click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Naso
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Dating Advice #34 - Physical Barrier
Dating Advice 34

Dating Advice #34 - Physical Barrier

Dating is so much of an emotional activity. But what happens when physical limitations come into play?


Dear Rosie and Sherry,

My best friend can't seem to meet the right kind of men. She is short and heavy but she has a heart of gold. I wish I could find someone for her but I'm afraid she'll look for all of the wrong men in all of the wrong places. What can I do? Sometimes it breaks my heart to tell her all of my happiness and joy because there isn't much of either in her life.

What can you suggest for her that would really get her out of this rut?


Dear Hope,

Our answer to you depends on how honest you can be with your girlfriend. She certainly knows that she's overweight, but she may be in deep denial about how badly this hurts her chances of dating. Can you sit down with her and explain that you care about her very much and want to be helpful, but in order to help her you have to tell her something that will be painful for her? If you cannot do this, then don't bring up the topic. If you raise it and see that your comments are unwelcome, emphasize again that you volunteered your comments out of love and concern, and then back off.

If your comments start a heart-to-heart discussion between the two of you, be prepared to offer your ongoing emotional support and encouragement. Many people who have never had an eating problem don't realize that weight is a painful topic for most heavy people, and that the reasons for their problem are based on many complex emotions.

It's no secret that heavy people have considerable difficulty dating. Physical attraction is vital to any relationship, and the media has conditioned us to view thinner people as attractive. Some men don't mind if the woman they date is a little chubby, and some women like a man who seems "cuddly," but extremely overweight people may have difficulty finding anyone to go out with them.

In addition to difficulty with her weight, your friend probably has issues that contribute to her problem of not meeting the right kind of men. They could be the same issues that relate to her weight problem. This is quite common. If she is insightful, she may be able to understand her problem by herself. But if this is too hard or if she cannot address the problem on her own, she may benefit from the help of a therapist.

Usually, when overweight people slim down, they find it easier to attract potential suitors. However, they also face the same dating problems as the rest of the single world; how to find someone compatible, how to develop a courtship, and the like. Sometimes newly slim people think that their new appearance alone should bring them quick dating success. When that doesn't happen, they may get discouraged and slip back to their old eating habits.

Dating is difficult for almost everyone. Men and women who are challenged by eating problems must realize that being slim is not a cure-all for loneliness, shyness or social awkwardness, and that they still need to put effort into meeting suitable dating prospects, acquiring effective dating skills and developing a healthy courtship. The continual positive reinforcement of a weight-loss support groups, weight-loss counselor, or healthy self-rewards (e.g., a non-food treat when you might have reached for a carton of ice cream after a bad date) goes a long way to helping them maintain their weight when the going gets tough.

Rosie & Sherry

Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I am fresh off of a divorce. Before I met my ex-wife, I was not very good at dating. Now that I'm single again, I'm worried that I will not be able to meet someone due to my fear of rejection.

I also have another problem... I am a recovering cancer patient and I don't know if that would be a "turn-off" to many women.


Dear Peter,

Most people who are newly divorced need to go through a grieving process before they are ready to date again. We suggest you look at one of our earlier columns, (#21 - Transition Time), for advice on how to do that. Your fear of rejection is as much related to your divorce as it is to insecurities you apparently felt even before your first marriage.

The fact that you are recovering from a dangerous illness (we wish you a complete and speedy recovery) will definitely concern the women you date, but a number of women will be interested in going out with you despite your medical problem. We think that once you are able to boost your self-esteem, you will be able to see that your medical condition is not a barrier to successful dating.

No matter what your medical condition, treatment and prognosis, a potential wife should be told this information (just as she should be told if you have diabetes or any other serious medical condition). This is one of the factors she will take into consideration when she decides if she wants to marry you. Revealing this info is a matter of Jewish law, which prohibits deception of any kind.

