Are you questioning whether or not dating someone with a disability is right for you? It’s a good question to ask! There are things in your lifestyle that need to be taken into consideration before making that leap. Disabilities and diseases come in all forms and level of severity. No two people will share the same experience. It’s better to take an upfront approach and ask direct questions to the person you’re interested in about your curiosities.
Do you have hobbies in common? Are you all about extreme sports and climbing Mount Everest? While people with disabilities do enjoy being active there are going to be certain limitations that need to be taken into consideration. Rock climbing will not be making the list for the majority of wheelchair users. Perhaps a nice walk around the lake instead? Rowing, kayaking, or a canoe ride for anyone? Do not make the assumption that wheelchair users are not involved in sports. Many wheelchair uses enjoy playing in community leagues designed specifically for them. Have you tried playing basketball from a wheelchair? It’s not as easy as it looks, and honestly it doesn’t look that easy!
Personal care needs may be the most common reason that people will pass by a wheelchair user when looking for potential dates. While there are people who do need daily assistance with their personal care needs that job will not fall on you. You’re a date, not a PCA. People with severe mobility limitations employ PCAs to help them with their basic daily needs. You will not be caring for them as a full time job. It’s perfectly fine to address a potential partner and ask them if they require help from outside sources with their daily needs. Most wheelchair users will be happy to let you know they are looking for a partner and not a servant.
What will we do on a date? What can’t you do on a date is the question you should be asking. While being in a wheelchair does limit certain venues with accessibility it won’t limit your partner being able to entertain you. You can still go to the movies, out to dinner, sporting events, and to most places you would with any other date. Don’t be afraid to ask your date to pick the location if you’re unsure of accessibility needs.
Is your home accessible? Do you have a bathroom located on the main level with a wide door frame to allow a wheelchair to pass through? Is there space to maneuver around furniture without knocking things over? Do you have 20 steps preventing someone from getting into your place? These are things to consider long term. Not being able to access that part of your partner’s life can be disappointing for the disabled party. In a relationship you want to share those experiences together.
You might think, “I would date someone in a wheelchair, but I want kids someday.” Surprise! Many people with disabilities want to be parents! A physical disability doesn’t limit your ability to love a child or to provide for them. Many people with disabilities have rewarding professional careers and support a family with their income alone. Do not make assumptions about limitations from an injury. While spinal cord injuries can make it difficult to conceive naturally there are several options to expand a family. They range from in vitro fertilization to adoption.
Sexual activity is a very personal topic. There are some people who have no feeling in their genitalia, but they still like to engage in sexual activity with their partner. There are also others who find it frustrating and would rather avoid the topic all together. An open honest discussion is needed on this topic to find out what you can expect. Each person is different. Almost all people who suffered from a spinal cord injury are able to engage in some form of sexual activity. Sometimes you need to be creative and be willing to work with your partner to achieve your mutual goals in this area.
What will my friends and family think about my partner? My instinctual answer is do you really care what someone else thinks? It saddens me that people will pass over a great potential partner because they are worried about how others will view them. A person is more than a disability or a wheelchair. They are people with dreams, desires, feelings, and hopes. Yes, you may face criticism in the beginning of your budding relationship. It is important to expose the naysayers to your partner and let them experience for themselves what you find so great about them! They will more than likely come to their senses and let go of their preconceived notions of disabled people.
Planning trips and activities takes longer when you’re with a disabled partner. You need to consider personal care schedules, accessibility needs, medicine schedules, transportation, and the list goes on. It can still be done, it’s done every time my husband and I leave our home. We lack a certain amount of spontaneity in our activities, but we don’t lack fun or love. It only takes more time to plan out.
Should you date someone in a wheelchair? I don’t see why shouldn’t date someone in one. If you have good chemistry and you think there’s a chance give it a go. After all a few dates is hardly a commitment to marry the person. Be open and upfront about any concerns regarding their lifestyle with them. Give them the opportunity to ease your mind before writing off the idea. However, if you decide that it’s not for you then that’s okay too. There is someone out there for everyone if we’re only open to the opportunity.