do friends set fat friends up?

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately.

I was at a wedding a while back and the bride put me at a table with this rather cute single guy, but told me when she and I were going through the table listings (I was getting the low down on all of her friends, all of her fiance’s friends, the family drama, and such) that she was hoping to set him up with one of her friends from college, despite the fact that she knows I am single and “looking,” whatever that means. so, yeah. she mentioned it, we moved on, and ordered another round of drinks.

then, the wedding. it was so lovely and i had a great time. chatted with this dude for a while, danced my ass off, ate good food, and just generally rocked it. my necklace received a lot of compliments. as well it should, it’s a fantastic necklace.

A couple of days ago the same friend wanted to set that same dude up with another person we both know (good christ, I sound like I’m in middle school). so anyway, this nagging feeling has been hanging around me for a while and i’ve figured out where it’s coming from. i’ve had this happen before – my best friends set up another friend of mine with this single guy they knew. turns out it was just about the most delightful and perfect match ever, as they are gloriously happy and i love to see their partnership and love for each other. the fact that i wasn’t set up with him isn’t the point. and the fact that the bride tried to set up her single friend with two other people isn’t technically the point either. the point is that it makes me feel invisible. in a very stark and raw and and hit-me-over-the-head kind of way. I have never been set up with someone through a friend. I actually asked those friends (the non-bride friends) why they never set me up with anyone in all the years that I had known them, and the short answer I got back was that no one was “good enough” for me. Which of course is coming from a place of total love and adoration, but it certainly doesn’t allow me to decide who is and isn’t “good enough.” I hear time and time again from my friends how awesome i am, how much i make them laugh, how caring i am, how great blah blah (i know, rough life that i’m just FORCED to listen to people tell me all the things they love about me, bear with me).

I’m not sure, however, that my friends see me as a partner/lover/girlfriend to anyone they know.

And it’s not their fault. We live in a world where the fat girl isn’t seen as a suitable partner/lover/girlfriend most of the time. Shit, sometimes I don’t see myself that way.

Before I go further, I feel I should state unequivocally what this post is NOT saying:
1. I am not saying that any of this is done with intention.
2. I am not saying my friends are responsible for finding me a man.

What am I wondering is…do people set their fat friends up with other people? I realize this is an incredibly general statement, and that there are individual experiences that vary a great deal from mine. So, I’d love to hear them! Is this your experience as well? And if you aren’t single, how did you meet your person? Maybe people just don’t set people up anymore, skinny, fat, or otherwise? maybe that is an antiquated way of doing things and I just don’t have a barometer for these kinds of things? Totally possible. School me!


44 responses to “do friends set fat friends up?

  1. I’ve been set-up by friends a few times. Once my best friend tried to set me up with her husband’s bestie (disaster). And, more recently, a friend who I’m not that close to and who is more of a colleague has set me up with her good friend (going so-so). I know in the most recent set-up the colleague thought I’d get along well with this guy and she knew he was quite attracted to other women who I look like, so it got the fat genie out of the bottle so to speak. For the first set up way back when I just really didn’t like the guy, so I don’t remember thinking about it too much.
    Not sure if that helps, just my experience!

  2. oh btw, i’m deathfat

    • innerestin’, thanks for sharing! I think that is definitely part of it, the whole fat genie out of the bottle situation. Like, if friends aren’t sure that whomever they set me up with will be all “omgdeathfatzgrossobesity!” then of course they’ll feel horrible for putting me through that, right? at least, i can imagine they may think that.

  3. I have definitely had experience with friends setting everyone but me up.

    One of my friends is notorious for setting our group of friends up with people she knows that they are interested in or she is friends with, but in the 4 years I have known her never done the same when it comes to me. I have always wondered about this, but never asked her about it directly. I think this is one of those unconscious things with her but it is something that I have taken notice of.

    I’m trying to think back to all of the times that this has happened, and possibly it is because I have never been actively looking for someone. Most of the people I know have been set up are desperate to be in a relationship and while I would love to be in one, I don’t let it define who I am. I also don’t really go guy crazy and check out every person that walks past me (Shall i say I don’t verbalize it.) Apparently all of my friends are guy crazy…

    • this! “Most of the people I know have been set up are desperate to be in a relationship and while I would love to be in one, I don’t let it define who I am. I also don’t really go guy crazy and check out every person that walks past me.”

      That’s definitely a huge part of it for me. just a flat out lack of desire to make it a top priority, so of course my friends aren’t going to be on the prowl for me every second of the day.

