Dating in 2021 is hard. Many dates over the past 18 months had to be virtual (really romantic, right?) and even now that we’re (maybe?) emerging from the pandemic, there is still a lot of stress around how to navigate dating and COVID-19.
Many people were excited to get back out there and finally have a ‘normal’ date. But others are a bit apprehensive about dating and sex while the pandemic heads toward a possible fourth wave. How do you know if a person is really double-vaxxed? Even if both people have their shots, is it safe to meet up if one person has an underlying health condition?
Many people also feel out of practice with social situations, let alone romantic ones, so it’s hard to blame anyone for feeling like it’s easier to just stay home than take on all that pressure.
When you take all those challenges and add weight and body image into the equation, it makes it even tougher for people living with obesity to feel confident about finding love.
The anxiety that comes along with dating while living with obesity can be overwhelming. It’s just so easy to let your mind spiral into a place filled with self-doubt.
Should I show my body, or just my face in my dating profile photo? Should I plan a date where I won’t have to be active or show off my body? What if this person thinks my body is gross? How do I pick the right clothes if I don’t feel comfortable in anything I own? What if I don’t even deserve to find love at all?
These are the types of questions that can run through the minds of people living with obesity and overweight. Questions like these are real, and painful, and they hurt to think about because of what we know about weight bias.
We know there are societal biases against weight in the health care system. We know they’re in media. In fashion. In food. And in the dating scene.
There is even evidence of bias against people AFTER they lose the weight.
So how do we combat all that? How do we find romance with these barriers in so many parts of our lives?
Firstly, it’s important to remind yourself that you are more than just your weight.
Maybe you’re a musician. Maybe you’re a great cook. Maybe you’re compassionate or funny or a great listener, friend and sibling.
When we do venture out into the world looking for companionship or love, we look for people that have as many positive attributes as possible. We all want to be with a good person. Physical appearance is only a part of the package. So why don’t we expect the same thing from others? We need to learn to give people the benefit of the doubt that they might care about more than just someone’s weight.
We all deal with insecurities, things we aren’t proud of or things we want to work on. And living with obesity is just one small piece of life.
Besides, confidence is attractive. Confidence is sexy. Most people will tell you that a strong, confident personality is one of the most important things they look for in a partner.
And once we feel comfortable enough to get back out into the dating scene, there are plenty of ways to help mitigate our fears and make some of those challenges a little less daunting.
Worried about what to wear? The best fashion advice, for people of all sizes, is to wear clothes that fit your body properly. It may seem scary at first, but wearing oversized and baggy clothing always makes you look bigger than you are.
Dating while living with obesity will always have its challenges. And the pandemic certainly threw a giant wrench into the situation.
Plan a walk for your date if you don’t feel comfortable going to a busy restaurant or doing something super active.
Don’t be afraid to bring up masking, social distancing, or health concerns if it will help you feel more comfortable.
But above all, don’t be afraid to be yourself. Let people see that you’re more than the weight – that you’re someone with a lot to offer to a relationship. Everyone has been through a lot over the last year and a half, and you deserve to be safe, happy and loved as much as anyone else.