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Woman who had breast cancer worries about dating

DEAR CAROLYN: How do men feel about dating a woman who has had breast cancer? I have three scars and it's been very hard for me to get back out there to start dating again. I'd love to hear from the male readers about this.

OMG Not the "C" Word

OMG NOT THE "C" WORD: I'll ask. I expect the "I don't care" response rate will be 90% or higher. In my experience the expectation that women be physically "perfect" exists more in imaginations than in real life.

Not that society doesn't have issues with women's bodies — I like my understatements plus size! — but I don't think you're facing a serious one in particular with your scars.

So, anyone? We want honesty here, not purity. Thanks.

Some of the responses:

— Don't care. Going through the treatment speaks more to your bravery and character than some scars. Anyone put off by that is a loser who isn't worth your time.

— Augmentation surgeries have been leaving scars for decades now with zero decrease in men's appreciation. Not that there aren't men who will react negatively, but it's as good a sorter as any.

— As a straight male, I bet my scars outnumber hers. So, no, I don't care.

— Male here. When I can claim perfection I'll demand the same. Of course, that ain't gonna happen. Tell me your story, show me your soul. That's all I care about. Everything else is just a nice addition to the important part of you.

— My approach the first time I saw breast cancer scars was to kiss them and say, "Glad you're OK," "Thank you for taking one for my friend," and it was never an issue after that.

CAROLYN: I can barely type as I am crying so hard right now. Cancer is very scary and has a way of giving a lot of false narratives in one's mind. Thank you all for helping me clear my head of all this.

OMG again

OMG AGAIN: Remember, too, that unless you whip your shirt off during the appetizer course, you're going to be saying things to each other before any new man is seeing things. And learning about each other before you're emotionally invested will help you anticipate a less-than-accepting response.

I got some of those, too, by the way:

— Yeah, OK, so what about all the breast cancer survivors who opt against reconstruction and have flat chests? This is very common but not talked about because of the stigma of being a woman without breasts.

— Three — three! — friends' husbands dumped them after a breast cancer diagnosis. One said, "Cut it off and I'm gone." That one was in the U.S., and him leaving her? Meant she didn't have health insurance. He knew he was condemning her to die either way and he didn't care; her purpose in life was to give him stimulation, and if she couldn't it didn't matter if she existed or not. (And she did indeed die.)

— A married friend was ordered by her husband never to let her affected breast be uncovered in front him, because it was too upsetting for HIM.

Thank you, everyone, for weighing in. These last two raise such character issues that my takeaway is more "Don't date jerks," than it is "Men don't abide imperfections."

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