Agony Aunty Ji Priya: On Finding Someone After Abuse

CW: Abuse, assualt, relationships, body image

Burnt Roti has managed to acquire our very own Priya, who happens to be an internet sweetheart, to talk to you about things that upset you. From relationships, your body and self esteem. If you have any questions for the next issue, please email into:

Hi Priya,
How does a super late bloomer start dating?
I used to get bullied a lot for my looks and how hairy I was (desi genes), so I always thought I was too ugly to date anyone.  No one paid attention to me and I didn't start trying until around age 26 when I finally gained some self-confidence.
At age 27, I met someone who I was extremely interested in and who I thought was interested in me, but he wound up getting weirded out by my extreme lack of experience.  I messed up my first kiss, so he laughed and wound up assaulting me pretty badly. I gave up on dating again after this.
I'm nearing the end of age 28 now, and it seems more difficult than ever.  I don't know where to start, or how to explain myself to others.  I wish I could just go hook up with others to get some sort of experience, but I still feel traumatised after my assault. Any advice would be helpful.
Anjali S, from Boston

Dear Anjali, 

First of all, let me just say: GIRL, I FEEL YOU. When I was in high school, I was President of the Ugly Duckling Society. I was convinced that nobody would ever like me, and that I would die unkissed at 89 in front of Law & Order reruns in an apartment that smelt like cabbage soup. When I discovered a boy liked me for the first time, I was absolutely terrified. Dating is scary!

Part of the reason dating is scary is that we all have weird little quirks and issues. If humans were cookies, we wouldn't be perfectly smooth grocery-store brand cookies. We would be homemade: full of lumps and bumps, each different from the other. 
You might think that you have too much baggage to date, but I guarantee you there is some middle-aged weirdo out there with 4 ex-wives and a cucumber fetish who's busy swiping right on Tinder. That man thinks he's a catch - why shouldn't you? 

Dear Anjali, I am so sorry that you met a douchebag.  You met a terrible person, and I want you to understand that he is not representative of the kind of person you will meet. Yes, there are vast quantities of douchebags out there, but there are lots of nice men who Will Not Care if you're sexually experienced or not. Trust me on this. 

Illustration by  Rishi Gohil

Illustration by Rishi Gohil

Here's what I suggest: online dating. I know, I know, but hear me out. The great thing about it is that it's very easy to advertise your quirks up front. Think of it this way: you're a sugar cookie, and online dating is an easy way to weed out people who don't like sugar cookies. Just tell people - maybe not in your profile, but somewhere in the messaging phase - that you're a sugar cookie. You don't even need to explain! You think Weird Cucumber Guy explains his fetishes? All you have to say is something like: 'Hey, just wanted to let you know that I'm not experienced in this area, but I'm looking to change that.' You know how many men will be keen to help you change that? A LOT. And all it takes is one. 

That said, don't feel pressured to hook up with anyone. You're (understandably) sensitive after what happened to you, and it's going to take a little time for that tender place to heal. If anybody seems like they don't respect that or can't wait, kick them to the curb and keep swiping. Good luck! Just avoid Weird Cucumber Guy.