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Things That Go Plump in the Night

Comment

I'm absolutely appalled by your response to "Fatty With A Dream," the woman whose boyfriend hasn't touched her in over a year because she gained 40 pounds. Contrary to what you wrote, it isn't unrealistic to expect your boyfriend to be attracted to you after you've gained weight. Also, it was absolutely unnecessary to tell her that she has "put on the equivalent of a 5-year-old child" or that she has gone up "a tent size." I think what needed to be said was this: "Dear FWAD, A woman's sex appeal has more to do with her confidence than her waist size. A woman, no matter what her size, is infinitely more attractive if she truly loves herself and how she looks. If your boyfriend can't appreciate you as you are, he's not worth it. Many men find curves on a woman to be highly attractive and desirable. The more you love yourself, the more others will as well! — Voice Of Compassion

It sounds so higher consciousness to say inner beauty is what really matters, but in the real world, you don't spot somebody at party and want to rip their clothes off because they look like the type to sweep an old lady's walk or read to the blind.

Because I give advice for the real world, I told this woman the truth: Male sexuality is highly visual, and male lust usually has a weight limit. At a certain point, "more of me to love" becomes "way too much of me to lust after." Or, in the words of one of my blog commenters: "My sister once asked her husband, 'Would you still love me if I weighed 400 pounds?' He replied, 'From a distance.'"

Of course, it's the height of political incorrectitude to advise a fat woman that she'd be more attractive if she lost weight, or even to call her fat. She's just "differently weighted," a "person of width!" And sure, those would be appropriate ways to refer to this woman if her fatness were a birth defect, or if she came down with conjunctive fatty-itis. But, like most people who are fat, she doesn't have a thyroid condition or "metabolic issues"; she just neglected to close her mouth when her hands were full of Ho Hos.

When a woman snacks herself up 40 pounds and her boyfriend's refusing to touch her, about the last thing she needs to hear is "Confidence is sexy!" Trust me, her girlfriends are already reassuring her, "It's okay, you have a really pretty face" (while thinking that they're having a little trouble finding her face in all that fat).

It's easier to say whatever makes somebody feel good in the moment, but that only prolongs their misery. It's kinder to tell the truth, in stark terms — that the pot they see at the end of their rainbow is actually the kind that flushes. They can choose to change or accept the consequences, but at least they're clear on the consequences; in this case, that keeping the weight probably means losing the boyfriend and having a really hard time landing another. Yes, there are many men who "find curves on a woman to be highly attractive and desirable," but not a whole lot who feel the same way about folds.

Grime And Punishment

My friends are slobs. They have huge, overflowing recycling piles, several-day-old plates of crusty food in various rooms, heaps of dirty laundry, random nails and screwdrivers across the floor from unfinished projects, and dirt and dead bugs behind small appliances in their kitchen. They also have a newborn baby. Aside from the mess, they're excellent parents, but if Child Services ever showed up, I'm certain they'd take the kid. Should I say something? — Concerned

Just because they're slobs doesn't mean they'll let the kid crawl through a field of rusty nails (on his way to lick all the outlets and get his little fist around Baby's First Oxycodone).

It is possible that their protective parent hard-wiring will fire up, and they'll make their place more "shabby chic" than "recently ransacked." In case they don't, you and a few friends could offer your collective help to "babyproof" the home ("babyproof" being easier on the ego than "Why not just give the kid a nail gun to play with and be done with it?") On the bright side, being too clean (I'm talking to you, Purell freaks) might negatively affect a child's defenses against pathogens. According to behavioral ecologist Marlene Zuk, kids with pets, kids who go barefoot, and kids living on farms get sick less and have a lower incidence of allergies and asthma. Unfortunately, researchers have yet to find evidence that snacking on wood glue or teething on a variety of Phillips-head screwdrivers bolsters the immune system.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (www.advicegoddess.com). Alkon is the author of "I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle to Beat Some Manners into Impolite Society."

