Dating as a Plus Size Princess can be… interesting! Here I’ve chronicled all of my dating adventures here from online dating as a big girl, to the “BBW” club scene in NYC. Hopefully reading my stories will remind us that it is possible to find love at any size.

Don’t Wait On Your Weight To Live Your Life


As a plus-size girl, there have been so many things I’ve put on hold, telling myself that they should happen “next year” after I’d lost some weight. But then, “next year” came and went, and my weight barely budged.

Eventually, I asked myself: If I never lose weight, will I never live the amazing life I want?

Putting my entire life on hold until I looked a certain way sounded like a crazy idea, so I decided against it and born was my motto “Don’t Wait On Your Weight.”

I looked closely at my fear of embarrassment and rejection, issues that that kept me from trying new things and living life to the fullest. I realized that I was rejecting experiences as a defense mechanism so that I wouldn’t be rejected.

Related: How to deal with Rejection

Once I came to terms with my behavior, I began to challenge myself. Every time I felt myself shy away from something because of my size, I took a deep breath and walked towards the very thing that was scaring me. Read on for ways that I challenged myself — and ask yourself if some of them don’t sound all too familiar:

Don’t Wait On Your Weight…

To Date Online
I can remember a friend in high school telling me that guys don’t date girls who are bigger than a size 10. I took that rule to heart and was convinced that love wouldn’t find me until I found my way out of the big girl’s department. But, with my new motto motivating me to step outside of my comfort zone, I set up an online dating profile and ignored the negative voice in my head. I even put up a full body photo of myself and to my surprise — and delight — I went on awesome dates.

To Travel
Sometimes big girls have to push through seat-belt extenders and narrow plane seats to get where we need to go, but the world is too much of a magical place to let silly things like that get in my way. I’ve yet to die from asking for a seat-belt extender and pushing past that fear has given me amazing experiences like parasailing over the Atlantic Ocean and hiking in Runyon Canyon.

plus size hiking runyon canyon cece olisa

To Hit The Gym
Its easy to peep through the gym windows, see the chiseled, rock-hard bodies and feel like you need to drop ten pounds before you even walk in the door, but the gym is for everybody and every body. My health is one thing that’s non-negotiable and I’m not going to let myself feel intimidated by gym culture.

I know I deserve a healthy life at any size, and I work hard on my healthy curves journey. The gym’s just as much a place for me as it is for anyone else. Don’t rob yourself of a healthy lifestyle because you don’t have a flat tummy. Get some cute workout clothes and start sweating.

Related: Plus Size Fitness Essentials

To Wear A Bikini
I would have never thought in a million years that I’d be on vacation in Miami wearing a two- piece swimsuit, but a few months ago, I did just that, and it was the best trip I’ve had in a while. No one stared at me, no one laughed at me, and I even got a few compliments. I had an amazing time and I shudder at the thought that I would ever skip something like that based on numbers on a scale. Life’s too short to skip the beach!
plus size bikini cece olisa

Related: How to Pack for Miami (Plus Size Edition)

Admittedly, it wasn’t overnight that I donned a bikini in public or signed up for parasailing. You’ve got to start out small. It’ll get easier, I promise. On weekends, instead of pouting and saying “why go out and dance with my girlfriends, no one is going to talk to me until I lose weight,” I took pains to remind myself that I love to dance, and I wasn’t about to let my size hold me back. Reasoning that I’d be happier out dancing than moping in my apartment, I went out. I refused to rob myself of something I enjoyed because of how other people might react to me.

Once I consciously worked to break the habit, I learned that most people are too caught up in their own insecurities to focus on mine. I also learned that I am very good at imagining terrible scenarios that never actually happen.

If you feel like your weight is holding you back, I encourage you to start taking the steps to claim the life you deserve to live. The next time a social opportunity arises, throw on a cute outfit and go! Of course, you may face rejection or experience awkward moments (who doesn’t?), but you also might have the time of your life.

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My “Perfect Person” Doesn’t Exist — & Neither Does Yours


My friend Oscar Limon, a playwright who’s navigating the NYC gay dating scene, shared a story with me about his recent (disastrous) Grindr date: After Oscar walked up to his date and introduced himself, the guy said, “Um, yeah — this isn’t going to happen.” The dude then made his point by abruptly getting up and walking away.

I sympathize with my friend; after all, who hasn’t been on a really bad date — or, in this case, been rejected before the date even started? Most of us have some version or other of this crappy rejection story. We meet people, and often quickly dismiss them without giving them a fair chance. Our attention spans are short, and, in dating especially, we sometimes move on too quickly. I don’t think there’s always something wrong with a quick assessment. There are times when we just know someone isn’t right for us — and it’s better not to waste time pretending it might work.

