So You’re Thinking About Dating a Dev

So You’re Thinking About Dating a Dev

My experience has been that for many people who have disabilities, finding out about devs is cool and exciting at first.  What a great thing, you might think, that someone will actually want my body as it is instead of just putting up with it.   After some thought, though, some concerns might arise.  I want to address those concerns.  Based on myself and many messages and conversations that I’ve had with other devs, I’m putting some common questions here.

Please ask your own questions in the comments or by email!  I will update the post to reflect all the questions.

Also, a word of explanation.  There is a lot of variety among devs.  As you might expect, they are people just like every one else.  A few of them are creepy or scary.  Most are not.  Most are afraid of being considered creepy and scary and so don’t want to identify themselves.  Remember that they deserve compassion and respect just as much as you do.

The Questions

1) Does he or she like me only for my body?

As much as the general population is, many of us are interested in long term relationships with people we are compatible with.  That includes physical compatibility, which for many of us, requires a disability.  It also includes all the other forms of compatibility, such as emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and just what we enjoy doing day to day.

It is worth noting that many devs have never had the opportunity to date someone they are attracted to, so they could be distracted by how attractive you are.  Keep an eye out for compatibility issues, but know that they are probably not fixated on your body, they just think you are very sexy and it’s hard to separate that from seeing true compatiblity.

I know when I first started exploring this side of myself in dating, I went out with guys I had nothing in common with and extremely different personalities just to see if physical compatibility could overcome that.  I found that it could not.  If the dev you are interested in has not had any experiences with disabled lovers before, it is good to remember that he or she might be too overcome with attraction to watch for the other elements of a relationship and you should keep an eye on that.

I still sometimes fall victim to being too overcome by a guy’s hotness to be honest about our likely long term potential, but I think that is something that happens in all forms of attraction!

 

2) Hypothetically, if there were to be a cure for my disability, would the dev still want to be in a relationship with me?

Yes.  If you two find that you are compatible in many ways and start a relationship and fall in love, then that love rises above physical factors.  I’ve spoken to devs who are married to disabled spouses and they have emphasized that they would prefer for their partner to be happy and have what he or she wants, even if that is to be cured and cause an end to the attraction that first brought them together.

I’ve started to see it as the reverse of the typical scenario.  Someone might ask, “What would happen if I were in an accident and paralyzed?  Would my husband [or wife] still love me?  Would we break up?”  Many people would say that it would be challenging and require readjustment, but if you really love each other, you work through it.  I think the same is true in the reverse for devs.  If the disability were to somehow go away, it would require readjustment, it would be tough, but with real love it could be worked out.

 

3) Will he or she know a lot about disability or will I be educating him or her?

As I said above, because of the terrible reputation of devoteeism and fear of being thought creepy or bad, the vast majority of devs are “in the closet” and have not had the opportunity to have a relationship.  For that reason, it is highly likely that you could be the first person with a disability that he or she has gone out with.  He or she may have done a lot of reading and learning about disability and also may not have.  It is likely that you will be doing the same type of educating that you would do with a non-dev date.  The plus side is that you never have to wonder if the things that come up because of your disability will be a turn-off or ruin a date.  They are much more likely to be a turn-on!

Also, every disability is different and every individual person is different.  I have been on several dates with wheelchair users, but each one is different in whether he wants or needs help with certain things and different attitudes about how disability has played in his life.  I don’t automatically know what you are capable of.  I try to assume that you are completely independent and can do everything for yourself, waiting for you to ask for help if you need it, but I’m not perfect with that.  It’s a tricky balance to arrange of how much to ignore the disability and how much to acknowledge it or talk about it and it’s a different balance with every person.  So, go easy on us, we’re trying our best!

 

4) Can we just be f*ck buddies?

That might be what some people are looking for. I think that, as with the general population, some people are looking for hook ups and some people are looking for relationships.   Don’t assume that because someone is a dev, that means he or she is just interested in sex and is super kinky and horny.  It’s just a type of physical attraction, but it doesn’t mean that we are more or less interested in sex than anyone else.

