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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Date & Relate > Online Dating Looks and Weight

Date & Relate
by Sara Hodon

Defying Expectations:
Online Dating Looks and Weight

A few weeks ago, I read an article in one of my local papers talking about the challenges many BBW’s face on the dating scene.  The majority of these women are very upfront and honest about their size, so the men they’re meeting shouldn’t be surprised at what they see when they meet face-to-face; yet many women say that’s exactly what happens.  The article even talked about one woman who was sued by a man whom she’d “met” online; he claimed he was lured into the date under false pretenses, claiming he’d never been told about the woman’s size.

I found this article to be very interesting for a number of reasons. 

First, I find it hard to believe that this gentleman had no idea that the woman he was talking to was on the heavier side.   I believe she did list her height, weight, and had a picture posted, so where was the mystery?  I also believe she was very upfront about it when they talked on the phone.  It seems to me that he was trying to find a way out of not being attracted to her that didn’t make him seem like a jerk.  (Not that suing someone for how they look is really going to help his image.)

Although I was disappointed to read that article, I can’t say I was too surprised.   We live in a lawsuit-happy society, and I’ve certainly read about more ridiculous lawsuits than that.  But that aside, the article raised the deeper question of what happens when the people we meet online turn out to be nothing like we’d been led to believe?

Anyone who’s been part of the online dating scene for longer than five minutes knows that part of its appeal is the idea of meeting someone who can be your fantasy date come to life.  It’s one thing to see someone’s picture and learn some things about them through their profile, and then meet them in person and find out what they’re really like.  The same thing goes for blind dates—your matchmaker could describe them perfectly, but you may have painted an entirely different picture of them in your mind. 

Case in point—last fall, during a particularly active dating phase when it seemed that everyone had someone “perfect” for me, I was being set up much more than usual.  I like to think that I’m pretty open-minded when it comes to meeting new people, so I didn’t limit myself—I tried to give everyone a fair shot.  Someone particularly close to me surprised me by saying that she had a guy who worked in her office whom she thought would make a good match for me.    Since this was the first time she’d ever tried to set me up and I figured she’s known me her whole life and had a good idea of my “type”, I agreed.  She described him in pretty general terms, and said right away that he was “a little overweight but trying to work on it.”  As an added gesture, she connected us on a networking site so I could check him out for myself.  He only had a few pictures posted, and most of them were head shots, so I couldn’t get the whole picture.  But from what I could tell, he seemed fine, so we talked on the phone and set up our first date. 

When he came to my door to pick me up, I noticed immediately that “a little overweight” was a bit of an understatement.  I realize this probably makes me sound incredibly shallow.  But in my own defense I’ll say that yes, I was surprised at what this guy actually looked like compared to how he’d been described, but I was willing to give him a chance.   As it turned out, he was much more uncomfortable about it than I was, but the fact that he mentioned it at least 5 times over the course of the date started to make me a bit uneasy.   This was only a first date and it was already a sticking point, so obviously I could see it turning into a real issue.  We had one more date after that, and I wasn’t too surprised when he called to say that he didn’t think it would work out—he wanted to work on himself before he started seeing someone seriously.  Even at that early stage, it stings a little—who likes to be dumped?—but I could see where he was coming from.   

Obviously, you can only learn so much from a picture.  I’m sure there are plenty of folks who add pictures to their profiles, but use someone else’s picture.  Bad idea.  You’ll be caught the second you decide to meet someone in person.  I’ve had dates where the guy looked totally different from their pictures—in a bad way.  I had another date where the guy looked much, much younger in person.  It was actually a bit weird.  I sort of felt like I was out with a teenager, which is never a good feeling (unless you’re also a teenager.)

This just goes to show that most of us who insist that “looks don’t matter” aren’t being entirely honest with themselves or their potential dates.  Looks may not be everything, certainly, but they do matter.  You definitely want to be with someone whom you find physically attractive, so why not just come clean with all of that right at the beginning?  It’ll save you both a lot of headaches later on.


Date & Relate is published every Thursday by Online Dating Magazine columnist Sara Hodon. She can be reached at

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