The landscape of dating with a disability is a complex one. While there are different forms of disabilities, many stereotypes still prevalent in society can be limiting for individuals with disabilities. One of which is the idea of romance in mainstream culture. Musician Gaelynn Lea shares: “People with disabilities are essentially left out of the sex and beauty culture that is so prevalent in American society.”
“Although 19% of the population identifies as having disabilities, they are rarely if ever displayed favorably in the media as a sexual or desirable figure.”
However, there is no denying that the disabled dating scene has been increasingly gaining prominence. While romance websites are not all-encompassing in their depictions of dating, they have illustrated that individuals with disabilities are still intimate beings who participate in romantic encounters.
Nevertheless, there is still progress to be made, and it is up to society as a whole to reshape perceptions of dating with a disability.
Learning and Understanding
In any relationship, it is important to see the person for who they are. Everyone has their own personal experiences to share, so it is paramount to listen, learn from each other, and be understanding.
“You have an opportunity to speak your narrative before any assumptions are made.”
Take the initiative if your date finds him/herself being too self-conscious to find out more about you. You can steer the conversation into another direction by asking questions of your own.
You can also take a leadership role and plan your dates. By being proactive in planning your dates, you can ensure that your partner will get a better understanding of your preferences and practical considerations for subsequent dates.
“Your partner doesn’t know what you are comfortable doing and what is off limits – and that’s reasonable, because every person is different.
Through giving-and-taking, you and your partner can find a common ground and develop interests together.
The prevalence of technology and the Internet has made it easier for people to interact with each other and develop friendships and/or relationships. The most important thing about meeting someone online is to not be shy in having conversations – you’ll never know who you might eventually connect with!
All in all, the basis for a healthy relationship is clear communication. Like everything else, being in a relationship is all about learning and understanding, and a disability does not - and should not - prevent you from seeking romance.
What other advice do you have for entering a relationship involving a partner with a disability? Share your perspectives with us for a chance to be featured here on AbleThrive.