I spent years thinking I was fat when I really wasn?t. It was only after I?d had my kids and didn?t lose the weight when I could look back at photos of myself before and realize that I was much slimmer than I ever realized.
Of course, that realization made me struggle even more with the extra weight for a while. I felt like if I?d been that slender once, I should be able to be that slender again. It shouldn?t be that hard. But it was.
It took a long time for me to accept that I am now a plus-size woman and that may never change. It took even longer for me to really feel comfortable dating as a plus-size woman.
But now that I have, here are a few tips I?ve picked up along the way. The best part is these tips apply whether you?re dating online or off.
You know that little voice in your head? The one that says you?re too fat, too ugly, not good enough, etc.? Ignore her. Seriously, tell that bitchy voice to shut up and leave you alone.
Here?s the thing: plus-size women aren?t the only ones with an inner bitch. I think every woman has one, or has had one at some point, even if they did finally manage to shut her up.
But when you?re a plus-size woman, it seems like that snarky narrator finds a lot more to go on about. And if you let her, she?ll make you reconsider the idea of dating and shatter your confidence all at once.
You have to ignore your inner bitch. She?s going to say things that aren?t true and you know they aren?t true. So just don?t even give her the chance to get started.
Photo by Meital Anlen on Unsplash
This might seem like a generic tip that applies to anyone who?s dating. But it?s a reminder plus-size women need.
We might be tempted on a dinner date to eat less because we don?t want our date to think we?re overweight because we eat too much. Or we might want to lie about having a gym membership because we want to be clear that we do actually exercise. Or we feel like there are so few people interested that when someone is, we should pretend to be into the things they are so we don?t miss out.
Be yourself. Eat how you always eat. Be as active as you always are, and if you don?t have a gym membership and don?t want one, say so.
You?re looking for someone to build a relationship with. You don?t want a relationship that?s going to force you to keep up a pretense permanently. You want one where you can relax and be you. So do that from the very beginning.
The person or people who are right for you will appreciate who you are, without anything fake.
Don?t hide who you are
This is more of an online tip. It?s tempting to only post photos that show you from about the shoulders up. Or ones where you?re behind other people or a table or counter or something else that hides your body.
Don?t give in to that temptation.
Even if you?re not entirely comfortable with your body, hiding it won?t make you feel better or get you more dates.
You don?t need to post the most unflattering photos of yourself that you can find. It?s fine to take photos from more flattering angles and in more flattering clothing. And you certainly should post a closer photo of your face.
But post a few full-body shots too. Let people see what you look like. This shows you?re confident (even if you really aren?t just yet), and it lets you weed out those who aren?t worth your time.
Don?t waste time on someone who shames your body
Photo by AllGo – An App For Plus Size People on Unsplash
If you ask someone what they think of your haircut or these jeans, and they gently tell you that perhaps it?s not the best look for you ? okay, that?s fine. You asked for the opinion, and it was offered honestly and gently.
But let?s say you?re on a dating site and talking to someone who starts telling you what?s wrong with how you look. Or you arrive to a first date and the first words out of your date?s mouth are, ?Wow, I would not have worn that dress. It does not look good on you!? You should run, not walk, away.
As plus-size women, we do often have loved ones who will encourage diets, exercise, and other things because they care about us and want us to be healthy. It may not always be welcome, but at least we know they care and have good intentions.
But someone who starts criticizing your appearance on a dating site or on the first date does not have good intentions and isn?t looking out for you. They?re just being an ass and trying to make you feel bad. And if they?re willing to do that before they?re even officially dating you, it?s not going to get better as a relationship develops.
So save yourself the trouble and don?t waste time on people like that.
Date who you?re attracted to
You?re overweight. There are some who would tell you that means you can only be attracted to and date people who are overweight. Those people are jerks.
While you should pay attention to your own possible biases, you should date who you?re attracted to. If you?re attracted to Jason Mamoa or The Rock types, so be it. If you?re attracted to people who are a little chubby or very overweight, that?s fine too.
But don?t force yourself to go out with someone to whom you have no attraction just because you think that?s who society says you should be dating.
Do keep an open mind, though. Read profiles while also looking at photos and consider the possibility that the person you?re looking for may end up being completely different than anyone you?ve ever dated before.
Don?t let fear of rejection hold you back
I couldn?t find any statistics, but I suspect that rejection is probably pretty equal between plus-size women and their smaller counterparts. But I also suspect that many plus-size women tend to feel that we face more rejection than smaller women.
It?s easy to let the fear of rejection stop you from making the first move.
But if you let it hold you back, and the person you could end up with also lets it hold them back? you both miss out on something amazing. Someone has to make the first move, so why shouldn?t it be you?
No matter your size, you?ll be rejected at some point. Everyone is. If you could ask some of the hottest celebrities, they?d have stories of rejection too.
Put yourself out there. Take the chance. If you?re rejected, at least you know you tried ? you won?t have the regret of wondering later what might have happened. And if you?re not rejected, then you get to see where it goes.
Photo by AllGo – An App For Plus Size People on Unsplash
Know what attraction and fetish are
This is a very tricky space in dating for plus-size women. Being attracted to a plus-size woman is not a sin, a crime, and for most, it?s not a fetish. But there are some people for whom it is a fetish.
For the most part, a fetish (or a kink) is no big deal. There?s no reason to judge another person for what they find sexually appealing. But when it comes to this, it can get a little complicated. Unless you?re okay with it, in which case there is no problem.
But if you?re not, you need to know the difference between being fetishized and someone being sincerely attracted to you. How can you tell, though?
I wish I could give you some real definition, a list of words or phrases that would be used, that would help you know when it?s someone?s fetish. But I can?t. Because the same phrase out of one person?s mouth could be a sincere compliment and from another, a sign of their fetish.
So instead, I?ll say this: pay attention to how they make you feel. Do they pay you sincere, sweet compliments that make you feel good and are about more than what you look like? Or do they offer compliments that sound weird and make you uncomfortable and are entirely focused on your body?
Do you feel like they?re trying to make you bigger? Do they balk if you mention losing weight? Are they asking you for specific numbers around your weight or size?
This may also be a more difficult one for you if you?re not comfortable with your body. You?ll need to do some careful thinking, reflection, and consideration of both yourself and the other person to know what?s really going on here.
You have as much right to find love as anyone else
Between our own inner voice, and the often uninvited voices of the world around us, there?s plenty that can convince us that we?re undeserving of love or can only have it with certain people and under specific circumstances.
But we are just as deserving of love as anyone else. All you need to do is own that. Put yourself out there. Be confident. Be bold. Be true to yourself and what you want and don?t settle for less than that.
Love is out there waiting for you. It doesn?t care about your size. And the person you?re looking for won?t care about it either.
Wendy Miller is a freelance relationship writer & meditation teacher. After years of settling for abusive and otherwise toxic relationships, she got fed up. Using meditation and other tools, she got to work on healing herself, setting boundaries, and only engaging in relationships (romantic and otherwise) that bring her joy. She wants to help other single parents find the love they seek, including and going beyond romantic love. She lives in Florida with her two sons, where she homeschools while solo parenting, while surrounded by what feels like a zooful of animals.
You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. You can also sign up for her newsletter for exclusive tips and goodies.
You might also enjoy: