Hello and welcome back to A Nu You: Maximizing Life with a Disability! Today’s topic is dating and relationships. Hey wait a minute! You can’t put dating and disability in the same sentence, they don’t go together. Who would ever want to date a person with a disability? Just ask all of the people with disabilities who are currently in a relationship or have been in a relationship. I think you will find the numbers who are or who have been quite high.
Well, once again we are going into a territory that seems to push our comfort zones and brings our fears to the surface. Exploring the world of dating and relationships can be quite a frightening experience. Factor in a disability and the fear grows exponentially. Like any type of fear, we must work our way through it. For starters, ask yourself why you are want to date. Make it for the right reason. So many people enter into relationships because they feel that is what is expected of them from others. Sometimes they feel that it is what they are supposed to do at their age. If you put yourself out there for anyone other than yourself you will end up regretting it somewhere down the road. Do it for you because you are ready, willing and able to do so.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are not many people out there saying, “I wanna date someone with a disability.” Don’t take that as a negative. Most people do not know exactly what they are looking for in another person, but just happen to connect and find it. Being a life coach to many people who are seeking relationships, I would say that while it is usually more difficult for people with disabilities to find those truly meaningful relationships, it is by no means impossible. It is so important that you keep putting yourself out there and use each opportunity as a learning experience to get closer to what it is you want.
Please know that I don’t necessarily mean “putting yourself out there” just on online dating websites. Online dating seems to be a popular means of connecting with one another these days and so many people swear by it. However, be careful. I am all for full disclosure, including sharing with someone that you have a disability, but you do not want anyone to take advantage of that so you may want to hold off until your first face-to-face date.
As the old adage goes, “You define your disability. Your disability does not define you.” It is a part of your life, but it is not your entire life. While I have been married for nearly 20 years now, to someone who does not have a disability and someone who only knows me with a disability by the way, I still remember those days of dating. When I saw myself as disabled and thought about what I could not deliver in a relationship, that is when I struggled. It had nothing to do with the other person and everything to do with me. My disability was directly tied to my self-esteem. It was only when I felt good about myself, liked that mirror reflection, wheelchair and all, that I gained confidence when I went out and began dating.
As far as how the dates went, I am a full disclosure type of person when it comes to my disability. Some may say, “TMI…Too Much Information!” Seriously, I don’t come right out and tell people why I am in a wheelchair and what happened, but I do get around to it pretty quickly if they do not bring it up because I know they are thinking about it. In my experiences, I have found that by talking about it and encouraging the other person to ask whatever question he or she wants, makes the date or dating so much less stressful. You can just enjoy one another’s company. As I always tell my clients, whenever you are not in a relationship with someone it means that it is the perfect time to deepen the relationship with yourself.
So here are today’s Nu Challenges for you:
- Determine why you want to date, what you are hoping it will bring you and what you will bring to it.
- While online dating is an option, make sure you put yourself out there and connect face-to-face, disability and all, when developing a relationship/seeking to date.
- Be in a good relationship with yourself and know why you would be a great catch for someone!
If you have any questions or comments regarding today’s topic, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Until next time, when we will be talking about employment and finding a career, thanks for listening and playing full out in creating A Nu You!