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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Office Hours with Dr. Jim > Overweight Dating Relationships

Office Hours With Dr. Jim
by James Houran, Ph.D

In this column, "Dr. Jim" honestly and candidly answers your questions about dating, love and sexuality. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear – he tells you what you need to hear. Dr. Jim is committed to offering you guidance based on responsible clinical practice and hard data from the latest scientific studies. Send Dr. Jim your questions today for consideration in an upcoming issue.


Finding a Partner When You're Overweight

Do I have any chance of Finding a Partner if I’m overweight?

I just did an interview with the Associated Press on this very question, and there’s at least one reality show on the air that takes a look at the struggles that plus size singles face when looking for love. The fact is that your weight doesn’t need to impede your love life. The only way it really can interfere is if your weight or body image is a problem for you personally. In these cases, low self-esteem is the real culprit.

Make no mistake about it, dating individuals who are higher in self-esteem tend to be involved in more stable and satisfying relationships. Therefore, the point is to take care of yourself first, build your self-esteem, so that you’re complete before entering a relationship and not looking to your partner to give you confidence or fulfill something that’s missing inside of you. In romantic relationships, these issues of self-esteem can become very complex:

  • People want their partners to think well of them, yet this desire to be seen idealistically declines as the relationship evolves. That is, it seems that people want their partners to be attracted to them and wowed by them very early in their relationships.
  • However, as the relationship evolves and the “honeymoon” phase ends, people begin to want their partners to see them accurately. That is, people want their partners to understand them and see them as they are – not as people on pedestals.
  • This tendency is more complex because people in long-term relationships do want their partners to see them positively, but they want this positive feedback on things that they themselves think that they are good at. They do not want to be seen positively on everything, because they don’t think they are good at everything.
  • In relationships, an individual’s self-esteem – especially outright depression – can be contagious. Some research suggests that when people are depressed, their romantic partners tend to become depressed too.

The truth is that everyone feels inadequate in some way or to some degree. Pessimists can always find some excuse not to allow themselves to be vulnerable and look for a partner. If it’s not weight, then it’d be something else.

But more to the point, “plus size” individuals (especially women) need to understand that skinny, “model-esque” people are anomalies. Average or slightly overweight people are more the norm. Furthermore, it might be easy to think that in a room full of people, most would prefer very athletic figures or physiques. However, with online dating, your profile is seen by hundreds of thousands -- if not millions -- of other people. Statistically speaking, there’s at least a few eligible singles who don’t mind average to slightly overweight builds. In fact, some men are rather turned on by plus-size women. What’s important is having confidence in yourself and being upfront about you who are. If you want to find a partner who’ll accept you as you are, then don’t hide who you are. Create a honest and up-to-date profile, with a photo that shows your face and body type. How can the right person find you, if you don’t advertise yourself honestly?

Now, if you’re truly concerned about your body type and want to increase your levels of confidence and competence, then by all means take any steps you feel are wise to achieve your personal goals. Some obvious ideas are to register in a weight loss program, a dance class or a special exercise course. There’s really no excuse for not taking action immediately. For example, you can begin by simply taking walks or jogs around the neighborhood or local park. Whatever you choose, the idea is to do something about your situation rather than sulk and ruminate. Poor self-esteem isn’t attractive to anyone -- no matter how classically beautiful you might be.

Oh, and there’s another benefit to these types of activities. By taking charge, you’ll feel more in control of your situation and you’ll meet new (and likely empathetic) people. That’s the real trick to finding a partner. Love is a numbers game. The more people you meet, the more likely you’ll come across eligible singles that will accept you as is and even feel a strong romantic attraction to you. Weight doesn’t really stop anyone from finding a partner. Our attitude about our weight is the real villain here.


Dr. James Houran's "Office Hours with Dr. Jim" column is published every Monday.

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