 

5) Is it just a fantasy or to devotees want real life disabled partners?  Can they handle the reality of disability?

I feel comfortable in saying that devoteeism always starts as fantasy.  We imagine and fantasize about disabled lovers and partners, we read fiction books with disabled love interests, we read memoirs of people who have disabilities.  For some, this is enough.

For many, reality actually turns out to be much better than fantasy.

You might think that fantasy would be the best because you could decide exactly what you want and what you don’t want, but my experience was (and many people who have written to me’s experience was) reality blows fantasy away.

To me, not everything about disability is a turn-on, but so far none of it has ever been a turn-off.

My relationships have not been very long, but I have a couple of dev friends who are married and I can tell you that they can definitely handle the reality of their spouses’ disabilities.

 

OKAY, THE FLOOR IS OPEN… WHAT ARE YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT DATING A DEVOTEE?

6) Will I be irresistible because I have the disability he or she likes? No, not at all.  Having a particular disability is only one part of the overall attraction, but attractiveness is very hard to measure.  It isn’t quantifiable.  If a girl really likes guys with dark hair, does she have sex with every dark-haired man on the planet?  Of course not.  It’s just part of the overall picture that appeals to her.  Please don’t assume that a dev will have sex with you just because you are disabled.  I’m speaking to you, men on dating profiles who send me sexually suggestive messages even though you are fat, bald, and thirty years older than me.

 

39 Comments

  1. Melissa
    May 22, 2011

    I’ve talked to a number of guys over the past few months, and am currently dating a wheeler. I have to say the biggest issue I’ve run into is the guy being all excited about devs initially, but then the trust plummets when he starts thinking… “does she like ME or my disability?” I’ve even been talking to guys who WANT to date devs and have cautioned them to consider this very things. It’s gonna come up. It HAS to come up. So better to consider and be prepared when it does.

    • RuthMadison
      May 23, 2011

      And if only they would just ask! And be willing to address and discuss these concerns instead of being super nice to me and than vanishing without a trace.

      • Melissa
        Jun 4, 2011

        I feel like I owe it not only to myself and the guy I’m currently seeing to try to have these discussions, I owe it to the next person who dates either of us. The more things are discussed, the easier they become to discuss.

        …as for guys vanishing without a trace… I have never experienced that phenomenon until I started dating wheelers. Never. *shrug*

  2. Inigo
    May 23, 2011

    Hey, chickie, I’m so glad that you’re addressing this stuff. We’ve sure enough got a bad rap at places. I do, however, want to take mild exception to this statement… “The plus side is that you never have to wonder if the things that come up because of your disability will be a turn-off or ruin a date. They will be a turn-on!” … because it’s not entirely true for me.

    While there’s nothing that I’m likely to hear that’s going to be a turn-OFF, not everything I learn is a turn-ON. For example, whatever a guy does in the bathroom is his business. Personally, I don’t care what a guy does in the bathroom and, weirdly, (I think you addressed it in the “you know you’re a dev if” post) I get lots of online chatters who think that’s the main thing I’m interested in and go straight for that. ‘Tis a bummer. 🙁

    • RuthMadison
      May 23, 2011

      Actually, I did say that in another part of this post! It’s a good point. I am not interested in any bathroom business either (and for some reason people do like to send really gross messages on that subject a lot). It is a neutral thing for me, not a turn-on, but not a turn-off either. In fact, I’ll modify that sentence a bit.

      • Melissa
        Jun 4, 2011

        I, too, have been bombarded with bathroom comments and discussions. I think it must be for some guys that I might be the first person who they think can deal with the discussion?? Others, I know for a fact, use it as a litmus test, of sorts… to see if I’m willing to stick around for further real discussion, or if it’s just a light fantasy for me so at the first sign of trouble, I take off.

        It’s disheartening to think that some guys might think that all we focus on is sex, how the junk works (or doesn’t) and the near-by, so easily commented on, bladder/bowel issues. I don’t typically discuss any of these things on a regular basis with my friends day to day, but it’s almost a guarantee that a new wheeler friend is going to bring it up within the first few minutes of discussion…

        • RuthMadison
          Jun 5, 2011

          I hate when guys use that as a test. I say, yes I can handle it, but could we not go straight to the gross stuff? Let’s get to know each other first! Jeez.

