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Ending the Taboos Around Dating and Disability

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When you talk about dating, everyone has an idea of their perfect partner. Things like: nice body, great smile, a good listener, and funny tend to pop up first. We can go on about this for hours laughing and getting excited about going on a date with a lovely person, but what if they mention, “By the way, I have a disability.” Suddenly a person’s dream date can turn into an awkward conversation about what you can or can’t do with your disability, when instead you just want to be seen as you.

Lately, I feel like the dating world has become a cesspool of people looking for their “perfect” partner and only focusing on looks. Adding in the fact that a person has any kind of disability, people tend to make a long list of assumptions. I’ve heard a few ranging from daily activities and my ability to be intimate, if you know what I mean. Not only are those taboos a bit too personal, they are also extremely outdated stereotypes. We aren’t all going around looking for nurses; we want an actual partner, someone to love. Intimacy is possible, even if it requires some adaptation.

Dates can be fun without a disability and they can still be fun with a disability. I believe this taboo exists simply because it’s not talked about enough. Try doing something that’s fun, accessible, and that you both enjoy. Who knows, maybe they’ll open up and you’ll see another side of them you really like.

Lastly, don’t judge. I can’t express enough how annoying and painful it is to hear, “You look great for someone in a wheelchair.” The first time I heard that, it devastated me and took a huge chunk out of my confidence. Then I started thinking so what? I wasn’t able to help or change the fact that I was in a wheelchair; it was something that was and still is a part of me. It’s what helps me live my life comfortably while also giving me the freedom to go out into the world. So rather than beat yourself up for it, I say own it. Be confident, be cool. Whether it’s visible or not, wear your disability not as a negative but as a positive. If people don’t understand, that’s their problem, but always keep your confidence and let the right people notice you. Trust me, someone’s looking.

Getty image by Nico El Nino.

Originally published: April 4, 2018
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