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Dating Maze #309: Size Plus

May 16, 2010 | by Rosie Einhorn, L.C.S.W. and Sherry Zimmerman, J.D., M.Sc.

Finding the right match for an overweight friend.

Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I recently went out with a man who was very nice, but not for me. I would like to set him up with a friend of mine who I think would be great for him. The problem is that she is significantly overweight and has been so all her life. Personally, I don’t consider this is a reason to reject anyone, but I suspect that men might feel differently.

What can I do to help facilitate this potential match?


Dear Jana,

It's wonderful for you to have thought of your friend when you realized this nice man is not for you. This is a practice we wish more daters would adopt… and we know of several happily married couples who were introduced to each other by someone who went out with one of them first.

There's another benefit to this practice that many people unfortunately don't consider: It's a way to derive practical benefit from a first date that is clearly not going to go any further. If you find yourself thinking, "Yes, he’s a good guy, but we're really not right for each other," rather than politely continue the conversation until it's time for the date to end, you can shift your goal midstream. Ask some relevant questions and take “mental notes" about his personality, what he wants out of life, etc. Then, once you return home, you can brainstorm about whether he might be a good match for one of your friends.

Which brings us to your question about suggesting your friend to this man, given the possibility that he has a problem with her being significantly overweight. We think that you should make the suggestion, and that you should mention all the relevant details about your friend, including the fact that she is overweight. Then let him decide if he'd like to date her.

She's got a pretty face, long brown hair, and is a plus-size.

There are many ways to describe your friend in a positive light. One of them could be: "Although it didn't work out for us, I see that you are a great guy and I think you'd get along really well with my friend." Describe her character, personality, what she's doing with her life, where she hopes to be in the future, and why you think they'd be a good match. Then, describe her general appearance in a neutral, non-judgmental way. "She's got a pretty face, is 5-foot-5, has long brown hair, looks very put together, and is a plus-size."

He needs this information because, even though in an ideal world your friend's weight shouldn't matter, it does matter. Physical attraction is one of the cornerstones of a healthy, enduring relationship, and a good percentage of men are not attracted to a woman who is, as you describe, "significantly overweight." There are some men who have no qualms about dating a heavy woman, and that's why you should not hesitate to try to set up your friend.

The other side of this coin is that you can also try to encourage your friend to maximize her physical attractiveness, despite the weight issue. Think of ways that you can suggest for her to take the best care of herself by having a healthy lifestyle:

  • getting regular exercise
  • getting enough sleep
  • looking her best by selecting a flattering wardrobe and hairstyle, and striving to look neat and put-together

These things will help her to look good, and to feel even better. And she'll project those good feelings in a way that will enhance her appeal to others.

Of course, the best piece of advice we can give an overweight person is to try to lose weight. We understand that not everyone can do this, but excess weight is an issue in the dating process. She should start by adopting a healthy, balanced eating plan – since losing weight is often a by-product of a healthy lifestyle.

Finally, if she needs support in making these changes, she could consider joining a self-help support group or going for counseling.

We hope that your idea to match up your friend bears fruit, and if it doesn't we encourage you to keep trying to find someone good for her. People of all shapes and sizes find the right person and get married. Your friend may have a harder time than others, and that’s why it will help her immensely to have caring people like yourself networking on her behalf.

Rosie & Sherry

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