Dating is an emotionally risky proposition, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic when almost all social interactions have had to be done virtually.
This is even more challenging for people with disabilities or ongoing illnesses, many of whom have been asked to self-isolate from others, a restriction that is yet to be lifted.
Yes, this is a setback, but for 22-year-old Felicia – who recently took part in Yahoo UK’s new video series ‘Dating At A Distance’ – her life’s setbacks have never defined who she is in or out of the dating world.
As a cancer survivor, she shared her story with blind date, Dominic.
“I’ve been battling cancer for the past 14 years,” Felicia told Dom, after initially admitting she wasn’t sure whether she should tell him or not.
“When it came back the second time around they caught it really late and it had started spreading up my legs, so I’m actually an amputee. I’ve got one leg.”
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It was Felicia’s positive attitude about her cancer that captured the hearts of the audience, after she admitted to Dom that it hasn’t limited her.
Dating – particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic – has been challenging, but dating apps are doing more to become inclusive.
Both eHarmony and Match.com offer specific advice for people with disabilities and for those who are open to dating people with disabilities.
Although they are making strides in the right direction, Felicia doesn’t always find these platforms a positive place to be.
“I do use apps quite a lot. But I’m sick and tired of the vast majority who don’t want anything serious and make a lot of sexual remarks, it’s really annoying,” she told Yahoo UK.
For her, speaking over video call means you can “get to know a person”.
“From my experience with dating, guys do want to touch you or try and bring you back to theirs, which is just annoying and awkward.
“Also on a real date it’s harder to just leave, you feel inclined to stay. I have snuck away before,” she laughed, “but normally you just sit through it to be polite. But if you do want to kiss that person or continue the night and go to different bars you can’t while on lock down.”
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At the moment, millions of people in the UK are being asked to shield because of the coronavirus.
Macmillan Cancer Support has asked for clarity on what the new coronavirus restrictions will mean for those who are shielding with cancer.
Speaking about how the dating landscape will change for her post-lockdown, Felicia explains: “I’m a high risk person, I need to think about my health. My health comes before men and dates.”
Thousands of “high-risk” people in England were told on 28 May that they will have to continue to shield themselves. Boris Johnson did say that the government was “looking carefully at how we can make your life easier” and said they hope to say more on that soon.
“My mum always told me that humans are amazing and we can adapt to anything,” Felicia directs this advice to everybody who is still in lockdown.
“I’ve accepted the current situation and now I don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s also super assuring that it’s not just you going through it, it’s everyone (well the people that actually listen to the lock down rules) which makes it easier.
“But my message would be to stay busy, even do little things around the house, the brain needs mental stimulation.
“You could do little things like cleaning, cooking, doing puzzles. FaceTime you family and friends, to remind yourself of the support about you even if they can’t be there physically.
“Reminding ourself that this period will pass, and it’s only for now helps me get through it. But I also sit back and take in a I’m grateful for, I have a loving family, food, a warm bed I’m also really lucky that I live right next to the beach.”
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Felicia’s relaxed approach towards dating certainly captured our attention and she explains the best way to date with a disability is to simply be “transparent” from the offset.
“Even on my Tinder profile there are images of me and my false leg, images with me without hair. Also in my bio, I’ve written a short paragraph about my situation. So, who ever reading it can make up there mind either they want to swipe left or right on my profile.
“If I go out I don’t struggle to get attention, which I’m already super surprised about.
“I do prefer it when guys are interested in my story and ask questions but a lot of the time they don’t. Either they don’t know what to ask or they never seem interested. But a lot of people I’ve spoken to have no idea how chemo works. so I guess it’s just ignorant to some extent.”
Want to give virtual dating a go? Get in touch by emailing, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch more episodes from Yahoo UK’s ‘Dating at a Distance’