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Dating When You've Got a Mom Belly

Photograph by Getty Images

It was our third time hanging out. Yeah, I’m over the "you must take me to fancy restaurants to impress me" phase. I’m an introvert and I like quiet times with a person of interest instead of being paraded around town on display, only to have to duck and hide the next time you see the person because you annoyed each other before you even made it to the first kiss. After a chat on my porch late one evening, a moonlit walk on the beach another evening, I accepted his invitation to stop by his apartment for our first time alone.

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He sat across the room at his dining room table as I inspected the art he had created and used to highlight his apartment. I spent time gazing at his paintings, becoming one with them, seeking to understand their story. After kicking off my shoes and getting cozy on his sofa, I allowed the evening to play out as it should without any expectations or demands.

He made me laugh—a lot. He’s a professional comedian, it was in his nature. What I didn’t expect was his next move as he rose from the table and sat next to me on the couch. In the midst of some idle chatter, he simply placed his hand on my shirt and lifted it, revealing my stomach to his curious eyes.

My stomach!

That wrinkled mess of flab.

Oh no. That’s not supposed to happen yet. I don’t even take off my clothes during grown up nights of fun because ... I’m a mom. I’m not slim and trim there; I look like I’m carrying a deflated soufflé under my shirt.

This handsome man just squished my belly and told me that it was OK.

I gasped, my hand went to cover his to try to remove it but he pushed my hand away. I held my breath as he examined my belly, rubbing it with his fingertips, squeezing it with his palm and then taking a handful of jiggly gut in a firm grip and pushing it together to make it "smile."

I wanted to cry.

“Isn’t this the part of a woman that makes her feel the most insecure?” he asked me.

I nodded, the tears nearly spilling on to my cheeks.

He continued to play with my belly roll as I stared at his hand caressing my flab. This can’t be happening. He broke the silence after a torturous minute of friendly belly fondling and said, “Now that I’ve seen it already and I’m telling you it’s not the ugliest stomach I’ve ever seen, can you not be sensitive about it? Can you be OK with your body around me?”

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I could only nod and push his hand away. I pulled down my shirt and stared at him. This handsome man just squished my belly and told me that it was OK. I pulled him close and hugged him tightly, wiping the tears on his shirt, hoping he wouldn’t notice.

We didn’t kiss. We didn’t make love, yet I know I’ll never forget that night because for the first time in my life a man took the time and energy to show me that he’s not looking for a teenage body; he appreciates a woman. A woman with a squishy belly as a reward for her labor pains, well, we deserve to be seen as beautiful, too.

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