  3. Geekguy
    May 23, 2011

    Well, being a guy, I thought I might have some other perspective on this. Turns out no, not really.

    #1 – Yes, not only possibly not having any experience with a disabled lover, but possibly with any lover. Probably too easy for the wool to be pulled over ones eyes at first.

    #2 – You know I actually used this example with someone not too long ago. Fits to a T. The only thing I might add, is that if I were in that situation, when being intimate with them, I’d still be picturing in my head how they were. But yes, totally agree with wanting the best for my partner, even at the expense of the attraction.

    #3 – From my personal experience, expect a lot of knowledge in some areas with a lot of holes. I may know generally what to expect in some cases, and quite possible be very knowledgeable about it, but yes, everyone is different, so don’t be surprised if either A) I assumed something wrong B) I ask a detailed questions about something most people wouldn’t know enough to ask.

    #4 – Yeah, maybe it will be different for someone else, but certainly I’m not looking for a hookup. It’s hard enough meeting someone I’m attracted to, if possible I’d like a relationship out of it too.

    #5 – At least for me, no, it’s not just a fantasy. I really do want to be partners with someone who is disabled. I understand there are other ramifications to having a long term relationship with someone with a disability, but, for the opportunity to both be in love with someone as well as being very much attracted to them, anything I’m giving up to be with them is well worth it.

    P.S. – oh and if you want a male devotee’s perspective on anything feel free to ask

    P.P.S. – yeah, and I am single too, so if you are a girl wheeler, umm my OkCupid profile name is a derivative of the SN here. Oh, and I’ve just started a match.com profile too to see how it works.

    • RuthMadison
      May 23, 2011

      I tried to write the post to work for a male or female dev perspective, sounds like I did pretty well! Thanks for your input 🙂 I think male devs get a much harsher reputation than females, so it’s valuable to see that you are an intelligent and reasonable human being!

      • Geekguy
        May 24, 2011

        “I think male devs get a much harsher reputation than females, so it’s valuable to see that you are an intelligent and reasonable human being!”

        Oh as opposed to being a creep? yeah for the longest time I tried to bury the dev part of me because all of what I read portrayed everyone with feelings like mine as a creep. Ergo – I must be a creep. Or so I thought. At least I don’t still think that way.

        I do worry about it when contacting girls though. I mean, the two that have gotten to the point where I have told them about it were like totally “you are so not a creep”. But on the one site where I list myself as a devotee in my profile (because it has a spot for it), my response rate is zero, where for all the other sites, it’s around 50%.

        Nothing like having a bad reputation with your target romance population before you even start I suppose 🙁

        • RuthMadison
          May 25, 2011

          Yeah, sadly I can’t recommend upfront honesty for male devs. I don’t think any woman will give you a chance if that’s all she knows of you! Such a shame. I hope that being vocal about the prejudice against us will do some good in the future.

    • ClaireSL
      Jun 7, 2011

      Thank you, Ruth, for this piece.
      It has helped me understand a lot more about the Dev mindset, and it makes me grateful that y’all exist.
      It would be such a balm to my heart to know that a man was turned on by the aspects of my body that have caused me such worry, that he craves me the way that I am, not the way that I wish I could be.

      I have really struggled with these ideas and have been more than a little hesitant to get involved.
      To that end: Hi there, Geek Guy. Girl Wheeler here who can’t find you on OKC. Find me instead!

      • RuthMadison
        Jun 8, 2011

        Yay! Here’s hoping that you two hit it off 🙂

      • Geekguy
        Jun 9, 2011

        Found you, I think.

