Where are we going? Which subway station is near there? Will I have enough battery power in my scooter to get there and back? Even the closest relationships, geographically, can feel like long-distance relationships to me because it takes so much planning and so much energy. I have so many good memories from all of my relationships. I think my favorite memories are those memories where my disabilities and access needs were really accepted and accommodated. People tend to panic when I hit the floor.
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We are not your charity case. We are not your feel-good story. So many memes and news stories go around about non-disabled teens taking a disabled teen to prom. Kids go to prom!
I used to feel like that, too. Just be yourself, disability and all. I've been dating since I was about I've been in one serious relationship it lasted about a year since I began dating.
I am now single and got back into it after recovering from the breakup. A topic that comes up frequently is having to answer really strange questions about having a disability, like 'Can you have sex? I dated a guy with cerebral palsy for about a year. For some strange reason, I shied away from dating another person with a disability, as I thought it would be the only thing we would talk about. I was very wrong and it was one of the most fun and supportive relationships I'd ever been in. It's always something different in terms of reaction. I'm currently on Tinder. I've met some great and not so great people on there.
I used to not disclose my disability on dating profiles because I wanted to see the most honest reactions to my disability. Now, I fully disclose and it's taken a lot of the awkwardness out of the experience for me. It's been pretty good for the most part. Communication starts on day one with a person with disability. It shouldn't be a job interview. Just be aware that there may be things that are done in a different way, and that's totally cool. The important thing is to have a sense of humor and to not make assumptions.
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Nothing is more depressing than falling in love with someone only to hear them utter or defend ableist comments or behavior. Society does a pretty solid job associating disability or illness with death and fear, impressing deep in even the disabled and chronically ill our lack of worth. Again, how are we supposed to respond to that? You know that too. We love you for who you are. When you say you love us back but you also say things like this, how are we supposed to believe you?
And honestly, screw you. One of the biggest frustrations I hear able-bodied partners express is that they did what they thought was something considerate and compassionate, only to have their disabled partner respond with bewilderment, sadness or even anger.
A good bit of relationship for everyone, no matter who or where, is to just ask what someone needs instead of assuming you already know. Trust me when I say that open communication never goes wrong here. We already weighed that extra beer or two. We need to let down our hair and eat dairy or gluten. We need to go walking alone sometimes, even if it means we could pass out in a park somewhere. Yes, bring up that medical study or new prescription you heard about. But also trust that we know what meds, exercise and tests are best for ourselves.
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If we need your help, we will totally ask. This is the part that freaks most able-bodied people out. Will I have to do everything in the relationship? Do you really think we want to sit life out on the sidelines? We want to do all of that crap too. Whether things are vanilla or not, is up to you. Are you planning to stop communicating what you need and want?
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Are you going to not reciprocate, shut down, or gloss over our needs and wants? Those are deal-breakers and intimacy-killers in any relationship. Sadly, many people with disabilities are subjected to emotional, psychological or sexual abuse. Like with anyone sorting out feeling of trauma and victimization, patience and tenderness go a long way.