After much trial and error in the dating world, Jon has developed a new outlook on love and relationships, particularly after meeting his now-wife, Lisa. Born with spina bifida, Jon uses forearm crutches daily. And over time, he realized that dating required more than physical attraction. But this meant that the payoff for finding love included finding a partner that is compatible with you emotionally and personality-wise.
A long road to finding love
Jon went on numerous dates and spent over eight years dating online. On his online profile, he had tried both approaches of disclosing his disability and withholding this information until meet-ups were initiated. The former “didn’t work at all” and the latter, while more successful, saw people rejecting to meet him once they found out about his disability.
Jon understands that the idea of finding love can be difficult for all, especially for people with disabilities. For him, it was difficult because he “grew up in a very marriage-intense culture” and many of his friends were married at an early age. Dating can be more difficult for those with disabilities because they usually have to be more open about discussing their lives and the issues that affect it, and that in itself can be daunting for anybody. But that is not necessarily a bad thing, Jon feels.
“Not being able to hide your vulnerabilities is actually not a bad thing when it comes to building a healthy relationship. You should consider yourself lucky to have a head start!”
By being open and vulnerable, you are allowing the other party to see the true you, not some made-up “illusion” of an ideal partner. Hence, not only does dating require effort and perseverance, it also requires you to possess self-love and self-confidence. While feelings are subjective and you might not be able to “make someone love you,” you can be the best version of yourself possible.
While some people with disabilities prefer to be with partners who also have a disability, this is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Jon recalls that some of his friends who have disabilities had told him to find a partner who also has a disability, so that she could better understand and relate to his experiences. However, he recognises that each individual’s experience differs from the other, and what he values more is the “internal and personal compatibility with another person, whether they had a disability or not.”
Love Found Him
Jon met Lisa back in 2009, and they have been exploring a life together since. “She wasn’t at all the kind of person I expected,” he admits, regarding her physical features. She may be different from Jon physically, but they share many other similarities which have been the foundation of their relationship, including their “values, interests, and personalities.” Another important aspect of their relationship is the understanding they share between each other. They acknowledge and accept each other’s history and realities of life, and with that, they learn to “appreciate a person for all that they have.”
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