It was at the urging of friends that I began dating, mostly with people various people knew.

    At first it was SCARY. I was incredibly nervous about it and so I dated very causally at first. A dinner here, coffee there, maybe a movie. Nothing serious and that is how I suggest she start.

    Don’t read to much into the experience and don’t go on dates in hopes of finding any one thing. Just be yourself and have a good time. Get some practice with conversation and let yourself feel at ease with the process.

    I dated for a year after my weight loss before I met my husband. We’ve been married for four years and have a 2 year old daughter. But I was at the right place, a happy place, when I met him and it just clicked. It happens when you are relaxed and not expecting a thing.

    My advice is – live your life and love yourself and it will happen when it should. This is a very exciting time for you and I say – enjoy it.

    anotherRachel

    December 14, 2008

    This is a really important question. I’m in a great relationship now, but I was only ~20 pounds over my goal and at a healthy weight when we met, and I don’t think I would’ve put myself out there to meet him if I’d been heavier. I’ve made the mistake of sitting on the sidelines of life, losing friends, recoiling from being seen in public (and therefore a lot of wonderful experiences) because of body issues and self-confidence. Please don’t do what I did! I think that your goal should be to have as much fun and as many new experiences as possible and not to meet someone. That will come naturally when you are seen enjoying life, and feeling confident and fulfilled. You will draw people to you. If you’re shy or nervous about new experiences, the best thing to do is probably “fake it ’till you make it”. Just pick something you’ve wanted to do and promise yourself you’ll do it…soon it will feel natural. That might be taking dance lessons, singing karaoke, joining an activist group – anything! Plus, having these new, fun and interesting experiences will give you a lot to talk about when you do meet someone you want to try a date with. I worry that focusing on finding a date will take the focus off of you where it belongs right now, so I say just focus on you and let dates come naturally.

    Susan

    December 14, 2008

    I just finished reading “The Adventures of Diet Girl”. She battles a little bit with dating and finding someone when she is not at her goal weight. None the less, it is a great read Jennie.

    Brandi

    December 14, 2008

    This really is a very good question! I can honestly tell you that the answer I came to a long time ago was that you can’t be happy with someone else, until you can be happy with you. I’ve been in all kinds of places with my body, ranging from 155 to 95 pounds. And in all those places I never once thought I could date someone because I didn’t look like what I thought I should look like. Granted I met some great guys, AND some not so great guys, but in all cases it never worked out because I wasn’t living my life and loving my life. I was too caught up in ‘well when I lose the weight I will….” And I think its important to point out that I had those thoughts at my heaviest AND at my lightest weight.

    Even in my current relationship (I am 25 now and this is only my second REAL relationship) I find the relationship struggles when I am unhappy in rest of my life. So I fill it up with other things like bible studies, group fitness classes, coffee shop visits with friends, part time jobs I always wanted to try, new workouts I havn’t done, playing guitar/singing, working on paying off my debt, going out to a club on the weekends, classes I always wanted to take, etc etc. Things I never liked doing before because it was safer and easier to stay at home cause I ‘looked bad’.

    Don’t sweat being behind on the experience front. Like I said before, I’m 25 and I am just now in my 2nd real relationship. The experience will come when the time is right. You have to live your life, love your life, and let it happen. Get comfortable with you and the rest will follow suit. Get out there and try new things, meet new people, and learn the in’s and out’s of life in the ‘social lane’. Happiness and confidence draws people in, both friends and other interested parties :)

    Jay

    December 14, 2008

    Jennie,

    I’ll respond to this, as a guy.

    I’m far less concerned about your physical shape than WHO you are.
    Can you make me laugh? Are you kind? Thoughtful?

    You choice to stop trying to loose weight until you are TRULY excited about it is wise. I think that means that you are taking care of yourself in other ways (your spirit), and that’s very attractive.

    You sound like you are confidant in who you are – let that shine through other areas of your personality and I think guys will respond.

    I’ll also say this, because I’d be naive if I didn’t acknowledge it – looks ARE important to both men and women – so you can do nice things for yourself to accentuate your positive features (Hair, eyes, nails, etc). Not all men WANT to date skinny waifs. I don’t. But you can show that you take care of yourself (and thus care about yourself), which IS attractive.

    Hope this helps, for what it’s worth.

    Tara from Portland

    December 14, 2008

    I have been with my husband for 7 years now (I am 27). I have to say that I was at a point in my life where single was fun and I really didnt feel I needed to meet anyone. I only really cared about me. Then he came along. From other people in relationships (long ones, like Roni) I have heard the same type of scenario. You weren’t looking because you were enjoying life. There are a lot of great suggestions here, and while dating and family etc etc will always be on ones mind, enjoy singlehood while you can!

