Dating with a Disability
“For my interpersonal communication class I have to write a personal ad for myself. I’ve never done one before, so I’ve been searching the Internet to see what other people have written. I have to say, I found some interesting people out there. I’m seriously considering going on one of those dating websites. Not that I’m really looking for anyone right now, but it would be kind of interesting to see how it works. I’ve heard of many people meeting on the Internet and actually getting married.
The only thing I’m worried about is if no one responds or tries to contact me. I mean, there aren’t many people who would actually seek out a quadriplegic on a ventilator. The statistics for me finding someone who can see past my disability are low. This is one of the things I struggle with the most. The future and what it holds. I’m trying to be optimistic though. I don’t really tell a lot of people this, but it’s easy to talk to a computer because it doesn’t talk back. It’s hard to explain these feelings to other people. I’m sure there are other quadriplegics or people with disabilities who feel the same way.”
I wrote this in my journal as an assignment on November 8, 2009 when I was enrolled at Normandale Community College. Last year, I signed up for a dating website called “Plenty of Fish”. I was on it for a couple of months, messaging back and forth with a couple of guys but everything seemed to fall into the friend zone. My life changed when I received a message from a guy named Ryan.
After messaging online for a few weeks, we decided to finally meet for the first time. On December 12, 2014 we met at a restaurant and went to a movie afterwards. We had a strong connection from the beginning and everything fell together. We made it official after the first week in January and we’ve been together ever since.
Ryan is an exceptional guy and we are totally in love. He is with me for who I am despite my disability. Our wants and desires are the same and that’s all that matters in a relationship, no matter who is involved. I no longer struggle with those feelings of not being able to find someone because I know Ryan and I will be together in the future.
Since meeting me, he received his PCA certificate, went back to school and is now working as a CNA. Ryan made huge strides by taking classes to learn my equipment while also taking the time to learn my cares so that he can be on my backup list in case I need help with staffing. I’m very proud of him, all of his accomplishments, and the dedication he has put forth just to be with me.
I’ve been asked many times about what dating is like as a C-1 C-2 quadriplegic paralyzed from the neck down. It seems like a complicated question, but some of the answers aren’t any different than from someone who is able bodied. Before meeting Ryan, I still faced the same obstacles like finding a guy who was my type and liked me for who I am. I had ups and downs and faced rejection just like others. I also had to learn that this was okay and that I didn’t need to settle with just anybody to make me happy.
My accident kind of steered me away from relationships because I thought that it would be difficult to find someone who understood my situation and was willing to deal with it no matter what. The thing that is different is dealing with my disability at the same time as trying to maintain a relationship with someone. Also, I have to accept that I am unable to change my situation and that the challenges I face as a quad continue and don’t just disappear once I’m with someone. This is now extremely easy for me to handle, especially being that I am in a committed relationship.
I’m very happy in my life right now and couldn’t be more excited about the future and what may lie ahead. I continue to live each day to the fullest and make the best of what I’m given. With all of the things I’ve been through I’m very lucky to be alive and have the chance to live out my life to the depths I want. I am grateful that I can make my own decisions and stay true to myself.
Despite the obstacles that do or may come my way, I go at them full force ready to overcome. Sometimes I think I’m unique in this way, especially when I hear or read stories of people who struggle dealing with acceptance, obstacles and challenges. This doesn’t just include people with disabilities, as everybody has something in their life that may stop them in their tracks and they have to choose which way to handle it or go about dealing.