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Dating Someone With a Disability
The challenges of dating with a disability like cerebral palsy is not something I considered growing up but little did I know that dating for me would be more difficult than my childhood self could conceive.
My cerebral palsy diagnosis is a bit too heavy for first date conversation. However, the best conversations have been the ones where the topic has been organic and thoughtful. Showing interest, but not intrusive. There are some days that I honestly would like to have a drink and just chill. No heavy discussions; That’s me.
Dating as a person with a disability is difficult for several reasons. However many of these reasons are linked to misinformation about who persons with disabilities (PWD) are and what they are capable of being.
There is a notion that PWD’s are not desirous or capable of romantic love and certainly not its manifestations. This misinformation has led people to ask a series of questions that most generously interpreted as less than smart, my personal favorite “can you have sex”? a question that early on in the dating experience is slightly rude but more so “othering” in its effect particularly because it is a question my non disabled contemporaries never have to endure.
5 Considerations When Dating Someone With a Physical Challenge
- Do not become intrusive or overbearing with questions.
- Be respectful at all times, take the person’s lead as to what they want to disclose.
- Avoid making assumptions, when in doubt – Listen!
- Be honest with yourself about your own interest level.
- Get to know the person first, and the disability second. Know the facts.
Secondly, normalcy is highly desired, especially in the Caribbean. But there are people who try to diminish me and others like me with statements like “you’re handsome and really smart but I can’t deal with that”.
Statements like this are evidence of assumptions being made about me, my condition, and the care I require. It is clear that people see my disability not my personhood.
I have not fully accepted the reality that dating and finding love is more difficult for me than my able- bodied friends. However I have accepted and love myself deeply and view my physical challenges as a part of what makes me whole.
Andwele Boyce is a Freelance Journalist and Independent Communications Consultant based in Barbados. Boyce holds a Masters in International Trade Policy with specific research focus on health and human rights and is currently pursuing a Law Degree.