COPYRIGHT 2010 AMY ALKON

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Comments

24 Comments | Post Comment
In re of LW1 - I said it before and I will say it again...it is time for people to accept responsibility for and the consequences of their actions. Why must everything be sugar coated to be acceptable advice? Sure enough, the truth hurts sometimes...especially when that truth is the result of YOUR OWN ACTIONS! If one does not like the answer to a question, then they shouldn't ask the question to begin with.

Asking Amy a question is going to result in advice that won't be delievered by tip toeing on eggshells to appease your fragile ego. It's like standing in front of Howard Stern when you are 400lbs over weight and expecting the man to praise you...when you know the man is brutal. You asked it...deal with it.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Molly B
Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:18 PM
As a 40 some single male who is looking...I have to agree with the advice given by Amy. The singles sites are full of profiles for the BBW (big beautiful woman), when you check the pix the person is big as a house. You can tell yourself anything you want, and if your are truly happy then great for you. But trying to pretend you are not fat and guys should be lining up to be hot for the "inner you" is just self deceiving. Guys are supposed to feel like they are shallow for not being attracted to these gals, but these are the same gals who are looking for a tall, athletic, well hung chunk of man meat. Seems crazy to me.
Comment: #2
Posted by: David W
Wed Mar 17, 2010 8:47 AM
Great advice Amy and telling it like it really is. There are to many women overweight and if they want or expect to find a man they had better not be fat. The ones that are slim, full figured how often are they hit on? Often. The ones overweight how often are they it on? Hardly ever. Men go after attractive, slim, full figured women--reality.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Jack Olds
Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:09 AM
Let it be said that I have been an Amy Alkon supporter since we both lived in NYC at the same time--though in very different spheres--back in the late 1970's. (I worked on Madison Avenue for Family Circle, next to St. Pat's.)

And being a male for whom the Visual is the Main Thing, I have to say this.

I have encountered women in my time whose self-confidence, regardless of their size, together with their sensuality (which you can't apply like makeup), has been as much of a turn-on as anything. It's about something they used to call 'carriage"...the way you presented yourself. And if a lady is conscious of her value...and her sexuality...and she wears this on her sleeve (cf. The Beatles "She's So Heavy"), a man will be drawn to that, like a moth to a flame.

