Not ten minutes after I arrived at his parents’ enormous Gold Coast apartment did he stand in the kitchen and say “I’m not sure who catfished who … me or you!”
In an instant, I felt my stomach drop.
“Huh?” I asked, a little too quickly.
He told me that I was either taller than five-foot-ten or that his doctor had lied to him all his life. It was more than that, though, because when I met him on the corner outside, the disappointment on his face was apparent.
Preparing for dates as a fat woman, especially a fat, tall woman is so much different than the preparation of my petite peers.
It’s not typical that I get nervous about dates — they can be enjoyable experiences and I love meeting new people — but I get nervous for other reasons.
Every single time I go on a first date and sometimes a second, I worry that it’s some kind of joke being played on me and that my date either won’t show up or that my date will show up — but with all of their friends just so they can laugh at me for thinking I ever had a chance.
I worry that the person I’m dating will find ways to hurt me passive-aggressively during the date.
My dating profile is a carefully curated collection of me: me without makeup, me with my body in an unflattering pose, my body without my face. I am begging them to know that I am a fat woman. I need to save time.
So I am standing in a large apartment and I move closer to him to see if I really am taller and I say “I don’t really notice it,” to which he responds, “Well, you’re hunched over.”
Quietly now, I whisper, “I’m used to making myself smaller.”
He pretends not to hear. The rest of the time goes well.
I drink too much expensive wine, we have sex, and when we are done, two times through, he won’t even look at me. We still talk and order sushi and I thought it was good, that the chemistry was fluid through intercourse and emotion.
When he walks me down to my Uber, I know that I must have done something wrong. I tell him to text me if he wants to do this again but add that if he doesn’t, I also understand that, too.
It’s so frustrating when you’re losing weight and are still continually fat-shamed.
I’m forty pounds lighter than I was three months ago and it makes me forget that progress. Even though I wish it didn’t, fat-shaming always hurts.
Toward the end of our time together, he said something along the lines of, “I was a sweet boy, still am.”
And I laughed because he wasn’t, not even a little bit.
Having someone over when you’re not attracted to them to have sex is not “sweet,” it’s selfish. I don’t ever want to feel terrible about myself after having put myself into a vulnerable situation — but I probably will.
I never go on a date and think it could be with someone I end up dating seriously. It’s a wall I built around me to keep me safe.
I have internalized fatphobia and I project it onto others. I truly think I am beautiful inside and out but it seems that when you’re fat, casual intercourse is about as deep as relationships run.
For this reason, I never let myself believe that anyone is capable of liking me — all of me — even when we’ve been on multiple dates. It makes no sense to me, either. I blame what society taught me as a little girl, as a young adult, as a woman.
It’s humiliating to have all of your worst dating fears come true in an instant and it hurts to be unmatched after giving away pieces of yourself to someone who doesn’t even have the guts to say they aren’t interested.
It hurts when the chemistry feels real but his perception of your body is enough to turn him away. But this is real life and I want others to know they’re not alone.
Dating is hard. I feel fortunate to be in a mental place where this is not pushing me away from ever trying again.
Next time a man makes me feel less than, I will pick up my things and leave.
Rylee Carskadon is an educator and essayist living in Chicago. She has her certificate in early childhood education and is a fierce advocate for the education of young children.
This article was originally published at Medium.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.