Melissa, late 20s
I was not the most attractive person in high school and college. I would go out with my girlfriends and all of them got hit on, except for me. I had low self esteem and I’ve always been shy and introverted, so that didn’t really help my cause. I joked about it and tried not to let it get to me, but the truth is that besides my first boyfriend, there hasn’t been anyone I’ve been interested in romantically who has also been interested in me. I often think — I know I’m a great person; how come nobody else sees it?
I’ve been dating my current boyfriend for eight years. He’s in school out of state, so we don’t see each other often and he doesn’t really have very much free time. We have a really solid relationship — it works for us even if others find some things strange. For example, after eight years, I haven’t met his family. Most of them don’t know that I exist. We also have no concrete plans to marry until he’s finished with school, which could easily be four or five years from now. We’ve decided we don’t want children, too. But I knew as soon as I met him that this man was it — that we’d end up together.
That’s why I’m really conflicted about what I’ve been doing for the past nine months.
When my boyfriend went away to school, my schedule freed up. I decided to pick up a hobby. I’ve always admired how confident dancers are in their bodies, so I signed up for this Latin/Caribbean dance class. It took me a while, but I started bonding with other dancers in the community and as I became a better dancer, my confidence in myself really skyrocketed. Dancing makes me feel really good about myself — really empowered — and like I’m a sexual being for the first time in my life.
I met Matthew at one of the socials. He’s an experienced dancer; he’s good looking and muscular; he has a gorgeous girlfriend of three years who is also in our dance community, and he is completely out of my league.
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