Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Do you Date a Person or their Pounds?

The kindest, hardest working, most unselfish, giving, loving man I have ever known is my husband. He continually gives everything he has to those he loves and shares of himself in everything he does. I am truly blessed to be his wife and to have shared raising our daughters with such a good man.

I read something recently that troubled me. I didn't comment back to the author. I just let it sit in my head for a few days until I could define why it bothered me. It was a statement on how they would never date anyone (man or woman) who was overweight because of all the baggage that comes with overweight people. That made me sad. I thought about it for a few days and then I realized why I feel sad about that statement.

My husband is fifty pounds overweight. He was fifty pounds overweight the day I started dating him (when I was a trim 139 lbs). He was fifty pounds overweight the day we got married four years later, when I was a hefty 235. He was fifty pounds overweight when I was at my heaviest at 385 lbs. He was fifty pounds overweight when I reached my lowest recovery weight of 162 lbs. He is fifty pounds overweight today. Occasionally he loses 15 pounds and gains it again. Most of the time his weight is steady. 

His weight defines his pants size. His weight does not define his strength of character, his compassion for those in need or his resilience in the face of life's challenges. He is truly the best of men. 

Weight is only one factor in the makeup of a human being.If you look to that as a criteria for judging someone unsuitable as a partner then good luck vetting out all the scary things that can be hidden until long after the wedding bells stop ringing. A trim and fit person can be hiding everything from narcissism, to pedophilia and lots of other pathological tendencies in between and extreme. Many infamous serial killers were trim and often described as 'charming'. Remember that the next time you think you are avoiding pain by judging pounds.

My husband turned 56 the other day and according to his doctors, he is healthy.  As for life expectancy, my husband's paternal grandfather died of a brain tumor at age 40. My husband's father died of lung disease at age 54. His half brother died of a systemic infection at 55. They were all very lean men, one was an athlete. Excess weight can shorten your life. For some people it is not a factor. His obese grandmother lived into her late 80's. 

I have never seen my husband 'trim'. I'll keep the chubby and well balanced man I dated, loved and married all those years ago. Imagine if I had decided not to date him 34 years ago simply because of his weight. That would not have said much about him but it would have spoken volumes about me. I am glad I was not that person then and I am glad our daughters do not judge their dates by the pound.  

Can you consider weight a reliable determination of the whole person and the life ahead?



Cindy said...

Intellectually I try very hard to not judge people by their appearance particularly as I don't like it when it is done to me, but I confess that to a certain extent I have been media brainwashed and I'm not proud of it at all! This really relates to first impressions for me. Once I know I person then what they look like is not a factor any more. In the dating world I find I am so focused on trying to identify the dangerous guy and the clingy guy in order to protect myself that I know I have made snap decisions not to date one person or another based on too little information and to much what they look like.

Cheryl said...

What an inspiring post and I agree with your 1000%. This is so very true and you are one insightful woman.

Vickie said...

You probably read that from me.

Because I have said that is the way my kids feel (now). And it is the way my husband would have felt when we were dating.

My husband is very athletic and active. So he would have been looking at someone who was athletic and active also. (Actually I am surprised tennis partner was not near the top if his list.) I was very thin and active when we met/dated/married. NEVER would he have divorced me. Still would not, no matter what. But I accept the fact that he would never been interested in me if I had been at my heaviest (and craziest) when we met. And honestly, I would not have been interested in him either. I would have been looking for something different too (what I am not sure, but someone who fit with the lifestyle I craved when fat).

My kids would not date anyone with a severe weight problem, I think, because I was such a wreck when I was fat. Not that I do not still have my issues. (Not that other fat people have my issues.). But I think my kids all associate fat and severe, severe problems. Because that was me, honestly.

It would be the same as having a mom who was an alcoholic and not wanting to marry anyone with a drinking issue or what looked like it would roll into a drinking issue.

And honestly, if we were talking about coming out of alcoholic family of origin and not wanting to roll into that same scenario, no one would argue with that concept. At my house, same concept.

It is like the opposite of enabling.. Don't know what that term would be, but it makes me think of it that way, from the kids point of view.

And my husband was very enabling of me during my heavy years. He just wanted me to be the least upset possible and did not know what to do with me. He did not call me on my stuff. He did not know how. My kids, call me on my stuff immediately. It is very nice to live with people who call you on your stuff, if one can face it. And my stuff has diminished greatly. Because I have done my work. Because I can face it and continue to work honestly. And life is so much easier for all.

