When Jayla walked into my office, she didn’t smile or shake my hand.
She shuffled over to the chair, sat down hard, and stared at me.
She told me flat-out that she didn’t think I was going to be able to help her. She thought this was going to be a complete waste of time. But her friends had put pressure on her, so here she was, but she wasn’t going to be coming back.
She expected me to argue with her. To explain how much she would benefit by working with me. But instead I just said:
It caught her off guard. Then her defenses went right back up. She scowled. Jayla was not going to make this easy for either of us.
“Let’s just talk then,” I said. “Talk to me about your last relationship.”
“Men don’t want relationships with women like me,” she scoffed. “Look at me! No guy is going to want a piece of this.”
Jayla had a physical disability that made it difficult for her to walk. She’d put on weight as a result, and now was at the stage where her weight was affecting her health.
She felt those factors defined her. Men saw her body and didn’t want to get to know her.
Dating advice was useless to someone like her, she said. “Some man walks up to me in a grocery store, he’s gonna ask me if I need help, not if he can have my number.”
The only place she had any success with men was online, where she could show off her personality unhindered by her body.
She put off meeting her online connections as long as she could, hoping they would fall for her so hard that it would carry them past the initial shock of her appearance.
“Do you put up pictures of yourself?” I asked.
She did. But never of her whole body. “If I did that, no one would want to talk to me.”
Here’s what I didn’t tell Jayla.
I didn’t tell her that I could snap my fingers and make her dating problems go away.
I didn’t tell her that her dating problems weren’t real.
And I couldn’t promise her that she’d be able to snag any guy she wanted if only she followed my advice.
Women like Jayla have very real challenges when it comes to dating.
It is not easy to date when you have health issues that affect how you function in everyday life.
Nor does it help when you read the mountain of articles claiming that evolutionary biology has programmed men to prefer healthy, youthful, slim women.
You can feel as if you’ve been left out of the marketplace of attraction. Like you’re the kind of woman a man would pick only if he had no other choice.
That’s how Jayla felt. And it seemed to me that those legitimate feelings of rejection were at the heart of her struggles.
It hurt that men rejected her. But what hurt even more was that Jayla was beginning to reject herself.
We weren’t going to get to the bottom of those issues in one session. But one session was likely going to be all I had with Jayla. What could I tell her that would make a difference?
We often think that self-love is an inside job. You’ve got to love yourself. You can’t let men dictate how you feel about yourself.
But knowing that and feeling it are two different things.
And the best way to FEEL it isn’t to fill yourself up with affirmations and positive self-talk—though that helps!
The best way to feel it is to experience it.
When people love you, their love gets inside of you. It’s easier to love yourself when you’re loved. That love doesn’t have to come from a romantic source. It can come from anywhere.
Jayla didn’t believe that a man could ever love her. She was risking rejection every time she put herself out there. It was hard for her to believe a man could look past her body and love HER when she hadn’t had much experience of that.
What I suggested to Jayla was a small but hopefully positive step. Yes, online dating feels custom-made for rejection. But other communities are made for acceptance.
There are social groups formed around common interests or causes. There are spiritual and religious groups. There are local groups that bring neighbors together.
Would Jayla be up to getting out from behind the computer screen and showing up as a body in the real world?
Her goal: to find a community or social group where she can interact with men she doesn’t know in a way that builds connection, rather than anticipating rejection.
These low-risk social encounters don’t have the pressure of a first date. You’re not judging one another for romantic potential. You’re just hanging out.
The more positive experiences Jayla has with men who appreciate and accept her for who she is, the more she’ll be able to envision a romantic relationship with a man who does the same.
The dating scene can be harsh. Sometimes, stepping away from it for a bit is the best solution for all of us. Be among people who love you for you. Remember how awesome you are. You’re fun to be with. You’re missed when you’re not there.
Then carry that confidence back when you’re ready to brave the dating scene again.
Bruh this made me cry. I literally cried from this article.
I would wager to say that some of the stuff written here literally contradicts what this website markets, etc. but that this article is very real and some of that other stuff isn’t. I like that he mentioned this stuff. Very insightful, wonderful article.
Overall, though, other than advertisements, etc. James Bauer definitely looks at things from a psychological perspective and I like that. I don’t have any physical disabilities but I have some serious mental ones, and its refreshing for him to explain this so well — that we need to be comfortable with how people relate to us first in a safer setting where we won’t get as rejected or feel as rejected so easily.
I empathize with you both and at 63 am also far from dead. I think as you get older you are much better off to seek friendships and nonthreatening group activities. Men appear to be very critical and many lack self-awareness and sensitivity to other people’s needs. Who wants to take on another child? At the end of the day, it is company and friendships that help us survive and make meaning of our lives. These friends can be male or female but positive, sensitive, and self-aware individuals are the icing on the cake and make a real difference.
I agree. I am 57 and feel I have reached my sell by date so have made peace with friendships with men and have learnt to be happy on my own. I have zero expectations now of being in a relationship again but an counting the many blessings I do have!
I am 60. I feel this way as well, but I don’t feel 60, I just look it, & I don’t want to give up on love. I know there are procedures that can be done to make one look younger, if you have the money, which unfortunately.. I do not. Someone 18 yrs younger swears he’s in love with me, even seeing pictures,& knowing my age. He’s never asked for money, as a matter of fact, he’s very well off. I have fallen in love with him, but he’s so handsome,& I can’t get past what time has done, & it hurts so incredibly bad.
I am a 71-year-old woman…and I am not dead. I am very healthy, have a great life but would like to meet a man to share my life with. There seems to be a lot of guys out there my age in the same boat, but meeting them is a challenge. I have been using senior online dating sites…wow… I have to be thick-skinned and handle a lot of rejection, able to filter out the scams, willing to kiss a lot of frogs but no prince, do not want hook up, I can play the odds and maybe, maybe meet a nice guy. It seems hopeless for a woman my age. The produce aisle is not working and I hate to look pathetic and go to “happy hours”… So what do I do?
Boy do I feel ya! I’m 62. Was married 36 years. Now I find myself on this merry-go-round called dating and frankly it is awkward as heck.
I know what you mean about filtering out the scammers. I have had my share. And I’m with you . . . I’m not dead yet! I feel the same way, “hopeless for a woman my age.”
Sometimes, I feel men only want the young and beautiful, not that we aren’t beautiful; however, the mind set is there as the article suggests, “. . . evolutionary biology has programmed men to prefer healthy, youthful, slim women.” I think we women are programmed to believe that is exactly what men want thus developing in us hopeless feelings: I’m going to be alone the rest of my life because my youthful looks have vanished with time.
I would like to go out and listen to music, but I too don’t want to look pathetic or like a pick up. Therefore, I stay home.
I have to believe that romance and love can be found after 60. When my husband walked out of our marriage, my thoughts were, “who is going to want a middle aged woman?” Ugh!
I wonder how, we mature woman can overcome the idea we are less than perfect, because of our age.
I tend to not stay at home but go out whenever I can to enjoy things I am impassioned with and am far happier single than being in an unhappy relationship. I am very attracted to two of my best male friends unfortunately but love their friendship so have made peace with not being more involved with them.
Don’t give up, pray. God hears us.