The question, however, is at what point you have to reveal your medical history. Someone who has been in remission a long time and has a very favorable prognosis may be able to reveal this information in due course, just as he would reveal another illness. If you've been in remission a shorter time, it might be wise to let your date know this at the third or fourth date, which is around the time a couple has gone through basic introductions and decides whether to make an emotional investment in getting to know each other. Someone in active treatment might be obligated to reveal this fact much earlier. We suggest that you speak to your rabbi and discuss the appropriate time to explain your condition to a date.

We hope that this finds you on the road to a healthy, happy and successful future.

Rosie & Sherry

December 16, 2002

Submit Your Dating Advice Question (Click here)

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 9

(9) Anonymous, August 22, 2001 12:00 AM

DON'T have this conversation with a friend

I don't know whether "short and heavy" means "overweight", but, Hope, if your friend is overweight, for goodness sake don't have this conversation with her. Our society makes it very clear what it thinks of larger women and their attractiveness. Overweight people are sent hundreds of messages every day through the TV, radio, magazines, movies, and, in some cases, random abuse from passers-by about precisely what their chances are of dating someone. I have never met an overweight person who was not perfectly realistic about this.
In a hostile world, your role as a friend is to be loving, supportive, and never to mention your friend's weight to her. No matter how close you are. No matter how long you've known her. No matter how sad she seems, and how "obvious" the answer to her problems seems to you.

One day, if she feels trusting enough in you, she might decide to have this conversation with you, in which case your role is to listen and understand what she is saying, not to pass judgment, or offer diet advice (unless specifically asked for it).

I don't know your friend, but I do know one thing: if she's overweight, and you have this conversation with her, you won't remain her friend for long, nor would you deserve to.

(8) Anonymous, July 26, 2001 12:00 AM

Nice site

I only read the advice to Hope but I thought that it was very good advice as I am overweight and am often discussing this among other things with my therapist and I am hoping that he can help me motivate myself to lose weight, which to some extent he already has.

I realise there were other issues too and I think they were discussed very sensibly too.

(7) Susan brooks, July 3, 2001 12:00 AM

For "Hope"......

I happened upon this site, and as I read the response to the question from "Hope"(concerned about her overweight friend's dating situation), my blood began to boil!!
Granted, being overweight is frowned upon by society, but it is WRONG!!!! Trying to alter one's appearence, just to get a date is WRONG, if not downright STUPID!! If you want to lose weight, do it for your health and energy, DON'T do it to please ANYONE but yourself!
I am a 38 year old woman. I am overweight. I stand 5'9", ands weigh about 200lbs., and I have NO problems getting a date. Beauty, is more a frame of mind than anything else. Hope, whatever you do....don't sit your friend down and tell her she can't get a date because she is FAT. You want to destroy her self esteem? Explain to her, that there is someone for EVERYONE. There are very attractive, successful, and intelligent men out there, who LOVE a "fluffy" girl. Maybe the right man for her, isn't around because it's not the right time.
Some people are big, because that's what they're meant to be....if we all looked like Cindy Crawford, what a boring little world this would be!! Society tells us that overweight is wrong...society also tells us that blonde women are dumb...society is usually very wrong.

(6) Vicki Trerotola, April 15, 2001 12:00 AM

Weight affecting relationships

The advice that you gave to a person concerning their weight depresses me. It shows how horrible this society really is. That you could think that just because a woman is overweight she can't get a boyfriend. Relationships (despite what people may think) are rarely based purely on physical basis. I mean if women saw men that way, they'd divorce them within 10 years because they get a beer belly. Give me a break! You dont need to be skinny to get a boyfriend. As boring and repeated as this may sound --- BEAUTY IS ON THE INSIDE!

(5) Anonymous, November 27, 2000 12:00 AM

Why are girls so fixated on height?

i think i have a lot of great qualities, not to mention that i make the top 1% of US incomes. but girls pass me by because i'm not 'tall enough', although i am often at least a few inches taller than they are,. i'll admit there has to be attraction and chemistry, but i just don't understand how they can narrow their choices over needing someone a foot taller than they are. i'd like to tell them the same thing they tell me, "grow up!"

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment