Dating is not my forte. I’m bad at everything from the awkward conversations with people I don’t know, to mingling uncomfortably with strangers at parties. It’s not that I’m an introvert or anti-social (alright, fine, I’m anti-social), it’s just that over the years I’ve found that dating, as a plus-sized woman, is more of an exercise in patience and frustration than it is one in romance.
I’ve dated classmates, colleagues, friends of friends, total strangers, and poorly matched people from eHarmony. I start each date with a positive attitude and a hopeful outlook, but the more I date, the more disappointed I become. As much as I hate to admit it, dating has helped kill the hopeless romantic in me. While I’ve always been a bit cynical about the idea of true love (which has played a role in my decision to never get married), dating while plus-size has left me loving the single life. Not only do I have to face the regular hurdles of dating (like what to wear, where to go, and whether or not to have sex on the first date), I'm also forced to navigate some unique challenges reserved for plus-sized individuals.
From offensive assumptions to overly excited relatives, here are the nine reasons dating while plus-size sucks (and why I’m happier ticking “no” for the plus-one box on invitations).
1. Your Body Becomes A Sexual Fetish
There’s nothing more frustrating than spending the evening with someone so shallow they’re the human equivalent of a puddle. Although everyone is attracted to different people, and there’s nothing wrong with that, there’s nothing worse than being fetishized for your body type (and nothing’s less romantic than being leered at you while you eat your food). Being attracted to plus-sized individuals is great (there's even a strip club for BBWs in Vegas), but only valuing them for their weight and not for who they are is a big problem. It’s not being body positive and it’s not forward thinking — rather, it’s dehumanizing and not OK.
2. People Automatically Think You Put Out
I remember one time back in high school when I was having supper at a friend’s house. I’d mentioned that I’d seen other plus-sized women happily dating, and I couldn’t figure out why I was having such tough luck finding myself someone. My friend’s mom simply answered, “because they put out and you don’t.” It bothered me then and it’s continued to bother me since. This idea that plus-sized individuals are only in relationships because they’re more open to having sex is completely wrong and beyond offensive. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who believe this stereotype, and I’ve been on more dates than I can count where I’ve ended the night almost as soon as it’s started because my companion thought buying me dinner and being affectionate meant they were entitled to something afterwards.
3. Picking An Outfit Can Be A Nightmare
Getting ready for a date can be tricky for even the most fashionable of us, but it can feel downright impossible when you’re fuller-figured. If you wear something tight-fitting or revealing, well, see the second point on this list. But if you wear something more conservative or baggy, then you’re not just a prude, you’re a prude who’s ashamed of her body. And people can be mean and judgmental about it. I remember more than one occasion where my date tried to make me feel ashamed of what I’d worn because it wasn’t “appropriate” for someone my size (everything from short skirts and tight pants to tankinis at the pool can garner this response). Which is ridiculous because plus-sized women can wear any trend. I think it goes without saying that none of the aforementioned people made it to the second date.
4. People Think You Don’t Have Standards
There seems to be this idea in North American culture that if you’re plus-size then it’s impossible for you to have standards. The (faulty) logic is that if you really had them, then you wouldn’t be overweight in the first place because your standards for your own body would be different. While that makes absolutely no sense to those of us with a brain, it seems that this can be a hard concept for some people to understand. Just because I’m plus-size doesn’t mean I set the bar low. I take pride in my appearance, my work, and every other aspect of my life. And I expect my partner to do the same. Just because I’m plus-size doesn’t mean that you can wear sweatpants to a fancy restaurant when meeting my parents.
5. People Assume You’re Lonely
I've found that something about being plus-size causes people to assume that, if you don't have a partner, then you must be lonely. As much as I love my family, there’s nothing more annoying than their excited little cheers when they find out I’m going on a date. Actually, scratch that. There’s nothing more annoying than their “about time-s,” “finally-s,” and “now you won’t die alone-s.”
6. People Think You Hate Your Body
Maybe it’s just me, but the biggest turn off during a night out is when someone gives me a backhanded compliment about my weight. I’ve heard everything from, “I think it’s so great you’re confident enough to wear a dress like that... at your size,” to, “don’t worry, I think you’re beautiful… for a plus-size woman.” I am beautiful, and it is great that I’m confident enough to wear clothing that makes me feel good about myself, but that has nothing to do with my weight. Compliments like these aren’t really compliments; they’re thinly veiled insults that are designed to make you feel bad about a body you’re apparently supposed to dislike.
7. Prepare To Be Catfished
Maybe it’s just my personal experience, which it very well could be, but the number of times my dates have been less than honest about their appearance is staggering when compared to the experiences of my slimmer friends. I once had a guy who claimed to be my age, but when we met face to face he looked like he was old enough to have fathered a child my age, if not older. I suspect it’s because these types of people assume that, as a plus-sized woman, I must be so desperate for love that it’s OK for them to lie about their looks. Fun fact though; it’s not. So stop.
8. You’ll Feel Uncomfortable Ordering
For a lot of plus-sized individuals, myself included, there’s this unspoken anxiety that comes when ordering food. For example, if you order a salad then you might think everyone’s judging you for being that “fat chick” who’s trying to lose weight. But if you order a hamburger then you’re a “fat chick” who should be ordering a salad. There’s a stigma that comes with being plus-size and eating out in public that’s frustrating, and often humiliating. I remember this one date where I ordered a dessert after a particularly large main course, and my date said “You can really pack it away, can’t you?” It was horrible, and made me feel ashamed of myself. I paid my bill, left, and drank a bottle of wine while sobbing over episodes of Friends. It was one of the worst nights of my dating career, and it’s made me nervous to order food on a date ever since.
9. They Think You’ll Settle For Anyone
Much like assumptions about being lonely, or trapped in a vicious cycle of self-loathing, people are quick to assume that because you’re plus-size you’ll settle for anyone. Maybe it’s because they think you’re scared you won’t find “the one,” or that you’ll “die alone.” And maybe they’re right. But I’d rather get old on my own than with someone who makes me feel badly about myself. And that’s a “happily ever after” in my books any day.