Finding My Fish in the Sea: Online Dating With Cerebral Palsy

Three years ago, I had a very abstract view on love. I believed the type of love presented in my favorite love stories, from “Cinderella” to “The Notebook” existed in the real world.  I didn’t believe it was possible for a girl like me to actually experience it, though.

I was born with a neurological disorder called cerebral palsy. It greatly affects my ability to talk and walk. Therefore, I struggled with having guys underestimate me. Liking a guy wasn’t ever easy like I wanted it to be. I would get the same response every time. “You’re a cool girl, but I… think of you more as a friend.” It was like the fact I am in a wheelchair made them doubt me as a person. I hated it. Even when a guy had the courage to ask me out, I felt like I was not taken seriously. It was very frustrating.

Finally, one of my best friends convinced me to try online dating. I was hesitant. “Dating sites seem sketchy and unsafe,” I thought. “I like taking chances, though.” I tried out a few dating sites like OKCupid and Plenty of Fish.  I won’t lie. I encountered some weirdos and stalkers. Many guys didn’t respect me like they should have.  Many of them asked inappropriate questions about my condition. However, I am glad that I decided to try out online dating. I ended up meeting the love of my life.

His name is Brandon and we have been together for almost three years. He has taught me the true definition of faithful, unconditional love.  Since the day we met, I have found no reason to be afraid of being completely myself. He has handled the challenges of my disability graciously. For instance, he had to learn how to be helpful without making me feel dependent.  Although I have limited mobility, I like doing tasks like getting an outfit from my closet or brushing my teeth myself.

“Are you sure you don’t need help with that?”

“No. I got it.”

“OK, Baby.”

I often end up asking for his help anyway.  He rolls his eyes in a playful way every time.  I love the fact that he has patience with me, especially when I am being stubborn. We moved in together last year and recently got married. Here is what I have learned from this experience. People will always make assumptions whether it is online or not.  Trusting somebody too quickly can be damaging. Lastly and most importantly, there is somebody for everybody. True love exists in every story.

If you are interested in trying online dating, please take these tips into consideration:

·       Don’t share your personal information (number, address, etc.) with somebody until you really know you can trust them. Many people create fake profiles.

·       If you are unsure if a person is honest, start investigating. Google their names. Check if they have social media. You can use reverse image lookup for their pictures.

·       Take your time with getting to know somebody. Brandon and I talked for about four months before we officially met. I was able to figure out if he was a genuine person. He was able to get to know me as a person and learn about my disability.

·       Be open about your condition. If a person cannot deal with your condition, don’t deal with him or her.

·       If you are going to meet somebody in person, please take a friend with you and meet at a public place like a restaurant or a park.

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