      • You know I thought about this over night too, I have one friend who always says I am really picky, which isn’t the case. I think that she doesn’t find a lot of people that would date a fat girl or thinks they wont and then puts that on me as something I am doing, not that society gives me less options because of social stigma.

        Not sure if that makes sense but it does in my head.

  4. As a skinny person, I was never set up with anyone either. But that’s probably because I haven’t been single very much since I was 15 to begin with. However, I have fat friends who I have tried setting up with other people I knew before, and so far not much luck. One of them has always been very interested and the other not interested. So I kinda quit doing that because I didn’t like being let down that it didn’t work out.

    But I think I get why you are wondering about this kind of a topic.

    • thanks for the comment! i think it’s super important for me to hear a variety of people’s experiences. as in, wait, maybe it’s not b/c i’m fat that i’m not getting set up! : ) (obviously i’m over-simplifying here)

  5. I totally relate,but mine comes from a different friends used to set me up,but i always dissappointed..either claiming that the guy was not my type,or just saying that i didnt have time for them yet we all knew that i could have had time if i really wanted to.So it got to a point where they got tired and stopped…You think you’ve ever given them a reason to not hook you up??maybe hving high expectations or something??

    • well, I’m certainly never going to change having high expectations, but I see what you mean about not being out there re: wanting a partner. It’s entirely unfair to never put yourself out there as wanting a relationship and then turning around and saying “why doesn’t anyone set me up?!”

  6. outrageandsprinkles

    I have never been set up but I don’t know that I would want to be. I am much more confident with myself and my body now than I ever have been, but I still recognize that my body is not the first choice, y’know? My current partner absolutely loves my body, I have had several men who have loved my body, but I often still feel like that young girl who never got asked out on dates because I was fat and weird and FAT. I think if I were single I would be nervous that being set up would yield disappointing results. I met my current partner when we both worked at the same place. I saw him, thought he was cute, started chatting him up in the break room whenever I could and he eventually caught on that I was interested. I kind of like being able to steer the ship because I can weed out a potential mate who I don’t think will like me for who I am, instead of hoping someone else will do a good job of it for me.

    • I absolutely hear what you’re saying (see what you’re typing?) in the last sentence, and I agree with it. And in fact, I’m certainly not looking to my friends to find me a man; I guess I’m just wondering about the bigger picture. Do people not set me up because they don’t see me as “partner” material, or do people just not do that anymore? I honestly don’t know. And again, it’s the underlying issue I care about, not the actual setting up : )

  7. When I was single a couple at church tried to set me up with every unattached lesbian in the place … does that count? (I’m bi.)

    More seriously, I think some people are matchmakers and others aren’t. I don’t know many matchmakers. Except, y’know, the one couple.

    • haha, yes, that totally counts. you’re 100% spot on…there are folks who matchmake (is that a word?) and folks who don’t. my friends mostly fall into the latter category. I gotta say, though, that this post has been awesome for me because it’s SO important to remind myself that things that feel “off” to me may (a) not be off at all to lots of folks and therefore i’m not some total freak of nature or (b) be something folks feel REGARDLESS of their size.

  8. One of the indignities that was part of all family gatherings when my little brother (by 4 years) was single was the brainstorming of all my siblings of who they could set my brother up with. This was before I got ill and stopped working. I would either sit silently watching my siblings never even ask me if I was dating, or I would leave the room cause when I stayed I felt a little vomit at the back of my throat. My siblings intention was not to dismiss me and my eligibility for setting up, it was just their complete buying into the cultures hatred of fat. It still hurt though. While your peace does encourage me to look for non fat reasons for this, my gut tells me that the pain this caused me was indeed about my fat, and that my siblings knew not what they did to me with this behavior.

    My dear brothers and sisters weren’t the only ones that bought into the culture’s “fat excludes you from amorous. romantic consideration.” I feel like this is fact. I have never met anyone who found me attractive as a virile, “male leading man” Now that I am on disability, trying to deal with depression (i call it terminal apathy) and 400+lbs, I have pretty much given up all hope of ever pairing up.

    I am beyond mad, or angry about this. I have just decided that for my own peace of mind, surrendering to this (seeming) fact, is just a way for me to cope with a lot of uncomfortable feelings on these issues.

    It is sad also, because I am awesome and would be a great boyfriend. But it is also sad because I know any chance that I might meet someone is pretty much reduced to zero as a result of this decision to cope with this in the way I do.