    Kit

    December 14, 2008

    Dating and weight loss are 99% mutually exclusive. And that 1% are all people you don’t want anything to do with anyways. It’s about attitude and confidence. I knew that it take me forgiving myself and loving myself before I could really love others. And though I’m not dating right now (guys around here are a bunch of weenies), I’m finding that I am making a lot of friends and that’s almost just as uplifting.

    Hang in there!

    Patty

    December 14, 2008

    I don’t really have much to add to this discussion, but I do want to say that I think it’s great that Jay commented above from a guy’s perspective.

    Amy

    December 14, 2008

    Take a few minutes and think about what you like to do. Personally I like to read, play video games, and spend time outdoors. Then I would think about different activities you can do that would help you meet people with the same interests. Join a book club at the local book store, look for gamer gatherings in your area, and join a hiking club or go on a hiking trip to the rockies.

    When you are doing these group activities try to meet as many people as you can. Make new friends, both men and women. Don’t try to meet someone to date just try to make new friends. You never know when you will make friends with a girl who wants to introduce you to her brother because you “just have to meet”.

    The most important thing is to take things that you already enjoy doing and expand your horizons. The people you will meet will enrich your life and Mr. X will show up somewhere in that crowd. Just work on being friends because if you can’t be friends with the guy you will have a hard time living with him for the rest of your life.

    Kuddos on the loving your self and losing weight fronts. Keep it up.

    Inny

    December 14, 2008

    In absolute honesty, yes, someone who struggles with their weight will probably have a harder time with dating than if they were average size. BUT that’s just in the beginning, when you’re still learning what is the kind of man/woman you’re looking for (someone who won’t judge you based on how you look) and once you get better at figuring out who are the people that fit your dating type it gets so much easier. Personally, I think I was in some ways lucky to be overweight when I met my bf, because it saved me from getting into a few relationships that would’ve been very bad and borderline abusive. Instead the guys I dated were always the ones that would care about confidence, sense of humor, positiveness and not so much about size. Those were the guys that wanted me to be their friend, not just their lover and dreamed about starting a family one day just like I did. Where I live and at my age (I’m a college student) not that many guys are like this but that’s what I’m looking for and I just wouldn’t settle for less.
    To Jennie: If you want to start dating now, do it. Don’t wait but don’t be impatient too. The first few dating experiences are often bittersweet for anyone. Go out, meet new people and have fun and the same time keep being focused on YOU, on building your confidence and on losing the weight. Good luck!

    vickie

    December 14, 2008

    I think the same way that when she decided to stop ‘dieting’ and start to get healthier – things started to fall into place – that if she joins groups, clubs, activities, charities that truly are of interest to her or touch her heart – she will start to meet more people – and they will be quality people that are of interest to her.

    I think that if one looks for healthy interests and activities – Instead of looking specifically to ‘date’ (like diet) – lives fill out in wonderful ways.

    Look for people in places you would like to BE – so you can put yourself in places where others that are looking for someone like you – can find you.

    I had this exact same talk with my 18 year old son when he went to college. And that topic wasn’t – how do I find a girl friend – it was – how do I find friends if I don’t party/drink? And I said the same thing – there are other kids calling their mom’s asking the exact same thing – if you all sit in your dorm rooms – how are you ever going to find each other? Go look in places that you like to be – and you will find them. And he did.

    Jennifer

    December 14, 2008

    I can TOTALLY relate to Jennie’s question. I’m lucky in that my heaviest weight was in high school, when dating wasn’t even on my radar. However, I have a different question to pose. Since losing weight and getting closer to my goal, I am usually very happy with what I look like clothed. But, I still have issues accepting my naked body, esp. with the stretch marks and loose skin associated with losing a substantial amount of weight.

    I have dated and even hooked up with a number of guys, but have not been in a serious, long term, sexual relationship. To tell you the truth, I’m petrified that I’ll date a guy for awhile, really grow to like him, and then he’ll be grossed out by my body and run away (I know, extreme, but sometimes I think that way!). And I know a guy should love me for ALL of me, it’s just a hard concept to grasp.

    Anyone else have similar issues?

    Arlene

    December 14, 2008

    I didn’t really date much until I lost a lot of weight doing the Atkins diet. I’m not sure if losing the weight gave me the confidence to put myself out there or what … but I didn’t enter the dating pool until I was 32.

    It was hard. I signed up for Yahoo personals and it sucked, arranging meetings with strangers. I was always nervous and not sure what to wear, even though I weighed about 170 pounds and looked pretty good in anything — a “hot blonde,” someone once said. I don’t think I saw myself that way, though — Having been overweight my entire adult life — I once weighed 306 pounds — I was still struggling with the fat me.

    A mutual friend introduced me to the Boyfriend, who watched me regain 70 pounds when I fell off the low-carb wagon. Now he’s watching me lose again …

    I guess I’m not sharing any useful advice. Sorry about that.

