A little about me: I'm 33, 5'1", 180 pounds, polyamorous, and dedicated to the single life. I have two degrees and am just starting to work on two more right now. I'm smart, kinky, wise, emotionally aware, and a nerd. I'm an intelligent, fairly pretty, bigger girl.
The people I tend to date are smart, geeky, kinky, emotionally aware, and in an older range (44 to 48 right now).
The thing about online dating these days is that you're in obvious competition with literally everyone on the site. Tinder, for example, pits you against hundreds of other women, and obviously the slimmest, most beautiful ones tend to get lots more matches than women like me.
And that's perfectly fine with me.
Because the guys who are attracted to conventionally pretty girls are not really the type I'm looking for.
It's a marketing thing: In a world of increased competition, become a niche provider. Doing so gives you access to a more interested (and dedicated) customer base.
I feel the same when it comes to dating: I'm a niche market. If a guy is really looking to date, and just not to hook up (in which case almost anyone will do, in my experience), then being a smart, bigger, pretty girl plays in my favour. My choices are more limited, of course, but so is my competition: I don't have to go up against all the conventionally beautiful women out there.
Now, I don't like being fetishized either. Some people are just out to get their fetish fulfilled. I'm a kinky girl; I know how this works. But these guys are also easy to spot: They're all focused on your body and not on your mind. There's a difference between a preference and a fetish — a guy who cares wouldn't mind if I suddenly lost 60 pounds. A guy with a fetish would simply dump me at the first sign that my body might change into something he doesn't like.
Being a niche market weeds out the overly thirsty guys and highlights those who really want to date me.
I understand that I'm not perfect. I can be uncompromising, a bit snobbish when it comes to education, and somewhat condescending when I think someone is wrong about something. But the positive qualities I have outweigh all of this, as it should for anyone. You take the good with the bad, as the expression says. I consider myself attractive, but I agree that not everyone would think so. That's OK with me.
And this is why being niche is so great: Those who think I am attractive really think so. I don't have to weed out the shallow guys myself; they self-select by not talking to me at all. This saves me a lot of energy telling them to go away (even though I still have to do it from time to time).
I also find that the guys who are interested in me are interested in more than my body: They're interested in talking to me as well and getting to know me. In a world that glorifies one (and only one) female body, being a different kind of body gives you an interesting edge, despite the obstacles facing you socially and professionally.
Once I embraced being niche, I stopped feeling so offended every time a guy wouldn't respond to me on a dating website or would un-match me on Tinder. I could finally focus on finding guys that like me for me, and not just because I would probably sleep with them. (Well, OK, that still happens, but a lot less than when I was thinner and in my 20s.) Being bigger and older has reduced my potential dating pool but has increased its quality tenfold.
And when it comes to dating, I certainly prefer quality over quantity. I'd rather wait weeks for a new potential partner to show up than spend many hours in one week going on terrible dates. (I've done the experiment. It was not as pleasant as I thought it would be.)
So, I learned to love my "nicheness." I'm fatter and older, but also wiser. There's no reason to settle, even when it comes to online dating. Know what you're worth, and go for it. Embrace your own nicheness and find quality people who will appreciate all of you, not just your superficial appearance.