    Please know I am not looking for encouragement or appeasing. I could be wrong and would love to have to admit that I am wrong here. I believe my timing was off as far as being born into the wrong time. Honestly, I just don’t think it will ever happen for me. and also, I find people telling me that it can happen for me, sort of invalidating my entire lifetime’s experience.

    These are usually “inside thoughts” and not shared, but your piece stoked my fire about this stuff.

    • I’m not encouraging or appeasing you, just wanted to say thanks for sharing your experience with us! It’s hard when we realize that those who love us are just as affected by society’s twisted sizist attitudes as the rest of us.

  9. I’ve never been set up by friends. I had one friend, whose now an ex-friend, when we got into mixed company, wouldn’t “allow” me to flirt with the guys that she didn’t want. I specifically remember being at a party and having her say bad things about me to this guy that wasn’t even her type. I took it to mean that she didn’t feel that the fat girl (me) was deserving of any love. In other words, how dare this guy come to a party and flirt with me and not her. Needless to say, she is no longer my friend. I hope the people on this message board have better experiences than me. That’s all!

    • well major BOO on that (ex)friend! good riddance! though of course i imagine there was a hell of a lot more going on in her mind than she let on. those types of behaviors say way more about the person acting them out than anything else.

  10. I also have a friend who I considered to be a fairly close friend, who would set up another thin friend of hers repeatedly, but never me.

    It really started to bother me when she described a guy who she was NOT going to set up with the other friend because he was too nerdy. I said, hey, I like nerds! Set me up with him! And she just let it drop, and didn’t respond.

    I’m still friends with her, but this situation has damaged my feelings for her. From other conversations we’ve had about body size I think she subscribes to all of the traditional forms of body hatred/diet culture, and I really suspect that she just can’t see me as being sexually attractive to a man.

    She’s a good work friend, so I’m not going to drop her, but I do feel distanced from her, thinking that she thinks of me as good enough to be a friend, but not good enough to date.

    • I like that you called it out – “hey, i like nerds! set me up with him!” For a long time i didn’t even go there w/ my friends. why, i’m not sure sure. maybe because i didn’t want to appear “desperate” and “needy” or something? (in scare quotes b/c i fully realize that neither of those words actually describes someone who is just interested in meeting a potential partner).

  11. i’ve been set up only a couple times by friends. one time by a guy friend who i was seriously into, but who wasn’t attracted to my body type. he set me up with his friend who was “into” bigger girls, and we dated for a year. the funny thing is that i was never able to wrap my head around actually being someone’s “type.” even though i had this guy who adored my body and had dated women bigger than me, it never resonated with me because i was so uncomfortable being bigger that i couldn’t settle into his appreciation of me. the other time i was set up by a gal that i know, and the guy and i went out a couple times before he tried to get me to go to the gym with him, and when i said no thanks, he told me that the “body thing” bothered him. as if me going to the gym that one time with him would’ve shed all of my superfluous poundage! i supposed it was more the idea that i was more comfortable with (or at least not dying to change) my size, and he couldn’t understand how i felt ok being what i was. it hurt for him to say that, but it’s not the first time i heard it, and i’m sure it won’t be the last. it did suck that he was a coworker who then told others that he didn’t want to date me because i was too fat, but meh. who cares? everyone has things they’re attracted to and not attracted to, and i’m no exception.

    • YES. “i supposed it was more the idea that i was more comfortable with (or at least not dying to change) my size, and he couldn’t understand how i felt ok being what i was.” this acceptance and love of self can be VERY scary for people, i think. it’s like “wait, what? you don’t want to change your body? i don’t understand! you’re supposed to want to do that!”

      heart you!

  12. hmmm.
    I don’t see a whole lot of fix-ups in general, so maybe that’s just me.
    I do get where you are coming from. When I was young and party-ish I definitely raised a few eyebrows by asserting my intentions and flirty publicly as a fats.

    I was only fixed up by friends once, with very comical results. A couple set up this coffee date where someone was to stop by our table. A friend of theirs came by, (fat and nerdy) and we hit it off instantly-dated for about a year in an intense and waaaay too dramatic relationship. Friends were so disappointed I had picked the “wrong” friend. Fast forward 15 yrs, and he contacts me to apologize as part of his twelve step process. At a time when I was really working hard on forgiveness, which was super cool.
    He and his gorgeous fat wife are some of my favorite friends these days. His wife actually convinced me to look online to prove how lousy a bad relationship was, and that’s where I found my hubby (who BTW had a hard time figuring out how to word his attraction to fat women and get appropriate responses).