I can sit here and say, "I only like ladies whose BMI is so low as to mean she is slim baby slim"...and yet, should one of those women to whom I refer walk by...I am on the hunt and following with hope in my heart.
Comment: #4
Posted by: DenverBrian
Wed Mar 17, 2010 4:17 PM
I don't mind if a woman is a few pounds overweight, especially considering I'm not in that great of shape myself. I actually appreciate large natural breasts and other curves. All that having been said, there comes a point where a line is crossed which divides "full figured" from "disgusting." A lot of tempting things get repulsive if you get too much of them.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Matt
Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:42 PM
Just to throw another wrench in the LW #1 advice. 40# is not always 40#. What I mean is, if she went from a size 0 to a size 8 - that's not so much a big deal. A size 0 is hard to maintain as you get older anyway. If the 40# is all fat from laziness, she could probably benefit health-wise from some exercise, because 40# in two years is really too much too soon.
But my point is that she might not actually be "tent-size" fat depending on where she started from, and just feels it & is being treated like it by the bf. I used to be a 102# size 0, and over about a decade put on 30# and became a size 6. (partly fat gain, and partly muscle gain from doing some exercise every now and then and getting stronger.) I feel pudgy and bloated some days, but I also look more like a woman and less like a 12 year old boy body-type (with no hips and flat chested.)
Granted, if I put on 30-40# now, I would be pushing "tent-size" fat at my height. And that can be a deal breaker for some people. But going from stick-thin to normal size and being punished for it, is pretty cruel, IMHO.
Comment: #6
Posted by: esther
Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:06 AM
"The more you love yourself, the more others will as well!"
The above quote is from LW1. I agree with it to a certain extent, but self-esteem comes from actually having REASONS to love yourself. When I was 70 lbs overweight I hated to look at myself in the mirror so it's easy to imagine that my hubby didn't enjoy looking at me. No amount of meditation, self-help books, fat acceptance forums or well-meaning girlfriends was going to convince me that my 'curves' were beautiful; especially since the only curves I had was a huge stomach and double chin. You know what made me enjoy looking at myself naked in the mirror? Putting the fork down, taking up running and losing 70 lbs over a year's time!
Did I have value as a fat person? Of course, but I can't help but notice that men and women treat me differently since I lost the weight. Men stumble to help me at the store, women and men treat me with more respect. Is it just because I carry myself differently? No...people generally have more respect for people that keep themselves in shape.
I live in the 'real world' that Amy gives advice for. While all people should be treated with dignity we make judgments about people's appearance and behaviour all the time. Eating yourself into serious health problems doesn't garner me much sympathy for you no differently than smoking yourself into lung cancer or emphysema.
40 lbs in two years is dangerously quick weight gain. It signifies lazyness and a lack of caring about oneself that is highly unattractive in a mate. The original letter-writer should lose the weight or her BF should lose her.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Lori
Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:26 AM
Far be it from me to defend the "more of me to love" attitude - it is unhealthy, self-centered, and self-defeating - but the original LW, who did, indeed, gain 40lb in 2 years from unhealthy eating and the lack of activity, was *working on losing weight*: she was exercising and eating healthier. She also wasn't looking for a new relationship. She was upset at the lack of intimacy in her ongoing one. Her boyfriend of at least two years stopped having sex with her because she had gained weight. While I understand that men are attracted initially to physical beauty, one would assume that after two years in a relationship, the guy would have found that her being slim is not the only reason to love the woman. If he discovered that it was, the LW is better off leaving him anyway. If nothing attracts a person to you but your physical attributes, you are not a GF/BF. You are a booty call. If you are fine with it, stay. If not, leave. The LW was not fine with it. Therefore, she should leave. ___ When I met my husband, I weighed 114lb. I was 20. Now, 20 years and 2 kids later (and not exercising enough, and having a slice of pizza for lunch instead of a salad more than I should, etc.) , I weigh 175 - that's more than a 60lb gain. Yes, I am overweight (not a tent-size, btw - I have never yet had to buy a piece of clothing with even a single X on the size label, and I don't even consider women wearing XL clothing "tent-sized" - just overweight). If my husband was ready to leave me because of this gain, I'd say good riddance. I would hope that he would have found other attributes of me than my once-tiny waist and the lack of cellulite to be attracted to, but if he hasn't, I wouldn't want to be married to him either. Who the hell needs a life partner that values you only as a sex object and nothing else? ____ And all those guys who are looking only for hot women? Have you looked in the mirror lately? If you are 25, have six-pack abs, great hair, perfect teeth, etc., go for it. If you are 40, and the six-pack abs really mean a bit of a beer pudge, and the "dignified" look comes from graying and thinning hair, which has been moving from your head to your back, then lay off the "males are very visual in sexual relationships." Women aren't drooling over middle-aged overweight balding slobs either.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Ariana
Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:43 AM
Re: Ariana
You are totally missing the point. #1) The original LW admits (in the original posting) to be "Lazy" and unemployed for 2 years along with gaining 40 lbs. #2) Just because someone loses sexual interest in someone doesn't mean that they lose interest in that person entirely. Case in point - The BF never asked to end the relationship. In fact if she is unemployed it seems he's been pulling more than his fair share in the relationship. If his only interest in her was sex wouldn't he have left her already?
What would you have done if your spouse suddenly started overspending and bouncing checks the last two years, suddenly started drinking heavily and in two years was an alcoholic, started abusing drugs, started bathing less and less? All of these are dramatic shifts in behavior and health. How would you react? I'm sure you WOULD react some way but and whether you truly love that spouse doesn't come in to question. You'd be concerned, angry, dissapointed, scared, worried and maybe a less interested in other activities you normally enjoyed with this person...like going for a drink in a bar for example if your spouse has become an alcolholic. The same situatin here. Dramatic, unhealthy change in her behavior, health and physical appearance.
