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Dating while fat: Sarah Rue in Gypsy 83.
Dating while fat is full of pitfalls, like Gypsy's ill-fated romance with Zechariah in Gypsy 83.

Anson Scoville and Sara Rue heat things up in Gypsy 83.

Dating while fat comes with extra challenges — and jerks. Here’s how to avoid some of them.

Society teaches fat women to be grateful for whoever will “love” them. Sadly, we are rarely taught how “love” really looks, sounds and feels. Dating while fat means we often find men who objectify, hurt and take advantage of us under the guise of “love.” Over and over again, we are taught that we are worthless, that we are there to clean up and take care of society’s messes, we’re while simultaneously fetishized and reduced to our ample bodies, debased for the consumption of others but never quite good enough for them.

When I was younger and single, I would find myself falling into bed over and over again with toxic men that zapped me of my passion, my shine and my happiness. My romantic life was often overflowing with manbabies who expected me to clean up their messes, no matter how short the duration of our relationship. Even while playing the field, I often found myself juggling men who wanted a mother they could fuck, a confidante that would please them in secret. Even if they were the “giver” of the relationship, it was mostly about their emotional pleasure — which they got by physically pleasing my body and then leaving it to the wayside.

Here are three of the types of masculine people that you will meet dating while fat:

1. The Best Friend

When I first started sleeping around in my teens, I was searching for love and acceptance. I had convinced myself that I was exercising my right as a woman to fuck whomever I wanted, but truthfully, I was not with the men I wanted. The men that I wanted had typecast me as the reliable best friend to whom they could kvetch for hours, pouring their hearts out over our mutual female friend — typically petite and beautiful — that they were madly in love with.

Related: Dear Virgie: Online Dating As a Fat 20-Something is ATROCIOUS. Help?

It was not just the usual friend dynamic — I was deeply emotionally invested in these men. And because I loved them, I wasn’t able to bounce the same emotional distress off to them. Instead, I dutifully listened to their complaints of unrequited love, gave them advice on how to woo, cried myself to sleep — and occasionally was their bedmate when they were lonely and desperate for affection and release. I had essentially become a combination of their mother and the jizz sock under their bed.

Fuck that.

If you think that you may be in this position, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I doing more emotional labor in this friendship than the other person?
  • Is there truly a possibility of this evolving into a romance or are you willfully ignoring the boundaries that they have set?
  • What am I truly getting out of this friendship?

If you are honest with yourself, you’ll be able to evaluate it with those simple questions. If you do think that there really is a chance of it becoming something more than just friendship and you want to explore that, set a realistic time frame for yourself. Give yourself a realistic limit — say, no more than six months — to put romantic effort into the relationship. If it has not changed and you are not emotionally fulfilled by those changes, move the fuck on. You deserve happiness and you are worth more than this.

2. Undercover Lover

If you thought things were hush-hush with the Best Friend archetype, the Undercover Lover will blow your mind and possibly wreck your self-confidence. This motherfucker ghosts so often that you might need a Ouija board to call his ass. Other times, he is the most attentive, seemingly loving partner that you could wish for. The Undercover Lover is often the type that seems so out of reach, yet somehow he is “yours.” Only he’s not. The pretty boy, the athlete, the rich WASP, the cool guy, the straight-A academic — the Undercover Lover is often one of these types, and that’s why fat women with low self-esteem put up with his shit. He seems too good to be true because he is.

The Undercover Lover will take you out on weeknights (never weekends) to less-popular places — if you go out at all. UL perfected “Netflix and chill” before there was even Netflix, showing up with pizza, booze and a movie, only to be presented with your wonderful Grade-A pussy on a platter. This is not an even exchange.

Related: Ask Ashleigh: How Do You Handle the Backlash You Get for Being Fat and Visible?

Y’all may have been “dating” for months, yet none of his friends know about you. His parents have no idea that he is with anyone. You damn sure have not been to any work functions. If he does run into anyone, he introduces you as his “friend” and then may explain later on that he just likes to keep his life private. You might forgive these things because he is especially attentive when you are together, super sweet and sensitive. Maybe he’s been hurt and he just really values his privacy.


If you allow yourself a moment of respect and reality, you will realize that you are the side piece and he is saving his prime weekend spots for someone who will gain him social clout. Because of his internalized misogyny and fatphobia, he does not want to be seen dating a fat person, not matter how sensitive or progressive he presents himself to be.

The sad part is, he may really, really like you. Hell, he may even think that he loves you. However, his “rep” and your waistline are at odds with each other and he’s holding out for an upgrade. Conversely, he may just want to fuck you to satisfy this “dirty” fat fetish that he has, and he has no attachment to you and is just telling you what you want to hear so he have continued access to your body. I have been in both positions and honestly don’t know which is worse. There’s only one thing to do: dump him.

3. The “Sensitive” Fat Admirer/The Feeder

People who are attracted to all types of bodies are fantastic. However, folks who fetishize my body to the point of objectification can take a long walk off a short pier. The difference between “fat admirer” and “guy who wants to treat your fat body as a cum receptacle” is usually vast, but it can be uncomfortably narrow and hard to gauge. I combined these two archetypes because they are so difficult to discern at times, and often you do not know which one you’re dealing with until it is too late.

The main difference between Fat Admirers and Feeders is that Fat Admirers typically have more vanilla sexual attraction to women. That is, their sexual desires are not linked to your weight gain. They may be kinky, but it’s unrelated to weight gain. A feeder is a partner who helps you gain weight, often by consensually forcing the feedee to eat very, very large amounts of food. Not simply by the plate, but often by the pound. Fat Admirers are often just harmless folks who like fat women the way some people are attracted to shaved heads or green eyes. However, if you are only dating a person because of their weight, that is just as gross as only dating a person because they are fit. It does not matter if they are dating you for your big ass or your athletic ass, it’s still objectification and it isn’t cool.

Beware of partners who ask you to change your body. This goes for people who want you to gain weight as well as the ones who ask you to lose it. While I do not shame anyone for their kink, I do question the coercion and unequal power play between a person with a position of privilege (the feeder) and the feedee, the person gaining the weight for the other person’s pleasure. Kink is cool — just make sure that you are actually into it, and not doing something simply for someone else’s pleasure, especially when you are the one who has to deal with the health repercussions.

Once again, we fat women are taught to praise the pedestal that we are put on and thank our lucky stars that someone wants us, even when they want to change us. What happens when we fall off?

Every person has their own dating challenges to face. There are tons of people out there who will treat you like shit — and many who will treat you like gold. It’s a lot easier to navigate the process when you respect yourself and know what kind of fuckery is around the corner.


Laurel Dickman is an intersectional feminist, plus size model, stylist, and fat activist that can also be found via her blogs, Exile In Dietville and 2 Broke Bitches. She grew up in the south between Florida and North Carolina, migrating to the Portland, OR in 2005. All three places inform her perspective of the world around her a great deal. While in Portland, she worked with the Alley 33 Annual Fashion Show, PudgePDX, PDX Fatshion, Plumplandia, and numerous other projects over the near decade that she was there. In August of 2014, she moved to the Bay area with her partner, David and trusty kitty, Dorian Gray. She continues her body positive and intersectional feminism through various forms of activism, fashion, photography projects, and writing from her home in the East Bay. She can be reached at laurel@wyvmag.com and encourages readers to reach out to her to collaborate!

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