    So, I guess in a roundabout way, I was fixed up twice. None with intention, really. I definitely hear what you are saying about your desirability being overlooked as a fatty, and it sucks.

    I have a couple of really good longtime friends who really never will get FA. When I tell them I don’t want to see a movie like “Shallow Hal”, they are genuinely surprised, even though I’ve known them for decades. It seems their attitude is “But you’re not THAT kind of fat person!”….it’s like they can’t even put together their caring experience with me with any concept of my experience in the world.

    Bewildering, ain’t it?

    • yeah, i think it’s definitely a difficult road to navigate for men who love and are attracted to fat women. they’re told their desire is wrong and unnatural. and i hear you on the “but you’re not THAT kind of fat person!” thing. it’s about, as you say, not appreciating people’s own experiences in the world. I also think it comes from this place of Othering – they view fat as something undesirable, but they love you to bits, so of COURSE they don’t view you as fat, because that would mean they have to check their assumptions and beliefs about fat folks. of course, it’s much more nuanced than that. you’re not one of THOSE people b/c how could you be fat AND desirable/wonderful/etc?

  13. I’ve been set up with other people. Even though my friends know my preferences for body size and looks I always get set up with fat men. Nothing wrong with fat men, but I like the skinny guys! I guess they are thinking that well, she’s fat so she must like fat men. Unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way for me.

  14. They do. But seriously be glad for a second that they aren’t, ’cause some of the worst dates I ever had were set ups. Ugh! Made me wonder what my friends really thought of me. Ha-ha!
    It sounds like your friends think the world of you and would certainly set you up if a special guy came around, but unless you ask them to do it I don’t think you can expect it. Ya know?
    I know what the invisible fat single girl feels like (though it’s been awhile for me), I think it helps if you are including your friends in your dating life somehow or they are already privy to all of the details.

    • haha! good points, all around. and it’s only been more recently that I’ve come out and told folks “hey, he seems cool, what’s his story?” You’re absolutely right, it’s unfair to expect fairy godmothers to shower me with men if i’m not explicit about my desire for said men.

  15. I have a completely unscientific theory that online dating is killing the art of the setup, in general, for everybody. For the five years I was in grad school, I basically begged all my friends to please, please set me up with people, and basically everybody was like, why don’t you sign up for and pick out your own person instead. Ultimately I did, and now I’m married, and it also seems that more and more of my of my friends are uninterested in being set up with anybody. I’ve actually had people tell me, “no, that’s ok. I’m on eHarmony”. So, I agree with the comments above that if you want to be set up, you have to fairly explicitly tell you friends this because I certainly don’t offer to set anybody up anymore who hasn’t specifically told me they are interested. Also, you should think about trying online dating, as evidently it’s what all the cool kids do these days.

    • i’m not so sure that it’s a bad/sad thing that the art of the setup is getting killed. could just be a thing that folks don’t do anymore, regardless of fatness. my question was really more about whether non-fat folks get set up while the fats don’t. and i do online date, actually, OKC off and on. lol at “why don’t you sign up for and pick out your own person instead” – it makes sense!

  16. I just have to share my experience, although I’m older. When I was widowed in my 40s one of my friends kept trying to set me up with every smart, funny guy she ran into. This was usually very awkward because my friend is quite thin, happily married and such a people-pleaser that she ends up talking to lots of single guys who are drawn to her and would ask HER out in a hot second if she were single. Unfortunately I am fat and not so much of a people-pleaser and it took me awhile to realize that not one of the 3-4 guys she set me up with would ever have looked at me, much less asked me out on his own. My friend would start by asking the guy if he had any problems going out with larger women and inevitably he would try to get in good with her by saying “No problem.” Then when the set-up victim guy and I communicated, an awful, uncomfortable dialog would happen and the set-up guy and I would each escape. The funniest of these was when my friend approached a guy who was also fat and about 10 years younger than me and asked him if he would be interested in going out with a smart, funny BBW who was a little older. He emailed me and told me that this question made him realize he needed to come out of the closet! He’s now a very happily partnered member of the Bear Community! Myself, at some point even before hitting age 60, my hormones decided to throw in the cards, my hermit side kicked in big time and I stopped looking for close encounters of the human kind. I realized that I only have enough energy to cope with the writing life, financial survival, painful arthritis and several cats–who give me all the affection I need and never leave the toilet seat up. (They do drink out of the toilet seat if I don’t leave the lid down but nobody’s perfect!)

