Let me start off by acknowledging that dating and finding love can be difficult for everyone. No matter your race, ethnicity, religion, sex, ability, disability, etc. – the process of dating and finding love can suck for everyone. I will likely do several blogs on dating and love because it is such a large topic that impacts everyone. Everyone wants to find love and be loved.
However, dating and finding love with a physical disability can be exceptionally difficult and challenging. This is compounded by the fact that our society puts so much emphasis on physical appearance. How can we navigate through dating if people won’t even give us a chance and get to know us because all [many] people see at first is the disability. I really don’t have a good concrete answer for this. All I have are my thoughts and opinions based on my own experiences that I am willing to share.
The first challenge that I had to accept and admit to myself is how could I expect someone to love me if I did not love myself first. For a long time I questioned how anyone could truly love me with my disabilities. I did not believe I had much to offer that would compensate for my disability when someone could just as easily date a woman without a physical disability. It took me a long time with several years of therapy and a few failed relationships in which I put up with so much bullshit to recognize and believe in my self-worth. I have a lot to offer. And you may not think so right now, but you have a lot to offer too. Building your confidence is important. Believe in yourself and find happiness or at least contentment within yourself before you try to find that with a partner.
Another challenge is overcoming the fear of rejection. People of all shapes, sizes, and colors get rejected. It is a part of life. We are not going to be compatible with everyone, in fact there are very few people that we will be truly compatible with. Accepting that you may get rejected, accepting that fear is difficult but it must be done if you want to truly put yourself out there in order to meet someone who may be a great match.
A third challenge is becoming comfortable in your own skin. This is also difficult for people across the masses, but it is especially difficult for people with physical disabilities. Our society has made us feel as if our bodies are imperfect and thus we feel inadequate. For many years, and still some today, I have felt that I was less of a woman due to my physical disability and such things. I did not feel equal to able-bodied women. But I also think it is important to note that a lot of women, whether or not they have a disability, feel as if they are not good enough because they do not look like the women who are splashed all over the media. Fuck our society and that impossible image of the “ideal woman [or man].” No one is perfect, everyone has their own problems – and men are sure as fuck not perfect nor are they expected to be. And vice versa men, you are not perfect, women are not perfect – and that is OK. This also to same sex couples. The important thing is finding someone who accepts your imperfections and with whom you can accept their imperfections. This is when love can start to grow.
Let me make an important note here and say I do not mean for you to accept bullshit from anyone in a relationship. Accepting imperfections does not equate to accepting someone who doesn’t treat you with 100% respect and kindness. I was still learning this lesson when I was dating someone in 2013–2014. I was dating this guy I had met through a friend. We’ll call him Ron, and he was the first relationship I had after taking a five year hiatus from dating. I took this hiatus so that I could focus on my education and furthering my career.
I believe it was January 2014 and Ron had stayed over at my apartment. He said he had to run to work for a few minutes and then later we could hang out (to do whatever activity we had planned. I really can’t remember and it’s not important). I was too emotionally attached to this idiot too early in our relationship. I insisted that I go along with him as he stopped by work since it would only be a few minutes and then we could go straight to whatever we had planned. I just wanted and felt like I had to be with him as often as possible because he actually didn’t give me as much attention as he should have been. By this I mean I was always usually the one texting or calling him to set up dates. Not that I’m saying men need to make all the moves, but perhaps it should be more equal… (or whatever your preference, but this wasn’t mine). S this should’ve been my first big red warning flag and yet I didn’t listen to my internal warning system. You know what I’m talking about. We all have it and the majority of us ignore this warning system for so many reasons. It’s hard and painful to break emotional connections, even if the relationship is unhealthy. And people are afraid of change. Learn to listen to your instincts. They are there to protect you. Literally – biologically.
The next big red warning flag is when Ron parked in front of his building, told me he would only be a few minutes and ran up to his office. 45 minutes later I am still sitting in the fucking car. Did I mention it was like 20° outside, he took the keys with him, and his fucking phone was on silent. I thought about going into the building numerous times but I didn’t know if there were guards in the front, I didn’t know what floor he worked on, and I didn’t want to embarrass him because even if I wasn’t willing to admit it to myself then I could tell he wasn’t fully comfortable or accepting of my CP.
Now I gave Ron a lot of leniency in our relationship because I thought we could make it work and he hadn’t been in a relationship for six or seven years prior to me (so I figured he was just out of practice) – this should’ve been another red flag. Regardless, being left out in the car in the freezing cold for 45 minutes should have been a red flag punching me in the fucking face. At the very least it’s kind of inhumane. I don’t believe most people would leave even their dogs or pets out in the car in those conditions for that length of time. I did almost break up with him after that but I let him talk me out of it. Thus, I accepted this bullshit.
I didn’t recognize my worth at that point. But after our break up, a lesson I learned was to not put up with that kind of bullshit behavior from any man again. Now, we broke up in 2014 and I didn’t meet my husband (through online dating) until 2016 so I will just say for those two years I still had lessons to learn about myself, my self-worth, and relationships. And boy did I learn them. By the time I met my husband, I had gone through the worst break up I have ever been through and I really did not think I would ever heal from it. But humans are resistant and with time we bounce back. I will likely post a blog about this another time.
By the time I met my husband I did not put up with any bullshit or play anymore games. I was very open and honest with him and he reciprocated. There was no guessing about what he was thinking or what he wanted – we had those uncomfortable but important conversations fairly early into our relationship. I was getting older and I was tired of wasting time. Being so upfront and honest with each other is one of the reasons our relationship and marriage are so strong. It’s difficult having those conversations but the sooner you have them the sooner you can find out whether or not you are truly compatible with that other person. And unless you are just dating around because that’s what you want to do, then why waste the time otherwise?
That’s it for now. I will share more stories about ridiculous dating experiences I’ve had in the past in later blogs mostly because they are so absurd or funny I can’t help but share. If there is a topic that you would be interested in me touching on related to dating or otherwise please feel free to reach out. But please keep in mind I am no expert. I can only go off of my own experiences and what I have learned from them.
Until next time.
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