Having been a confident dater, wheelchair user Tom found getting back to dating challenging after becoming disabled. But, after he took the plunge back into the dating world, he found love. Disabled Mate, a disabled dating website, shares his story. Read on for the 4 things he learnt and how you can be successful as a disabled dater.
When you see an attractive girl or guy at the bar, and they give you a look, your intuition is to go up to them and start a conversation. That can be intimidating and stressful. But having a disability can make it even more challenging.
If you asked me two years ago about my dating life, I would have probably laughed arrogantly and said you’re talking to a pro. But after becoming disabled and a wheelchair user, I became insecure and withdrawn, scared to even go on disabled singles dating sites.
When I became disabled, my entire life changed. It was more than just becoming a wheelchair user. I was going through an emotional crisis, too. Before my accident, I was an active guy. I played rugby, went fishing with my friends at the weekend.
I was someone who couldn’t spend one minute sitting down – I needed to be outside. But, in a flash, my life changed. As much as I wanted things to stay the same after my accident, I quickly learned how to adapt. I’m here to tell you what you should expect when you get back to dating after becoming disabled.
Your dating life will change when you become disabled
Even though you’re still the same person as you were before becoming disabled, your dating life will change. For example, when I started online dating again, I would wait to tell the person I was talking to that I use a wheelchair.
Some of the women I was talking to were accepting of it. But others weren’t. Although it was hard in the beginning, I needed to understand that not everyone is capable of taking on the responsibilities that come with dating me.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It certainly helps to weed out the people who aren’t looking to share the same lifestyle as you. Plus, you’ll know someone is really interested in you if they’re happy to adapt their life as well.
You shouldn’t hide your disability
When it comes to dating, you need to be honest with the person you’re talking to. Though it’s hard, you need to tell your potential date of your limitations, as well as your positives.
A disability isn’t something that can be covered up, nor should it be. It’s part of you and will impact your lifestyle. By telling my potential dates about my disability, I showed them I’m not ashamed of it.
If you hide your disability, it will make them think that you’re not comfortable in your skin, and that’s not what you want to portray.
Don’t expect people to automatically understand how your disability affects you
Non-disabled people don’t understand what you emotionally, mentally, and physically experience daily. In the beginning, when I mentioned my disability to potential dates, I usually received a silent head nod and a couple of minutes of silence.
For many people, they don’t know how to talk about it. This is where you need to open up and talk about your disability and how it affects you. They probably have a lot of questions they want to ask but aren’t sure if it’s appropriate. You need to be the one who guides them through the process and answers any question, no matter how obvious it may be.
You may want to lower your standards – but don’t do it
When I first started dating, it was hard. I was just starting to accept my new disability and regain my self-esteem. And while I was putting myself out there, I was getting a lot of rejections. So, I began to lower my standards. Maybe it’s okay if she smokes, I could be with a smoker, right? Wow, she’s really bossy, but maybe that’s what I need?
Personality traits and habits I wouldn’t accept before my disability was now becoming acceptable to me. But why? I felt that if I lowered my standards, I would find someone who would want to be with me. But that can’t happen.
Disabled or not, I don’t want to date a smoker or someone who’s a control freak. I have certain standards; it’s as simple as that. So, be picky and never settle for someone who is just ‘OK’. If they don’t rock your world, then they’re not the one for you.
You’ll still find love with a disability
I’ve dated as an able-bodied and disabled man, and, I must admit, they both come with different struggles. But what I’ve learned while dating with a disability is that although it might take time to find someone who really connects with you and understands you, it’s still completely possible.
In some ways, my disability helped me weed out people who aren’t in it for the right reasons, and find someone even better for me than before. Though dating with a disability may have its challenges, I’ve learned that with the right perspective, you can find love.
By Disabled Mate
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