      • Michelle
        May 29, 2014

        I can’t find u on ok Cupid. Look for me too geekguy

        • RuthMadison
          Aug 25, 2014

          I’m not on there anymore, actually. I got married last year! 😀

  4. Mike
    May 23, 2011

    I found out about dev’s a while back and formed the following impressions:
    1. They’re just people. Whether they’re creepy or not isn’t about being a dev, it’s who they are a person.
    2. An attraction to disability isn’t different than any other attraction, we don’t know why people prefer the things they do, and they likely don’t know either. Why do some people prefer a particular hair color?
    3. We have odd social rules, some written and others not. For example, if someone has what appears to be a temporary condition it’s OK to notice and acknowledge – (“Can I sign your cast?”), but if it appears permanent, like my braces, you’re not supposed to notice. Personally I wouldn’t mind, but people do feel uncomfortable because there aren’t established social rules for this.
    4. As a consequence of item #3 (and other factors), lot’s of people with peculiar attractions often grow up with guilt and/or shame about their attraction, and this occasionally precipitates awkward interactions. Think about a pubescent boy attempting to tell some girl that he likes her boobs; the interaction can be equally awkward, and for the same reason; they don’t have the experience to know how to behave in this situation. And just like the girl with the boobs he likes, whatever he says and how she responds are highly variable and depend upon the individual as well as how they happen to be feeling at the moment.
    5. Just like any other attraction, the thing that initially stimulates interest is typically temporal, and is quickly replaced by the personality and personal interactions. They will not much care whether or not you are a blonde within a short period, they will care whether you are a person they like.
    6. Personally I like dev’s, they make me feel good, and that’s not any different than the feeling you get when someone tells you your eyes are pretty. It doesn’t mean they feel any particular emotion about you as a person, just that they like the color of your eyes.

    • RuthMadison
      May 23, 2011

      Very insightful. I think you are right on for all points and it’s awesome that you took the time to evaluate and form an opinion grounded in reality.

    • Michelle
      May 29, 2014

      I recently had a realationship with a devo. I’ve been paralyzed for 5 years & jus found out about devos. I like that someone could like my body the way it is & how it will be as time goes on. When people ask “how do u know he’s with u for love or jus your body” well nobody can stay together if they don’t get along. I’m very intrigued by the whole devo thing. Don’t understand y people r afraid to talk about it. It’s jus like someone being turned on over feet. We all have some kind of fantasy that really gets us going. Hope I don’t offend anyone. Jus want to know moe about this

      • RuthMadison
        Aug 25, 2014

        It’s great to hear from you! I’m so glad that you gave a dev a chance. I think in any relationship it’s normal for it to start with physical attraction and deepend from there.

  5. nickelodeon
    Jun 18, 2011

    Hey Ruth, just discovered this and really delighted to read about the perspective of being a dev from a female side. I’ve been a male one all my life and as others have remarked the inclination is to keep it closeted because disabled women mostly are put off by it. Or at least many are — which I understand on one level but find odd on another level (tall slender women don’t mind that I find them tall or slender…But being turned on by their wheelchair….).

    So it’s interesting to hear your take, since as a female you’re less likely to occur as a threat. I’d love to see the shame of being a dev removed. It’s no more sinister than any other attraction. I recently let a woman know that I was actually attracted by her disability (she’s a quad) and she cut me off. On one hand I can understand a woman being irritated that I’m attracted by something that for her is a source of frustration (like limited hand function or the complications that come with the condition). But it does rule out a large segment of the dating market for them.

    Anyways, thanks for bravely taking the subject into the public realm. My question: How’s it gone when you’ve told men that you were turned on by their disability?

    • RuthMadison
      Jun 19, 2011

      I have a lot of compassion for male devs, I know you guys face even more suspicion, fear, and hatred than we female ones do. I’ve heard that in some rehab places, newly injured people are *warned* about us! What is it they think we are going to do? Really a disabled person and a dev together form a perfectly symbiotic relationship.

      The key, I think, is to find a partner who is comfortable with her or his body as it is. When people are uncomfortable with disability, then they are also uncomfortable with people who find it attractive.

