For some reason, 2012 has been a year where online dating is being mentioned in both my on- and offline worlds with increasing frequency. Pros, cons and (missed) opportunities seem to abound – and everyone who’s taken a crack at it seems to have a mixed bag of experiences under their belt, which I guess can be said of any kind of dating.
I’ll admit, online dating holds a certain appeal for me. I’m a bit of a social recluse at the best of times and, while I might be a gay guy, I’m not someone who’s into the “gay scene,”* which means that my opportunities for in-person interaction with other queer guys is limited, to say the least. So, being able to connect with other gay guys across the span of the internet, whether it be for a chat or the possibility of something more, isn’t something that I’m going to turn my nose up at.
It’s worked out okay for me in the past, too. Putting aside the fact that I’m currently single and it therefore hasn’t worked out too well for me, I can’t say that internet dating has been a complete waste of time. And as much as I have my own issues with how gay guys present themselves and interact with each other online (which is a whole series of posts in its own right, probably), I still currently check OKCupid and will check into at least a couple of gay male apps on my iPhone every now and then.
In other words, it is a thing that I do.
Of course, online dating is a particular kind of experience for people who aren’t necessarily of the (white, thin, straight) “norm.” There are certain decisions that need to be made about ‘outing’ yourself, for example as being queer, a person of colour, in an open relationship, a parent, etc. In some cases, you can hide (or choose not to divulge) certain things about yourself, for whatever reason. In other cases, that doesn’t really work.
Being fat is one of those things that can raise questions about the need for disclosure. It can be as simple as deciding whether or not to use the Myspace Angle (it’s an Urban Dictionary link, so click at your own risk) in your photos; it can be a matter of clicking the “curvy” (or equivilent) option for body type options on sites that offer that option; or it can even be a matter of saying straight up in your profile that you’re fat.
There’s also the option of signing up to sites that are specifically catered to setting up fat people with each other and their admirers. I tend to think that this is easier for women (and particularly women who are looking for men), but I also imagine that concerns about being the object of someone else’s fetish cross the minds of everyone** when considering these sites, regardless of their gender or sexual identity.
SO! I’m curious. How do YOU negotiate the world of online dating as a fat person?
* Yet for some reason every six months or so I’ll have an urge to go visit Oxford Street, because the idea of the place seems so much more fun than the reality generally is. What is up with that?!
** Unless you’re into that, in which case, cool!