What I’m taking issue with is some of the criteria we use to decide whether a person is worth our time. Physical attraction is important; most of us can agree on that. And yet, I think it’s also important to try and see beauty beyond what we’re made to believe is beautiful. We can’t all look like Kate Upton or Beyoncé, but that doesn’t mean we’re not beautiful in our own right. Think about it: Have you ever fallen for a friend whom you weren’t initially attracted to, but, once you fell, were wildly, inexplicably crazy about — looks and all? That’s happened to me a few times, and I’m better for it. But, I know it won’t happen if we all instantly swipe left and only pay attention to our quick reactions to a stranger’s appearance.

It’s not just the quick appearance assessment (and subsequent judging) that’s problematic, though. Another big issue is our insatiable desire to see who else is out there. We’re so curious about what we might be missing out on that we often overlook what’s right in front of us.

When I first moved to NYC, every guy I made eye contact with in the subway held the potential for a love affair — fleeting or otherwise. Flirting was fun, and I was comfortable giving my phone number out when a man shared my interest. But, even though I had the intention of being open and accepting to the range of NYC men who crossed my path, what I ended up doing was making rash decisions based on some nonsense or other. If a guy had a uni-brow or a weird-sounding voice, I wrote him off. Someone better would come along, right? This dismissal was easy, because I always had my eyes open and was ready to make another move. I thought it was exciting to have multiple dates in one weekend. But, I didn’t realize that I wasn’t giving myself time to experience one guy before I was texting and making plans with the next one.

When I finally met someone to whom I felt deeply connected, I learned to my chagrin that he wasn’t ready to commit. He kept me at arm’s length while he stayed busy vetting available women, waiting to see if anyone better was out there. It stung. I had looked around enough to know that what I had with this guy was special. He also knew it — but he wasn’t quite ready to give up the “what if.” And, I realized the detrimental effect that too much curiosity can have.

And yet, in spite of this realization, as my dating life progressed, I found myself once again behaving badly in my online dating approach: If I was going to date online, I was going to find the perfect guy — one who fit all my must-haves. I refined my searches to the exact height, age, education, religion, and location of the partner I wanted. He also couldn’t have kids or be divorced. Once all of my criteria was in place, I hit “search” and waited. And, waited. My standards were so specific that no one fit the bill.

Of course, my Perfect Person doesn’t exist. No one’s does. If I kept holding out for someone who lived solely in my dreams, I’d end up alone. If I refused to determine what really mattered to me in a partner — thereby letting go of plenty of shit that was small potatoes in comparison — I’d be single forever. Changing my mindset (and my non-essential priorities) was crucial. When I threw away my silly “requirements,” I opened up to a whole slew of possibilities I’d been missing.

I used to only date guys who were over 6’2″. Now, my current beau is 5’11″ — and that’s just fine by me. Between you and me, the stronger my feelings, the taller he seems.

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Have You Ever Dated Someone Who Just…Vanished?


Have you ever had someone “ghost” on you? I’m not talking Patrick Swayze, sappy music, and a pottery wheel. I’m talking about when a guy or girl that you’re dating just disappears off the face of the planet — and you’re left wondering what happened. If I have a first date and the guy never calls back, that’s not ghosting; it’s just life. But, if I’m seeing someone regularly and circumstances or feelings change, I’d like to hope everyone will be grown-up enough to communicate that. When someone ceases communication without warning and you never see them again? That’s a ghost situation.

My ghosting experience happened with Adrian. We had been dating for a few weeks when he asked me to be exclusive. But, of course, there was a catch — he also needed to take a month-long work trip to Turkmenistan to help save the endangered snow leopards. I can’t make this stuff up.

The idea of being exclusive right when Adrian was going to be gone for a month didn’t sit well with me, so I told him I’d rather wait until he returned. The night before his flight, Adrian wanted to sleep with me (one of the intimate perks that, for me, comes with being exclusive) — but I told him that wasn’t going to happen. He was respectful, told me he’d miss me, and promised to e-mail me as soon as he landed the next day. I never heard from Adrian again.

The first few days, I tried not to freak out. I went about my day with a quiet storm of thoughts running through my head: His flight was probably delayed. Maybe he doesn’t have Internet in Turkmenistan. Did I give him the correct email address? What if he’s getting bounce-backs? By week two, I was officially losing my mind. I called his work; when the receptionist answered, I froze. I could have said, “Hello, I’m calling to see if one of your employees was eaten by snow leopards, or if he’s ghosting on me, can you help?” Instead, I hung up the phone and called Ghostbusters, a.k.a. my girlfriends. We spent the night collectively trying to stalk Adrian over cocktails, but we didn’t have much to go on. We decided that closure was needed in the form of one final, saucy voicemail.

