Dating has always scared me.
I had one relationship in college and it didn't end well; he broke up with me due to my weight. This was such a blow to my already weak self-esteem that it made me run away from dating.
No, really... I avoided dating for YEARS after that breakup.
Men would ask me out and I'd just lie and tell them I was married. But deep down I knew that I couldn't fib and run forever because of one negative experience.
A Eureka moment came when I met plus-size model Rosie Mercado, who is one of the most charismatic and alluring women on the planet. She told me about a personal challenge she did (after her divorce) based on advice from her life coach — she went on 100 dates in three months.
I was floored by the challenge and knew that I had to try it out for myself.
I asked Rosie to be my coach and she immediately said yes and laid down the law.
She gave me four rules for my 100-date challenge:
1. No kissing and no sex!
2. Don't be afraid to politely end a date if it's not going well.
3. Be honest and let them know if you are not interested. (No ghosting, either.)
4. Have fun!
After getting the rules of the challenge, I downloaded free dating apps, put my dating face on, and started fishing.
Get ready, boys! I am here to play.
I got anxious before almost every date; it wasn't first-date jitters, it was a fear of not being good enough.
I was afraid to go through the same experience as before. Was my body and size going to be an issue?
I chatted with six guys before I built up the courage to accept a date. Date No. 1 was with a guy from Tinder. The meet-up went extremely well and we texted immediately after and made plans for a second date. Then... he ghosted me.
No time for tears. I still had 99 more men to go.
I met another guy and made plans for dinner, but when I got there I realized I'd been Catfished. In his photo, he was buff and tall. IRL, he was shorter than me (5'4") and 130 pounds soaking wet.
Now, I would never ditch a guy because of his looks, but on top of the fact that he most likely Photoshopped his profile pic, we just weren't vibing.
Per Rosie's rules, I should have politely ended the date, but I couldn't bring myself to do it and I stayed for the entire dinner. It was awkward and the convo was terrible and strained.
Rule No. 2 = broken.
I went on a few more awkward dates and nothing seemed to change. Dating was so annoying. It seemed like such a waste of time.
Then I met "the kisser," aka the type of guy who goes in for the kiss wayyyyy too soon.
Yes, I kissed him back. Sorry, Rosie! Rule No. 1 = broken.
But I knew I wasn't really interested so I shut it down (as nice as possible) before he could ask for a second date. To my surprise, he took it really well.
Do I get half a point?
Date No. 7: At this point my confidence was building. I started asking guys out instead of waiting for them to ask. This is when I met "the charmer," let's call him Ben.
I didn't have to fake laugh with Ben.
The conversation flowed and I never once looked at my watch. I actually had fun with Ben, and we've been on more dates since our first meeting.
But the challenge rolled on. Date No. 10 was my "Hugh Hefner." I found out we were 10 years apart when we met...
He wasn't too fond of the age gap and I was OK with the fact that he probably didn't want to see me again. Rejection was not so painful anymore.
At the time of this writing, Hugh was my most recent date. Overall, I feel great and I'm going to keep going with the 100-date challenge.
I can definitely feel the change this challenge has spurred in me. I went from avoiding dates at all costs to asking men out. I learned to take control of my dating life.
I don't know if Ben and I will go on more dates, but I do know that I'm finally allowing myself to live and date by my own terms and rules.
I have learned that the size of my body does not take away from my value as a person. I deserve to find love and so do you.