  17. I’ve been on both sides of this and my conclusions based on my experiences are pretty painful. I was thin when I was younger, then chubby, now I’m fat. I was never set up when I was thin but I think that was because I was usually already dating someone. I often tried to set up my female friends with the male friends of whichever guy I was dating and unfortunately, the first question they’d usually ask was “is she fat?”. If the answer was even slightly yes, they’d usually say no. I was able to set up a few chubby friends but one of my best friends was very large and I could never find anyone to set her up with. Every time I tried to get things going the guys wouldn’t be interested. I felt horrible about it and stopped trying after it happened a few times. I know she felt hurt and she kept asking me to help her find a boyfriend and I didn’t know what to say.

    Now that I’m fat, I rarely get offers to be set up. I was set up once when I was chubby but nowhere near as big as I am now and that resulted in a relationship. Now I’m the one getting the “you’re a great person and anyone would be lucky to have you” speech from friends who never seem to think of me as a real dating possibility. I even had one friend express disbelief when we met a guy who was very attracted to me and told her that he wanted to date me. She always used to give me the above speech, so to have her to act like it was impossible that anyone could find me attractive now really hurt. I used to give my fat friend the same speech to try to comfort her, so I don’t really believe my friends/family when they says those things now. The unfortunate truth is that a lot of guys just don’t want to date us, no matter how awesome our personalities are. There are men out there who love fat women or love women of any size but they’re in the minority.

    I think having experienced it from both sides actually hurts my self-esteem now. It’s been drilled into my head that fat = unlovable and I’m having a really hard time getting past that.

    • I hear you, deprogramming ourselves after years and years of internal fat hatred is, for me, one of the hardest things i’ve ever done. which is why i am ever so grateful for this gorgeous FA community. Thank you for sharing!

  18. Not one of my friends has ever set me up with a guy. Ever. Despite them all taking great delight in setting people up all over the place. Just not me. And I know that feeling of invisibility all too well.

    I have had people try to set me up with guys, (just not my friends) but for some reason they always find these WEIRD guys who nobody else will date. It’s become a thing now when some well meaning colleagues suggest to set me up with a dude, I ask “Would you date him if you were single?” If the answer is no, then I follow it up with “Then why are you fobbing him off on me??”

  19. NO ONE… but okcupid (shout out!) sets me up, either. but, they do try to set up other friends. must be a (A thing. ugh.

  20. Pingback: wisdom for the ages | the taking up of space

  21. I know i’m about 7 months delayed but I can totally relate to this. I’ve always assumed that my friends (from different groups) didn’t want to set me up because of the way i looked and would much rather set up the same skinny friend over and over, but it’s never been so obvious as in the last few weeks, where it has totally stuffed up any amount of self esteem I thought I had.

    I have a close work friend who always tells me about friends she’s setting up, and even though I was already feeling slightly frustrated about the situation i just thought to myself, maybe it’s because I’m from work… I have been friends with her for 3 years. Enter someone who we’ve worked with for 3 months, and just last week she’s told me that she’s found someone to set the new girl up with.. and I didn’t even bother looking excited.. just said ‘that’s great’ and tried to get away as quickly as I could. Like what has been said, it isn’t about expecting friends or looking to friends to find someone, but more about aren’t friends supposed to think the best of you and see beneath what everyone else sees? The only positive thing I can think of is that the girl that had the set up did get a call the next day, where I probably wouldn’t have had. So I guess good call for my work friend to setting up the ‘right’ girl, but yeah it really hurts.

  22. My best friend is getting married in a year. I am the maid of honor.The groom is 9 years older than both of us. I personally like guys my own age; guys who aren’t divorced or have kids yet. But my friend thinks its a ‘WONDERFUL’ idea that she and your fiance set me up with the best man; who is also 9+ years older. Mind this, I am a virgin, never been on a date, never been kissed. I also don’t have time or the mental capacity to care about another person right now. I hate that she is doing this, she has been wrong two times before this, trying to set me up with other younger guys in high school. I am seriously losing it! She needs to stop and realize what I want not want she thinks is best. Also she could try to set me up with guys who are actually someone I would like. Anyways thank you for posting this and letting me vent. Your lucky your friends aren’t setting you up, only because I can be a terrible experience.

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