Things You Only Know If You’re Plus-Size And Online Dating

From men who think they're doing you a favour, to feeders who fetishise your body

Plus Size Online Dating

by Emma Burnell |

‘I am already in love with your body.’

In an era of #MeToo, that’s a bold thing for a man to say to a woman he’s barely interacted with on a dating app. I think I’m supposed to be flattered. But when it’s the third sentence in, and both the others have been about his love for big women, you know this man isn’t talking to you – he’s talking to his fixation.

If your opening message to me is about your love for BBW (a term imported from porn to the dating world, meaning Big Beautiful Women), you aren’t messaging me, you’re messaging a body type.

I’m 44 and, at the moment, not looking for a long-term relationship or a happily- ever-after. But I’m not just here to be someone’s fetish either. Sexual attraction is important, and we all have a type. I don’t typically go for bald men, for instance. But I don’t open every message I send a guy I do like with, ‘Hey hairy,’ or go for every man with a good head of hair but no personality.

At the other end of the scale are the men who expect gratitude that they’re willing to lower their standards to date you. I’ve genuinely ended up in a screaming match with a man who opened a date with the immortal phrase, ‘I don’t normally fancy women of your size,’ his face dropping in baflement when my response wasn’t, ‘Thank you,’ but ‘F**k you.’ He might think he’s the best I can get, but my phone notifications say otherwise.

I’m currently a size 16 to 18. I used to be a 30. I couldn’t walk to the end of the road without being in agony. My body was in constant pain and my confidence was nowhere. Since December 2013, I’ve lost 121⁄2 stone. I may have more to lose, but I’m as body-con dent a person as you are ever likely to meet – and have an ego the size my arse used to be. So instead of bringing me low by pointing out how big I am, these men are just making themselves small.

While I’m no longer point-and-stare fat, my size is still noticeable – and God, do men notice. Too often they treat my weight as all that I am, whether they’re fetishising it, or doing their best sympathetic face. Dates often ask coquettishly how I got this way, and are astonished when the answer is about losing, not gaining, weight.

Every woman – whatever weight they are – knows that this fluctuates weekly, if not hourly, as does how we feel about our bodies. Men making assumptions based on their perceptions of my appearance, rather than their experience of me as a whole person, will not only fail to woo me, but they’ll fail to know why.

When it comes to the actual dates, dating while plus-size is yet another minefield. There are the obvious no-nos. Rock climbing is out. Wind surfing, too. Basically, any date that could be confused with a Bodyform advert is not going to come with the most flattering of outfits or activities that won’t end in shamefaced horror. While these days I’m con dent in my body, that doesn’t mean I will ever be willing to wear a wet suit or Lycra for a first rendezvous. And wheezing and gasping for breath is something that should happen after the kind of exertion you’re looking for at the end of a date – not in the first five minutes, so I don’t meet people anywhere up a load of stairs, or even at the top of a decent hill.

There are also hidden dangers that, despite my usual confidence, can bring me to tears – like the date at a fairground that ended abruptly when they couldn’t close the roller-coaster safety barrier around my frame. I took myself off to cry in the loo. And chips. Trying to negotiate the politics of eating on dates makes me long for something simpler to solve – like Brexit. One man literally tried to hand-feed me chips, saying, ‘Got to keep you chubby, chica!’ Suddenly I lost my appetite. Another ordered a salad for me without asking what I actually wanted. I went home quickly, alone, via the chicken shop.

I don’t think these are bad men. Just badly educated ones. I wish guys understood that it’s absolutely ne to fancy fat women. They just shouldn’t make it the be-all and end-all.

I’m a fascinating woman full of ideas, interests and contradictions. I’ve worked in politics for 15 years, I know every word of the Buffy musical, I’ve performed stand-up jokes about my vibrator. So the best way for someone to get the bounce on the body he so desires is to bounce thoughts of me first. Like most women, I want to parry wits before a man pounces on my tits.

READ MORE: The Best Tinder Opening Lines

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CREDIT: TinderNightmares

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