Dating, is it Harder for People with Physical Disabilities?

Dating for a person with a disability depends on the individual.  I have known people that had a hard time and others who did not think they had any harder time than someone who didn’t have a disability.  Self-confidence is a major factor in determining how they approach the dating scene.

People who have become recently disabled may have a harder time entering the dating scene because their sense of self perception and body image has been drastically changed.  There are a variety of emotional issues they might have to face; anything from worrying about how people perceive them, to worrying that no one could ever really love them because feel they are somehow damaged. Don’t assume a person is not “datable” or not interested in dating you.  They may prefer hanging out as friends so they can become more comfortable with the situation before moving on to a serious relationship.

People who were born with a disability or lived with one for most of their adult lives approach the dating scene differently. They tend to be more comfortable with themselves and their disability.  You have to understand they have the experience of dealing with their specific situation for an extended period. They’ve gone through a lot of difficult times and have come through the other side being a much stronger person. “They are often more self-assured and independent than people who aren’t disabled. They are ready and willing to face the dating scene head-on, and they’re hoping to find someone who is as emotionally strong as they are.”

I think everyone who is new to dating has the same feelings and anxieties.  People with disabilities may have a few more things to worry about due to cultural, emotional issues and accessibility issues.  Remember a person with a disability wants you to see them as a whole person, not someone who is damaged, hurt or incomplete.  Hopefully you can see beyond their disability and realize what a great person they are and what they have to offer in a productive relationship.  They are seeking a partner that values them for their unique abilities and talents.  The last thing they want is to be a pity date or a novelty that will eventually be discarded.

Since I was injured at the age of 5 I had years of getting comfortable with my disability.  By the time I was allowed to date when I was 16, I didn’t see myself as different from any of my other friends who were dating.  I definitely think I was more confident than most of my friends who didn’t have a disability.  And confidence is a very attractive trait to have when in the dating world.  If you don’t want people to treat you differently, then my motto is don’t treat yourself differently; always think of yourself as an asset to any relationship.  I’ve never had issues dating but as a good friend of mine always says “the chair helps weed out the jerks”.   I think she is totally right because if a person is not comfortable with your situation then why would you want them to approach you in the first place?  I think it saves both of you time and energy that might have been wasted.

For those of you who know how I met my husband from reading “Life of a Push Goddess”; know he didn’t even know I was in a wheelchair.  I guess it could have gone either way when I opened the door to our first date but I was prepared and comfortable for the outcome.

There are dating sites for people with disabilities but I want to know your thoughts on if they are necessary?  I mean if you are specifically looking for a person with a disability then they might be right for you.  However what about people with a disability who just want to find love, not caring about a disability or not?  I have known people who met their husbands on plenty of online sites such as match.com.  Do the disabled dating sites help you feel more comfortable?  Whatever you decide, I hope you all find the love you seek.

-Sharina Jones

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