Comment: #9
Posted by: KJ
Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:33 AM
KJ - It's a far cry from an unemployed, chip-eating person who has gained weight and is now trying to lose it (albeit unsuccessfully) to an unclean, abusive, overspending, drug-addicted alcoholic. The original LW was NOT abusive, she did NOT overspend, she did NOT bounce checks, she did NOT use drugs, she did NOT stop bathing, she did NOT become an alcoholic, and we don't know that the BF was supporting her financially either. She may have received unemployment, used her savings, etc. If they lived together, for all we know, she may also have been doing all the house work, which for two adults wouldn't have cut too much into her time eating Doritos on the couch. You say that I am missing the point, but where exactly are you reading all this drug abuse, lack of personal hygiene, bouncing checks, etc.? It wasn't in the original letter. ___ The LW got lazy, she was unemployed, and she gained quite a bit of weight. I wouldn't say that she went up "tent-size" though - 40lb on a woman about 5'4" - 5'7" (average height for a woman) could be like going up from size 6 to size 10 or 12. Admittedly, it is not healthy, but it is not a "tent-size." In her initial response, Amy was cruel and, besides, recommended some guy's diet from his blog (!), while bashing mainstream medical advice. Yeah, way to do "research." My freshmen know better than that, so I would expect that a smart, educated, professional writer would as well. I normally expect Amy to be blunt and to the point, but not vicious. This time she was vicious (Fatty Patty? Going up tent-size? Kate Moose?).
Comment: #10
Posted by: Ariana
Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:43 PM
To the people who say that Amy is cruel and heartless, blah, blah, blah, anyone who reads her column, ever, should know that she shoots from the hip and tells the truth as she sees it. If you want someone who will pat your head and tell you that obese is beautiful, write to Dear Annie. If someone put on 40 pounds (!) in just two years,, and is whining because her boyfriend doesn't find her attractive anymore, she does NOT need to hear reassuring platitudes about how she's still beautiful at any weight. Amy was right on in telling her she needs to either lose weight or lose the boyfriend, but either way, stop whining about it. It's ludicrous to pout about how no one loves us "as we are" when what we "are" can be fixed with a little work.
And by the way, for those who say Amy was off base in giving dietary advice, you are wrong, she was going above and beyond to be helpful. Amy was 100 percent right on in what she wrote. You lose weight by cutting both carbs and calories. If the LW really can't lose weight, she's on the wrong diet. If she eats really well, the letter writer WILL lose weight. Then she can decide whether or not to ditch the boyfriend.
Comment: #11
Posted by: sarah morrow
Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:25 PM
I think people are missing the point. It doesn't matter if the boyfriend "should" still love her the same with extra weight. He doesn't, and he won't. So, if she wants to have a relationship with this guy then she knows what to do.
Comment: #12
Posted by: Julia
Fri Mar 19, 2010 7:05 AM
Well said, Julia. And let's have this be an equal opportunity reality check. Obesity is not a plus in either sex. It's going to be the very rare (and probably odd) person who says I'm so glad my partner is overweight. And obesity is always a matter of choice. It would help if all the enablers got something else to do. For all those that are happy in their old relationships at their and their spouses new unhealthy weights, did you ever think of the power of inertia? It keeps a lot of people together.
Comment: #13
Posted by: julia
Fri Mar 19, 2010 8:48 AM
Re: Ariana
Ariana--you are missing MY point now. I'm NOT saying she's any of those things. I'm merely pointing out that a dramatic (and negative) change in behaivor and health can affect how a spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend feels about the other socially/sexually or in some other way. Gaining 40 lbs, being unemployed and confessing to being lazy IS a big red flag for most people. My point was to equate that behavior with OTHER negative/self destructive behaviors that would abhor people. The POINT is that not taking care of yourself AT ALL and expecting a boyfriend or girlfriend to stay sexually interested is unfair and unjust. And as far as her "trying" to lose weight then good for her but why bash the boyfriend for his feelings? Why assume that he isn't being supportive just because he can't get excited about her sexually? Lastly everyone who is bashing this guy is ASSUMING his lack fo sexual interest is because of her weight gain. I would guess there is more to it than that as well. She sounds like she really needs help but he's not the bad guy.
Comment: #14
Posted by: KJ
Fri Mar 19, 2010 10:02 AM
KJ - Maybe I am missing your point, but you initially did ask what I would do if - and I am quoting: "your spouse suddenly started overspending and bouncing checks the last two years, suddenly started drinking heavily and in two years was an alcoholic, started abusing drugs, started bathing less and less?" In that case, I would try counseling, and if it didn't work, I'd leave him. But if he was unemployed, got lazy, and gained weight, I WOULDN'T stop hugging and kissing them or cut off sex. I would be supportive, encourage him to get screened for depression, try to have healthier food choices in the house, try to go for walks together for exercise, etc. I wouldn't treat him as a sexually repulsive being - that's for sure. That would factor majorly in my understanding of being supportive or not supportive. I think Julia said it well: the BF doesn't and won't love the LW the same way as he did before she gained weight, and there is nothing LW can do about it. The BF, however, did show that her weight matters to him a lot, to the point that he even avoids kissing her. To me that would mean time to leave him. Stopping defining herself through the eyes of the BF would help LW gain some self-esteem, which, I hope, will also help her lose weight - not so that her BF loves her, but so that she can be healthier. And I think Amy dumping on the LW didn't help. Many posters do make a good point, though - Amy is usually very blunt. The original LW shouldn't have written to her in the first place. Carolyn Hax, for example, would have been a much better choice.
Comment: #15
Posted by: Ariana
Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:42 PM
I'm a large woman. Unhappily large. Hubby has stopped being interested and you know what? I don't blame him. I'm 40 pounds heavier than I was when we met (coincidentally) but you know what's worse? I weigh as much now as I did when *carrying* our younger son.

