Jovin’s family discovered he had cerebral palsy when he was 2 years old. Although he used to struggle with confidence, you wouldn’t know it now. “I want to be outstanding. I want people to notice me,” he says. Part of that included getting himself on the dating scene.
Getting out on the dating scene
He found and attended some speed dating events to sit and have dinner with different people, despite the logistical issues surrounding wheelchair accessibility. “I told [the organizer] very frankly, I’m someone on a wheelchair and I’m very keen to go for your event, but he tried to push me away, saying it would be difficult and challenging.” Jovin knew he would be able to do it, and didn’t let the organizer stop him.
In addition to speed dating, he dabbled in online dating, and that’s when he met Anna.
He had met different kind of people at events, but with Anna was special. Where did he get the confidence to go after his girlfriend?
“It’s because of sailing that I would have the confidence. I told her I’m a sailor and her first impression was that she thought I was [one of] those navy ship sailors that sail around the world…tall, big, handsome guy, but I said no. I’m sitting on a wheelchair and I represent Singapore in the Paralympics.”
The first date
“From the first meet up, I can see that she’s someone very caring. She doesn’t mind to assist me, pushing me around,” he explains. This set Anna apart as Jovin had been accustomed to others being uncomfortable helping him. “They will choose not to do anything because they’re worried they might offend me in a way.” Anna, on the other hand, kept asking if he needed help and was happy to be supportive. Now, they’ve built a strong foundation of communication and work through any challenges. “When she goes out with me, she can’t wear skirts that much or high heels because she got to push me around,” Jovin shares. “We have to find a lot of alternatives.”
“I got to give a lot of credit to my girlfriend because I think she has never interacted with people with disability…credit for her to take the first step to come out and meet someone on a wheelchair.”
“Being in a relationship is a lot about give and take because there will be some limitations of what I can do.” However, nothing has kept them from having a happy, healthy relationship. Both of them have learned a lot and benefited from one another from the past two years of being together. “In the past I always thought I would need to help [people with disabilities] in many ways as they were much weaker,” Anna admits. “But ever since I met and knew Jovin and his group of friends, I realized that they are no different from us. They are very independent and cheerful. I learned a lot of meaningful life lessons.”
Falling in love for all the right reasons
Even though Jovin was never that big, tall navy sailor, Anna loves everything about him. “Everything actually from top to bottom, his daily life, his passion towards sailing and his seriousness and commitment in work. He is smart, confident and reliable,” she gushes. Although Anna was smitten, Jovin was worried about her parents’ reactions and whether they’d accept him as their daughter’s boyfriend. “I was quite shocked and surprised that her family was very accepting of me. They said this is her decision, if she chooses to be with him then just be happy.”
“You got to keep trying…Not to be afraid of failure. There’s a lot of ups and down, so we got to think positively on what we can change and not on things we can’t control. That goes for anybody in the world because without trying, you won’t know the outcome.”
If you’re struggling to accept your disability, “You just got to be strong and face it…Live life, no point dwelling. Nothing is going to change,” he says. “Since we’re in this state, why not just make it more meaningful.” And if meaningful for you means finding a life partner, then don’t let a disability stop you.
Know someone looking for love? Share this story to spread some hope.