5 Tips for Dating with a Disability
The dating landscape with social media and dating apps is not always an ideal way to meet others when you have a disability like spinal muscular atrophy. These dating apps are very centered on physical appearance. It can be intimidating when your physical appearance does not match the typical male or female beauty standards in today’s world. However, these apps can allow you to converse with a wide range of people who you may not otherwise talk to let alone meet out in life.
Be honest about SMA
My main photo for my dating profiles was often a face shot but my other photos did include my wheelchair and full body shots. Dishonesty in any relationship at any time leads to disappointment and untrustworthiness. I don’t want to be speaking with someone who wouldn’t be interested in me because of my disability so I would rather put it out there and have them decide.
I did not mention or explain my disability in writing on my profile. I instead focused on my interests and what makes me who I am. The disability conversation which often includes my medical history is for further in to speaking with someone or dating in my opinion.
Keep safety in mind
When going out on a date remember to keep your safety in mind. I like to keep first dates in a public setting like most able-bodied people do too. Have your cell phone nearby and accessible so you are able to use it if you need to. If you have a watch that is connected to your phone even better! Remember to wear it.
Have someone you trust know your location and about how long you will be there. Obviously if you are going on a date with someone you have probably spent some time talking to this individual and have a good feeling about meeting them. Always trust your gut.
Expectations of how you want the date to be should be set ahead of time. How are you getting to and from the date location? If the date goes well and you want it to continue what would it take to make that happen?
If eating is difficult or energy levels are an issue for you what is a different option that is not an entire typical dinner date? Don’t be afraid to share your expectations and what works best for you! Ideal partners will be happy to make those accommodations to be able to have the date with you.
Help in planning
Help your romantic interest with making the plans. As someone with a disability I know what works best for me and what details matter. The person I’m pursuing may not have any experience with disability. They will not know what type of table works best for me to eat at. They may not know if a restaurant is accessible or not. Do you feel comfortable having them drive if you don’t? Do you prefer to meet them there?
Discussing all the details ahead of time will lessen the anxiety for both people involved. It also allows you to focus on the date itself and not all of the accessibility aspects.
Be your authentic self! Clearly you had enough of a connection prior to meeting to make this first date worth pursuing. It means you have both found characteristics that you like about one another. It’s worth seeing if that spark and connection is there! You are worth love and connection and a healthy relationship just like any other human on this Earth.
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