      I’ve used a variety of approaches to telling guys. I keep it simple and use examples that they can relate to. Example: “I have a slightly different kind of attraction. It’s silly that there’s even a word for it, since most people’s attractions don’t require new words. My body responds to disability the way another girl’s might respond to big muscles or a tall guy. I don’t know why, it’s just how I was made. I find that attraction works on three layers for me: the lust layer, which requires disability, the cuteness layer, requiring passably good looking features, and the intellectual layer of things in common, similar outlook on life, etc.”

      Sometimes the fear stems from the thought that a dev wants to control the other person, or torture them for pleasure, or some crazy idea like that. If I can tell someone has particular concerns, I’ll address those. I don’t know how to prove that I have no interest in being the dominant person in a relationship! I’m a meek and submissive kind of person. Far from wanting a passive guy who “needs help,” I see disabled guys as more capable, more manly, and stronger. Don’t know why, but that’s just what I feel!

  6. Rose
    Jun 21, 2011

    So where exactly do you find these mythical males? lol I tried Chemistry.com and got lots of responses. However none were left once I weeded out the creeps, the wimps, the curiosity seekers and the ones I wasn’t even vaguely attracted too.
    I don’t have trouble finding guys who like me. I have trouble not pushing them away once we get to the intimate part. Vanity is a bitch! lol. Just would be easier dating a guy either in the medical profession or a devotee who’s somewhat familiar with the ‘joys’ of dating someone who can’t walk.

    • RuthMadison
      Jun 21, 2011

      Sounds familiar! It’s difficult from the other side too. I weed through my responses and end up with…zero. lol.

      I think maybe I need to start my own dating service! Connect people up.

      I happen to know two very nice men who are devs and post in the comments here, so that’s a start! 😀

      • Rose
        Jun 22, 2011

        You should. Doubt you’d have any competition, definitely a unique specialty area. lol.
        Told myself I’d be open minded so couldn’t hurt to chat w/ them. Any contact info?

        • Geekguy
          Jun 22, 2011

          Humm, maybe I should just consider putting a link to my okcupid or match.com profile as my website here.

          • RuthMadison
            Jun 22, 2011

            😛 I am going to become a matchmaker by accident

        • RuthMadison
          Jun 22, 2011

          I sent you an email… 😉

  7. Jason
    Jun 24, 2011

    Ruth and I chat quite a bit IRL. I’m not disabled, but I have contemplated gnawing off a limb to impress Ruth 😀

    Seriously though, I had never heard of Devotees until Ruth rather shyly told me about her attractions and such. I’m not sure if I’m just jaded or DJing Goth Industrial clubs and have many many friends into the fetish scene, he story did not effect me at all. From this point of view I find it hard to believe Dev’s are viewed in the ways I have seen described, from creeps to sexual miscreants. Why is this so? I firmly believe that every person on the planet has one (or several people) that are a good match for that person. So if one is disabled, why are their prospective lovers and mates viewed with such suspicion? I think this is great, but yes I can see Ruth’s points above and they make a lot of sense. Sometimes when people are repressed (either internally or socially) once they break out they go a bit hog wild and quickly loose focus in their new found self, this applies to anything honestly.

    I know for myself, not being a Dev and rather vanilla in my Victorian morals, I would have no qualms dating a woman in a wheel chair, or an amputee or what-not. With this said, it would piss me off beyond belief if I was accused of being an advantageous creep for simply following my heart.

    Anyways, that’s my rumblings from a non-dev pov. Love is love, attraction is attraction.

    • RuthMadison
      Jun 24, 2011

      Oh, thank you, my dear. I can’t say that devness is always pure and innocent and okay, there is some scary stuff out there that I want to distance myself from, but if you look at my YouTube video about devness you’ll see comments from a disabled woman that show that she’s had some unsavory contact with devs. 🙁 I want to just scream at them “Stop being creepy! You’re making things difficult for all of us!”

    • Geekguy
      Jun 24, 2011

      You know, I wonder if the one-sidedness of the attraction affects people’s views of devness. I mean, take another attraction that could be seen as “out there” as far as mainstream, something like furries. Mainstream? Not really. Hated? not as far as I know. But, furries can have relationships with other furries where they know they will be accepted because the other person feels the same way. It’s a mutual thing.

