Whether we’re looking at it from the point of view of a disabled person or from the point of view of a person dating someone with a disability, disabled dating can be quite challenging and definitely somewhat harder than dating without disabilities. Well, we as a society need to understand that it doesn’t necessarily have to be like that. The world is slowly wrapping its head around the fact that disabled people need to enjoy all the same opportunities as everyone else and that the way we treat them cannot be different from the way we treat those without disabilities.
Still, disabilities are here and there are some objective, concrete, even physical hurdles that the disabled (and those dating them) need to overcome on a daily basis. We have to work together to overcome these challenges, and here are a few tips on how to achieve that.
First of all, while disabled people don’t want their disability to define who they are, the practical aspects of the disability will keep showing up and they should not be ignored. For instance, no matter how independent they are, disabled people might need some assistance depending on the nature and the extension of their disability. If you are a disabled person or want to date a person with a disability, you absolutely need to keep this in mind. It’s nice if you want to make a disabled person feel strong and independent, just remember to offer to help them get out of the car, for example, or offer to push their chair for them if they seem tired, things like that.
It’s also important to allow the disabled person to set the pace. Don’t be pushy and don’t try to rush things. If you are out for a walk, for instance, respect your disabled date’s rhythm and pace and by all means don’t try to push their chair if you feel like they are too slow. That would be incredibly offensive. Allowing your disabled date to set the pace when it comes to sex is even more important since this is a very sensitive matter for them.
The subject of disability is a sensitive one in any kind of situation, and even more so on a date. If you are disabled, try not to talk only and exclusively about your disability. It will make the other person feel like you’re obsessed with it and have nothing to talk about besides it. More importantly, if you are dating a disabled person, let them decide when, how and if they want to talk about their disability. Don’t be nosy, don’t pry and let them start this somewhat touchy conversation.
Being honest with each other is always the best politics, whether we’re talking about disabled dating or any other situation. If you met your date on one of the amazing disabled dating websites, it would be a good idea to inform your date about the nature and the level of your disability before you actually meet up. You don’t have to talk too much about it, just let them know, so they can know what to expect when you meet up. This will help choose the setting for your date as well. For instance, if your date is in a wheelchair, you won’t invite them on a date that involves hiking or bicycle riding, will you?
The bottom line is – if you are about to date a disabled person, all you need to do is to be caring, understanding, patient, and open-minded. If you yourself are disabled, you need to remember not to push the disability subject too hard. After all, you are a person just like anyone else and you shouldn’t let your disability define who you are. But don’t pretend like your disability isn’t there either. It is and it has a huge impact on your life. Your date needs to understand that. If you feel like they can’t handle it, don’t waste your precious time on them. Remember that a caring, loving and understanding person is waiting for you just around the corner.