We’ve all been there. You’ve spent hours getting ready, perfected your opening line, spritzed on your best smelling cologne and even turned up that fashionable five minutes late – only for your best laid plans to crumble at the first hurdle. Not only have all your interesting anecdotes and funny jokes fallen flat, but just when you were hoping a drink would loosen things up, you discover they’re teetotal. First dates; they can be cringeworthy, cataclysmic or down right coma-inducing, but throw a disability into the mix and things can get even more crazy.
As part of Scope’s End the Awkward campaign, they’ve been exploring first dates in order to get a picture of the challenges disabled people face when they decide to take the romantic plunge, either with a disabled or able-bodied partner. Along the way they’ve heard some truly eye-popping and hilarious stories – from the guy who ran over his date’s toes with his chair and ended up taking her to casualty, to the partially sighted woman whose date shouted everything at her in his slowest and most patronizing voice. No matter how prepared and confident you feel, awkward situations can crop up when you least expect them, so what can you do to put an end to the unease before it puts an end to your romance? At Disability Horizons we’ve come up with a couple of top tips to help you end the awkward on that all important first date:
1. Be Yourself
It might sound like a cliché, but being yourself and learning how to feel comfortable in your own skin is the first step to achieving that all-important alchemy on a first date. If your date can see that you’re confident, they’ll feel more confident too, helping you both to put an end to the awkward before it has even begun.
2. Be honest
Whether you want to discuss your disability with your date is entirely up to you, but being prepared that they might ask about it, whether they’re able-bodied or disabled, it is the best way to avoid any awkward silences cropping up. Some people we talked to said they preferred to talk about their disability straight away, whereas others said they didn’t mention it unless specifically asked. Whatever your philosophy, being genuine and upfront about what you are happy to discuss and what you are not, is the best way to make sure things go smoothly.
3. Make the most of your situation
Getting more tactical now, there are times on a first date when you can use your disability to your advantage, particularly when it comes to getting out of awkward situations. If you have a PA, it can be very handy to have them ‘accidentally’ turn up at the wrong time if things aren’t going very well. If you’re meeting up with a date you originally met online, a PA can also be very useful to have around until you’ve sussed out whether your date is the person they said they were. Whether you decide to introduce your date to your PA or not, beware of the situation one of our readers found themselves in when he turned up to meet his new date and discovered that his PA had previously gone out with her!
4. Do your research
Last but not least, one of the most important things to do when planning a first date is your research. As many restaurants, bars and clubs are frustratingly still not accessible, finding a suitable place that can meet you and your dates access needs is crucial if you want things to get off to a smooth start. If you’re not the one in charge of making the plans, this is also a great way to suss out the amount of consideration your date has put into their choice – because if you’re a wheelchair user and they’ve planned a day trip up Big Ben, they might not be the one for you!
Have you got any of your own awkward first date stories you’d like to share? Why not join in the conversation and offer up your own advice on how to end the awkward on Scope’s online community board.
By Disability Horizons