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More To Love teaches plus size women how to learn body-acceptance and end dieting for good. 

Soul Weight: What is really keeping you from finding love?

Rachel Estapa

I didn't have my first real relationship until I was 23 years old and now that I'm marrying that same man, I've been thinking a lot about relationships, love and how I overcame my own insecurities regarding weight & dating. For years, I allowed myself to believe that no one would like a bigger girl. It held me back from opening up and letting others in. Now that I'm on the other side of feeling that way and happily engaged, I wanted to reflect back upon how I used to think (which may sound familiar to others too) and show you how I worked through it.

#1: No one will want to date me if I look this way

It's totally understandable to feel like weight is a huge factor to men finding you attractive, because when you look around, sex appeal is rarely the plus-sized girl. I used to pray before bed saying "God, when I wake up tomorrow please let me be thin so guys ask me out" and that prayer began in middle school up through college. I desperately wanted to look another way so guys would look MY way.

I failed to see the evidence stacked in my body-image favor -- that many plus-size women are in loving, devoted and caring relationships. I didn't want to see that, because in my mind something was fundamentally wrong with how I looked. And if I thought I looked wrong, so must others too.

#2: When I lose weight, I'll be ready to date

Like many overweight women, dieting and weight loss is a reasonable course of action to fix what we believe to be broken. In college I lost 50 pounds in 7 months and looked amazing. Men started to treat me differently. They noticed. They asked me out. They got touchy. But I got scared. I got scared because I realized that my weight actually wasn't the issue -- I was terrified they might really like me and I would mess it up.

Despite losing all that weight, I still felt alone in my own skin - like a foreigner in a strange land. Wasn't I supposed to be "cured" now? Wasn't losing 50 pounds enough to make me happier and feel more attractive? It was such a painful pill to swallow the moment I realized losing weight hadn't fixed my insecurities -- it exaggerated them.

And when I began to gain the weight back, I knew something deeper would finally need to come to the surface-- it was time to put to rest the idea that I was incapable of loving at all.

#3: Love just isn't for me 

I worked through this issue very slowly because it was so deeply rooted in my persona; a feeling of inadequacy around the ability to love & be loved.  My first step was to understand what true Love meant. Not sex, not beauty, not attractiveness -- I devoted a year to reading all things on Love from various disciplines across the world and ages.

And soon my heart changed. I felt lighter inside, more open and free. And my interactions with people changed. I trusted myself more and didn't fear rejection as much, because I experienced something powerful inside -- an unconditional self-love.

And during this awakening, I met my now fiance' and it's been a marvelous experience to not only deepen my self-love, but expand that love with another. I put in the time and effort required to change my outdated way of thinking. My devotion to self-love makes all other Love possible.

#4: When I fall in love, I'll be whole

I realized that self-love isn't the same as love for objects or even other people. Self-love is an all-encompassing knowing that your life has meaning and you unconditionally hold your worth in high-regard, treasuring it and appreciating how it illuminates everything. Some might call that same feeling God, others higher-power -- I call it undercurrent and it's been the most miraculous discovery yet in my life.

Weight absolutely is an issue when it comes to love and dating, but not in the way we assume it to be.

<3 Rachel