If you're holding off on dating until you've lost the weight, bought better clothes, or are a brilliant future version of yourself, you've set the worst goal ever. Because it's not a goal. It's a slippery slope defined by -- what? An arbitrary number on the scale? The day your bangs grow out? Until you've achieved an unassailable state of self-love?
In the immortal words of Sweet Brown, ain't nobody got time for that.
You're not an Apple product set to launch sometime next year. You may think you'll be shinier, cooler, or more desirable in the future, but really what you're saying is that you don't think anyone could like you now. You think you're planning. But you're really just procrastinating.
A woman named Jen wrote to ask me if she should stop dating until she achieved her goal weight. She was admittedly on the heavy side but had never kept it a secret or masked it in her online profile. She didn't mince words, and neither did some of her respondents. She got some messages and went on a few dates, but a few of the men she met would be more interested, they said, if she'd been a few pounds lighter.
I'm sure that wasn't easy to hear. In fact, ouch. She was ready to quit until she could wear a size 6. She was already taking strides to live healthier, and she figured she'd just... wait. (More on why taking a break is not a great idea.)
But I told her no. Here's why: Because if she waited for this, she'd likely come up with another excuse later for deferring. I reminded her that there is no set height and weight requirement here. It's dating. Not the fucking Rockettes.
Does that mean she should abandon her weight loss goal? Nope. But her efforts to change her life and body are not mutually exclusive from efforts to meet people, nor do they have to be sequential.
In other words, there is no official start date. Dating is a process and it's ongoing, and there's no better time to start than now. No matter what size you are.
The idea that you should "work on yourself" before you start dating is what I call living in the future perfect tense. Tense being the operative word here. This notion that you'll be perfect in the future is crazy -- and confers a ton of pressure on you to be the perfect weight, to look a certain way, before you endeavor to connect with another person.
Then, when the Future Perfect You -- ideal weight, great haircut, designer jeans -- steps out for the first time and gets rejected (which happens to EVERYONE, by the way), what then? It'll hurt even more because you'll think, "If no one wants me now, after all this, how could anyone ever?" (Find out why getting rejected is critical to the process.)
My advice to Jen was to keep doing what she was doing: Staying active, eating well, and reaching out, setting up dates, meeting people wherever she goes. The best relationships in the world must grow and evolve -- they don't start and remain perfect. The same goes for you and your relationship with yourself. Embrace the process of growth and change with a forgiving spirit and you set the stage not just for personal satisfaction, but for the kind of intimate relationship that can evolve along with you.
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