I can’t tell you how many emails I have received regarding online dating: whether it was a good idea way back, when it really caught on in the frum dating community, or for how to get comfortable with dating through the computer during COVID, or for people scared of being catfished or having been catfished. To remind everyone what catfish is, it’s when a person takes information and images, typically from other people, and uses them to create a new identity for themselves. While you may think you are speaking with “Sarah,” a 33-year-old CPA from Brooklyn, it may actually be Moshe, a 55-year-old man from Chicago. I published an article over a year ago from a young man who was catfished by someone pretending to be her thinner, prettier cousin. So, there is a lot to think about when it comes to online dating.
I began DMing someone my friend set me up with. He lives in another country, so we haven’t met yet. We’ve been “talking” to each other for six months. We have FaceTime and we’ve done Zoom dates, too, not just emailing. I don’t want you to think this is a Catfish story. I know that Avi is real.
Avi planned on coming to New York as soon as he is able to take time off of work. We really look forward to an actual face-to-face date. Avi was able to take vacation and in a couple of weeks will be flying in. I’m excited, but so nervous at the same time. Meeting in person and spending hours together is different from a FaceTime call.
You may think it’s crazy, but I’m worried that Avi won’t like the real me. I haven’t lied to him about anything, but he’s only really seen me from the waist or neck up. I’m kinda bigger on the bottom than I am on top. Not huge, but bigger. What if Avi doesn’t like what he sees? What if my physical appearance turns Avi off and we stay in the “friend zone”?
I really like him. We’ve spent hours talking and discussing everything. We know all about each other. I’ll say it again: I really like him. I asked my friend, the one who introduced us, and she said that because Avi and I know each other, he will be able to see beyond my looks, and what I am worried about? Although she said that I have nothing to worry about. I’m just nervous. Any advice?
Thank you for your email, Stephanie.
My advice: You got this. Why doubt yourself? Why question that Avi will be turned off by your appearance? He has seen half of you, as you have described: “He’s only really seen me from the waist or neck up.” Would it be better if you were a little more top heavy instead of bottom heavy? I am fully aware of poor body image issues that people have. I, myself, had some years ago. It took a while, but I have slowly been able to see me for who and what I really am. If I have an “imperfection,” I know that it isn’t as bad as I may think and I am my own worst critic, just like everyone else is her own. And, so what? We are allowed imperfections. We aren’t perfect. Hashem didn’t make us that way. And who’s to say that perfect is being 5’7 and 130 pounds? In many cultures (and I have mentioned this a few times in the past), bigger is beautiful, or having huge ear lobes or long necks or how high you can jump. I fully understand where your doubt is coming from; you want to make a great first impression in person with Avi, but like your very smart friend said, Avi knows you, and even if he sees what you see, he also sees all of you. He knows your true self or however much you have decided to share with him.
Like I read to my daughter the other evening, “Hashem makes everyone just as they are supposed to be.” You are supposed to look how you look. Let me ask you a question. Does Avi seem like the type that will be turned off by appearances? You’ve been “dating” Avi for a long time. If you have discussed “everything” with him, then you have a pretty good idea about the type of person Avi is. If he was a superficial, shallow person, you may have been clued into that by now. Those types can’t hide it for long. I say that because I have had a few run-ins with them, and their true colors start to shine through whether they want to or not.
Let’s turn the tables for a moment. Do you know how Avi looks from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet? Do you know if he has a birthmark on his upper arm or bad bunions on his feet? And if you do know about them, did they change your feelings about him? I know that I am describing things that may not be as noticeable as a “bigger bottom,” but they may be things he is self-conscious of. He may be worried about you finding out about his ______ (fill in the blank.) It’s very normal to worry about appearances, especially in the beginning of a relationship. But as you said, you haven’t lied about anything, and he has already seen you – at least most of you.
When I was younger, I loved watching the pre-show of the Emmys or Oscars. I had to see “who” and what everyone was wearing. Besides the fabulous fashions, I noticed the spouses of some of the “big Hollywood celebrities.” In my opinion, some spouses fell short of the expectation I had for what they should look like. A handsome actor had a wife who looked very plain, even while dressed to the nines, dripping in jewelry. Someone else’s husband was shorter and heavier than I imagined he would be. “What does he/she see in him/her?” I’d ask myself. But I was younger then, and I didn’t know anything about how relationships worked. Yes, you can roll your eyes, but beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I never considered that what brought these two people together was their personalities and how they clicked and what each really saw in the other one besides the six-pack abs. When I began dating, only then did I understand that, yes, appearances count but only for so much. I may have gone out with a handsome man for a time or two, but if there wasn’t any substance behind the façade, then what was I really dating? I didn’t want to date a pretty face. I wanted someone who would share my interests, even debate me and opinions I have, someone who would introduce me to new experiences and everything else that life would bring, and if that man was short, bald, fat, or tall and lanky with a big nose, so be it.
Why do you think the toy companies started making dolls that resemble actual people? It’s because there is no such thing as “the perfect” body or face. Real people have a uniqueness to them, a special quality that only they possess. Stephanie, you may think that the size of your lower body makes you unattractive or not as attractive as you want to be – but no, to the right person, you will look perfect.
Why worry and think negatively? Yes, I know it’s normal to do that, but remember all the good “dates” you have had and don’t let anything bother you other than that. Are you sure your worries aren’t just nervous excitement? You are meeting someone for the first time for whom you have feelings! This is different from a first date. You already know each other and are relatively comfortable discussing your lives.
Truthfully, I hear what you are saying, and your worries are normal, especially if you have had experiences where you were made to feel bad because of your appearance. But, like I said in the beginning, you got this. Be the confident person that Avi knows and has come to like. This man is flying to another country for you. He scheduled his vacation with you in mind. Those are major facts that can’t be denied and have to be realized for what they are.
Good luck with Avi, and put your worries to bed. Just have a great time.
Hatzlachah to you all.