    My thought is that we’re all much harder on ourselves than others are. Even if we don’t like who or what we are very much, other people have no problem accepting us for who we are. (And as someone else said, the ones who don’t aren’t people we want to meet, anyway.)

    My boyfriend says he loves me at any size — and I think he prefers it when I’m bigger, because my boobs are bigger then, too. But I told him I have to be happy with me, and I’m not when I’m heavier …

    Liz

    December 14, 2008

    Roni – Check out my blog I gave you an award :)

    Renda

    December 14, 2008

    I don’t have much to add as my weight gain mainly came after marriage/childbirth. But I do have a friend of 30 plus years who has always been overweight and is not married now (48-y-o) and has never had but a couple of dates.
    She is really not that happy and is just now beginning to see the disservice she has done to herself. Her thoughts were always along the lines of “if a guy likes me like this, then he has serious problems that I don’t want to be involved with.” Of course, nothing could be further than the truth. She is a warm, vibrant person and would have/would still make a wonderful partner for some lucky guy.
    Don’t let this happen to you. Go out, meet people, don’t assume you know their feelings. Like others said, get involved with things that interest you and you will meet people that interest you and that you, just by being you, will interest.

    Brianne

    December 14, 2008

    Jennie,

    I am just now the weight now that I was when i met my hubs, 199lbs. Not thin by any stretch of the imagination. But I was full of life, confidence, and laughter. (I was 18 and just starting college and the world was my oyster, so to speak.) He told me that’s what attracted him to me. That those things made me more attractive. Does that make sense? It’s sounds so trite, but BE YOURSELF! you’re awesome! you just have to figure out how to show the world your awesomeness:) I think the volunteer idea is great–i tend to think that people of substance give of themselves; it’s not really a selfish endeavor, yk?

    Good luck, Jennie! I think you’re great!

    Christie

    December 14, 2008

    I think everyone has given some really great advice. I was very self conscience when I was “dating” also. I ended up in a relationship with I guy that I didn’t find all that attractive just because he liked me and I was desperate for attention. You don’t really seem like someone who would let herself get into that.

    Also, keep in mind that for every type (body type, personality type, etc), there is someone out there who could be attracted to that. People of all shapes, sizes, attitudes, etc have mates so don’t think that finding someone is just about looking good enough to attract someone. I think it’s also important that you get out and experience life so you will have an opportunity to meet people. Like everyone else said, you don’t have to be necessarily looking for a husband but you may find someone you like — if not, you can at least have fun.

    Trixie Belden

    December 14, 2008

    Hey there, I can totally relate to your question and have gotten a ton of great information that I can use. I reached my goal a year ago (I lost 83 lbs.) I’m 35 and I just had my first “date” in about 10 years a couple of weeks ago (it was a set-up and we just met for a drink). I’ve had a total of 1 boyfriend in my life – my freshman year of college. I have no idea how to meet men. I’m at a total loss. Please don’t do what I did, and from what it sounds like a lot of other commenters have done – don’t sit on the couch for 10 years. Go out there! Live your life! Take a class you always wanted to … Volunteer doing something you love (I’m signing up at the ASPCA!) … Travel with friends … just live! I truly believe that if you care and love yourself, and put yourself out into the world and don’t shy away from the attention you do get from men, you will find plenty of dating opportunities. But, it is really easy for me to talk the talk, as I sit here on my couch. Now, I need to walk the walk :) I’d love to here how the journey goes for you and have someone to compare stories with. Email me any time! (trixiebelden2006@yahoo.com)

    Good luck!

    Trixie

    Kathy

    December 14, 2008

    Jennifer (not Jennie)
    I too suffer from the ‘but not naked’ concept of looking good….lol
    I have dated men, but when things get intimate I back down becuase I am not totally full of the self love…..I lost the weight, but still can’t picture myself as a thin person….have the stretch marks and some hanging skin, and quite frankly, have never found a post glow ‘pose’ that would be flattering….lol
    However, after reading the quote of the day (which was PRIOR to your post) I actually got hope….I am NOT going to wait until it is perfect…;-D
    (Although, I would like my breasts to be ANYWHERE other than my armpits when I lie on my back….LMFAO!)

    Alexia

    December 14, 2008

    I met my husband at close to my heaviest weight — almost 325#. I never lacked for male attention at any weight — and I think that’s because I was out there doing what interested me and being a nice fun person interested in other people. So maybe just figure out what you like to do and go have fun for yourself and see what happens :-) (I’m actually having body image issues for the first time now that I have the loose skin thing going on!)

    Andria

    December 15, 2008

    Okay, true story:

    I went out with friends one night and found myself talking to a friend of mine’s roommate (who I had never met before). I had a BLAST! He was funny, intelligent, wry… everything I’ve ever been attracted to- except he wasn’t.