I don't feel good about myself, but I definitely have a libido. I just don't expect someone to reach past rolls to get to something that used to not have them in the way.
Comment: #16
Posted by: rigatoni
Sat Mar 20, 2010 4:58 PM
Amy has often pointed out that men are visual creatures, and implied that this is an evolutionary trait. But, she has also pointed out a similar evolutionary trait of women to be attracted to the best providers. Would those of you who feel that this woman's boyfriend is justified also feel it is justifiable for women to be disgusted and dump men who are suddenly bringing in less income? As with weight, income is sometimes not fully in our control.
As House has pointed out, people usually stay within one or two points of where they are themselves. Tens do not often couple themselves with fives, unless there is additional incentive (80 yr old billionaires can still find hot young wives). For every overweight woman there is a man who is pudgy, balding, and makes low enough wages to be in the position of settling for less than Tyra Banks rather than spending his life alone. And often all of these people are kind, nice, and generous and have happy lives. Two of the happiest couples I know fall into this category...and I know they have all been very happy their entire married lives (both couples are approaching their 40th anniversary). Amy is probably correct in her original advice...nothing can make someone attracted when they are not. But that doesn't translate to being alone forever.
Comment: #17
Posted by: Kodiak
Sat Mar 20, 2010 9:45 PM
To Ariana, you say if your man turned alcoholic, stopped bathing, etc., you might leave him after counseling.... but that you would not do so if he gained weight. You're just making Amy's point though!! Like Amy said, women are NOT as visually oriented as men in terms of sex or attraction. We are looking for different things, and different things matter to us. Men ARE visually oriented. They have visual receptors in their eyes keyed to certain part of the brain that result in a sexual response. This is how God or evolution made 'em, take your pick, but it is NOT going to change. Men are NOT women, and it's time to stop being appalled that they don't act like women. The two sexes are DIFFERENT, DIFFERENT, DIFFERENT. What Amy is saying (and you just confirmed!) is that guys are visually oriented for sexual arousal, it's hard wired and biological, no amount of whining and pouting about it will change it. Women are hard wired in different ways, more having to do with finding a reliable protective supportive spouse. So if a man wants to keep a woman, he usually needs to make a little effort to be supportive and bring in an income. If a woman wants to keep a man, she usually needs to make a little effort to keep herself fit and in shape, i.e., reasonably lean, pretty and attractive, not sit around eating ho ho's all day then whine when no one seems attracted to her. No amount of feminist angst or political correctness will change those basic facts.
Comment: #18
Posted by: sarah morrow
Mon Mar 22, 2010 7:03 PM
Men are visually stimulated and are often (not always) turned off by extra pounds. It's not fair, but that's how it is. LW1 needs to evaluate what's more important to her: eating what she wants or her boyfriend.

