I'm in my 20s and losing weight... but dread my first kiss

Q: I'm in my 20s and am a postgraduate student who is overweight. I've recently started to lose weight and feel better about myself.

I've always been awkward around guys as I've never dated and some of my biggest bullies growing up were guys. The few male friends I've gained in the last few years have been my only guy friends ever. But now that I'm starting to feel better about myself, my friends and family keep trying to set me up or get me to go out to clubs to meet men.

Though I do really want to find someone, I think my first date will be awkward enough without someone sitting across from me who is disappointed with my looks. And I don't think I'd be comfortable either with the type of guy my friends attract in bars. Then if I am able to find someone, how will I face that first kiss with them (my first ever) without them thinking I'm an idiot? Am I hopeless?

A: You are certainly not hopeless – the fun is about to begin! Well done on starting to lose weight. It must be a great feeling, and I hope that you continue until you get to your desired weight, whatever that may be. It is only natural that as a result you are starting to think about meeting a guy, but you should be looking forward to it, not dreading it.

I agree it would be difficult to go on a blind date, but you really never know when you are going to meet somebody. It usually happens when you are least expecting it.

So let's say that you get chatting to somebody at a party. Their perception of you will be coloured by how you feel about yourself. If you are thinking, 'Oh God, he probably thinks that I'm not very attractive and not very interesting' then that is what he will pick up from you – it is called non-verbal communication.

If, on the other hand, you feel that getting to know you is worth his while, and that you have something to contribute to his evening then this will also be transmitted to him. It's up to you what sort of an impression you make, but the best advice I can give you is to be interested in the other person and what is going on in his life, rather than focusing on yourself.

We kiss people because we like them, and there are lots of different types of kisses. Girls kiss their dolls when they are small, we kiss and stroke our animals, we kiss friends on the cheeks when saying hello or goodbye and then there are the intimate kisses with those to whom we feel attracted.

You have probably kissed lots of people, but not intimately, so you shouldn't be frightened by it and think that you will be no good at it.

Our bodies are made in such a way that we respond to kisses – a kiss is, after all, the first step in the arousal process – and so they can be very enjoyable. And whoever is going to be the recipient of your very first 'adult' kiss will probably be hoping that you are enjoying it rather than judging you.

I realise that you feel a bit inadequate as you have not yet kissed a man, and it's a bit like taking up any sport as an adult in that it doesn't come quite as easily as it does at a younger age, but it should be no less enjoyable.

Good luck with it all and I hope you have fun experimenting when you meet somebody who takes your fancy.

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