I put my phone on speaker and dialed his number. The number was disconnected — Adrian had really vanished. Now, I was angry. I couldn’t believe this was happening. After another round of drinks, we decided that the only thing to do was to offer an “R.I.P.” to that relationship and keep moving. I couldn’t make Adrian call me, and I couldn’t text a snow leopard to see if he had been spotted in the wilderness. The whole situation was out of my hands. I reminded myself that people do crazy things to avoid confrontation.

I decided that I wasn’t going to spend more time mourning Adrian than I spent actually dating him. I snapped out of my funk, and was suddenly grateful. The desire for a relationship can be an overwhelming feeling (more on that single-girl problem here), but I was glad I’d followed my instincts and pumped the brakes when Adrian wanted to be exclusive. Can you imagine how crazy I would have been if I never heard from my “boyfriend” again? I can’t help but wonder if his whole exclusivity chat was just a ploy to hook up before his month out of the country. Who knows?

It all boils down to trust, which for me, has to be earned. I really liked Adrian, but in the few weeks we had been dating, he hadn’t earned the trust required to be my long-distance boyfriend. I could have let my desire for the “girlfriend” title trump my desire to build a long-lasting and real relationship, but instead, I chose to stay single and let Adrian show me just how trustworthy (or not) he could be. He certainly showed me.

Ever had a guy ghost on you?

Read More of my work at CeCe Olisa for Refinery29


How to Walk Out Bad Dates: 3 Easy Tips


So, last week I shared some of my bad dating experiences in this post. I explained that it’s 100% okay to walk out on bad dates, but I realized I didn’t give you girls tips on how to walk out on a date that isn’t going well.

I never felt good about myself after suffering through a bad date. I did feel good about myself when I valued myself enough to end bad dates early. So if you’re in the dating game right now, here are three tips that helped me escape bad dates.

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Video Recap:

  1. “Put the Date in Perspective” If we’ve already decided that our entire romantic future depends on the person we’re meeting for a first date, its going to be really hard to walk away. Remind yourself that you don’t know this person, they don’t owe you anything and if they aren’t what you’re looking for, there’s no need for you to waste your time energy and self esteem on whatever nonsense they’re putting you through.
  2. “Keep it Convenient” The more we invest in something, the more we want out of it– that includes travel time. If I take trains, planes and automobiles to get to a date I may stay longer than I want to just to make the trip worth it. I always try to choose date locations that are convenient to my job or apartment so that if I need to leave, its not a big deal
  3. “Make Plans” Have plans with yourself in case the date doesn’t go well. Scope out a movie time or museum nearby (I left a date to go get a manicure and it was perfect). This way if you need to leave the date, you’re not left all dressed up with no where to go.

Dating can do a number on our self esteem, but its up to us to remember how awesome we are, no matter what our dating situation is. You are valuable, your time is valuable and you don’t need to spend time with people who don’t see what you’re worth.

Hope these tips are helpful to you! xo

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When It’s Okay To Walk Out Of A Date


Walking into the new, chic bar in Harlem, I had the usual jitters that arrive when you’re about to meet someone you’ve been talking to online. I was nervous — but also excited — to learn more about J.R., the guy I’d been chatting and texting with for a few weeks.

From the moment I saw him (sitting, hunched over his phone, texting), I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I approached him in spite of it. We introduced ourselves, but instead of getting up and heading to the bar with me, he stayed fixated on his phone. After about 20 minutes of this — his phone getting way more attention than me — he excused himself to take a call. You can probably predict what happened next: He never came back. I sat alone in the bar, fighting back angry tears.

CeCe Olisa When It's Okay To Walk Out Of A Date

And yet, from the moment I’d laid eyes on J.R., my instincts had told me I wasn’t walking into a good situation. My Jerk-O-Meter had gone off, and I’d ignored it. Why had I stayed when my gut was telling me to leave? Why had I made feeble attempts at small talk when his body language was clearly telling me he wanted nothing to do with me? Well, I did it because it was the polite thing to do. I let manners trump my instincts. And, I realized with some dismay, it wasn’t the first time I’d allowed my inclination to be considerate overrule my need to stand up for myself.

Related: How to Deal with Rejection

I don’t think I’m alone in this. Women are practically trained to “be nice.” We want to be liked, and so we often act politely — even in the face of someone’s rudeness. Being nice to guys I dated, including ones I knew didn’t deserve it, was something I’d just always done. When J.R. defended his phone fixation with a sarcastic remark and still wouldn’t give me the time of day, I could have — and obviously should have — turned and walked out. But, I kept fighting to be polite. I’m not to blame for J.R.’s bad behavior, but my sitting down and continuing to engage with him indicated that I was okay with how he was treating me, which probably only made him think he could disrespect his future dates, too.

