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3 Common Dating Pitfalls for People With Disabilities

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Dating can be a complicated area of life for many people, including those with disabilities. Relationships may seem harder to maneuver with a disability because of lingering emotional effects from our challenges. Today, I want to talk about three issues I believe often lead to failed relationships for people with disabilities.

1. Dating to be dating. In my opinion, this is the number one cause of a failed relationship. It is never a good thing when you choose to date someone simply for the sake of “having a boyfriend.” I was guilty of this in my last relationship. I met a guy during my third year of college who was older than me, and quickly became interested in him. We were friends for a month before he asked me to be his girlfriend.

We split up after a year together because we discovered we were not on the same page in terms of life. I wanted to be loved, and I wanted to have the family I never had; he only wanted a friend. Looking back, one month was not time enough for me to get to know him or for him to get to know me. In the end, the only thing he and I had in common was that we both had a disability and we both felt lonely.

I’ve learned to never settle, because dating is serious business and requires you to be choosy. You can end up with the wrong person at the wrong time. I don’t think we ever actually established an emotional connection in the entire time he and I were together. Being a couple is much more than going out to eat, riding to school together, talking on the phone, or just having the commonality of dealing with a disability. It is about finding someone who can know everything about you, value your goals and dreams, and have the true desire to celebrate the happy times and weather the hard times with you.

Don’t ever date because it’s the cool thing to do. Wait to be in a relationship with someone you’re best friends with. Wait until you know what love really is and you know what it is you love about that person. Give things time and don’t jump into anything.

As of right now, I am enjoying the single life, although I am looking forward to marrying one day and hopefully having children. The right person will show up, I just know it. In hindsight, we both could have done things differently, but I have nothing negative to say about my last relationship; it was a time of some happy memories and lessons learned.

2. Holding on to the past. Life is full of great moments and horrible, life-altering moments. Those things can and do have an effect on us and influence our life in a significant way. But we must learn not to blame our actions on events of the past. Sure, years of being bullied or growing up with a rough childhood can hinder your level of self-confidence, make you angry and change the way you view people, but try not to let the bitterness affect how you treat others, especially someone you claim to love. Be the better person. Don’t let having a disability or the occasional aggravation of being different change who you are. Try to be the best boyfriend or girlfriend you can be, no matter what.

3. Not feeling complete within yourself. The third main reason I believe romantic relationships fail is when one or both partners don’t feel comfortable with themselves. It’s important to be secure in knowing you are special, and can offer the world so much without the presence of a partner.

For example, I have found my identity as a writer, and I’m getting my career established. Dating isn’t really a necessity anymore; a happy and mature relationship is now something I am hopeful for in the future, and comfortable with waiting patiently for.

Everybody on this earth deserves happiness, and I believe they can find it with patience in God’s timing. We are each here for a specific reason. Finding that special someone when you have a disability can sometimes seem disheartening, but I believe everything, including romance, will work out when and how it’s supposed to. In the meantime, enjoy the little things in life and live every day to the fullest.

Originally published: August 31, 2016
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