Hi friends, and welcome back to another Dear Dating Bitch advice column! If you’re new to the blog, Dear Dating Bitch where I answer dating and relationship questions agony aunt style.
If you’re in need of some advice, go ahead and submit your questions here. And don’t worry – it’s always anonymous.
Usually, I try to include a few letters in this column, but today I’ve just got one, so let’s get to it!
Dear Dating B: Post Mastectomy Advice
Q: I’m a 62-year-old breast cancer survivor. Afterwards, I was urged to get implants. I did, but they were uncomfortable and weird looking and I had them removed after 5 years. Now, I’m flat-chested. That’s OK except that I used to be a knockout. On top of that, I look older and have gained some weight.
I’ve been in relationships with men and women and married once, but I feel like I tend to choose narcissists. I’m afraid of being drained and hurt again, but I miss intimacy. I know I’m loyal, fun, and smart, but the change in my appearance makes dating a whole new ball game for me. Can you give me some advice?
Post Mastectomy Dating Hopeful
Dear Post Mastectomy:
First of all, I’d like to say both “congratulations” and “I’m sorry.” Breast cancer is a difficult thing to go through, both mentally and physically, and I’m sure that must have been difficult. But you made it through, so congrats!
Second, onto your question. It seems like you already have a good understanding of how to date. Having confidence in yourself is one of the most important things, as is the ability to self-reflect. Luckily you have both of those things. That’s a good start!
Based on your letter, I’ve gathered that your biggest difficulties with actually getting back out into the dating world are 1) overcoming your physical insecurities, and 2) learning to choose better partners. I’ll start with the latter.
Learning to Choose Better Partners
The first step to self-improvement (or, in your case relationship improvement) is recognizing past mistakes. And you’ve already started on that. You know that you have a habit of dating narcissistic or harmful partners. And you also know that you want to find a relationship that isn’t emotionally draining.
But as good as that is, I would also urge you to go even further with your self-reflection. Why do you think you’ve chosen those people to date in the past? And how can you spot those warning signs earlier in the future? Is there something that you’re doing to attract those kinds of people or relationships?
That may be worth visiting with the help of a licensed therapist. I’d suggest that you start there.
Learning to Overcome Physical Insecurities
A therapist can also help you work through your second issue, dealing with a post mastectomy change in appearance.
I won’t pretend to understand what that must feel like, but I can only imagine it sucks. And I won’t patronize you by telling you that “beauty is on the inside” (I’m sure you’ve already heard that many times.) While there’s some truth to the sentiment, being able to genuinely feel beautiful physically is an important thing for most women. I get the feeling that you’re wanting some sort of encouragement to stop worrying about your post mastectomy flatness, but again, I won’t patronize you.
Instead, I’ll say this: if you don’t like something, try to change it. Of course, you can’t change the fact that you’ve had a mastectomy. You also can’t really change the fact that implants didn’t work for you. But you can try and do the best with what you’ve got.
Have you ever heard of post mastectomy tattoos? Some women choose to get beautiful tattoos on their chest after breast cancer (either with or without implants). Often, it’s a way to help them feel more beautiful in their new skin. And it can also be empowering. I’d encourage you to look into that idea a little more to see if it might work for you (here’s a good article to start with).
Wearing padded bras may be helpful too. I know that won’t solve the problem of being flat-chested during intimacy, but it could give you a confidence boost when dating. Sort of like wearing makeup on a first date—it’s not exactly what you look like naturally, but it adds to your beauty.
I sincerely hope that helps, and good luck!
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Since this letter was pretty specific, I decided to only have one in today’s column. Hopefully you didn’t mind the change too much.
What do you think of my advice this week? Let me know in the comments below!
As always, thanks for reading. If you’ve got questions of your own, make sure to send them to me here!
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