Able-bodied people who are interested in disabled dating or meeting people with some form of disability are rarely aware of how offensive some of the things they perceive as normal can be. In this age of increased awareness of differences of any kind, people are either trying too hard to be politically correct (and out of ignorance they often end up being just plain offensive) or they downright refuse to be correct and just carry on with their old, backward ways. Both these things are incredibly hard for disabled people but unfortunately, it’s something they have to deal with on a daily basis.
So what can all of us do to fix this? First of all, we need to get educated and we need to acknowledge the fact that disabled people are here, their disability is here and that pretending it’s any other way is just plain offensive. Next, we need to understand that a disabled person is, above all, a person and that there is no need to treat him or her any differently than we would treat anyone else. But on the other hand, it would also be offensive to ignore the disability. So, what do we do? We need to use our common sense, that’s all. Here are some things that you should avoid when interacting with people with disabilities, whether we’re talking about disabled dating or any other social situation.
Don’t Be Patronizing Or Condescending
This is one of those rules that should apply to all social interactions but here we’re talking about disabled dating where this rule is twice as true. People with disabilities have their own challenges and sometimes have to do some common, everyday things in a different manner. That, obviously, doesn’t mean they are any less capable or intelligent, so there is no need to treat them like they are. If a person can’t walk, it doesn’t mean he or she can’t do other things – they can literally do anything else besides walking. Therefore, there is really no need for you to treat them like anything less than a regular person.
Most people have only the best intentions at heart when they do certain things that may come off as offensive or upsetting for people with disabilities. For example, some people feel the need to squat or bend over when talking to a person in a wheelchair. Again, there is absolutely no need to do that. If anything, bending over and trying to get on their eye level is just going to draw attention to the fact the person is disabled, when the attention should be on other things, such as getting to know each other.
Don’t Ask Too Many Questions
The issue of disability is like an elephant in the room for all the participants. If you go out on a date with a disabled person, chances are this question is going to come up. The thing is – you are not allowed to force it or push it. Of course, you want to know why your date is disabled, what happened, when it happened and how it affects his or her life. But you have to allow your date to open up to you when he or she feels ready. Those issues are going to come up eventually, maybe on the first date, maybe later. This is important because, if you start asking these questions too soon, it’s going to be a tell-tale sign that, for you, disability matters and makes a difference, and it’s going to make your date feel bad about him or herself.
Don’t Be Offensive
It’s always good to remember that there are certain words and phrases that are incredibly offensive to disabled people but for some reasons able-bodied people don’t see them as offensive at all and insist on using them. If you are going to date a disabled person, we can only assume you do not want to be offensive on purpose, but still, inform yourself, learn what’s cool to say and what’s not, and make sure you don’t offend anyone out of ignorance.
Don’t Treat Them Differently
This one basically sums up all the previous disabled dating “rules.” People with disabilities are different but if you really think about it, we’re all different in a way. We all have our challenges, faults, quirks, issues, and struggles. It’s just that their diversity is visible and because of that some people think it gives them the right to treat disabled people differently. The key rule to remember is that you should always treat disabled people with the same amount of courtesy, kindness, and open-mindedness as you would treat anyone else. Nothing more, nothing less. That’s really all that a disabled person could ever ask for.