Valentine’s Day is here once again. Normally I’m not really into the whole thing, but this year I am. I suppose it has a large part to do with recently meeting and moving in with my new love. My sweetie is disabled too, and we found one another on the dating website, disabled4dating. This is my dating story of fear, taking chances, being honest, and finding love.
Way back in July 2011, I sought out dating websites for people with disabilities. Now, I can’t really say I was looking for love…I was just kind of checking things out, seeing who was out there. Did any cute, smart, generous men exist? And better yet, did any of those of men exist within 100 miles of me? Would I even be able to achieve the best scenario: cute, smart, generous, within driving distance of me, and appreciate me for exactly who I am? I wasn’t crossing my fingers, but I decided to post a profile on dating4disabled.com (d4d, for short, my sweetie informed me). I perused the website and saw a couple of men right away who caught my attention; then the worry set in: Am I good enough for them? Would they think I was smart enough? Was I attractive enough (I’m not exactly thin or a ‘girly-girl’)? Would they criticize me for being between jobs? I wasn’t sure about any of it. I still took a chance.
Putting yourself out there is scary. I weighed the pluses and minuses before posting my profile and pictures:
- Meeting the love of my life
- Getting a free meal (yes, I’m old fashioned…it’s nice when the other person pays)
- Having good internet dating stories to tell your friends (remember the guy who kept calling you “Duude”?)
- Being rejected
- Rejecting the other person
- Being rejected
What the heck, I started checking guys out and emailed them. I found Wyatt (@wbessing) right away and sent him a message. The way I approach relationships with men or women, friends or in dating, is with brutal honesty. This doesn’t always work for everyone—people who like to play games, for instance. If I like you, I will tell you, if I don’t, I will gently break it off (no tears involved, don’t worry). I appreciate people who mean what they say, but who also are not afraid to say it. I have to admit, I haven’t found too many people who have that same philosophy. Good thing Wyatt appreciates honesty.
Since we are talking about honesty here, I have to admit that some people’s disabilities had me concerned. I never dated someone with a physical disability before, so I really didn’t know if that would work for me. I always considered myself to be an open-minded person, but when it came to dating someone in a wheelchair or in crutches I felt like I was a little discriminating. I didn’t want people staring at us (I am a more behind the scenes person, and don’t like to draw attention to myself). I didn’t want kids making fun of us behind our backs. I wasn’t sure if I would still be able to hold hands with my partner in public if he were using them to walk. All these worries were swarming all around in my head, so what did I do? I took it on just like I would have if I were going to a job interview: go for it now, deal with it later. I would say this worked out pretty well—since I’m no longer single.
Wyatt has Spina Bifida, which, at the time of meeting him, I really knew nothing about. I knew people with Spina Bifida—kids; they walked with crutches and braces and couldn’t really get around very well. And call me shallow…but I thought Wyatt was super cute, so I really didn’t care if he walked with assistance or not.
Let’s jump ahead to our first date: we met at his house and went to a restaurant. When I drove up, he was standing on his porch—he seemed shorter than what I expected. I remembered the 5-hour phone call we had the night before and forgot about the height difference (it’s hard to find men taller me when I’m 5’ 9 ½”, anyway). We already had a strong connection with our interests, hobbies, work, values, senses of humor, etc. Dinner was amazingly tasty and the conversation was amazingly comfortable (he paid, like the true gentleman he is). For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel nervous-I was at ease.
After dinner, we went to a park and watched birds at the duck pond. This was a good experience for me because it gave us a chance to walk together; I found out just how his disability affects him. To my surprise, I didn’t really notice it because I was too focused on our conversation and enjoyment. Yes, I did notice people staring at us and kids giving us bewildered looks, but I chose not to focus on that; rather, I focused on the present moment and on us. I had a fantastic time on our date, and the rest is history.
This relationship has been a whirlwind for me. We met a little over a month ago and I have already moved in with him. We have a life together. A note on this: I am incredibly gradual when it comes to transitions and in dating (I would have never have thought to move in with someone until at least 9 months of dating), but as someone recently told us, “When you know, you know.” And we know.
So, I have two questions this time:
1. What have been your fears about dating others with disabilities (it’s okay to be honest, we are all friends here)?
2. Have you found love online? What were your best and/or worst experiences?
Online disabled dating websites: I personally can’t vouch for any of them except Dating4Disabled.com