As a single lady wheelchair user in the dating scene currently, I know exactly what’s going on, like exactly, in the mind of the typical straight American male. And let me share with you a bit of what I’ve discovered — it’s just as dismal as you’d expect.
The biggest hurdle I keep coming across is the massive stereotype that we, women in wheelchairs, are “less-than” as partners — someone you should be embarrassed to date, an individual who will bring you down. Of course thousands of people do date us and prove this wrong, but it seems 80 percent of the general population kinda thinks this.
It’s an epidemic that’s been the status quo, well, for forever, but you’re looking at a lady who wants to change all of that. Anyone with a disability who is dating pretty much wants this of course. I mean, who doesn’t? It would be miraculous if the world shifted the way humans with permanent disabilities were placed in society, if our caste wasn’t by default unequal.
And this is exactly why dating sucks. I wish I could sit here and preach the amazing fun times that are to be had in the dating world, but the truth of the matter is that it is a battlefield you want to vacate as soon as possible. Sure, you do learn about yourself a ton, you get to meet some interesting people, but overall? Not pleasant. Not pleasant at all.
Take my most recent date for example. He was a few years younger than me, a full-time single dad who worked the night shift. He was seeking love, but when I saw he was half the body weight of me (I would crush him with a bad transfer) and that he very strangely hated food (yes, really) and said, “I only eat for sustenance and don’t enjoy eating at all,” as a quad foodie, I knew he wasn’t the one.
And stuff like this happens all the time. In the words of my ex-boyfriend, Evan, who hated dating almost as much as me, “Dating is utterly exhausting,” and he couldn’t have been more accurate. But the worst dates are the ones where you’re discriminated against — where the guy (or gal) realizes after meeting you in person that the whole disability thing is just too big, and you never hear from them again.
While you shouldn’t take this personally (please don’t), it’s really hard not to when it happens almost every other date. I actually commend these scaredy cat men for even trying to meet me. They know a change needs to happen, they just can’t be that change. They too are part of that 80 percent that just can’t go there. I guess now they can say they “know” someone in a wheelchair now.
If a news crew hit the streets in NYC and started asking people, “Would you date someone in a wheelchair?” the responses would be absolutely fascinating (and please will someone hire me to do this?). In the meantime, we know most people won’t date us, hence the 800 views of my Match profile and my one lone message from a guy 15 years older than me.
But hey, no skin off my back. The question however that is now protruding itself more and more into my mind is this — at what point should we start lowering our standards? Just kidding. I plan on holding out for my Mr. Spectacular-I-don’t-care-at-all-about-your-wheelchair-guy who’s both sexy and employed until well, for forever.
My mantra: I sure as heck didn’t survive my diving/drowning accident to cohabitate with a man I’m ho-hum about. Always, always hold out for someone you genuinely like.
What prejudices have you encountered in the dating world?