My Dating Advice for People With Physical Disabilities
Dating can be difficult for everyone at one time or another. Disability or not, finding a date, asking for a date, and actually going out on a date can be stressful. 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? No! 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’s not. 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. But I can’t tell you my experiences will be exactly like yours or you will feel how I felt. I’m hoping I can encourage you to follow your heart and own life path.
Who are you besides having a disability? What do you like and dislike? Who are you attracted to and why? Are you happy? 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. You can’t expect a partner to make you happy and maintain your happiness. Be happy on your own, and then you know you’re ready to make the next steps.
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. How embarrassing, right? But all of this came from my perspective and not theirs. They didn’t know my body in the first place, so if I seemed more spastic, they didn’t know any better. And if I felt good about my appearance, people noticed that way before they noticed my wheelchair.
I concentrated on my appearance and style. Focusing on your appearance doesn’t mean you need to spend lots of money to keep up with the newest trends. It means to make sure you’re happy when you look in the mirror. 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. It’s not healthy to depend on someone else for all your happiness.
When someone shows interest in you, it can be exciting, awesome, thrilling and happy. Let yourself feel all of these emotions. Keep in check how you feel as well. Whatever you do, don’t stay with someone purely because they accept your disability. Trust me, there are many people out there who will love you for being you. Don’t use your disability to stay in the wrong relationship.
Be as honest about your disability as you feel comfortable. It was difficult for me at first to talk about cerebral palsy with a potential date because it almost felt like I was talking about something taboo, or I thought he’d be turned off immediately. But through dating experiences, I learned that the more they understood, they better could focus on who I was as a person and not just a disability.
Unfortunately, nothing can shelter you from heartbreak, disability or not. A guy broke up with me after a few months simply because I couldn’t walk on the beach. Of course it hurt my feelings. However, I picked myself up and moved forward. It might take time, even years, to find someone who fits you, but do not settle. You can find the right partner if that’s your goal. Think of dating like a job interview. The more you go on, the better you are and the more you learn.
We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.