Mannie said...

I don't agree with the concept of 'baggage' (we all have it) but based on my own recent experience with someone who had an eating disorder (and was severely overweight) there are a lot of issues that I would not want to go through a second time. These were food/weight related. Maybe the person you heard/read had dated someone big already, and had experienced the same issues?

Jim Keene said...

You are really stretching here with"many serial killers are trim and charming"? Really? Many police officers are too fat to effectively perform the physical demands of their jobs and nursing/healthcare has some of the highest obesity rates of any profession. Does that somehow correlate with them not being criminals? no. You can't play the card both ways and that serial killer thing was an asinine thing to say. I am a man and I am not interested in dating someone i'm not physically attracted to. Is that wrong? I also happen to be a short man and it is my experience that many if not most taller woman do not want to date a man shorter than she is. Im not offended by this. Pointing out examples of lean men who died fairly young to justify your husband being significantly overweight is also ridiculous. Im sure u have readers who would not date an atheist or someone of an oppositing political party or someone who has filed bankruptcy. We all have our standards and deal breakers and sometimes weight is one of them.

Jess said...

Hi Jane - don't believe I've ever commented here before, but this post really resonated with me. And I believe I read the same thing you are referring to. Frankly when I read it, I was angered and hurt...and I've let it pop in and out of my mind for a few months.

I'm married to a man who has never had a weight problem. He is quite slender, and eats what he wants, when he wants it. So I would not say he's the healthiest, but his health issues/concerns have not manifested in weight gain. In fact, he wishes he could put on a few pounds, as he's quite self-conscious about his lean stature.

I, on the other hand, have always battled my weight. And it's been a battle, for sure. When we met, I was just below 200 pounds. I got up to 240, then was around 215 when we got married. I had a modest gain with my first pregnancy, and no gain with my second. Then in the last year or so, I've really gotten serious about creating a healthy life, and I currently weigh about 150 (which feels great, btw). Anyway, my husband has loved me through all of this, even when I was really struggling with believing him. His mom even made the comment, before we were married, that I would probably leave him if and when I ever lost weight - unbelievable!!! I love the person he is inside, and he loves me the same way - I'm a person, not a number on a scale. I just happen to "wear" my emotional issues in a physical way.

I don't ever judge a person by their weight...and I think that's why the post I read has bothered me for so long. I know we are all human, and some of being human is seeing the appearance of someone and making a snap judgement. But the thought of being dismissed, or considered unworthy of love/attention due to weight is something that kind of stabs right to the heart.

Anyway...we are all entitled to our opinions, some of those can just be a bit difficult to hear sometimes! Thanks for posting this!

Mary Ellen Quigley said...

I try very hard not to judge people by their weight because I hate when people judge me. I don't think that overweight people come with more baggage than the average person, but I can see why people would think so. In order to date someone you need to have some kind of physical attraction to them. Many people aren't instantly attracted to overweight people, and I think that has a lot to do with it. Once they get to know the person, that can change. How many times do most people get past the first meeting? I haven't had a date in years. Most guys can't get past my weight. It hurts, but I understand. On the flip side, I've dealt with a few "chubby chasers" in the past. Scary bunch! The goal for everyone is to find the person who can get past the physical and see the real you. That is much easier said than done.

Anonymous said...

As somebody who has struggled with my weight but who is now lean and athletic, exercises regularly and tries to eat healthily most of the time, what I find really repulsive in people are the "born again" weight loss people who have turned losing weight into their new religion.

Some of the most excruciatingly boring people are those who try to peddle their new diet as "spiritual enlightenment".

They seriously believe that their weight loss equals spiritual knowledge and that losing some weight makes them superior as human beings.

Beyond overcoming serious eating disorders or emotional problems if your self-esteem or your value as a human being is based on what you weigh then I think you have real issues and need to work on your personality/intelligence etc.

It has been proven that being somewhat overweight is not necessarily unhealthy if you work out regularly and watch what you eat. There is a lot more to health than what you weigh within reason.

And quite frankly I find self-righteousness, conceit and arrogance far more disgusting personality flaws than someone being fat. They are just flaws that don't show physically.

