Plumcake over at Manolo for the Big Girl has taken on another dating question, this one from the comments of the post I mentioned previously. Go check out her fun post encouraging her reader to start dating.
It seems that a lot of people find themselves in the position of starting dating again when they haven't done so for a bit. Sometimes that bit was a marriage or a long term relationship, sometimes it's just a break from the dating world, and some people never really managed to jump in at all. Starting anything new is scary but here are a few tips I would share as an experienced dater. Hopefully Jane from Plumcake's post will be ready to put herself back into the dating world soon.
Some online dating basics:
For most people, online dating is a great way to get access to a wide pool of possible dates. If you are thinking about starting dating again, I'd highly recommend joining one of the big dating websites. I've used most of them and have had varying luck on each. Match.com seems to be the most broadly used. It's a pay based site but the fees are pretty reasonable. I also like OK Cupid and Plenty of Fish which are both free sites. I did not have a good experience with eHarmony but it was several years ago and I know many people have found it helpful. I've briefly used two sites that are devoted to fat people, Large and Lovely and BBW Personals Plus both of which you also have to pay to use. Before you join any pay based site I'd recommend doing as much research as you can about them. Most will let you search for matches but not contact them before you pay. Do some searches for people in your area and age range. Look on the profiles for the date that people were last active. I've noticed that there are lots of online dating profiles out there that people don't seem to be actively using. It benefits the site to keep the profile there even if the user isn't active because it looks as if there are more dating possibilities.
1. Create your profile. Try to be as honest and authentic as you can be. This is not about fooling someone into going on a date with you. It's about showing people who you are and what you're looking for so that you can figure out if you are a good enough match. Of course you will highlight the positive but don't make shit up! Tell people what's special about you. Think about why the people who love you now love YOU? What do your friends like about you? Ask them if you don't know. Talk about the things you really like to do, not the things you wish you liked to do. Feel free to read other people's profiles for some inspiration, but don't just copy them. Reach inside and figure out who you are and what you want from this dating experience and then put it out there. Proofread and spell check obsessively. No need to give people a silly reason to be put off by your profile.
2. Add a picture. Profiles with pictures get more attention. There's something about being able to put a face to the words that matters. Choose a picture that makes you look friendly and approachable. I really prefer a photo with a smile but I'm not sure how other people feel about this; the men who message me and have a photo without a smile always read as serial killers to me-but I'm not sure that's typical! Readers, what do you think of this? Make sure it's a recent photo. If you don't have any photos of yourself, grab a friend and a digital camera and go take a few somewhere that you like to go. Do not take one of yourself in your bathroom mirror and unless you're only looking for sex keep your clothes on. If you're not much of a photographer (and neither is your friend) take a whole bunch of pictures. Try some with the flash and without, zoom in more for a few, take some from above and some from the side. If you're outdoors, try to take some in the late afternoon or early evening when the light gets really pretty. Turn and face different directions to take advantage of the light. Inside, turn different lights on and off, even in adjacent rooms. Light some candles to add a softer glow. Throw a scarf over a lamp if it seems just a little too bright. Wear something that makes you feel good.
Start thinking about having a camera with you when you do things that you enjoy, even if it's just dinner out with a friend ask her to snap a picture of you sitting with your glass of wine. Start getting more pictures of yourself. You'll get more comfortable looking at them and there will be more good ones for your profile to choose from. It feels a little narcissistic sometimes but I think it will help you feel better about your body and to begin to see your body in a more neutral way. I still have times when I hate a picture of myself but I like many more of them now that I take more. Show all of your pictures to a friend and ask them to pick the ones they like best. Try showing them to a person of the gender that you would like to date. If possible put up a few shots including one that shows your full body. If you end up dating a person from the site they are going to see you eventually. If they're the kind of person who is comfortable or even prefers a fat body the picture will just show that you're comfortable being honest about the body you have. If a fat body is a dealbreaker for them, you won't have to worry about revealing it later when you've already started to form a little hopeful attachment.
If the whole picture process feels torturous to you, start looking at more pictures of fat bodies looking good. Make yourself look even if it makes you uncomfortable. Try to look without judgment or let yourself judge but then look at your own judgments critically. Is there something inherently unpleasant about a fat stomach? Or could it be that you've been taught to believe that? Is back fat really the end of the world? Check out Adipositivity and the Fatshionista Live Journal Community for pictures of mostly women and/or Men in Full for pictures of fat men (Adipositivity and Men in Full include nudity and may not be safe for work).
Put it up and see what happens. As many of you already know, no kind of dating is all easy and a online dating has it's fair share of challenging bits but there are also good things to be had and I think it's one of the best ways to get yourself back in the game.