A fter nearly four years of being single, I decided that I wanted to meet someone romantically. Instead of waiting for love to find me, as people often suggest, I decided to do what so many do these days: I started looking at some of the available profiles and I eventually found someone that sparked my interest, so I sent a message introducing myself and asking more about them. Receiving a reply from someone who is romantically interested in you can be a strong and positive feeling, especially since most of us, especially men, are familiar with embarrassing ourselves when asking someone out on a date. Starting any relationship is complicated, but it's all the more so for those of us with disabilities. I have Dypraxia , an autistic spectrum disorder similar to all-body Dyslexia.
It's not something that would be visible in photos or any other part of a typical online dating profile unless I disclosed it. When I finally met someone I liked, I was torn about when to admit my disability. I wanted them to accept me for who I was, but worried that she might dismiss me out of hand once she knew. In the end, I told the woman the truth because my disability, or rather, fighting to end the oppression of disabled people in society, is a big part of my life.
I didn't receive another message back.
Forming a romantic relationship can be difficult for anyone. For people with disabilities, it can be one of the hardest things you ever do. Most online dating websites do not ask users whether they have a disability. When it comes to meeting potential partners for the first time, it can come as a surprise if the disability has never come up in online conversation.
For many disabled people, it can be embarrassing to talk about their disability so it helps if dating websites offer them the chance to say that they have a disability or ask other people whether they are willing to meet disabled people.
Online dating is hard enough. Try doing it with a disability
I've certainly found that being upfront is less embarrassing than revealing this in the later stages of dating. A few websites, such as UK Disability Match , do offer disabled people the chance to meet others like themselves. But such sites can be abused by non-disabled people with a fetish for particular kinds of disability yes, this exists , such as amputations.
It is hard to make such websites safe and comfortable for genuine users while keeping them open to non-disabled people who are looking to contact disabled people for different reasons.
For me, knowing that I have the understanding of any partner is liberating and lets me be myself.MEET MY NEW BOYFRIEND - WHEELCHAIR LIFE
With the options available on existing dating websites, I feel exposed, vulnerable and inhibited. They aren't conducive to conveying the sensitive, caring and confident image I would like to project and limit the usability of these websites. A disability is not part of your personality.
Instead, like race or sexuality, it forms part of the context in which your personality develops. Often, disabled people are stereotyped, as if we were all the same. This replicates the experience disabled people often have in the education system, where schools tend to group together children with disabilities, regardless of severity or type. This may be practical for a school, but it's often unhelpful or limiting for disabled pupils themselves.
It can not only create unpleasant or very limiting experiences for disabled students, but also encourages a generalized fear of disability amongst non-disabled people, which persists even later in life.
After that first rejection, I updated my profile to include my disability. What do you do when you have a disability and want to date? Should you just forget about it and move on single for the rest of your life?
You can get yourself together, create a goal and follow your dreams no matter what people say or what self-doubt is in your mind. I would be lying to you if I said dating is easy when you have a disability.
It can be awkward, disappointing and plain old frustrating! However, I believe nothing worth having in life comes easy.
I will offer my own advice based on my own personal experiences and observations.
Dating and disabilities
Who are you besides having a disability? What do you like and dislike? Who are you attracted to and why? Whatever you answer, keep it real and honest. Lying about these things will only hurt you in the end. By knowing your genuine self and personality, you are more likely to find someone who is right for you. Happiness comes from within. Cerebral palsy and many other physical disabilities are noticeable no matter what you do. I felt frustrated when guys looked at me and saw my wheelchair instead of my figure.
I also felt annoyed at my cerebral palsy because when I felt attracted to someone, my spasms would react to my emotions. But all of this came from my perspective and not theirs. And if I felt good about my appearance, people noticed that way before they noticed my wheelchair. I concentrated on my appearance and style.
I also concentrated on having my own hobbies, friends, and life. Being busy and focused on goals are attractive qualities, but more importantly, they are great for your own self-esteem and worth. When someone shows interest in you, it can be exciting, awesome, thrilling and happy.
Let yourself feel all of these emotions.