Successful Dating While in a Wheelchair
Dating for anyone can be like venturing into a stormy sea. Dating while in a wheelchair can seem even more intimidating. But as many wheelchair users can tell you, it is possible to successfully find people to date.
Getting Past Stereotypes
One big problem for wheelchair users who want to date are the attitudes and stereotypes that other people have about them. Many think that someone in a wheelchair is frail or ill, and so could not possibly be interested in dating.
While the perception persists that wheelchair users are not romantically available, this is certainly not true. Most people long for someone to enjoy, to spend time with, and to share life with. Using a wheelchair doesn’t take away these very human desires.
Just because you have a disability doesn’t meet you can’t date. It doesn’t mean you don’t want normal parts of life: emotionally and physically intimate relationships.
But it can be scary to put yourself out there. You might feel that you’re in competition with people who look perfect and don’t seem to have any issues.
While that’s true to an extent, it doesn’t have to stop you. What’s attractive to one person might not be so appealing to another.
And keep in mind that every person in the world has baggage. All of us have emotional baggage. Some have physical baggage, from poor eyesight to more serious health conditions. The difference is that people in wheelchairs have baggage everyone can see. That might put some people off. For others, it won’t be an issue.
So be confident in what you have to offer. You are a human being with interests, goals, values, talents, and desires like everyone else. All you need is to find someone who connects with you as a person.
Dating Choices: Disabled or Able-Bodied?
Some people who use wheelchairs limit themselves to dating only other disabled people. One reason is that there is already a common bond between two disabled people. They can compare notes about caregivers, independence or other issues they both face.
Another reason is that they avoid being rejected simply because of their disability. Some wheelchair users who have tried dating able-bodied people report that it is not uncommon for an able-bodied person to consider wheelchair use a deal breaker.
It’s a fact that some people would not date someone in a wheelchair. They’re thinking of the limitations, the extra work, or the question of whether or not sex is even possible.
Some are overwhelmed at the idea of trying to care for a disabled person.
And then there are the reactions from other people. Some people see a person in a wheelchair with an able-bodied person and assume that the able-bodied person is a caregiver.
Others think there’s something creepy about dating someone in a wheelchair. It’s as if they assume the able-bodied person is taking advantage of the disabled person or is some kind of pervert.
Still, others elevate the able-bodied person to some kind of hero status. The fact that two human beings enjoy each other’s company doesn’t seem to be an option. So for the able-bodied person, getting used to being stared at or misunderstood is part of the relationship.
This is why many disabled people limit themselves to dating only other disabled people. They feel it simplifies things and that they can avoid some of the pain of rejection. It’s a decision you’ll have to make for yourself.
Know Why You Want to Start Dating
Before you jump into dating, it’s worth taking a little time to decide what it is you are after. Do you want to have a few dates or find someone to spend a little time with? Is marriage or long-term commitment to your goal? Or do you just want to participate in the hookup culture?
Knowing your goal will help you navigate the sometimes difficult waters of the dating scene and help you avoid some painful problems and misunderstandings later.
Finding Someone to Date
But how do you find someone to date? This can be tricky for anyone. More and more people are turning to online dating sites for help.
Many of the big online dating sites such as Match.com and eHarmony welcome disabled people. The key to success on these sites, as in any relationship, is good communication and respect.
Which means start with honesty. Make sure your disability is mentioned in your profile. Or at least show your wheelchair in your photo.
The last thing you want to do is start a relationship with a lie. Think of it this way. Some people post profile pictures of themselves from ten years ago or before they gained 50 pounds.
Then someone agrees to meet them. When the actual person doesn’t match the photo, there’s a bit of a shock. The other person rightfully feels that they’ve been deceived. That’s how someone who meets you without knowing about your wheelchair might feel. This is not a good way to respect someone you’re trying to build a relationship with.
So respect others by offering them honesty. If they don’t want to date you because of your disability, fine. If you know that from the start, you won’t waste your time on them.
Feature what you can do in your profile. Describe what you enjoy doing. Do your best to include a wide variety of interests. If you’ve participated in adaptive sports or some unusual hobby, by all means, include that. You want to present yourself as a whole person, not someone defined by a wheelchair. Adding a little humor will go a long way.
If you only want to date someone who’s disabled, there are many sites to try.
For even more sites, visit Datingadvice.com
Dating Safety and Avoiding Abuse
Anyone who tries internet dating needs to be concerned with personal safety. When you meet someone you only know online, you are taking a risk. You can reduce the risk by following common-sense safety practices.
For your first date, pick a public place to meet in, like a restaurant for lunch. You might also want to make sure someone knows where you’ve gone, what you know about the person you’re meeting, and when you expect to be home.
If your date is making feel uncomfortable or unsafe, say you’re not feeling well and leave.
The potential for emotional and sexual abuse is real. People with disabilities, especially women, are vulnerable. Many people in wheelchairs are not able to defend themselves. Or if they are not in their chairs, they don’t have the mobility to leave a potentially dangerous situation.
So be cautious about what situations you get into and whom you trust. There are those who can be abusive in ways specifically related to your disability. Whether they take your wheelchair away or mock the way you look or speak, abuse can happen.
Don’t fall into the trap of putting up with abuse just to have someone to date. You don’t need to tolerate any kind of abuse. Remind yourself that you deserve better and move on.
Going on a Date
Let’s say you’ve connected with someone and are going to meet them for a date. Especially for your first date, you want to make sure the possibilities for disaster are minimized. Pick a place you’ve been to before so that you know exactly how accessible it is. You want your date to be fun, not a nightmare of trying to find an accessible entrance.
Go ready with some things to talk about other than your disability. Talk about what anyone would chat about on a first date. If you’re stuck for ideas, here’s a list of “The 36 Questions That Lead to Love” that can get you going. Pick out one or two and have fun with them.
You also should be prepared to address questions about your disability. Some may be innocently meant but might come across as offensive. Having a humorous answer can help.
If all goes well and the two of you want to meet again, they have a few suggestions in mind. Don’t limit yourself to movies and concerts. Suggest adaptive sports. Find out what the other person enjoys and see if you could participate in that activity as well.
Risk and Rejection
But what if the person doesn’t want to see you again? Rejection is not the end of the world. Everyone faces it. Try not to assume the reason is your disability. Maybe there just wasn’t a connection. Think about what you learned from the experience and move on.
Successful Dating While in a Wheelchair is Possible
In any case, don’t get discouraged. Dating can be painful and frustrating for anyone. But if you don’t get out and give it a try, you’ll never find someone to talk with, to spend time with, and maybe even enjoy the rest of your life with. Successful dating while in a wheelchair may involve some effort, but it can pay off greatly if you find someone to love.