Your Advice Needed

Your Advice Needed

The question:

Is disability a dating game changer?

The background:

Many people like to say that they don’t like game playing in dating.  However, I have come to believe that a little bit of game playing in the beginning is necessary.  It’s very rare that you can get away with showing your whole hand right from the start.  It scares and overwhelms the other person, particularly because chances are that you are on different places on each others lists.

What do I mean by lists? I mean that you’re out on the dating market, you’re talking to a few people, looking at possibilities, not too sure yet.  At some point someone you meet starts to stand out from the rest and that person becomes number one on your list.  That’s the person that you think you would most like to start an exclusive relationship with.  Before that person becomes clear to you, and maybe even after, there are people who seem like they might be good candidates, but you’re not certain yet.  You want to get to know them more before you decide if they are your number one choice or a backup choice.  The backup people still might end up being the one you go for, but you need time and more getting-to-know-you dates to figure it out.

If you’re out with a person that is absolutely number one on your list and that person is still trying to figure out where you are in the rankings, then being completely upfront with how much you like them is going to put a lot of pressure on that person that he or she is not ready for.  It’s likely that he or she will stop seeing you either because they don’t know if they like you as much and don’t want to hurt you much worse in the future, or they’re afraid they’re going to get trapped in something they aren’t ready for.

The current situation:

I’m rather terrible at the dating game.  I’m extremely open as a person and what you see if what you get.  Until a couple years ago I was completely unable to conduct small talk at all.  I’ve since learned, so I can get by in small talk, but it bores me.  I want to be talking about really deep and interesting things all the time.  Hot-button issues like religion and sex tend to come up in conversation with me, not on purpose, but I’m just so interested in those topics that I can’t seem to help going there with people immediately.  Until recently I had no walls around my heart at all, my emotion was completely out in the open for everyone to see.  I’m still like that in many ways, but in dating I’ve started to get more guarded.  Hurt has finally managed to make me cautious with people.

I’ve been taking my time over the last several months to really get to know myself, to take a hard look at what I want ideally in a relationship and in a partner.  I’ve been on a few dates, chatted with several people online.  I’ve gotten pretty good at reading situations with non-disabled dates.  But because the hormonal, lustful attraction isn’t there on those dates, there’s a lot less clouding my vision.  I’ve been finding with disabled dates that I can’t read the situation, and can’t figure out where I am in their list.

Back to the question:

Which has led me to wonder, is it just the hormones that are throwing off my ability to read what’s going on, or does the disability have an effect?  Does the presence of disability automatically bring in some level of insecurity?

I tend to operate  from the idea that disability cannot be blamed or sited in any way for a person’s behavior.  People are people and each one will build a life differently, whether that life includes a disability or not.  Each individual responds to having a disability in a different way as well.  In the past I’ve dismissed men for not being upfront enough about their feelings, for not seeming to really want me that much.  In a non-disabled guy there are things that I would definitely read as being “not that into me” as the book says.  But am I wrong to read those cues the same way in a disabled man?  Should I give him some leeway for his caution?

I would not have thought so, but when I read this survey from England that 70% of people would not even consider having an intimate relationship with someone with a disability

Safe Sex chart4

Seventy per cent of Britons would not consider having sex with someone who had a physical disability. Just over one in four would not rule out the possibility, while only four per cent have actually had sex with someone with a physical disability. Men are slightly more likely than women to rule out the possibility.

I was stunned, I’m in a 4% minority? (Okay, not exactly because I’m American, but I have a feeling the survey here would turn up similar results).  I found this blog titled “Love Rolls On!  Unlikely tales of marriage, love and disability.”  Unlikely tales?  Is it really that unlikely?  This is starting to depress me.  I’m thinking maybe these guys really do have good reason to guard their hearts and hold me at arm’s length.

So, what do you think?  Is disability a dating game changer?

