February is the month of love, so I thought I would share a little about my experience regarding all things romance in the online space over the years. Just because you are someone who finds him/herself in need of using a wheelchair, doesn't mean that you don't have a heart or that you don't feel love and affection for others. However, there are obvious differences between you and an able-bodied person that could make dating, especially in the online space, a little tricky.
Dating is an exciting and enjoyable experience. It gives us the opportunity to meet new people, see what they're like in person, and decide whether or not we want more than just a casual relationship. However, dating can also be difficult for some people simply because of their disability status. For example, if someone has been diagnosed with autism or another condition that limits their ability to communicate with others face-to-face or online, they may feel as though it's difficult finding someone who understands what they need from a potential partner – especially since many people don't realise just how challenging it can be for those with disabilities when searching for love online!
Online dating can be difficult. I know this because I have a disability, which means that my body doesn't function like yours, assuming that you are able-bodied. If you're like most people, you probably don't know what it's like to deal with a disability in your dating life and how that affects the way you navigate social media websites. If a person has a disability, they may not feel comfortable posting pictures of themselves online, for example, or even talking about their condition publicly, all because they fear being judged by others or criticised for being different (and we already know how awkward this can be).
There are ways around these problems! You don't need anyone else's approval before sharing anything on your profile; instead, ask yourself: "does this make me happy?" If so, go ahead! Also remember that if someone asks why your picture has no face in it (or any other questions), just tell them something that makes sense to you. Trust is earned, and you have the right to decide if the object of your affection is trustworthy or not. In my experience, it has always been best simply to be honest. It can be awkward later on if the person you have been communicating with for quite some time has built up certain expectations or ideas about you, only to be ambushed with something that they perhaps weren't prepared for. Rule of thumb – ask yourself how you would feel in any given situation you find yourself in if you were that other person. A little bit of empathy goes a long way!
Not everyone knows how to deal with a disability in their dating life. Some people are more comfortable dealing with a disability than others, and some people are more comfortable dealing with a disability because they have experienced it in their own lives.
For example, when I first started dating my last girlfriend, she had never experienced what it was like being with someone who had been paralysed from the neck down. Initially, it was an adjustment for her. However, by just being myself and being honest, I was able to bridge the divide between us where, eventually, she no longer saw my wheelchair but only saw me for the person I was.
If you are a man with a disability, it can be difficult to post pictures of yourself online. People with disabilities may not feel comfortable doing so because they fear being judged and rejected for their appearance, or discriminated against for their mental health issues.
If you are interested in dating someone who has a disability, make sure that your profile is up to date! A good rule of thumb: if it looks like it was made yesterday (and not 10 years ago), then take some time to update it before posting anything on social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram.
People may not be aware that there are certain requirements for dating someone with a limiting condition. They may assume that you can still be in touch and communicate with your date's family and friends, but this is not always the case. When you meet someone online, it's important to understand their limitations so that both parties know what they can and cannot do together as a couple.
I, for example, cannot go dancing with my partner in the usual way (you would be surprised what a wheelchair can do!) or go for moonlight walks on the beach. I have made peace with the fact that these are my limitations, but to the other person, these may be some things that are still important. It is only fair that you afford that person the choice of whether or not to be with you based on having as much information as possible. Deciding to walk away does not make them a bad person, it just means that they want different things from life than what you are able to give – and that's okay.
When searching online, people with disabilities need to watch out for scammers or other tricksters who seek to exploit them for personal gain for nefarious purposes.
Be cautious of who you meet online. If you find yourself talking with someone who asks for money – even if it's just a few dollars – be careful. If they ask for more information than that, tell them no and walk away as soon as possible!
Be wary of people who ask for personal information like social security numbers and bank account numbers: these types of requests are often scams. If someone asks you this question on an app or website, don't give it to them!
Many people with disabilities have difficulty communicating with potential dates face-to-face and online can be just as challenging.
People with disabilities may have difficulty reading facial expressions.
People with disabilities may have difficulty reading body language, such as tone of voice or speed at which someone speaks. This is especially true for those were blind or deaf, but also applies to many others who rely on visual or sound as their primary means of communication (e.g., hearing-impaired individuals).
While it's important to be mindful of the safety concerns people with disabilities must consider when searching for romantic partners on the Internet, it's also important that you do so with an open mind and heart.
While scammers may seek out victims through online dating sites, there are other ways in which they can be targeted. For example: fake profiles may pose as potential dates; scams could be used to give people into giving up personal information or money; someone who cannot communicate face-to-face may not have any way to contact you – and so forth.
If you are interested in someone who uses a wheelchair or has some other physical disability (or even just a preference), don't let your emotions get the better of you! The most important thing is to make sure this person feels comfortable enough around you so he / she won't be afraid of approaching/dating someone who lives differently than him or herself.
That which I have written here has always stood me in good stead. I hope that these tips, tricks, and advice, will be something that you could use to successfully navigate the dating world as someone with a disability, or someone that wishes to date up someone with a disability.