Dear Dr. NerdLove,
My entire family is dead, and I’ve been living with my only close and reasonably well-off friend and her husband since losing my job and housing in the summer of 2020. I have severe anxiety and a number of physical health issues that all together mean I am not capable of working more than part-time for the foreseeable future. (Yes, I’ve applied for disability; apparently I’m not disabled enough.)
For the last couple months my friend and her husband have been increasingly hinting that I need to move out — they want to have a baby before she’s too old, but my stuff and I are taking up both their spare bedrooms. For my part, I can’t stand babies, and my anxiety is exacerbated by being around anyone under 18 (from 0-9, it’s the loud noises and sudden movements; from 10-18 it’s the triggered memories of bullying). But if they accept that I’m unable to work enough to support myself, then my only other option is to find an SO to support me.
My friend thinks the only reason I’m reluctant to do this is that I’m a 38-year-old virgin, I grew up in a conservative Christian home and town (where I continued to live with my parents until their deaths), and while I came out as pansexual several years ago, I still have hang ups about actually expressing it. So she’s been trying to talk me through that. And while those are factors, I’m ashamed to talk about the most major factor. Which is simply that I don’t think I could stand to kiss or have sex with anyone as ugly as I am.
This is not just low self-esteem: I’m morbidly obese, with about the least attractive weight distribution possible; I have a gigantic double chin; adult acne; short, thinning head hair; gnarly body hair; and between my face fat and the thickness of my glasses, my eyes are so minuscule you can’t even tell that they’re blue. The only person I can imagine going for me is someone equally fat and/or ugly who is desperate for sex, but can’t get anyone better — and I feel like I’d rather die than touch someone like that, no matter how smart or nice or rich they are. I seriously don’t think I’m the kind of person who could ever become attracted to someone I wasn’t attracted to before just because of their personality. (And that’s only fair — I’m really smart, funny, kind, loyal, progressive, etc., but no one has ever been attracted by that, even people who liked me as a friend.)
But is it right to choose to continue to be supported by my friend instead? My part-time job covers my groceries, meds, car expenses, etc., so all she really has to do is provide a roof. We’ve been close since grade school and I’m confident she would never throw me out in the street, even if she couldn’t have a baby and her husband (who I can tell pretty much hates me) left her. But I’d really hate for it to come to that.
So please tell me: is there any possibility of someone like me getting an at least average-looking, non-overweight partner? Would I be better off focusing on women, since women (as a whole, I know I’m an anomaly) seem more open to dating people less attractive than themselves? (E.g., you see attractive women with unattractive men a lot more than vice versa.) The problem there is that I’m more attracted to men, so I’m not sure even that would be good enough — I’ve had crushes on fairly average men, but only on really beautiful women.
Finally, there’s no escaping the fact that if I could just get paid what I make now plus the cost of a one-bedroom apartment, utilities, TV, and internet, without working any more hours, I would never even consider trying to date, but continue to satisfy myself with crushes and fantasies of people light-years out of my league. Is this unhealthy, and might my friend be right, and dating actually be good for me? How can I get over feeling like a whore if I go into dating primarily because I need support? Is it morally better to be a leech, because at least you’re not selling yourself, or a whore, because at least you’re providing something in return?
Leech Or Whore? (she/her)