And maybe, just maybe you have a great marriage and a good, caring husband because your value system is a little less shallow than these born-again, boring, weight loss prophets.

Karen said...

Dating someone (I'm divorced and have been single for 10 years now) who is an active addict (food, drugs alcohol) would compromise my food sobriety. So, that would likely be revealed during the dating stage and it would be a deal breaker.

If someone developed an addiction during a marriage, I would need to go to an alanon sort of support. Because I'm a food addict in recovery, I would have to not enable that person. I would need support.

Great news is, now that I'm in long term recovery, spotting addicts that are in disease, verbally abusive men, dysfunctional families and poor relationships are a snap!

A few extra pounds, okay. Not a big deal unless the person is not dealing with a health issue, or working on it. Some weight gain is common as you age for many people, for non addict reasons. If a man will not take care of himself, I will not put myself in the "Mommy" role. I am an equal partner/ wife sort of person now.

I know I enabled and was enabling in my past relationships. I changed and I choose differently now. I model this for my daughter. Before, I was training my daughter to be in the addict/dysfucntional cycles- food/partners. I could see it and it helped me to break free.

I have a girlfriend who chose her husband on several criteria- one was not having an eye correction (aka- she was taught that having kids who wore glasses was "bad") She picked a military helicopter pilot Her marriage has lasted much longer than my 10 year marriage. My whole family are glasses wearers. I think it's silly, but it's our own perfect right to choose based on our own preferences, needs and experiences.

I would not divorce someone over weight gain. I would over abuse or so much dysfunction that living separately was better for both parties.

Great topic. As always

E. Jane said...

Jane, it sounds like you have a very loving relationship. I have been thin and heavy over the years, and my husband has loved me no matter what, as I have loved him. True love is not based on looks, weight, financial success or anything superficial. It seems to me that if a person has issues, they don't just appear when they gain weight. They were probably always there at some level. We can all deal with our issues as we age and mature, and there are worse issues than being 50 pounds overweight. I know people who would gladly trade an overweight spouse for the one they have with significant problems of other varieties.

I have known many marriage that flourish even though one or both of the spouses struggle with excess weight. Love and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Thanks for sharing this!

Unknown said...

To me, it sounds like "50 pounds overweight" is normal for your husband. As you said, he is healthy, he maintains his weight easily and steadily, and he doesn't seem to be very troubled by it.

So overweight compared to what? The BMI scale that doesn't take individual variation into account?

My grandparents were very healthy people who were short and quite round. One lived to be 90 and one lived to be 87. Neither had any serious health problems until the last two years of their lives. They were very happy with their lives and themselves just the way they were. They ate healthy food and were fairly active.

I think that the lifestyle that causes some people's weight problems is the problem more than the weight itself. And it's possible to live an unhealthy lifestyle at a "normal" weight.

Jane Cartelli said...

Vickie - I was comfortable writing this post because I know you have done your work and would not this was not an attack on you or your family. I wrote it as a response from my life perspective. All sensitivity to any topics we have are from our life experiences. If there had been an unhappy relationship in my life with regard to overweight people, I may not have dated my husband. He had dark hair and deep blue-green eyes and I was hoping for a blond with light eyes so I guess it is also lucky I didn't hold to that criteria, too.

I would not have dated an alcoholic or a drug addict. I would not have dated a high school drop out or an atheist. Yes, there will always be something that is a deal breaker for someone.

*My kids call me on my stuff immediately, too. I think that means we did a good job.

Jane Cartelli said...

Mary Ellen Q - I've heard about these chubbie chaser guys. I understand there are even night clubs that specialize in BBW. I think it is scary when someone WANTS their obese partner to keep eating because they like them obese. Have you had that experience? How do you know if the guy is a chubbie chaser or just trying to get to know you? Is there something that makes it obviou?

Jane Cartelli said...

Anonymous - I must be honest and open. There was a time a few years ago when I sometimes had that self-righteousness, conceit and arrogance you talk about. It was a shameful period when I think now about how I thought I was so awesome. I am grateful that someone put me in my place and that others gave me the chance to grow up and be a better person. I hope no one could say that about me today.

Jane Cartelli said...

