All joking aside:
There are some questions I’ll probably never totally come to a decision on.
Q: In what other ways are your interpersonal relationships affected by disabilities?
Examples might be that it’s harder to form or maintain relationships or that people treat you differently once they realize you have a disability.
A: Yes. Yes. Yes.
One way this is the case is in dating, but today I will speak specifically about online dating.
I could write a whole book on this subject, with the experience I have had with it over the last five years, but up until now I have resisted writing anything to do with this fast-growing method of finding love.
I have resisted, not sure why that is.
Dating is one interpersonal relationship issue I have yet to write extensively on.
It is, indeed, harder to form this kind of relationship when you can’t locate a stranger, out of a crowd, with whom you might have an interest in. It can narrow down the places where meeting someone is possible. All of this, and yet I was determined and I have had some success.
The question here is one I struggle with every time I begin speaking with a new guy online.
Of course, in person it is obvious, often glaringly so. I like to think I can fit in, in public, and not stand out as the blind girl. This isn’t always very realistic for me to think.
Online, I have never been able to decide when and how to bring it up.
Do you, perchance, know the answer to this?
Do I mention it first thing in my online dating profile? Do I casually attempt to sneak it in the middle somewhere? Or leave it until the last few lines?
Am I looking like I mean to hide the fact, if I don’t come right out and say it? Do I ruin things before even getting started, scaring someone off, if I make it the first thing they read?
I don’t want my blindness to be all I am; it’s not.
I want to be able to show that I am a well-rounded person, with many interests and passions. My blindness is a factor, for sure, but it can’t be how I define myself overall or that is how others will start defining me too.
Yes, people do treat me differently when I do reveal this one detail in particular. This, I understand. I can empathize.
Whether I reveal it in my first message, during a subsequent phone call, or when they show up to meet me face-to-face.
I have experienced different amounts of shock and surprise. I have heard it all, from the pause of several seconds, to the stuttering response, to the normal array of curiosity and its companioning questions.
Like anything else, it isn’t a good idea to leave it out and just show up for coffee, cane in hand. This, like being less than honest about current weight or age, it can result in a bad rapport from the start. I know not to pull this on anyone. It really is not fair and it leaves me awkward and fumbling too.
I like to know, somewhat, what I am getting and I want the other person to have the same courtesy from me.
At the moment I am watching a tribute special for Stevie Wonder.
Of course, it is no secret that Stevie is blind. He doesn’t seem to have had any trouble meeting partners in his own life. I doubt this “wonder” has never had to utilize online dating to find women.
then again, who knows.
At one point, host LL Cool J asks everyone to take a moment and close their eyes, even going as far to darken the screen, while the song Stevie wrote for his baby daughter years ago is being performed by a few fans and fellow performers.
This is certainly an interesting part of this special. I was wondering when they were going to address his blindness. I figured they would.
Now I am no Stevie Wonder.
I haven’t had his talent or fame to help me meet people.
Stevie Wonder has been the main spokesperson for the blind community, world-wide. When most people think of blindness, they think of him. He has been extremely successful in his life, blindness notwithstanding, but dating, love, and children are experienced differently when unable to see the faces of loved ones.
I know it is a touchy subject sometimes. I wish there was a one-hundred percent agreed upon answer to my main question of this post.
I know online dating works. If I keep my eyes open, pardon the pun, I can and have found those who are willing to be flexible and give dating a blind woman a shot.
I have never been accused of trying to hide my blindness when commencing conversations with anyone online. I’ve found the right time to slip in my blindness in there. It works and I am always navigating the turns and the bumps of dating online.
I guess some questions will never have definitive answers to them. This, I greatly dislike. I like to know which way to go when I am struggling with a question and when no answer presents itself to me, I rail at the uncertainty.
I don’t want to be treated different, but unfortunately this is unavoidable in most instances.
Someone who has never before spoken to a blind person will not usually know, right off the cuff, how to handle themselves.
I try to make them feel at ease, by simply speaking of your normal, run-of-the-mill things that anyone who’s just getting to know another person might discuss.
This is often all it takes to keep things moving forward. And forward is the only way any hoped-for relationship will have a chance.
Sure, some may halt any further conversation, but there’s always more out there. Sometimes, the shock of it is just too much for a person to handle. That is their prerogative.
I could always start a new series on this blog, online dating adventure series, but i think I’ll continue to resist this impulse.
You never know. Maybe this week’s question will have started something, but then again I am not sure people want to hear about such things on a regular basis.
I wonder if there’s a site out there, devoted only to online dating stories, good or bad.
Well, while I’m off to investigate that further, please offer your thoughts and/or opinions on my question and I will leave you with my favourite of Stevie’s lesser well-known hits.
Stevie Wonder – PArt Time Lover – YouTube
Have you ever tried online dating?
Did you ever find out something about someone you were talking with that surprised you? When is it important, do you think, to provide certain details?
How have others reacted when you’ve offered up something you’ve been nervous to mention?
On next week’s Memoir Monday post, for the
Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge,
is a question that is at the heart of this whole thing.
Do you have preferred language when it comes to disability?