Dating may be a roller coaster. One minute you are feeling high on life, singing Beyoncé songs within the shower and overflowing excitedly, and therefore the next minute you are feeling hopeless, confused, and rejected. It complicates while dating it’s especially challenging for those folks with disabilities. The standard worries most of the people have when putting themselves out there within the dating world — like, “Will they call? Why didn’t they call? What if I find no one?” — are compounded with anxiety about whether or to not show a cane or wheelchair in dating app photos, and when (and how) to inform a potential partner about their chronic condition.
As an individual living with a slowly progressive neuromuscular condition, my disabilities are, for now, mostly invisible. If you met me, you would not know that I can barely walk without the help of the leg braces I keep concealed underneath my clothing, or that I cannot button a shirt or tie a pair of shoes to save my life — challenges I did not have when I dated my now ex-husband in college. So once I got divorced in my early 40s and re-entered the dating world, I had major anxiety and believed that my disabilities would prevent me from ever finding love again. I worried that when a potential partner learned about my leg braces and inability to go through things like hiking or skiing (I’ve watched too many episodes of The Bachelor), it might turn them off and choose they were deal-breakers.
After a solid year of putting myself out there and going on dates with people that looked nothing like their profile pictures (sigh), I learned plenty about what to not do, the red flags to watch out for, and therefore the inherent value I bring back a relationship no matter my disabilities. I ultimately found (and married) the right partner. Here are my top tips for dating when you have a disability.
1. Highlight Your Awesomeness
When online dating, don’t post that tremendous photo of yourself from eight years ago when you had your makeup professionally finished at a friend’s wedding, or say you’re keen on cooking when your oven is really used as an extra space for storing. Your profile sets the tone for a relationship supported by honesty and authenticity. Post current, casual photos that boast your best attributes, and highlight several real interests.
When it involves the proper time to disclose your disability, there are not any rules. Since my disabilities are invisible and not something I even believe on a day-to-day basis, I didn’t find it necessary to share this info with people I’ll never meet face to face or maybe need a second date with if I had met them. But if your someone who regularly uses a clear mobility device sort of wheelchair or walker, you’re happier including it in your photos for a few of reasons:
- You’ll be ready to comb out all superficial and closed-minded people from the beginning and not waste some time.
- If you post photos of how you really look, mobility device, and everyone, there won’t be any surprises once you meet and you will have a far less awkward conversation.
- Your disability is nothing to be ashamed of. If you own it from the beginning and do not make it an enormous deal, your date won’t specialize in it either.
2. Be Proactive
OK, so you have been texting and emailing someone interesting and that they suggest meeting face to face for a date. To the regular worries about what to wear and if you will have anything to speak about, those folks with disabilities have valid concerns, like “What if I cannot hold my bladder?” and “How will I explain why I cannot walk up the stairs?”
Most people with disabilities know that the seemingly smallest of details can negatively affect one’s comfort level and knowledge. You’ll avoid the unexpected (mostly) by having two favorite “go-to” places to suggest when planning. Be proactive and do your homework before the date. Call ahead and ask for a table near a doorway or bathroom if needed. If you’ve got fine motor difficulties like I do, attempt to avoid places like sushi restaurants where you’ll feel the necessity to explain why you cannot hold the chopsticks.
3. Be Real, Not Revealing
Try to not stress about the proper time to inform your date about your chronic condition. It’ll presumably come up naturally as you chat and get to understand one another. If you’re using a dating app, you’ll put hints about your disability within the interests section in order that we often use them as natural conversation starters. For instance, if you’re involved in disability advocacy or belong to an interest group associated with your condition, your date may ask, “You said you’re really involved MS awareness… what’s that about?” attempt to keep your explanations to a minimum and use humor when possible. No date (or anyone, really) wants a lesson in genetics or the epidemiology of your disorder. Remember, talk less and listen more. Interested is interesting.
When couples who are newly dating see a potential future with each other, their conversations naturally evolve and become more intimate. This usually happens after two dates when you’ve determined there’s both chemistry and customary values. This is often the time to naturally mention your chronic condition in a positive way, focusing more on how you overcome the challenges and check out to measure your best life despite them.
4. Remember Everyone Has Stuff!
One of the most important takeaways I learned while dating was that everybody has something! Your something could also be that you accept physical challenges, while there something could also be that they struggle with severe social anxiety. When dating and searching for a possible lifelong partner, you’re assessing the qualities you wish about another person and determining if those qualities trump the items you do not.
Dating can be a leap of faith for people. Some people will like you as you are and a few people won’t, no matter your disability. Know that you bring plenty to the table and how you live together with your disability will probably be one among the qualities that ultimately attracts the proper person to you.
5. Be Confident (or Fake It)
Confidence is that the sexiest thing you’ll wear and therefore the ultimate attracter. Hold your head high, make great eye contact, smile, and avoid apologizing once you speak. And confirm to wear clothes that cause you to feel great. If you wear leg braces or have difficulty dressing, visit Trend-Able for adaptive fashion tips and inspiration.
Everyone feels insecure sometimes, especially when dating. The key is squashing those negative voices in your head telling you you’re unattractive, unlovable, or defective, such as you would an annoying bug buzzing around you. There are plenty of tips for improving your confidence, except for people with disabilities. The simplest thanks to becoming more confident and to ultimately find an excellent partner is to have your imperfections and rock them!
6. Don’t Take It Personally
When they don’t call after what you thought was an awesome date, it is easy to assume it’s due to your disability. But there might be 101 other reasons for being ghosted — many of which probably have zero to go with you. Rejection sucks and not knowing what went wrong or why someone didn’t feel an equivalent spark, you probably did is one among the toughest parts about dating. But try to not use your disability as a scapegoat. You’ve got plenty to supply and if you keep putting yourself out there, the proper person will eventually call back and not want to allow you to go.
7. Await Red Flags
When we find someone who likes us and seems somewhat normal, we find out that person through rose-colored glasses and ignore several apparent red flags they exhibit. While people with disabilities should not be buying a 2-in-1 life partner/caregiver, it’s smart to steer clear from individuals who you would not hire as a temp. Here are just a few of the red flags to watch out for when dating with a disability:
- Your date is impatient and/or rude to the waitstaff.
- They walk before you.
- They are overly concerned about appearances, and what others think.
- After learning about your condition, they never ask questions and show no interest in learning about your challenges.
- They don’t wish to miss out on anything.
You want someone who already is that the one that you would like-–not someone you’re hoping they might become. Concentrate on both the positive and negative signs they’re sending that would reveal their true colors.
8. Never Settle
Remember, you are not just trying to find someone who accepts you and your disability. You would like someone who adores you, shares similar values, and who you are feeling great about yourself when you’re around. Never accept less!
Thank you for reading this article.
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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