Jim Keene - I am not over stretching at all. I did not suggest every charming person who is not fat is a serial killer. I did not suggest that every normal weight (or height) person is flawed. I simply pointed out that flaws of all sorts can be hidden successfully by narcissists, pathological liars and yes, also serial killers. My post was about perception. No one can know if they missed out on the greatest love of their life because of what they set as their deal breaker, be it because the person was too large, too short, too Jewish, too Liberal or too bald. I will never have to wonder because I gave love a chance instead of continuing to look for the tall, thin, blond guy of my teenage dreams.

Jane Cartelli said...

Jess - Congrats on the weight loss and continuing to work on changing your life for the best possible life for you and your family.
I was never angry at the writer. I realized the feeling was inside me because of my experience. I was hurt but not be her writing. I was hurt for the ghost of the memory of how easy it would have been to dismiss him because I did not yet know the man. I think of how invisible I was to sales clerics when I was over 300 pounds. I thought of how my kids normal sized children were picked on because they had an obese mother. None of that had anything to do with the original post but my life experiences lead me to write mine.

Jane Cartelli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jane Cartelli said...

Karen - I do understand this. If I had been in recovery before my relationship began 34 years ago things might have been different. (Actually, he might have found recovery himself).
Our food sobriety has to come first. I agree. My husband does not bring the junk home and does not whine that he cannot have it in his own home. It has been a blessing for my recovery.
*It also is testimony to how I can only blame myself when I picked up the food in the past.

Vickie said...

Yes, I knew you were looking at the topic. No did not take it personally at all. (But you might have warned me and not allowed anonymous comments, I personally think that is enabling in general).

Actually what I have thought the most about, over this post, was the fact that I would not have been interested in my husband if I had been in the fat habits when we met. I would not have wanted someone who was active. I would not have wanted someone who just bought a great bike for me. And rides with me.

I probably would have wanted someone who frequented every buffet in town. And was interested in mostly sedatary things.

And where would I be now?

I had never thought of it that way. So your post actually made me realize I really needed a thin, active husband in a way I had not previously understood. Every time I have written about this before, it was from him looking at me. Not the other way around.

And then the next thing I thought about is where would my kids be if I had a different husband (chosen in my fat years)? At my house, that would have made a huge difference in all our outcomes. Not every house, I realize, but at ours, yes.

I had never thought of that either.

I really stepped it up as a mother. The fact that I fixed so much in myself is reflected by my weight loss. It is also reflected by my family. The fat was the outward sign of a lot of inward problems. I did have to get rid of my fat as part if fixing my problems. And I did it in time so that my kids had the benefit of my fixes and also saw the work. Especially my oldest.

So I have been thinking from the flip side all week.

And thankful.

Mary Ellen Quigley said...

Jane - I tried online dating for a while and guys would specifically pick me out because of my weight. They usually had something in their profile that mentioned they like big girls or they had joined chubby chaser sights on the online community. One guy made it past my radar and I actually went on a date with him. After he started in about loving my fat rolls and wanting to see me eat chocolate naked, I was over it. I can't understand how anyone would want you to stay unhealthy. I tend to be attracted to people who are "better" than me (as far as weight and profession goes), so I don't get it.

Jane Cartelli said...

Vickie - I didn't think a warning was necessary because I did not specify it came from a blog, and your particular blog is private however I can see why a head's up would have been considerate and useful. Lessen learned.

I often do not publish the anonymous comments. I do publish them when I am aware of who wrote them anonymously. I have many friends who I personally know (not on line readers or social network acquaintances), who occasionally write and either give me a 'tell' in the comment so I know it is them or who email me to let me know the comment is from them. These I publish always. That was not the case with this comment. With this one I identified with the attitude and behavior the writer was lamenting and I wanted to own up to how I have at times been that person. If I had the impression that anonymous knew the original source material or was slamming you, I would not have chosen to publish it.

Jane Cartelli said...

Vickie - Thinking from the flip side is such a powerful tool and gift when used wisely and not to berate ourselves.

When I met my husband it was after my first weight loss as a high school teen. What if I had been fifty pounds heavier? What if he had been fifty pounds lighter? I will never know with certainly the answer to either question.

When I was 18 and naive I never thought about how the actions of each day would look today. What do I know today? Every action I take may in some way impact my life tomorrow or even twenty years from now.

Some people would read this and think "Woe is me, I am too late. I am bad, my family is damaged, I am to blame, let me eat that cake because I cannot make it right.

I am glad I am not in that place today.