With Valentine’s Day soon approaching I would like to say a few things about the struggles that the disabled face in the dating world. There certainly seems to be an invisible barrier that society has built around the disabled in terms of the possibility of dating. This barrier includes the misconception that someone in a wheelchair is incapable of having a loving relationship just because they have physical limitations. Many are unsure how limited the disabled really are and might be afraid that they will need to be their caregiver. In a sense, they are not sure that if a disabled person were in a long term relationship, could he or she physically and emotionally participate in a meaningful relationship. For disabled individuals, this barrier is often difficult to understand because everyone has a basic need for love and acceptance.
There is no telling if this invisible barrier will ever disappear but the concepts of dating and eventually falling in love are absolutely possible for those who are disabled. One example that gives me encouragement is about a friend of mine who also has Muscular Dystrophy, and is happily married now to a woman who was able to see a future with the man she loved and not just see a disabled man in a chair. I also recently read about this guy named Shane Burcaw who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy. He recently wrote a blog about the looks and the weird things that people say when he goes out with his girlfriend. He recalled that while on a date, someone asked if his girlfriend was his nurse and she jokingly responded, “He’s my dad.” They tend to poke fun at those situations. He gives insight into this whole situation by stating, “The mindset that causes a stranger to automatically assume that any female in my presence is a nurse, or family, is one that ignores the reality that people with disabilities can and do have “normal” romantic relationships.” They have a great relationship and she drives him to their dates, cuts his food, gives him a drink and even puts his shoes on when they go out. She is a truly a selfless and caring individual and willing to make it work no matter what.
Personally I have not had the experience of a meaningful relationship. My friend once told me that my type of girl is someone who is selfless and very patient, much like Shane’s girlfriend. I have been having trouble finding such a person but hopefully I will in time. Since graduating college I have not been meeting women in person but I am using OKCupid.com and despite not finding dates on there, I am getting more comfortable with women. Many girls that I have met were nice, it’s just distance was an issue and sometimes I think they are intimidated by the wheelchair. This is one particular problem I am facing especially since these girls are not meeting me in person. I am a little upset that I have never experienced a relationship and also a little confused because I believe I am good looking. I know one day, I will find someone who can get past the chair and see a caring man ready for a meaningful relationship.