dating

'Dating with a disability is like entering a lottery that you know you’ll never win.'

Dating in 2021 is difficult for many of us. Putting yourself out there in the hope someone will swipe right forces us to obsessively analyse how we want to be seen by others.  

After all, we are the first generation where the first impression is now based on a carefully curated photo. Unlike our parents' generation where they were judged by how they looked from across the room laughing with their mates.

Today presentation perfection is not only preferred, it is now expected.

Watch: Horoscopes virtual dating. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

So, what happens when you are not the ideal cookie-cutter image of what we see on Instagram? Well, as a single woman in her thirties, who has a physical disability, it’s like entering a lottery you know you’ll never win.  

Dating with a disability has given me a lot of insight into how society views me. 

When I was younger, I was blissfully ignorant that my Cerebral Palsy would be a factor in my love life. I have never viewed my lifelong disability as an issue, just an aspect. Disability for me has never been negative. 

Unfortunately, my self-confidence and extroverted personality has not aided my ability to hook a man in the way I imagined. 

It has just magnified my naivety. I thought, that because I thrive despite my disability, any man would be proud to be partnered with a strong independent, happy woman. 

I’m a catch. Right? 

No, I’m not.

I’m not a catch in anyone’s else’s definition of the word. That assertion isn’t based on anecdotal evidence. I’ve conducted my own experiments to test my theory. The hard-cold fact is if I post just a headshot on the dating apps, (and yes, I have tried all the dating apps) I get lots of great matches.

Image: Supplied.

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If I post a full-length photo that includes my wheelchair my rate of matches decrease. Significantly.

Posting just a headshot might get me a date with a nice guy but if we meet for coffee it’s not like I can pretend I can walk for the day. 

I have to tell them that I have a disability at some point. I don’t want to be accused of catfishing particularly about something I am in no way ashamed of. If I have to lie to get a first date than it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll get a second regardless of how well the date goes.  

The sort of guy that swipes right on a photo of me in my wheelchair is very different to the guys that wanted to get to know me based on my headshot. 

Image: Supplied.

I am no different from other women trying to date online. 

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We all know that there are creeps out there. I only talk to the guys with kind eyes that don’t seem to match the eyes of murderers I watch in true crime documentaries. 

Given the imbalance of power my disability brings to a relationship it does make me more vulnerable to another person’s actions. 

I mean, I literally can’t run away if I’m not in my wheelchair. So, to say that I am careful when dating online is an understatement. My safety is a high priority. 

Lucky for me though, the only sort of men that seem to ‘accept’ my photos showing my disability, are overtly creepy. 

To these men, I seem to be an exotic animal. I am sure it isn’t a surprise to you that I’m not thrilled to be treated like a piece of meat. I quickly get that ick feeling in my stomach. My head and heart are on the same page. BLOCK HIM. 

When the photos of your disability only seem to attract creeps on the internet, finding a nice ‘normal’ guy seems impossible. So, my efforts on these apps are generally very short-lived. 

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t given up in my quest to find Mr Right. 

Everyone tells me I will meet someone, probably in person, which I believe too. 

Meeting in person does come with its own hurdles. The people I meet, regardless of gender, seem to have to realise that people with disabilities are on the market to find their perfect match too. 

People with disabilities are at a complete disadvantage when competing for love. My single friends, who don’t have a disability, don’t have to explain when they meet someone that they are a person. 

I believe that when people first meet me, they don’t think of me as a person. Only a person with a disability and there is not a chance they see a female that has normal wants and desires. 

When I meet someone, I have to educate them. Go right back to the basics.

First, explain what my disability is and spell out that I still do have a life, despite my disability. 

Only then can I go on to make them see that I am a person. The fact that I am a single female is about 1000 more steps ahead in the process.  

In a dating system with endless options, millions of fish in the sea, I am often 'friend zoned' by default. If I had a dollar for every time a man said to me, “You’re a lovely person, but I just don’t see you like that” well, I would be on the rich list with Jeff Bezos. 

I look forward to the day where people with disabilities are considered attractive. That is the sort of equality I look forward to. Until that day, I’ll keep giving myself every opportunity to meet someone. A someone that likes all the photos I post online. 

Feature Image: Supplied.