TOP TIPS FOR DATING
So what was dating like for me as an individual with a physical disability?
I've been asked this question a lot recently due to my recent BBC article that was released about relationships with a disability. So I thought I'd do a blog post about it for all you nosey people out there. Like seriously what is people's obsession with other people's relationships? I’m joking, I am just as nosy!
Dating when you have a disability can be an extremely nerve-wracking experience particularly because you don't know no how successful it is going to be, as it is for anyone; however, when you add a disability into the mix it gets worse.
What was it like for me? Well listen up and enjoy me telling you about the shambolic dating career I had before I met Gina.
MY DATING HISTORY:
I had my first girlfriend when I was in Year 9 meaning I was about 14-15 years old and to be brutally honest it was your typical young romance - didn't last very long, we were together for a couple of months and then she broke up with me because I think she realised that I couldn't do some of the outdoor the activities she likes to do so, therefore yours truly got dumped. Harsh right?
Next up I dated a good friend of mine at the time, there was always a bit of flirtation between us, so we thought we'd give it a go. But it didn't really work, she kind of strung me along for a little while and then that was that.
The reason I'm telling you these stories isn't to make you feel sorry for me, put you off dating or to be harsh towards some of my ex-girlfriend - although in my opinion, they missed out! I'm joking.
It’s really to show you that no matter who you are, if you have a disability or not, you're going to meet some different people throughout your life, some thing's may work, some may not. You will learn from them and it will make you more aware of what you really want. Like sure when things happened I was gutted, but now when I think about them they are just funny stories.
SO WHAT ARE MY TOP TIPS FOR DATING OR USING DATING APPS?
ALWAYS BE YOURSELF:
Always be yourself, there's no point in being fake whether that be online or in person, eventually you will be found out. And if you want a future with this person, then you want them to see and accept all of you and you know that they are going to see all of you including your flaws. So don’t string them along with a fake personality let them love you for who you actually are.
DON'T SEE IT AS A MISSION:
Don't see it as a mission, now I'm as guilty of this as anyone. I think if you have a disability there is always a bit of a “need to be accepted” and often this is the reason why people get obsessive with dating and finding “the one”. I'm not saying that this is all a bad thing, all I'm saying is - from my personal experience - it can become addictive like you're constantly chasing something.
LOOK AFTER YOURSELF:
My next point follows on nicely from the one above and that is be aware of how it is making you feel.
I know this feeling far too well if you're currently putting yourself out there, or hoping to meet the right person but keep getting knocked back, it starts to get you down. I've been here myself and my best advice would be to take a break. If you notice you’re overthinking it or constantly checking for new messages or matches, come away for a little bit and do something that you enjoy or makes you feel good. You don’t need the approval of a random person online to know you are worthy.
IT'S NOT ALWAYS YOUR DISABILTY:
Remember, it may not be your disability that is stopping you from finding the right person.For you, it may just be that you haven't found a person that you click with or share that spark with and the reason for that isn't always your disability.
TO DISCLOSE YOUR DISABILITY OR NOT TO DISCLOSE YOUR DISABILITY, THAT IS THE QUESTION:
My next one is probably the biggest one! I get asked this question all the time and that is: “Should I disclose my disability on a dating website or app or not?”
Now this one I find really hard to answer. It's all down to personal preference, on the one hand, you don’t want your disability to stop you talking to someone just because they've never come across it before and may be a little nervous or unsure. In this case you could possibly introduce the disability after you have got to know each other for your personalities. However, how that is received by the individual can go one or two ways: they can either be very understanding and completely accepting or offended because you weren’t open with them from the start. Although, by simply explaining that you wanted them to get to know you first, they would hopefully understand and be able to move forward with the relationship.
Then on the other hand there's the approach of, I want them to know me from the start and that includes my disability. This can work really well as it shows that you're open and personable, it also shows the other person a level of trust. However, there is always the question of will it stop you getting your foot in the door and maybe changing that person's assumption of disabled individuals.
My advice would be to have a think about where you truly stand with this point and then go with whatever your gut tells you. One KEY point is to definitely disclose your disability before meeting them in person, as a matter of trust. Trust and understanding are the foundations of a relationship and they may feel like they cannot trust you if you haven’t spoken to them about a big part of you.
To finish off I just wanted to say, try to enjoy the whole experience of dating and meeting new people and try and not put too much weight behind it. I know it's cliche - I hated it back when I was single, but sometimes it really does happen when you least expect it.
Prime example of that is me and Gina: Just think about that for a second. A guy from Kent with a Girl from Birmingham. Strange right. Don't believe it's a weird story? Go check out the video on my YouTube channel telling you the whole thing and then come back to me!
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. I hope it’s given you some useful things to consider, but remember this is only my personal experience, however maybe it’s shown you, you are not alone in these struggles.