Ellie Smith, who has Erb’s Palsy, says she often gets asked about dating and relationships by fellow people with disabilities and/or parents who have children with disabilities. She provides her top ten tips for dating with a disability.
The Right To Date
The first tip on Ellie’s list is people with disabilities have the right to date. She says there may be people with disabilities out there who do not believe they can date because of their disability. But she wants others to understand that a disability should not get in the way of romantic happiness.
“Whether you have a disability like mine, that affects your arm, whether you’re in a wheelchair, have a learning disability, are blind, or deaf or even unable to verbally communicate. It doesn’t matter, you are worthy, you are wanted and you have EVERY RIGHT IN THE WORLD to date! If you’d rather not date, then that is completely your choice, but if you do, don’t let your disability get in the way of your romantic happiness.”
Being Open and Honest
“Honesty really is the best policy, but when it comes to dating with a disability, honesty can also be incredibly scary and worrying,” says Ellie. Ellie’s second tip for dating is to be open and honest. She admits that this can be difficult to do as she remembers a time where she felt physically sick telling someone what she really liked about her disability.
“I assumed that whilst I was ok with (my disability), they would run in the opposite direction as fast, and as far away as they could. But, I can honestly say I have never had anyone refuse to date me because of my arm, my freckles yes, but my arm never.”
Ellie says it is important to be upfront about your limitations. She gives a few examples by saying, “Can’t tie your laces? Tell them. Struggle to read? Admit it. Let them know what you can/can’t do and what you might need a little bit of help with.” She continues by reminding her readers to not overwhelm a potential partner on a first date, slowly wean the person into what goes on in your life. One piece of pertinent advice Ellie gives is for one to never be ashamed of any limitations they may have.
“Admitting what your disability affects you doing doesn’t make you look vulnerable, weak or stupid. It makes you look brave, and honest and helps (your date) know what they can and can’t help you with, without them feeling like they might upset you or come across as being patronising.”
Dating A Fellow Person With A Disability
Ellie remembers a time when she was growing up when she assumed that she would only date someone else with Erbs Palsy. As an adult, she now realizes that that assumption was completely false. There are no restrictions when it comes to love. “Being in a relationship and being in love is about being with someone who means the world to you, who makes you happy, who finishes your sentences, knows you better than you know yourself, who can laugh with, and cry with, and who you see yourself with for the rest of your life. Love is not restricted to a certain gender, race and religion. And just because you have a disability doesn’t mean your restricted to only date others the same.”
Someone Doesn’t Want To Date You? It’s Their Loss
Ellie says she knows how much it must hurt to be rejected because of your disability. However, once you get over the initial upset, you will back and realize it was that person’s loss. Ellie poses the question, “Why would you want to lower your standards for someone with such rubbish values?” She explains this question by stating, “So, regardless of how fit someone is, regardless of how much you have in common, and how nice they are aside from their discriminatory views, if they don’t want to date you because of your disability, then tell them to get lost and move on. Because you deserve way better!”
“Just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you should lower your standards,” says Ellie. Go after someone who makes you happy. Be picky, Ellie writes never settle for someone who “will do”.
Your Disability Does Not Define You
Ellie describes her passions and hobbies in this section to show others that her disability is not all of who she is.
“You too have passions, favourite pastimes and pets too. Talk about them with your dates – show them that you are an amazing, amazing person with more to offer than just a wonky arm for them to draw on without you noticing, a wheelchair for them to hang shopping bags off and a disabled parking bay holder. You are a human being, that just so happens to have a disability.”
Ellie admits that dating on the internet is fantastic, and how she met her boyfriend. However, she wants people with disabilities to know that they do not have to hide behind a computer screen. She says, “You are more than entitled to chat someone up at a bar, to ask a handsome stranger for their phone number, to attend speed dating nights and date night discos. Put yourself out there and not just your profile.”
Safe and Suitable Date Location
Ellie suggests meeting a date at a location that you already know is accessible that way there is one less thing to worry about and you can focus on the date itself. She also advises having a first date in a public place, with a wing woman/man available to call if your date goes bad.
Be Self Confident. Have Fun!
“Have a bit of self-confidence and believe in yourself. You are an amazing person, you are a right catch, and you have so, so much to offer. Don’t belittle yourself. You are a beautiful person inside and out, and should be so proud of yourself. Any man or woman would be lucky to have you. It is pretty much a certain you will have a case of the butterflies on a date, so be kind to yourself and believe that you’ll have a really lovely time.”
Ellie states there should be no pressure in dating. If it works out with someone, great! If not, pick yourself up and do not be scared to move on. Ellie’s most important advice on dating is to remember to have a good time!
Check out Ellie’s original post.
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