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Dating After Bariatric Surgery: Things Change

I have suffered through some terrible and hilarious dating and friend experiences, and came away with some advice that I'm happy to share.

After considering bariatric surgery for six years, I finally took the plunge! I underwent gastric bypass in October 2016, and despite having to acclimate to the numerous changes to so many aspects of my life, this decision was one of the best I have ever made for myself.

So when I was ready to date again post-surgery, I made some unexpected discoveries, and I’d like to share them with you.

Like a butterfly, you will undergo many changes.

Like a butterfly, you will undergo many changes.

People will react differently to you from the get-go

Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, your physical being will also undergo a metamorphosis.

If someone new first met the more fit you instead of the heavier you, they may have trouble accepting (or even fathoming) that you were significantly heavier before you met. They will likely have difficulty understanding your personal concerns or anxieties that go along with being used to carrying a lot more of "you" around.

It’s not deliberate with someone who has never been overweight, so be patient with them. They may naturally believe that you always looked how you do now, which can make for some complicated explanations. As for me, I wanted to put my story out there -- not wishing to debate the pros and cons of weight loss surgery with every guy I met, so I stuck the statement right into my dating profile. Not only is it an organic talking point, it explains conditions immediately.

If you meet someone special just at the start of your post-surgery journey and are lucky enough to begin something you think could be a long-term relationship, be sure to confirm that the other half of the relationship won’t suddenly become insecure as your weight loss continues. It has been shown that long-term existing relationships can go downhill when one party loses a large amount of weight, although I speculate that short-term relationships wouldn’t be much different. A jealous, insecure, or clingy partner can make for a sticky situation.

If your date asks, you may be loathe to show them pictures of the old you. But don’t sweat it – if they are worthy, they won’t care what you used to look like, and the probability is high that they will be impressed with the work you have put into improving your health.

You can't go wrong with a romantic picnic in a sunny field.

You can't go wrong with a romantic picnic in a sunny field.

Dates will be different

The good old date standbys won’t work as well anymore, but you can manage:

  • Because your new stomach “pouch” or "sleeve” can only hold a couple of ounces, you can forget about complicated, many-coursed dinners. And because you won’t be able to easily process fat or sugar any longer, you can also forget about fattening foods and desserts. Your favorite Mexican place? Probably not. Carnival food? Not really. French food? That's a resounding "no".. A dumping episode is bad enough without it taking place on a date! (Note that gastric sleeve patients do not experience dumping syndrome.)
  • Because there is a half hour time period before both drinking and eating, it complicates things further. You will likely go on a lot of coffee dates, but there is a surprise bonus: you will be able to recite the full drinks menu at Starbucks, Panera, or your favorite local café. "Hello, barista? I'd like a venti decaf nonfat caffė misto, please?"
  • No liquor for the first year will turn a quick adult beverage into a quick short glass of juice with a glass of ice on the side (too much sugar otherwise). It may not be glamorous, but a date is all about the company, anyway!
  • You may find yourself on physical dates like hiking or dancing, which has the added benefit of getting your daily activity out of the way. Bring a protein bar and you’ll be fine.
They might even stare.

They might even stare.

People are more attentive

Everyone likes to look at people they find attractive, and as you approach more conventional beauty standards you will discover that life becomes a little easier. (I am sorry to point this out, but it is true. Personally, I believe beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, but I am perhaps more evolved than the typical person. Heh.) That said, doors will be held for you all the time (whereas perhaps they were held less); your dates will consistently fall all over themselves trying to impress you (instead of you always working to impress them); and people will overestimate your positive qualities, even trusting you more than an average looking person.

Also, it can be tempting to date some people based purely on their looks. But remember... if your dates are into you simply because of the way you look instead of the person you are, I beseech you – find someone else... and rethink your plan as well!

I've made this face plenty of times due to awful messages.

I've made this face plenty of times due to awful messages.

The messages you receive will be different

Anyone subjecting themselves to online dating has had their share of distasteful or otherwise eye-roll-inducing messages. You know the type – the blatantly suggestive ones, or the overly poetic ones comparing you to an angel or even worse, an actor in a "not safe for work" type of movie.

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If you dated when you were heavier, you may have received some of these annoyances, but do know that they will increase almost exponentially… even if you specify “no hookups” in your profile. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Your list may not need to be this long.

Your list may not need to be this long.

Your choices of companions will be different

Even if you had plenty of interested parties before, you may become overwhelmed with offers now. Be picky! Not everyone deserves your time.

Think of it as an interview process. You wouldn’t hire someone unless they demonstrated your required qualifications, right? Personally, I have a system that immediately weeds out the worst, then whittles down the number of candidates until the best -- often, a very few -- remain. Those who make it to this stage still have the chance to disqualify themselves by sending snapshots of their family jewels, but for the most part the system works. Determine what is important to you and come up with your own system!

Let your newfound confidence work for you, and let that smile shine!

Let your newfound confidence work for you, and let that smile shine!

Finally, you will feel different about yourself

No matter your age, as you emerge from that cocoon, the world will seem different too:

  • You will feel younger. With all the new energy that is bubbling out of you, you may have enough energy to date every night!
  • You will feel more confident! So many interested parties and romantic attention will buoy your post-surgery blues and you may want to try things you never would have tried pre-surgery.
  • You will feel more confident… until you begin to doubt yourself somewhat. Every coin has two sides, so consider bariatric surgery your money, honey. Your body will change daily, and you will feel great about your changing looks... that is, until you become increasingly critical about your new body. This may occur imperceptibly. Let it go! And don't let anyone pressure you into feeling low, either. Remember, you underwent surgery for your health, not your looks.

So get out there, have fun, and don't forget to smile!


Rachel Vega (author) from Massachusetts on May 06, 2019:

I'm so sorry you are finding it difficult. Years before I had the surgery I went on a first (and last) date with a very nice man who had the surgery. The date was pleasant but boring and took a turn for discomfort when he realized he couldn't eat more than three bites and shoved the extra bites in anyway... causing him to excuse himself, run to the restroom, and puke. Yikes.

My advice is... let romance happen organically, and if anyone puts you down for your health choices (because of their obvious ignorance) then you don't need them. You will be great... be yourself and let yourself shine!

Marcey71 on May 04, 2019:

Dating was hard before my surgery, now it is even harder to date. Does anyone else feel the same?

Jay on January 19, 2019:

Thank you for this!! I’m single, 25 and 2 weeks pre op. So excited for all of this!!

BT on December 15, 2016:

Interesting points of view. Thanks for sharing!

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