[Another factor that could be at play with how I interact with disabled dates…Does my devoteeism cause men to think I’m only in it for the sex?  That I’m a pervert, so therefore all I want is sex?  I’m actually, contrary to the image of this blog, rather shy when it comes to sex.  I haven’t had a lot of partners and I much prefer to be in a loving, committed relationship before getting naked.  I’m not sure men who know that I’m a dev realize that.]

(I would appreciate any thoughts on this subject and if you don’t want to post comments, you could also send me a private email at


Featured image from this site:–Sex


  1. Melissa
    May 7, 2011

    I think the rules DO apply. I’m also in the 4%, and have had a guy accuse me of just being in it to fulfill some wacky dev fantasy… which really hurt and caused me to spend some time in contemplation… did I REALLY like him? Of course I did. But the second guessing really sucks…

    On the other hand… if a guy is into you… he will act like it. He really will.

  2. Carl Thompson
    May 8, 2011

    I think there will definitely be some reluctance on the part of the person disability, due mainly to the shock that someone may be into them – and by this token they would not want to share so much about themselves for fear of pushing away someone who is already so rare in the population.

    My thoughts anyway.

    Good luck with it all, Ruth!

  3. Geekguy
    May 8, 2011

    Humm, interesting topic. I’ve never thought about or tried to have a relationship with a girl who wasn’t a wheeler or otherwise disabled. I just wouldn’t feel right to be in a relationship where I’d have to fake that kind of attraction. I do worry about where I place on the few girls lists that I have interacted with. I worry because I’m after a much smaller percentage of the population than they are. Chances are, at any given time I won’t even have a list, it will be just one person – if that, because that’s all there is. I guess I do rank them against other imaginary people I suppose. Like the people out there who I have to imagine exist but I don’t know yet.

    The real pickle I seem to have at the moment is there is a girl I’m interested in, and not only is she at the top of any list I can imagine, I’ve totally fallen for her. She knows this. I also know I’m not number one on her list. That’s a given since she currently has a BF – a BF who is not me. Do I know where I place other than that? Well, I like to think I still make the list, as we are on friendly terms, but what I’d really like to know, is AM I ANYWHERE CLOSE TO SECOND PLACE???


    Anyway, my thoughts are that it’s our own emotions getting in the way of seeing where we place on other peoples lists. For me, (and I’m guessing you too,) the only people I have those kinds of internal feelings for are the ones with a disability. If I were attracted to some other sort of person, I think I would feel just as insecure about how they really feel about me.

    • RuthMadison
      May 8, 2011

      Yes, our pool of potential people is tiny. I’m being careful now to make sure that that fact doesn’t cause me to start a relationship with someone who isn’t the right match for me just because of the desperation of having so few to choose from.

      I’m sorry about your situation, that really sucks.

      You’re right too that I think everyone finds themselves in this scenario with people they are truly drawn to.

      They say whoever cares the least is the one with the power in the situation. I don’t want the power, I just want love. I’m not sure how that fits in.

  4. Foxt
    May 11, 2011

    “Does the presence of disability automatically bring in some level of insecurity?”
    I think it’s about the pressure of knowing the odds – such a small pool of eligible people makes every interaction take on an almost unbearable significance.

    • RuthMadison
      May 11, 2011

      I agree! And I think with me that’s happening on both sides. I feel the pressure of a small pool of potential dates and so does the other person!

  5. Melissa
    Jun 4, 2011

    I’d also like to say that the worst advice I’ve ever received for dating a wheeler was, “If he’s interested in you, he’ll make first contact, always.”

    I think this damaged a number of early relationships. While still maintaining that if he’s into you, you’ll KNOW it, I do think that it’s ok to “first-text” or make first contact on any given day. Especially if you’ve established a routine of communicating regularly.

    • RuthMadison
      Jun 5, 2011

      I was planning to try to see what would happen if I used “the rules.” I didn’t make it very far. For online “rules,” they insist that the guy must make contact with you. In theory that sounds great, but I’ve been having some success from reaching out to guys I’m interested in.

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