    When he stood up (he had been seated when I got there) he was only about 5 feet tall. He took off the ball cap and I saw that he was almost completely bald. He was also pretty heavy.

    I was stunned. Floored even. I grew up in an Italian family with a bunch of stereotypical Italian men. The smallest man in my family is 6’2″ and about 230 lbs solid. And hair? Good lord! They have to wax!

    Anyway, my point is, it’s been over ten years since I met my friend’s mate that night and I still think about him. I’m happily engaged to my best friend and have no interest in anyone else, but I STILL think about that night.

    The power of his personality was that incredible!

    I commend you for working on your health goals, that’s important. But trust me, smile, learn to be happy, and people will be drawn to you. I promise. A pretty face and nice ass will only get you so far if there’s nothing interesting inside to back it up.

    Jen

    December 15, 2008

    I actually think it would be a mistake to date right now if you really feel so unhappy with yourself. I think sometimes, at least, women who feel this way put up with terrible treatment from men because they don’t think they deserve better. I know I’ve been there. If you’re just worried about falling behind your peers, maybe you’re not that interested in finding a man right now.

    mousearoo

    December 15, 2008

    Honestly, ANYONE (big, small, short, tall) is going to have troubles dating if they don’t love themselves and put themselves first.

    I had the attention of men more so when I was bigger than now, but couldn’t sustain a long-term relationship because I was too critical of myself, something men saw as unattractive.

    Now, I love myself, am more confident and enjoy dating. Yes, it’s scary but the prospect of meeting and spending time with someone who can compliment your life in so many ways outweighs that.

    If you wait until you’re an ideal size, you’re just going to wonder if the person really likes you or the shell that you come in. Enjoy dating NOW and find someone who is a fit with your personality, not your outward appearance.

    Zandria

    December 15, 2008

    Discomfort with dating and discomfort with writing is a good comparison. With both, you have to “just do it,” or else you’re…well, NOT going to. And NOT writing or NOT dating just because you’re a little bit scared is NOT a good reason. :)

    andrea.

    December 15, 2008

    I’m almost embarrassed to post this comment, but I actually got a lot of value out of reading the Dr. Phil book, “Love Smart”. There’s a lot in there that I disagree with, but there are a couple of genuinely useful chapters that are all about figuring out what kind of person you are, what you could bring to the table in a relationship, and what you want out of a partner.

    I’ve spent most of my adult life hovering around 240lbs, and dating guys who were either: cold and distant, or needy and manipulative. I think it’s because I didn’t have much sense of what I could/would bring to a relationship, so I was just floundering around out there, if that makes sense? I wouldn’t say it’s that I was dating anyone who would have me, because I certainly turned down a number of people, but I just had no clue what I REALLY wanted, and where my own assets would really fit.

    But that book put a lot of things in perspective for me — plus it made me start thinking of dating as a ‘project’, and man do I love projects. I started doing a lot of dating, mostly via online dating sites, and trying to really figure out how it all worked (plus have a little fun along the way.) Anyway, the long and short of it is that as a result I ended up in the best relationship of my life — with someone who is my equal in the important ways, my opposite in the interesting ways, and is the kind of person I never even knew I could dream about.

    V

    December 15, 2008

    Hi Jennie,
    I met my boyfriend right after I’d gained a bunch of weight and was VERY self-conscious, but I’m glad I didn’t shy away from him because now, I’m getting healthier and more active, and I know that he’ll love me no matter what physical state I’m in. I felt like he must love me for who I really am inside, because I felt so self-conscious about my body. Now, I’m really grateful for that. Don’t be shy about getting out there, and make NO apologies for who you are and where you are now, physically, mentally, and emotionally!!
    V

    Jennie

    December 16, 2008

    Jennie (btw love that you spell it with an IE),
    I think you are on the right track with focusing on your health! Personally I wasn’t much of a dater. I just spent time with friends and was myself. As you accept and take good care of yourself you will find that confidence comes out and you will let yourself shine. You will realize that relationship or not you can enjoy living! Keep at getting fit and accepting each size you become. My husband was only going to be my secret crush ;), but we hung out in the same circle of friends and by being ourselves grew closer. You don’t need to keep up with your friends, in fact I encourage you to take up an active activity and meet some more people. You never know who you may meet *wink wink*
    Jennie (the other one)

    Dawn

    December 16, 2008

    Jennie, do not let your size deter you from going out and having a good time! I actually met my fiance while I was the biggest I have ever been (I’m 5’8″, 238 right now). It’s not the size, but how you hold yourself. People will look at you as a person, not a pant size, if you show them how happy you are as an individual. Trust me, they’ll come to you when they see how much you love life and having a good time…and if it can happen to a weirdo like me, it can happen to anyone! The right one will love you for you, and not the way you look. Keep good faith, I went through a ton of bad apples before I found the one…now we’re getting married in May! Good luck, and keep your spirits up!