At A Loss

Sarah Varney flags research on slimmed-down daters:

Holly Fee, a sociologist at Bowling Green State University, has conducted some of the only research on dating attitudes toward the formerly obese. In 2012, Fee published her findings in the journal Sociological Inquiry. She found that potential suitors said they would hesitate to form a romantic relationship with someone who used to be heavy. “The big dragging factor in why they had this hesitation in forming this romantic relationship was that they believed these formerly obese individuals would regain their weight,” Fee said.

The prevailing belief is that people who have never been obese can control their weight, and those who’ve been heavy have less will power, said David Sarwer, a psychology professor and the director of clinical services at the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders at the Perelman School Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He said the physicians and the general public tend to think that obesity is “a moral failing, and that they can’t push away from the table.”

Heather Havrilesky, an advice columnist, recently addressed a reader who had rejected her friend’s advances when he was obese, but after losing 125 pounds, the tables were turned. Here’s the reader:

I asked (via text) if he still felt the same way as he did last year, and he said, “Nah not really. Kinda gave up on you.” I was furious. What had changed his mind? Was there another girl that had caught his eye? I went to the bar with a couple of female friends, but after a few drinks could not get him off of my mind. I called him and asked if he wanted to smoke, went to his apartment, and after sitting on the couch together just hanging out, he made a move. We had hours of amazing sex.

I was certain we were going to take the relationship to the next level. The man who had embodied so many of the qualities I was looking for now pretty much had ALL of them. The next few days went the same way. I would get off work, he would text me telling (never asking, TELLING) me to come over after work, and I would end up spending the night. I expected to see him more, but after a few days the texts stopped. Several days passed and I didn’t see or text with him. Had I scared him away? We communicated practically every day for years until that point, so I was pretty shocked by his silence. I got onto Instagram and saw a dozen or so photos of him at a few different outings with a girl who is pretty much the younger, dumber version of me. Same body type, same hair, on the body of a 19-year-old cocktail waitress.

After almost a week, we finally spoke again, and I asked him if they were serious, to which he replied, “Of course not.” But after a conversation of vague, ambiguous answers, I finally blurted out everything that I was feeling. I wanted him, and I felt like he was punishing me for not being interested in him before. He started laughing, then called me shallow. Saying that he could never date me because he “would have to get on a scale every morning” to determine if he was worthy of me. That his personality had not changed, and that a small change in physical appearance shouldn’t take my interest level from 0 to 100.

He then went into lawyer mode, showing me Facebook posts from his heavy days and now; the same clever Facebook status that had gotten 30 likes when he was overweight got over 100 now that he was thin. He then became upset, near tears even, and told me that the saddest part of losing weight was that people finally complimented him on qualities he’d always had. Then he kissed my forehead and told me that my first instincts on dating him were the right ones. I’m absolutely smitten, and want to prove to him that my intentions are genuine. But are they? Should I be punished for not wanting the ugly duckling, then falling for the beautiful swan? And is he really upset, or just using my feelings for him against me?

Havrilesky’s advice is here. And go here for a previous Dish thread on dealing with the aftermath of serious weight loss.