Thursday, May 12, 2005

The hotness factor

Without my knowledge, my good friend, Pele, fed me parts of "He's Not That into You." I still haven't read the book and I don't want to; I think I get it. But, this bit is good: never tolerate a guy who makes you feel sexually undesirable. I said, "That's what I've always said! Just not in those words."

My words: I need the guy I'm dating to be enthusiastic about the way I look--very enthusiastic.

This is key. The guy needs to like how I look. I can feel so-so about his looks at the beginning, but he will grow on me if I like him. When I like someone a lot, he becomes more attractive over time. (I suppose that means a man's enthusiasm for my looks could wane as I get on his nerves. There's a downside to every theory.)

When the guy I'm seeing says anything critical about my body, even something as mild as, "we could both afford to loose a little weight" it is hard to get over (in that case, I got over it). I don't mind if my guy thinks that, but if he says it to me, it hurts. It's ridiculous to be this sensitive, but, as Dr. Phil says, "There is no place for criticism in a relationship." (Oh, Dr. Phil, at least you said one useful thing.) If you love someone, don't tear him down. Don't say negative things and call it constructive criticism. Be kind, be loving, be nice. If she asks for your help, be helpful, but if she asks you if she looks fat, say: no.

Discussions of weight have different meanings for men and women (at least in this culture). If you tell a guy he should lose some weight, he won't care. He'll rub his belly and say, "But this is my beer baby!" I've had a guy joke, in a very charming way, about, "putting on his winter weight." I never start this kind of talk, but If my boyfriend says he wants to lose weight, I'll encourage him. I will never raise the issue, though.

When I'm with a guy who is critical about my looks, I get annoyed. If I ask him what he thinks about how I look (I try not to ask, but it happens) he needs to tell me what's right about how I look, not what's wrong.

When I was 19, a guy I was seeing told a story where he mentioned a girl's weight, "She was 1XX pounds, so you know it was a tight squeeze in that car." 1XX was how much I weighed.

"Do you think that's a lot?"

He looked at me and said, "Is that how much you weigh?"

"Well, almost. Close enough. " I said. There was a long pause. "What do you think about how I look?"

He said, "You have a very pretty face."

Who knew that telling someone she has a very pretty face could be quite so insulting. I wish I'd broken up with him then. Live and learn.

When I was 19 no one would have called me fat. No one would call me fat now, for that matter. Recently a date told me I was skinny, which made me laugh. I'd said to him, "You're a big guy." Which made him think I thought he was fat. He was over 6'3" and a big, beefy guy, but I didn't think he was fat. I tried to diffuse the situation by saying, "You're fat, I'm fat. Whatever. I could stand to lose ten pounds, but it's not important." (Yes, it amazes me that I said that. And that I thought it would help.)

He said, "What are you talking about? You're thin. You're skinny."

"Um, no I'm not. But thanks." It came up again later and I told him he could never say anything other than that I was skinny--you can't put that genie back in the bottle. It was nice, but the compliment should at least be credible. Not fat, sure. Slim? Maybe. Skinny? Well, no. When I told Pele this story she said, "You know you're not fat, right?" Yes, I know, but thanks.

About four years ago, I was dating "Bruce" and I put on a bit of weight (which I eventually lost). I had a mysterious foot problem and it made it difficult to exercise. I had a cast on for a while and I had to walk as little as possible (a neat trick when you don't own a car). I looked healthy and my face didn't get fat and having a well-defined waist helped. But I did not feel great about how I looked. I even went so far as to say something to Bruce that I have never said to another boyfriend, "I'm getting so fat. I look terrible."

Bruce said, "Don't be silly."

"Oh, c'mon, it's really getting out of hand."

He said, "It's not your fault, you can't exercise."

"I could do more..."

"Jamy, you're a beautiful woman."

Bruce had his moments. Even several years later, if I feel bad about how I look, I remember those words. It helps.

Grateful for: being able to accept a compliment.

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