Like my friends, I had teenage crushes on boys I fancied growing up. But unlike them, I never got attention back.

I tried to tell myself it wasn’t because of my weight but the older I got, the more obvious it was that I was larger than the other girls and had my fair share of bullying because of it. People would come up and oink in my face; it was exhausting and humiliating.

The constant judgement made me feel like my body was no longer mine. I became increasingly ashamed of it and covered up whenever I had the chance.

Then at 17, I discovered alcohol. With lots of vodka in my system and a short dress on, I started to get the attention from men I had missed out on and it gave me a huge amount of confidence.

I became promiscuous, craving the feeling of being special. If men wanted sex in exchange for noticing me I gave it to them.

I knew I wasn’t the type of girl people would call ‘gorgeous’, and casual sex was all I felt I was worth – just that split second of feeling wanted.

After sex, men inevitably showed no interest in wanting a relationship. Most would shy away from giving me their number the next day, and some even woke up with a look of physical disgust on their face, probably without remembering much about the night before.

Even though deep down I felt used and unwanted, I still fell for pretty much all of them. I told myself that I wasn’t fussed about love, that I didn’t want a relationship and was happy living life for me, but really I wanted the happiness I could see in couples around me.

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Dates were few and far between (Picture: Rhian Westbury)

I wanted someone to come home to after a rubbish day, to watch TV with, who would cuddle me and tell me everything would be OK.

Fed up with all my friends disappearing into blissful domesticity, I decided to try online dating – another inevitability.

I was honest when the option was there, saying that I was curvy or larger and always posted full length photos. I was never scared about making the first move either, and I chatted to a lot of people – but conversations would fizzle out.

Dates were few and far between but when they did happen, they followed a similar pattern: great chat, lots of laughter and when I messaged a day or so later, I would never hear from the guy again. It was ghosting before the term was really coined.

One brave man did reply and point blank said that while he’d had a good time, I was larger than he thought and for that reason he wasn’t interested in seeing me again.

I’d always feared it deep down, but he confirmed it: my weight was the reason no one wanted me. To hear it from someone I’d had a nice time with was especially horrible.

All of the insecurities I had about my body that I’d pushed down with alcohol and sex came tumbling out again.

I felt like I was constantly having to out myself as ‘the plus-size one’ (Picture: Jerry Snyder for Metro.co.uk)

Honesty is so important when you’re deciding who to meet in real life but being open and up-front can also expose you to mean people who are put off before they even get to know you. The dilemma is awful.

I felt like I was constantly having to out myself as ‘the plus-size one’, defining myself by my size and nothing else. At points I hated myself – it was like my body was failing me, stopping me from being happy. I wanted to close myself off from love and sack it all in.

There is no one, true beauty ideal. The average dress size in the UK for a woman is a 16, so most of the slender bodies sold to us as desirable through porn and social media are, in fact, the minority. Yet, it’s drilled into men’s minds that anyone my size is just ‘too big’.

I knew I would make a great girlfriend; I’ve always been a thoughtful person who put others before herself, but I was constantly overlooked.

After some time away from dating I decided to try out one last dating site after a few friends reported some success.

Scrolling through, I came across Luke. He looked really interesting as we had a lot of similar passions like movies, comic books and pop culture. So I crafted an initial message that touched on his love of geek culture.

I hoped he’d reply but tried not to get my hopes up – most of my messages to guys online had been ignored in the past.

Luke replied the same day and I was elated. He said that he appreciated how I’d taken the time to read his (very extensive) profile and that we seemed to have lots in common.

You know you’re with the right person when they make you feel good about yourself even when you hate what’s staring back at you (Picture: Rhian Westbury)

We spent weeks chatting non-stop, something that hadn’t happened to me for a long time, and eventually the conversation turned to meeting up.

Luke had seen all the photos I’d put up (it later transpired that he’d looked me up on social media, too), so I knew nothing about my appearance would come as a surprise to him.

Still, I was incredibly nervous and put off our first date by a week. Although it felt different with Luke, previous experience of being judged made me hold back.

When we did meet up, he drove to my hometown and the moment I saw Luke outside the restaurant I was truly at ease. I didn’t feel like I was acting as someone else or pretending to be who a man wanted me to be – and, for once, I didn’t feel conscious about my size.

Luke wanted to arrange a second date straight away.

On one hand, trying to second guess what was going to go wrong made me feel incredibly vulnerable. On the other, his enthusiasm gave me that little spark of confidence to believe that I was good enough for someone to want to see again.

We have now been together for over three years. Luke’s my own personal cheerleader and one of the first people to call me ‘gorgeous’ and ‘sexy’. He knows I want to lose weight, but he’s never pressured me or made me feel bad when my rubbish attempts have failed. He has never cared about my size – he has always been interested in all of me.

There’s a lot to be said for someone who simply loves you no matter what. True love comes from being with someone who puts in the effort to really get to know you, not just what’s on the surface.

You know you’re with the right person when they make you feel good about yourself even when you hate what’s staring back at you in the mirror. And in turn, confidence and happiness are far more attractive than a stereotypically beautiful body.

I was lucky to find love but in a world that can’t see past looks, it’s easy to be knocked back and even admit all-out defeat.

There are so many incredible, gorgeous, loving people out there just looking for someone to share their lives with, everyone will miss out if dating doesn’t become more than skin deep.

Last week in Love, Or Something Thing Like It: This is what true love looks like when you’re both trans



Write for Love, Or Something Like It

Love, Or Something Like It is a new series for Metro.co.uk, covering everything from mating and dating to lust and loss, to find out what love is and how to find it in the present day.

If you have a love story to share, email rosy.edwards@metro.co.uk

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