Searching for Validation: Dating as a Plus Size Woman

I am very blessed to connect with many different amazing, inspiring, intelligent and charismatic women everyday. Especially when I suit up and take on my blogger identity. I met Sasha (of Flaws of Couture) at an open casting call for a plus -size modelling gig in 2013 (it feels like such a distant memory, that I had to look this up). I had just completed my Bachelor's degree and had recently started a blog, but I still felt as if something was missing. I had just ended things with my first serious boyfriend and I was feeling kind of insignificant. My modelling experience and connecting with some amazing women (such as Sasha) gave me hope. I felt more empowered than ever before.

Sasha started a clothing brand called Flaws of Couture (FOC) a couple years back, and I've been stalking it ever since. FOC has an eclectic selection of athleisure-inspired jackets, tops & joggers. Pretty much, I wanted it all. However, there was one item that I was eyeing for a looooong time. The "Big Girls Won't Text Back Either" long-sleeve. Oh baby, did it speak to me, or what? This is the truth. Just because I'm plus-size, fat, big, curvy (whatever your descriptor word of choice is) doesn't mean that I have to play by your rules (see below for the juicy details). 
new moon, who dis? 
While doing a bit of background-checking for this post, I discovered that FOC is having a pop-up sale in NYC on November 11th (only a couple weeks away)! FOC does ship to USA, but for Manhattanites who want to save on shipping & customs (and want to try on styles in person) - it would be worth the trip. You can check out their event page here for more details. I want to add that this is NOT a sponsored post. I have so much love & respect for Sasha and FOC as a brand. I wanted to show my genuine support, so I paid for this outta my own damn money. 
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About two months ago, it hit me. I spend way too much time worrying about what other people think of me. Interestingly enough, I am not so worried about others' impression of my physical appearance. I am more insecure about how others perceive my demeanour, personality and attitude. This is particularly true in my dating life. Therefore, I constantly find myself in a position where I've lost my sense of self by taking on "approved" behaviours (or lack thereof) and acting in the best interest of others. For too long, I've let people hold this power over me, especially men. Note: This post is from the lens of a cis heterosexual woman and does not reflect all individuals and types of relationships (it is also very long).
Even though I have recognized my feelings and identified discrepancies between my thoughts and actions, I realized the following: I am addicted to validation. I am addicted to the prospect of being wanted. I am addicted to love. All I ever wanted out of life was to feel desired. So, I defined my self-worth through the feeling of desire (which unfortunately, I didn't feel very often). (CW: conversations about emotional manipulation/psychological abuse/swearing/etc.)

Three months ago, I made a change. It might not seem significant to you, but this was one of the most difficult things that I've ever done. I stopped searching for validation. I lost interest in dating. I deleted every single one of my dating apps. I went out in public when I wasn't "looking my best". I stopped searching for love. You know, they always say that you won't find love until you stop looking for it. And they're right. I found love, but it was a love that came from within. Pure acceptance of who I am 100% of the time. Without judgment, and with self-compassion. 2017 has been a year of change. Death. Transformation. Rebirth. I am learning who I am, but along the way, have also learned who I am not.

Let's face it, "millenial dating" is hard enough, as is. To find an individual that you connect with in some way or another, who also wants the same thing out of the relationship as you... now that's relationship gold. I've never struck "relationship gold" myself, but I've certainly been distracted by some Fool's Gold. I used to worry about writing about my exes and even more so, writing negative things. I never wanted them to come across my words, and feel as though they were harsh or demeaning. BUT, if you think that you have the "right" to treat me like some sort of malleable object, then I have every right to drag you through the mud for it (don't worry - I won't be using names). Read: I throw out the word "ex" a lot because I honestly don't know what else to call them. If we did more than just hookup, you're an "ex" for the purpose of this story. 

I've really only ever had two legit boyfriends. I'm not entirely sure why, and even though we didn't date long, I had very strong feelings for both of them. I came back to those two boyfriends, three different times EACH. This is over a 5 year period.  There are also another handful of men (I use this word loosely, cause most of you are boys tbh) that I "went back to" more than once. I don't know why I do this, perhaps it is a feeling of comfort and security (i.e. I know you, and you know me). It's also pretty damn stupid. I'm not trying to be self-deprecating at all..  but GIRL (me), you need to learn your lesson. I'm proud to say, that I did. I suppose there is room for a relationship to grow with time apart, and perhaps one or both of you realized what you were missing without the person. I'm sad to say that I don't think this is often the case.

