More To Love‘s leading man Luke Conley, a 26-year-old real estate investor and sub-contractor from Santa Maria, Calif., gave PEOPLE the skinny about participating in the first reality dating series for full-figured bachelors and bachelorettes. While Conley, who is 6’3″ tall and weighs more than 300 lbs., couldn’t reveal if a match was made, he spoke about his televised quest for love, which debuts Tuesday on FOX, and said he believes that it is possible to find romance on a reality show. “Stranger things have happened. I have an uncle who met his wife on a three-day cruise,” he said. “All you need to connect is to meet.” — Carrie Bell
TV is a notoriously thin place, but there’s been an upswing in pleasantly plump programming. Why do you think that is?Maybe they have wider angles on their cameras now so they can fit me on. Maybe the trend is heading in that direction because are just looking for something new and more real. I thought it was cool to be a bigger man on TV.
Were you concerned about being the butt of a nationally televised joke?I was concerned the main premise of the show was to poke fun. It seemed like everyone had to be talked into it for that same reason. But it’s legitimate. The desire of the show is for two to make a sincere connection. It just so happens that they’re not size 2 models.
Are you offended by the title?The title is suiting. I’m a big man so I definitely have more love.
What do you think the show did for the ladies involved?I hope it will help them build up their self-esteem and come out of their shells. Hopefully for women in similar situations watching the show as well. I didn’t have an agenda going in. I’m just being myself. If it helps, that’s great. If not, it helped me.
Has weight impacted your love life over the years?In high school, it caused me to be somewhat bashful. I would find out about girls with crushes on me, but I never knew what to do about it. Bulking up wasn’t something I didn’t have a choice in. I was pursuing a football career. After traveling and in college, I never let it hold me back or stop me from approaching a woman I was interested in.
People go on reality shows for many reasons. Why’d you sign on?I tend to be a thrillseeker. I have an open heart to try and meet someone special, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about the experience and all the fun things I would get to do on the show. I‘m not looking to rush into marriage. If I met someone special, it would take time to develop that relationship and settle down.
You prefer a plus-size woman. Why?To be voluptuous is scrumptious. I grew up in a family full of plus-size women. It is more about personality and a sense of humor than a dress size. Growing up as a chubby kid and moving around so much, I had to be funny and develop a personality in order to make friends Maybe that’s part of it for the women I’ve dated. If she’s got a big behind, she’s a friend of mine. We can go out, enjoy life and not worry about the things that other tend to obsess over.
What is your idea of a perfect date?A day at the beach, a hike or going to a winery for a winetasting. I like to get outside.
How was it adjusting to dating 20 women at once?There’s no way to prepare. When it was a group date, I tried to make it a party atmosphere and entertain everyone. My goal was to make sure no one felt left out. I tried to get to know each girl individually and when I was with her, I focused on her and the relationship I was building with her. I hope I’m not portrayed as an opportunist trying to get physical with everyone. Sometimes the natural progression of a date leads to a kiss or a makeout session.
Were you surprised at how emotional or inexperienced some of the women were?Everyone has insecurities and as I heard about theirs, I tried to make sure they were on dates they would feel comfortable on. It was shocking to me that girls of that age had not been on dates or had boyfriends. That made a big difference in their ability to open up and let their guard down.
Did you ever get used to dating on camera?I tried to think of it as a cool guy hanging out with you on the date. But even that can be weird in an intimate moment especially because I’m wary of public displays of affection. It got steamy. I had to get over the fact that there are in the room when you’re making out in a hot tub in front of all these .
How about the eliminations?That was the most difficult part. I wished I could keep all of them. It has never been easy for me to hurt someone’s feelings and I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.
Did you find love?Tune in and see.
Tell us: Will you watch More to Love?Patrick Wymore/FOX