It was this horrible date with J.R. that gave me the impetus to throw my good manners out the window when I deemed it necessary. From now on, I was going to put myself first — even if it meant I had to be a little rude. Enough with the niceness all the time! I was quickly learning that it was not always the best policy. Now, if a date makes me feel disrespected, I have the right — and the obligation — to leave. And, I’m proud to say that’s just what I did the last time a guy I went out with turned out to be a jerk.

Related: Is Online Dating Different for Plus Size Women?

I’d met Pete online, and after some nice email exchanges, we decided to meet in person. Pete picked a coffee shop downtown, which fit my rule about meeting in neutral, safe locations. When I walked in, Pete waved at me, with a smile, from a table in the corner. “What’s up, CeCe!” he said, giving me one of those cool-guy chin nods. I hesitantly sat down. We’d barely said hello when Pete began to talk about himself, non-stop, while also checking out other girls right in front of my face. I looked at my watch (never a good sign during a date), which confirmed that the date had been going on for exactly six minutes. I waited for Pete to ask me something — anything — about myself. But, that never happened.

If this was Pete putting his best foot forward, I’d seen all I needed to. “Actually, I’m going to head out,” I said. “It was nice meeting you!” I picked up my purse and went to get a manicure.

Sometimes, being nice is overrated.

Have you ever walked out on a date? …ever wish you had?


“You’ll Find Someone When You Stop Looking” Is Terrible Advice


When I was single, I was obsessed with getting dating advice from my married friends. I figured their success with coupledom could teach me a thing or two. Now that I’m straddling the single-married line, I see the problem with that point of view: Once you find someone, it’s easy to forget how hard it can be out there.

Advice is often dispensed with a certain forgetfulness. So, before my memory of being single fades, I’m gonna tell it like it really is. The most offensive thing that married people say is: “You’ll find someone when you stop looking.”

This statement is ridiculous. In what other area of life do we apply this kind of logic? Do we find a job when we stop applying? Or a pair of shoes when we stop shopping? If we want to find a loving relationship, how is shutting down the search a wise move?

I’ll admit, before I met my boyfriend, I would “stop looking” a few times a year. I would delete all my online dating profiles, spend nights at the gym, and go to dinner with friends. I would walk around the city wearing big sunglasses and headphones. Unsurprisingly, I wouldn’t meet anyone new. Of course, this was not what I wanted, and I wasn’t doing myself any favors by following this advice.

When people say love will happen when you’re not looking, what they really mean is to relax. One of my worst dating mistakes was being too ready when I was out. I was always looking for that rom-com connection, that instant attraction that would magically turn into love by the end of a song on the dance floor. Most of the time, I probably just ended up looking kind of desperate.

I met my boyfriend at work when I was going through a breakup. So, technically, I wasn’t “on the hunt” at the time our paths crossed. In fact, I didn’t even think of him as a prospect because I was nursing a heartache.

Because he was a coworker, I was super relaxed around him. I wasn’t CeCe the Single Girl, I was just me. And, by the time I decided to flirt with him, I found out he was already attracted to me.

When my married friends weren’t instructing me to stop looking, they were asking if I was making myself available enough. Of course, this piece of advice made me second-guess my not-looking strategy. So, I’d reactivate my dating profile, skip the gym in favor of happy hour, and confidently strut around the city wearing an approachable smile.

When it came to making myself available, my friends weren’t entirely wrong. I did actually meet a few men that way. There was the guy I met in a coffee shop who took my card but never called. And, one guy I dated for a hot minute before he suddenly went MIA. The difficulty of opening yourself is that you face rejection again and again.

Part of my problem was my inclination to reject before I could be rejected. But, when I began to embrace vulnerability, I was more available than ever. Allowing myself to be available without giving up my amazing independence was key. And, that willingness helped to secure my current relationship.

Figuring out how to make my married friends’ advice work for me wasn’t easy, but it can be done. You can be both not looking AND available.

Wedded friends like to tell you to enjoy the single life while smiling adoringly into each other’s eyes. And, it’s time to call BS on this.

Here’s how this advice usually happened to me: I’d share one of my single-girl horror stories, and they’d promise me I actually had it really good. The “till death do us part” bit they’d signed off on? Well, it was just terrible.

But, they couldn’t fool me. I was sure they went home to their partner after their conversation with me and sighed with relief that their single days were a thing of the past.

I get that marriage isn’t rosy all the time, and I believe that being single can be amazing. I’m the first to admit that I wasn’t prepared for the hard work of a relationship when I finally found myself in one. But, focusing on the challenges only tells part of the story.

As they say, hindsight is 20/20. I suppose it’s easy for married folks to look back and see how their dating woes led them to their spouse eventually, and then wrap it all up into little bumper sticker-like advice. But, for those who are trying not to be discouraged by dating, it’s helpful to be allowed to be irritated and frustrated at times. It’s also helpful to know that the advice of married people isn’t the Holy Grail.

So, what cliché dating tips do you get that drive you nuts?

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