Part I: The Concept - My Online Bio Says I Have A Disability. What Happens Next?

In 2019, online dating is the new normal.— I don’t know the statistics, or the success rates, or any of that, but that is not the point. I’m willing to bet that the majority of people who have been single at some point within the last five years has tried online dating, whether they admit to it or not. 

On the surface, the idea of someone writing about themselves in a bio, and waiting to be swiped, or tapped, or heckled, or whatever it is that happens, seems odd. I’ve always kind of felt like it was looking for the perfect fruit at Whole Foods. You kind of just skim around, searching for the one you think looks right for you, and you make your initial selection based on visual appeal alone; self-indulgent bios be damned. 

But let’s say you were someone who is kind of really into your fruit; you wanted to know where it was grown, whether it was organic or not, etc. etc. — So you read the bio of the person you’re considering expressing interest in; It’s witty, well-punctuated, and it says something that makes you go, 

“OH! OKAY! THIS COULD BE FUN.”

What if that very same bio also said, 

“I’m in a wheelchair.”

What happens next?

I posed the question on various social media platforms, and received more responses than I could have ever imagined. As one might expect, the comments and conversation. were all over the map. 

The majority said the idea of someone being physically challenged would not deter them from meeting up. This was a refreshing, somewhat surprising response. Although, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of these responses were a result of good manners; whatever the case, it was nice to see that so many people were seemingly open, with no hesitation. 

Another popular subcategory was,

”Well. That depends on what we were meeting to do.”

According to people of the internet, some are okay with the idea of meeting for coffee, lunch, dinner, or surprisingly, just a hookup (I’ve decided I am going to do a deep-dive into THAT situation in another blog — I guess some people are able to completely separate sex from everything else.) — If you are one of those people, email me for my number. 

THAT. Was a joke. Don’t do that. It won’t go anywhere. Sorry, babes. 

Getting back on track, that group basically said, they’d be willing to meet, but would hesitate to call it a date, and couldn’t promise it would go anywhere, because it would depend on the chemistry and the other elements at play. In my mind, that’s a very normal generational standard. We are at a point where, even if you spend time with someone multiple times a week, it’s always “hanging out.” Dates aren’t a thing. Personally, I like to call them meetings. Meetings are great, sometimes they go amazingly well, and have great outcomes, and sometimes, they are a complete waste of time. A perfect summary of the possibilities in my mind. 

To clarify, I PERSONALLY am not at all opposed to the ancient concept of dates; just don’t expect me to ask first. 

Moving on to the group that I’m calling, “The Realists.”

The people who admitted that they aren’t sure, because they don’t know how comfortable they would be in the situation. Most elaborated and expressed a similar sentiment. To summarize, they said they have had limited to no exposure to someone with a disability, and meeting someone new, who has different and/or limited abilities was something that made them nervous. I think it’s important to note, that no one who responded outright said they wouldn’t meet at all. 

From my perspective, I don’t have a problem with any of these answers. 

I appreciate the people who have, or are willing to meet someone drastically different from themselves on a surface level. These people are the reason I have an amazingly supportive group of friends. 

To those who aren’t opposed to the idea, but do have some reservations, are completely in the right as well. Disability is a spectrum, and the needs and abilities of those afflicted are dramatically different from person to person. The unknown is a fair reason to be hesitant. 

Those who said they don’t know if they’d be open to the idea aren’t in the wrong either. Physical limitations aren’t always an easy adjustment, and in truth, some people just can’t imagine themselves in a situation where they are faced to confront that. It can be argued that this may be due to a lack of exposure or mainstream representation, but that is irrelevant. I appreciate people who are honest with themselves and others about what they feel they are able to handle. 

I am of the belief that people are capable of growing and evolving given the space, time and reason to do so; and even if that doesn’t happen, that’s okay too, because thank u next. 

That’s all for now. 

I hope to come back with a blog that continues this conversation, and forces people to dive a little deeper and become more introspective. 

Until next time. 

Dating A Guy in A Wheelchair

black-white-kiss-couple As relevant as the phrase might be to my life, I don’t think I have ever Googled, “Wheelchair Dating.” But, a few days ago, I was having a conversation with a friend, and I wanted to share an amazing BuzzFeed video which tackles the subject with humor while still being informative.

In my search, I came across an article on Thought Catalog entitled, “I Dated A Dude In A Wheelchair.”

As a man in a wheelchair, (I will never refer to myself as a dude, and I’m not sorry about it,) I have been very open about my struggles with dating. It isn’t easy for anyone; but my disability, and the resulting wheelchair, definitely adds an unusual, if not difficult, element to the situation.

I thought it would be interesting to gain some perspective from the outside, so I read on.

To start, they met online, which is how I have ended up on anything close to date-like situation; so it was immediately relatable, for reasons beyond medical equipment. Annie, the author of the article, said she was drawn in by wheelchair dude’s “messy red locks,” so she figured she would give him a shot.

They message each other, as one does, and eventually the conversation got to marathon racing, of all things, because… why not?

Apparently, wheelchair dude shared that he had signed up for a marathon race, but he, “thought she should know,” that it was for the wheelchair division.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“‘Wow!, I thought. ‘What an amazing guy. Is this like to raise money for his friend’s charity or something?’ Until the reality of it slowly thickened and filled my brain, and I double checked his photos and realized yes, yes. This man is in a wheelchair.”

