Are you worried about trying online dating with a disability? If so, you’re not alone – and you don’t need to feel worried. Research has found that around 19% of adults live with a disability, which makes up nearly one fifth of the dating pool. Disability awareness is also on the rise, so more non-disabled people are making an effort to understand life with a disability.
So whether you have a physical disability or a hidden disability, you can certainly find love online – and we’d like to support you. Here are seven tips for online dating with a disability.
1. Remember You Have A Right To Love And Dating
Various studies have found that people with disabilities are more likely to struggle with self-esteem and sexual confidence, but it is important to remember that you are still worthy. It doesn’t matter if you are in a wheelchair, or if you have mental health issues; you are still desirable and lovable, and if you want you can find romantic happiness.
If you struggle with dating and self-esteem, you can combat this with daily positive exercises (such as mindful thinking). This will help to improve your self-confidence over time, so eventually you will know that you are just as valuable as anyone you are attracted to.
2. Don’t Feel Like You Have To Pretend To Be Someone You’re Not
If you matched with people before who took issue with your disability, you may be tempted to sweep it under the rug with future matches – but we don’t advise doing this. If one person can’t handle your disability, that is their problem, not yours (and it also indicates they weren’t the right person for you anyway). It doesn’t mean that other people will react in the same way; in fact, there are millions of singles who won’t shy away from disability.
So accept who you are (and remember you’re awesome!), and don’t hide yourself (or your daily struggles) from the person you are seeing. If you struggle with certain things (such as mobility, or having negative thoughts), explain this to your crush when you feel comfortable so that they can understand and support you.
Note: if you don’t feel comfortable sharing, you don’t have to! Just try to avoid hiding aspects of yourself to try and please someone else.
3. Remember You’re Allowed To Be Picky
Being disabled doesn’t mean you have to settle. You have every right to find someone who is the perfect match for you, so you can be as picky as you want until the right person comes along!
4. You Are Not Defined By Your Disability
You are a multifaceted person with hobbies, interests and passions. You are an amazing human being who cares and loves for other people. Your disability is only a tiny aspect of who you are, and it shouldn’t define your dating life. So if you match with someone who is focusing too heavily on your disability, consider un-matching with them so that you can find someone who cares more about your personality.
5. Consider Accessible Date Locations
If you are planning on meeting someone in person (once lockdown is over), consider choosing accessible venues that you know you can navigate. This means you don’t have to worry too much about moving around, and instead you can focus on the date and getting to know the other person.
6. Have A Good Time
It is really important to try and have a good time when you are dating. If you match with someone and you end up dating, excellent! If you match with someone and it doesn’t work out, no problem! Everyone experiences ups and downs in dating, and it is important to not define yourself by the down moments.
7. If Someone Takes Issue With Your Disability, It Is Their Loss
Finally it is important to not define yourself by close-minded people. It can be very difficult to be rejected due to disability, but it says more about the other person than it does about you. So don’t let someone who discriminates define your love life; define it yourself.