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How I Found a Relationship as a Person With a Disability

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I was born with a very rare disability known as TAR syndrome. What this means is that I have limb differences with my arms and legs. In fact, I don’t even have arms as my hands are connected directly to my shoulders. As you can imagine, this makes life challenging at times. It becomes really challenging when you are trying to make friends, or find someone to spend the rest of your life with.

During my high school years I saw every one of my friends have a boyfriend or girlfriend. From freshman year to senior year, everyone knew who they were going to the dances with. Except me. I would often show up alone and would just sort of hang out. While everybody was slow dancing to songs like “Amazed” by Lonestar, I was watching. Whenever I would ask a girl out, she had a boyfriend already — even though I hadn’t ever seen her with anyone. It was that, or I got this answer: “You’re a really sweet guy, but I think we should just be friends.” As you can imagine, this made life really difficult as I wondered if I was even worthy of a girlfriend.

After high school, not much changed. Sure I could find a girl who would at least have a dance with me, but not much more. If I did find someone, they weren’t right for me and it never lasted. I was able to get married, but it only lasted eight months before getting divorced. The girls I wanted and actually got somewhat close to still gave me the same answers. Life was looking as if I would walk the earth alone forever. But then a miracle happened.

About three years ago, I moved away for a job. At the same time, a girl moved to my hometown. We met and really hit it off friendship-wise. Whenever I would come home, we would make it a point to hang out. After about five months, I told her I liked her. She smiled, but told me she wasn’t looking for anything at that time. But we stayed friends, and unlike so many times before, our friendship didn’t become weird just because she knew I had interest.

Two years after we first met, we went to dinner with a friend and then had some time before going to a movie with another friend. We went and sat down by a lake. She asked if I still had interest and of course I did. And wouldn’t you know, she said she had a crush on me. Roughly six months later and after a lot of really good talks, we began dating and have been since.

What’s so special about this story? Well, here it is. While other girls were asking questions left or right about my disability or would get grossed out that I sweat a lot, she doesn’t. She doesn’t mind that we need to go places where it’s wheelchair accessible or requires very little walking. We had a talk about sacrifices she had to make, and she stated she doesn’t feel like she has had to sacrifice anything to be with someone who has a disability. That’s what’s special. I found someone finally who doesn’t care about physical limitations; she only cares about character. She loves unconditionally.

For those out there with a disability and who are searching, there is someone for you. I know you’ve heard that line before, but strangely enough it’s true. Look for the girl or guy who is uniquely single. Meaning s/he is beautiful/handsome to you, has a personality you’re looking for, and chooses to be around you because s/he wants to be. If you’re reading this and you don’t have a disability, great! I’ve got a message for you too.

People with disabilities want everything that everyone else wants. We may do things differently. Sometimes it may involve a little help from you. But your world can be opened if you look past the book’s cover. Don’t think you won’t be able to do something with somebody because they are disabled. You like to go snowboarding? They make adaptive skis. Are you someone who likes to go for long walks? A wheelchair is a great place to store food and water for a picnic. Maybe you like to go to concerts or theatrical performances. Did you know the wheelchair seating area often offers the best seats in the house, and they sometimes move wheelchair users to the front of the line?

Give the person with the disability a chance. You may just be surprised at what kind of life you can have together.

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Thinkstock photo by Anya Berkut.

Originally published: June 21, 2017
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