Rolling Into a New Relationship and What I’ve Learned
Last week, I had a positive experience. In the process, I realized that it’s been a long time since I’ve discussed the following topic, which includes people with disabilities. Unfortunately, it is a topic that many can’t understand. In some cases, people get uncomfortable when this topic is raised.
I met someone. We had been chatting for two weeks and still going strong.
I know that I and many people with disabilities have a hard time meeting people, especially when it comes to finding a partner.
My first thought is my disability. As much as I’d love to, I can’t just ignore it. In my early 20s, when I first tried meeting others online, I rarely mentioned it. Even though I was trying to meet people, I was just having fun and enjoying the fact that people were chatting me up without preconceived notions. It was one of those rare times when I felt normal or like any other person in the chatroom.
Let’s face the facts: when I do meet people in person or through Zoom, they will notice my disability right away. So, why would I even attempt to hide it?
If they can’t handle it, or it makes them uncomfortable, it’s their loss. Unfortunately, it can severely limit the field. That’s not the worst part, though.
Once upon a time, I dated someone for about two or three months. One day, they told me that I was too disabled for them. That was harsh and still messes me up, especially when I allow someone new into my life.
Now, there’s another part to this story. As a lot of you know, due to my physical disability, I require 24/7 care, which also gets in the way of dating, at least for myself.
To get around the fact and to have more freedom and privacy, a few of my partners learned how to do the more personal and medical aspects of my care.
Helping me is not a big deal, and I think it’s a nice thing to do. I do not have a problem with this at all. However, it’s a different situation if they do all or part of my care.
On the positive side, it allowed us to go on dates anywhere (wheelchair accessible) at almost any time. I visited Montreal, Kingston, and Toronto several times with these partners. We also had more privacy.
As for the negatives, if the two of us had an argument or both had a bad day, things could quickly go downhill and become dangerous.
Let’s say, for example, we travel to another city. Because I’m in another town, I don’t have access to my regular caregivers. The only person I can rely on at that moment is my partner. What’s stopping them from leaving me alone in our hotel room or our booked Airbnb?
Fortunately, it has never happened, but I came close to it several times.
Another thing to consider is I don’t want my partner to view me as helpless or as a burden. I just want them to see me as their partner.
The question is, what can I, or any PWD, do to minimize the risks?
First, I should say that I’m not looking for a partner to be my caregiver. Going out on dates and having a partner help me so we can be together and enjoy our time; yes, that’s a great thing. Just ensure you’re both on the same page and can trust each other. So, what I’ve started doing is keep it simple. We start with a meeting and the fine art of talking to each other face-to-face. I want them to see that I’m real. Also, I need to know if they can understand my voice.
We had been chatting for two weeks, but she hadn’t heard my voice. Communication is the key to a relationship, any relationship.
Before anything else, I want to know if they can understand me. Once established that they can understand my voice, we can build from there.
Another helpful thing is to talk about your previous experiences. You don’t necessarily have to go into too much detail, but I think letting them know is essential. We must remember that all of our experiences are different. It’s better to be upfront and honest about them before it’s too late.
The main thing that I want you all to remember is we all deserve to be loved. Race, religion, culture, disabilities or not, age, and gender shouldn’t get in the way of finding love.
Just be open to the possibility. Get to know us instead of glaring at us for being different and judging us immediately. By us, I mean people with disabilities and those who are often deemed undesirable.
We’re all human. Please remember that.