      Compare that to devs. How likely is it that two devs would be attracted to each other? Well, by definition that implies that both of them are also disabled themselves. And while I fully expect there are devs out there who are disabled themselves, I have to believe the population is so incredibly tiny that it’s would be virtually impossible for two of them to meet by chance. Therefore, one is pretty much guaranteed to have mismatched attraction. And that likely means that partner is always more in the position of tolerating (or appreciating) the dev’s attraction as opposed to sharing in it or fully understanding it.

      Now, there are some mismatches that work well, Dom/slave relationships for example. But what attraction balances out well with a dev????

      • RuthMadison
        Jun 24, 2011

        I’ve been thinking about this lately too! While I do think that a dev and a disabled person can make a beautifully symbiotic team, it is true that they don’t need us and they don’t tend to understand where we’re coming from at all. It’s not like other people, as you say, like furries, who find each other and are so happy to understand each other and have that piece in common.

        I went on a date recently that I was telling a friend about and she said, “What do you guys have in common?” And it struck me suddenly that actually, *disability* was what we had in common. How weird is that? That’s what we had common views about and discussed.

  8. Johanna
    Jun 26, 2011

    I am a female devotee and have a wonderful guy friend who was the first male devotee I ever really got to know. I too had many misconceptions about male devotees and had made generalisations that were not fair. This guy is the antithesis of creepy. I know he remains pretty closeted about his preference because he is afraid to make a woman feel ‘objectfied’ in any way, shape or form. Whoever ends up with him will be lucky. He is all those things that would want in a man in addition to being very attractive. I would love to help him find a partner.

    • RuthMadison
      Jun 28, 2011

      My plan involves being vocal and educating. I think the more non-creepy devs are open about themselves, the more it will send the creepy ones to the edges. Of course that’s easier said than done and I can see it will be an uphill battle probably my whole life.

  9. PHILE
    Jul 24, 2011

    i AM A DISABLED MALE. i HAVE DATED TWO NON DISabled women . I am presently pursueing my third lady who is not disabled. The rest have all been disabled. I beleive whether your partner is disabled or not. It is importatnt tohavbed open communication. What your neend turn offs. I do agree this subject should be handled delicately. However not avoided. I have had some fab oulous relationships with non disabled women and the best sex. Just keep a open dialogue.ds are and yur likes. Turn on a

  10. Dave
    Sep 16, 2012

    It seems that you are one of the very few who dares shed light and provide insights into our attraction for those with physical differences.
    As I have gotten older, (more mature possibly) I see less need to keep my attractions hidden. While I have dated and had relationships with several able-bodied women, my preference is women who are paralyzed or have a mobility impairment, although I also find amputee women attractive.
    Of course, as with an able-bodied woman, she must be compatible in order to have any hope of a relationship, its not just about the disability.
    I see it as no different than an attraction for women with long hair, large/small breasts, eye color, hair color height weight body shape, or any other physical features.
    My partner, who has a deformed leg and foot (despite repeated medical attempts to correct it) from an accident, is well aware of my
    preferences, and no longer makes any attempt to hide her sever limp and twisted leg and foot as she did when we first met.

    • RuthMadison
      Sep 17, 2012

      It is wonderful to hear your experience! I agree that the biggest misconception is that we devs aren’t interested in a real relationship with many factors of compatibility!

  11. Dave
    Sep 17, 2012

    I get the impression that most disabled persons (women at least) firmly believe that all devotees are interested ONLY in their physical differences, and not at all in them as a person.
    Part of this comes, I am certain, from the crude (and even disgusting) behavior of (almost exclusively male) devotees. I have no doubt that word of such behavior has spread throughout the disabled community, even if the disabled individual has not personally had a bad experience with a dev, hence the widespread wariness and even disgust in which devotees are looked upon.
    The only thing , I believe, that will change this is the positive experiences disabled persons have had with devs being promulgated, but this will be an uphill struggle.
    Your efforts in providing a forum for discussion of this phenomenon can only have a positive effect on the situation.

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