I so think that the response was unnecessarily mean-spirited, as I find much of Amy Alkon's advice. There is a difference between "telling it as is is" and just plain meanness.

Comment: #19
Posted by: Shanti
Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:05 AM
I have to agree with the response to the plumper.
Women are visual also. I did the dating-site dating thing, actually met my husband on one. The first date I went on, the man had a pleasant face, nice personality, and looked 18 months pregnant.
I won't claim to be or look perfect but I do keep in shape. If my husband gained 40 pounds, there would be the "eww" factor for sure. At least, being a woman, I could fake being a willing participant in sex. A man, though...if he is put off by a woman's extra, extra, extra pounds he won't be able to fake the noodle his Mr. Happy resembles because he is not attracted to fat.
Comment: #20
Posted by: ame
Wed Mar 24, 2010 3:01 PM
Did people see the recent letter in "Men are from Mars" -- a woman wrote in complaining that her husband had gained 45 pounds, and how had breasts bigger than hers! She was no longer attracted to him, and was tired of his complaining about it! So women do have the same concerns, when the weight gain is enormous. And 40 pounds added to a typical woman's frame is a lot more, proportionally speaking, than 45 pounds added to a typical man's! The "Men are from Mars" columnist told the LW that he "sympathized" but that she really should "keep the romance alive!" To which I say B.S.! Amy's advice was MUCH better. In both cases.... the woman who gained 40 pounds of fat, and the man who now has boobs that are bigger than his wife's.... two people who are choosing carbs and calories over their love lives..... the folks who are putting on all of those pounds are being selfish and gluttonous, and neither of their spouses have any obligation to "act romantic" or pretend that their obesity is sexy or attractive. (And no, I'm not someone who has never had a problem staying slim! I've had to fight to keep my own weight down. But I recognize that if I reach for a few extra servings of candy and cake and ice cream, I don't have the right to whine and complain about it when my BF stops reaching for me.)
Comment: #21
Posted by: sarah morrow
Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:33 PM
Someone who already loves you should love you no matter what. If they don't, RUN! If someone can't love you with 40 extra pounds, they won't love you if you get cancer or end up in a wheelchair or lose your income or just get old and wrinkled from normal aging. RUN - unless your self esteem is so low that you genuinely believe you what Amy said.
We ALL become less attractive over time, so if you believe that weight or any other physical trait should have that kind of importance, I feel sorry for you. You'll probably get what you have coming when life takes it's toll on you and your mate finds someone whose phyical attributes are more attractive than your own, because there ALWAYS will be someone physically better.
Of course, if you're still looking for someone to "rip your clothes off" at a bar or party like Amy, you don't have a relationship yet. And maybe it's because you're acting slutty and desperate at parties...or maybe it's because after that, they find all you have to offer is a thin body, ugly face and a mean attitude...
Comment: #22
Posted by: guest
Sat Mar 27, 2010 5:01 AM
My boyfriend (and fiance) of 4 years stood me up for a planned date and left town. Looking back it was the best thing for me. I had gained 30 pounds since high school when we started our relationship. I took a look at my self esteem and decided who I was and how I wanted to be and look. I lost all the weight and have been in great shape since then. It didn't happen overnight but over the course of about 4 years. I ran into his best friend at my 20 year class reunion and then magically the ex bf wrote to me. I used to be very hurt that he would not stick with me while I was "down" about myself, but we were both young. I am not mad or sad at him. My life turned out great once I took responsibility for myself. I've been married 30 + years to a great guy. The ex told me he was married for about 7 years, now divorced.
Comment: #23
Posted by: kathy Cassidy
Sat Mar 27, 2010 5:24 AM
"Because I give advice for the real world, I told this woman the truth: Male sexuality is highly visual, and male lust usually has a weight limit."

What a gutsy reply. You might piss some people off saying something like that, but I appreciate the honesty. In my opinion, there are definitely some guys who are into bigger women, but not nearly as many as guys that like a girl who takes care of herself and is in good shape.
Comment: #24
Posted by: Deft
Fri Apr 2, 2010 10:49 AM
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