From the outside, it may seem that Ms. Annie may have an ineptness for paying attention to details, but the majority of guys have told me that never noticed the wheelchair in any of my photos either —which is weird to me, because in my mind, it is blatantly obvious.

Annie went on to say, as a former fat girl,”You never want to be the bitch that shuts someone down strictly based on physicality.”

That sentence had me gagging.

Here’s why.

The idea that this woman believes she has a moral obligation to give wheelchair dude a chance because she may have enjoyed one too many twinkles back in the day is absurd. — Yes, I understand the “relatability” factor,— but here’s the deal, B — you give someone a chance because you’re a decent human being who sees people for who they are, not what they are.

Regardless, the two went on a few dates Annie recounted all of the questions and hesitations she had.

Don’t get me wrong, being around someone with any sort of impairment is not the norm; there will always be logistical questions, especially at the beginning. But for there to be any hope of success, there has got to be open and honest communication by both individuals.

Using myself as an example: if I go on a date with a guy, I make sure they know several things before we agree to meet.

  1. They will literally be picking me up at some point.
  2. They will have to be Bob The Builder on several different occasions during the evening while putting together the world’s most antiquated wheelchair.
  3. If I actually agree to eat in front of them, they’ll need to cut my food, as my fine motor skills are decidedly lacking.
  4. I don’t drink cheap vodka.

Of course there is going to be questions and conversation beyond this. There has to be. But it is foolish not to know the basics beforehand.

By the way, “does your dick work?” has become a prequalifying question, which I understand. It seems guys can deal with things like receding hairlines and mediocre teeth, but forever flaccid penis syndrome would be problematic.

But getting back to Annie and wheelchair dude; it seems like they never established a baseline understanding of what to expect from one another in terms of logistical physicality, and ultimately, it didn’t feel “right” according to Annie. She said,

“…the sad and shameful truth is that in some way, it did matter to me. It was an Issue. I wanted to prove to myself that I was a better human being, but what dating this man taught me was that I’m just a human being.”

Fair enough.

As I said at the start of this, dating is never easy for anyone. And it is never going to work out, until it does. But open communication is key to the success of any relationship, and it may be uncomfortable to think about, but… relationships start with first dates. So… own your shit and be who you are, because that’s the only real choice you have.

For The Record

So. If you look at my blog, you’ll see a long period of inactivity. And there is a reason for it. Here’s the thing, my blog doesn’t have a theme or a specific intention, but when I write, my goal is for every post to have a message; a takeaway… something that will leave you thinking, But lately, I’ve kind of been stuck in my own head.

I haven’t blogged about it, because I myself, haven’t had a breakthrough moment of clarity or “enlightenment” which I can put into perspective  and share with some level of eloquence.

But… I’m just going to write. For me; in the hopes that something might click.

To be blunt, I’ve been sad lately. — It killed me to just write that, because I really do make a conscious effort to be optimistic — but I’ve been sad. And, I really shouldn’t be, because  life is going pretty well. I have a new job which I’m enjoying; I have a handful of really great friends that mean the world to me; I’m fortunate enough to go out and eat at nice restaurants and pretend that I’m fancy for two hours. I don’t have much of a right to be sad.

But I have been. And, I’m warning you now, it’s cliche and eye-roll worthy. Try to stick with me. The fact that I’m 25 and I’ve never had more than two dates is getting to me… in a big way.

I know, you can’t rush relationships; you can’t look for relationships… they will happen when they’re meant to happen. And I completely agree,  It isn’t so much that I’m sad that I don’t have a relationship. I’m sad because I feel unworthy of a relationship.

Having a disability and being bound to a wheelchair has been something I’ve had to continuously learn to accept and embrace, and I can honestly say I have done that. But dealing with my disability in the context of dating has been a far more daunting challenge.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been fortunate enough to have some genuinely amazing dates, with equally amazing men. Considering I didn’t have a single friend until I was 21, that’s a pretty tremendous statement.

But here’s the thing. I don’t even need a hand to count the number of times I’ve been on more than two dates with the same person. The limit exists; the limit is zero.

I know this could be simply because I haven’t found the right guy (I obviously haven’t). And I’m okay with that. What bothers me is that there has been occasions where things have gone very well, but have later fizzled. Granted, this can, and has happened for many reasons, but I can’t help but think, a majority of the time it has to do with the wheelchair and the impact that it has.

And I get it. I’m not at all blind to the fact that it is a major curveball and something not everyone can handle. It is a major challenge. It complicates everything. But there is also far more to me than the overpriced wheelchair that is my permanent accessory. I’m not sad that people don’t see that; I’m sad that they do. I’m sad when I know there’s chemistry and I know everything is going well, yet two weeks later I get a statement like, “You’re a great person, but…” Or better yet, I never hear from them again.

Now, disclaimer; I know this is basically the dating world for everyone. But it hurts a little more when the barrier is something outside of my control.

I’m at the point where I don’t approach any situation as a date. I just meet people and let things happen as they may, And I honestly try not to have any expectations of anything or anyone, but if I’m being completely honest, I don’t know how many more times I can take meeting someone on Tinder, getting to know them, being very transparent about my disability and the challenges it may present, and still have it be an issue in the end.

It hurts.

I know, my happiness should never be dependent on anyone else, but let’s be real… everyone seeks external valediction in one form or another. And everyone wants to have meaning in their  life beyond themselves. That’s where I am.

For the record, writing this has been cathartic.