Disability Horizons co-editor, Martyn Sibley, shares an article he recently wrote for his blog about his personal experience of relationships.
Hello readers! I run a blog called martynsibley.com and I recently launched a new series of blogs called the ‘summer series’. The idea being to pull together my wealth of knowledge and experience of kicking ass in life, while doing so on 4 wheels. The plans are for broader blogs around education, employment, travel (locally and worldwide), learning to drive and many more that you can request over the coming months.
However some recent experiences have pushed me somewhere I had decided not to go with my blog anymore – relationships. This is because I rightly got burned with my very descriptive account of my past relationships in my younger blogging years. Clearly, my intentions were to assist other disabled people who worry about this subject with some tips and inspiration that there is always someone out there for you. So why the change?
Well to reassure any ex’s and indeed ladies in my life currently, no names or details will be divulged here. I recently had the most positive liberating experience with dating that I want to share because I learnt so much for myself. Furthermore the subject remains a taboo for so many disabled people. I would also like to say this is actually no different to someone without a disability trying the world of dating, there are just additional, sometimes trickier factors to consider.
So having been single a while, going to the office, meeting friends and family and ticking along, I realised I really was not at uni anymore where relationships just kicked off with ease. Many people of my age will agree the time after uni is about setting up independently, finding a nice home, beginning a career and to a degree finding yourself. Hitting my late 20’s and having nailed most of this, I began thinking about relationships. I had actually thought I would be married by 28 and a dad by 30 a few years back. While in no hurry to fulfil this, I realised I was looking for a companion to share my current and future world with. However with London being so big, never bumping into someone twice and so forth, my problem/solution mentality kicked in.
I very gingerly signed up on Match Affinity to see what it’s all about. I like the ad in the record store so seemed a good choice (yes my masters was in marketing, sorry). I had a stigma with these sites and I certainly didn’t share this step with anyone else, for fear of ridicule. With a sharp photo, my profile details completed (I didn’t feel mentioning my disability was necessary here), and a feeling of peeing in the wind, I began looking around. Very surreal! I am known to be too sensitive and about having a connection with a loved one, so quite how you spot that from a photo and minor details, who knows. I plucked up the courage and messaged this beautiful girl of a similar age.
Having got back on with life the next day, I had forgotten about the site and if I am honest was blocking out the fact I had signed up. Then later an email came back in a positive way. Out of nowhere I responded with a ‘fancy coffee sometime’? I don’t even drink coffee but its what you say, right!? She responded later on with a yes. Oh my god, what have I done. I had done this as a small step towards a solution, but not so much so fast. Then it dawned she didn’t know about my disability. If I mention it, will she cancel? My view is someone falls in love with me and sees passed the chair, however this internet malarkey seemed different and maybe shallower. If I didn’t tell her and she freaked out on meeting it would be worse! What would you do?!
I decided she looked sweet and I should have faith in humanity. If I was then stood up, I would have to rethink my ‘announcing wheelchair’ strategy a little. The night we met I was really nervous and felt like a teenager again. I can talk with anyone and have had relationships, so it wasn’t that, it was because it was my first blind date with so many unknowns. From the moment she arrived everything was amazing. We talked loads, some about my disability, care etc, but more so about everything else. I landed on my wheels so to speak!
I am not going to conclude with an end. In life there is no end (apart from death, lol) and where the story is now, I am keeping that much private. What I will say is this – if you are disabled and feeling down and in a rut with relationships know this:
• Everyone worries, disabled or not, but if you think your disability is the reason you might be making it the reason;
• Have faith someone is out there for you, but don’t dwell and make it consume you;
• Enjoy all of life but be ready to charm and ignite when someone special does come along;
• Be honest to yourself and others of your limitations when appropriate, but positively;
• Take a risk every now and then;
• Just enjoy every moment, relationship wise or not, and do not stress.
Would love to hear your views, and remember I am offering my opinion, so feel free to share yours too.
By Martyn Sibley
You can discover Martyn’s blog here.