I reconnected with one of these boyfriends for the third and FINAL time this summer.  I had just returned home after spending 2 months in the hospital and 1 month living with family. Of course, I felt unbelievably lonely and vulnerable during this time. I sought out a new relationship or friendship (or anything tbh) with someone of the opposite sex to try and heal some emotional wounds (obviously not the best strategy). I stumbled upon my exes' Okcupid profile, and we reconnected. I informed him that I had spinal cord surgery, and that I am now disabled. He didn't seem to mind, and we got back together. He helped me a lot (physically) during the short time that we had reconnected, but broke me down emotionally. He supplied me with false promises of meeting his family, talks of future vacations, living arrangements and even suggested that he would put a ring on my finger (in the future, of course). I ate up every word of it. 
When he started to grow distant, I changed to accommodate his needs. I forced myself to become less "needy" (looking back on it, I definitely wasn't needy, I just wanted him to communicate with me). I established boundaries, which he crossed time and time again. I let him, and made excuses about his behaviour (i.e. I thought there was a future between us, and he just needed to get used to being in a relationship).  He would go days and days without even a simple "hello" message and rarely responded to my texts. It only hit me that this was the end when he ghosted me. Funny enough, our relationship ended the first time when he ghosted me right after I bought us some pretty sweet baseball tickets (in 2015). He just didn't show up to the game, nor responded to my messages. I brought a friend to the game instead. Come to think of it, I think I can count on one hand, the number times (in my life) where both parties were aware of the end/separation of the relationship. This is so sad to acknowledge. I have literally been ghosted by almost all of my "exes".
We often think of emotional/psychological abuse to result in some type of large/catastrophic and emotional event (i.e. a fight) and are able to identify this as so (even if we are in a position where we cannot speak up or leave). However, we often overlook the "smaller" or "minor" issues and/or behaviours. Emotional and/or psychological abuse is not simply name-calling or verbal assault. It includes elements of: fear, humiliation, gaslighting, manipulation, breaking down self-esteem, etc.When someone lies to you (with ill-intention), that is manipulation. When someone holds their attractiveness or klout over your head, that is manipulation. When someone nitpicks your appearance or criticizes you until you change, that is manipulation. When someone "ghosts" you for a while, but then suddenly pops back into your life, that is manipulation. I'm sure I could come up with a million more examples, but you get the point. The reality is, that we are the ones who get to control our emotional regulation and decide how we feel. We just often do not feel empowered to make these decisions for ourselves.
Dating should not be a game. Not only do I feel that "swipe-culture" is demeaning, it also promotes separation. It does not encourage connection, communication or compassion. These three C's are the fundamental pillars of the (my) ideal relationship (platonic or not). I enjoyed using Tinder for a while (like in 2014 when it was less trash IMO). I've always disliked Bumble. The concept is pretty cool (women have to send the first message, which can help to weed out creepers and jerks). However, legitimately no one responded to my first message within the 24-hour time period... like why even bother connecting with me? Read: I actually tried for a while, and then gave up. OkCupid, I really loved (but I almost exclusively used the website). I met a couple of my exes on Okcupid (hi, guys!). However, since deleting my apps, I have found out that Okcupid has integrated the "swipe" feature - which I previously mentioned my dislike of. Full Disclosure: these are the main dating apps that I have used.
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I don't owe anyone anything, especially because of my size. I will choose not to respond to your pleas and your empty promises. I simply won't text back. Just to be clear, I don't intend on "ghosting" anyone for no reason. It's not uncommon for creepy dude tries to slide into my DMs on IG or FB (almost always, they mention my weight, curves or appearance in some way). I literally have never responded to one of these messages.  I'm not desperate to get to know you via online messenger just because I'm fat.  I simply won't text back. Have you ever been chatting online/via text with a prospective partner (I use this term loosely) and felt uncomfortable by something they said, or you're just not interested? Then, you either politely decline their advances, or call out their misogyny (just an example). Now, suddenly you're: fat (or some real mean variations of this), ugly, a bitch, a slut, etc. when merely minutes ago, they expressed interest in you. You best believe that I'm no longer engaging in that conversation. I simply won't text back. Boi, bye.

Outfit Details// Shirt: Flaws of Couture (available here); Dress (as a skirt): Addition Elle (previous season; similar here); Booties: Penningtons (similar here); Clutch: Gifted; Sunglasses: Penningtons; Lipstick: Viva Glam by Lady Gaga for MAC

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