Last week, I published a blog which posed the following question: My Online Bio Says I Have A Disability. What Happens Next? Before writing, I had a number of conversations to get a feel for how people would, or would not, react.
In this blog, I wanted to delve into the topic a little deeper, and find out what hesitations, and/or questions people might have when meeting someone with a disability for the first time. — In full disclosure, this is being written in the context of a date-like scenario as a continuation of the first blog, but the majority of the concerns would be fitting in any context.
The one consistent concern I heard from just about everyone I spoke to is one that is vast in spectrum, but also, entirely logical.
How does this work? How do you get there? Do you need any special accommodations once you are there?
These type of logistical questions are something we all think about when meeting someone for the first time. Something as simple as a dietary restriction may alter where people choose to meet. When it comes to accessibility, that type of conversation is not just considerate, but essential.
I refuse to say there are any “rules” that come along with going on a date with someone who is disabled, but if there is one, it’s that you should have this particular conversation as soon as one of you realizes you would like to meet, because you won’t be meeting if the other person doesn’t know how to make that happen. And, as an aside… don’t sugarcoat shit either. Be open, be honest, and be real. For any date to be successful, both people have to be as comfortable as possible, and if the person with limitations tries to simplify their needs in an effort to not freak out the other person, then you’ve both already experienced a disservice, and a breakdown in communication.
Ironically, the very topic of conversation was another hesitation expressed by many.
Is it okay to ask questions relating to the individuals disability?
You’ve just agreed to meet someone with a disability (perhaps for the first time) in a social capacity; no one should feel they are taking a course in Workplace Diversity Training.
Let’s bring it back to the basics here, people. When you don’t know the answer to something, the only way you learn is to ask questions, or do research — and I never recommend doing too much research before you meet anyone to avoid an unconscious bias. This is particularly true when it comes to Googling whatever preexisting condition someone has.
While doing your homework might seem like the polite, and even educated thing to do, I promise you that whatever you read on WebMD is not going to give you an accurate portrait of the person you are meeting, or how their disability impacts them. So, you must ask.
If they are not receptive to your questions, then they are not ready to be dating; they should be at home watching an episode of Dora the Explorer, and seeing how she finds her way to the Mystical Magical Tree Branch or whatever.
SPOILER ALERT: She asks questions.
The next topic that seemed to be a cause for pause for many, is something almost everyone thinks about… even if they don’t admit it.
What is there to say about sex?
Sex is good. Sex is great. Sex is fun. I like sex. You probably like sex. Sex is natural and normal. But how does sex work when it involves someone with physical limitations? There’s no cookie cutter answer here. As I’ve stated earlier, no two people with a disability are going to be affected in the same way. Here is what I can share with you though…
We are all living in a hyper-sexualized society; having sex on or after a first date is not uncommon, and I am not here to sex-shame. If two people are feeling each other, I am all about them really feeling each other.
That said, unless you have had some sort of previous sexual experience with, or exposure to someone with a disability, it’s likely something you have never even thought about. That’s because the disabled population is overwhelmingly asexualized by society. And coming from someone with a disability, this may sound awful… but I get it.
Truth be told, I have never felt physically or sexually attractive, largely due to the impact my disability has on my body. I was famous for saying I was going to die a virgin. Until I wasn’t a virgin anymore. — I basically became Jessica Simpson singing her poppy version of “A Whole New World.”
But what about the other person?
To gain some perspective on this, I did something some of you may think is sacrilegious — I had a civil conversation with my hot ex-boyfriend.
His answer surprised me. He said the thing he was most nervous about was lifting me, until he lifted me, and realized that I am, in fact.. not made of glass. He said the rest just happened organically. The only conversation we ever had regarding sex was during sex — and fun fact, that’s the KEY to good sex for everyone, FYI.
You can thank me later.
So. There we have it. Think logically, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to have sex.
With that, see you for part three soon.