Check out the first entry in my new dating column.
3/3/11: Dating discrimination: How to cope
By Tiffiny Carlson
This week’s column is all about the most obvious yet least talked about issue facing people with disabilities in the rumbly tumbly world of dating: Dating discrimination. It’s the hard truth of being human – discrimination is unavoidable. We‘re all so used to it though it’s hardly ever thought about it, but maybe it’s time we should? Talking about this tough/sad issue can not only be therapeutic, the dialogue can hasten people to think about this issue when maybe they wouldn’t otherwise, causing change. Sure, dating discrimination is another person’s prerogative, but it’s still unfair.
How do you deal with rejection based on your disability? Are you used to it? Do you expect it? Can you blame them? Or do you just get plain angry (like me)? Whatever you’re reaction, it probably isn’t positive, and over time it can erode your happy place. Being constantly hurt, constantly turned down, really takes it toll. A friend once told me that we can only endure so much pain before it can be severely damaging to our souls. Sometimes we just need to step back, decide to take a break from the dating world, and nurture ourselves, slowly building ourselves up again until we’re at a point where we can risk once more our hearts in the game of love.
And as daters with disabilities, we’re discriminated against more than most. But more than single parents? More than people who are overweight? More than people of a different race or ethnicity? Maybe. It’s hard to say. And honestly, it depends from person to person. What I have learned however from my abundant (and turbulent) dating experience is that IT SEEMS we get it the worst, and it really, really sucks. I can be dressed to the nines and channeling Marilyn Monroe’s spirit, but guys will still turn me down and disregard me left and right. That’s just what being in a wheelchair is like somedays.
Another important thing to remind yourself is that there will always be a large unattainable portion of the population that will never be ok with dating someone with a disability, NO MATTER WHAT, and you’re just going to have to let go accept it. Again, another hard truth of living this crazy disabled life. A very wise male friend of mine actually told me that once when I was bemoaning being rejected, yet again, because of the fact that I’m a quadriplegic.
You know, the hardest thing about dating discrimination based on disability is that it’s over something you can’t change, and that’s what really hurts. It’s not like you can just go into the gym and work off your paralysis. It’s always going to be there. So instead, when you get the ax straightaway for the presence of disability, begin to think of the situation – albeit painful – as something to be thankful for. A disability can actually be a great way to filter the awful people out. If someone is going to reject you point blank without bothering to get to know you for YOU first, do you really want to be with someone like that? Would they be any good for you? I think you know the answer.
And at the end of the day when we’ve been turned down and ignored, we still go in for more. Like moths to a flame. But don’t feel silly. You’re human, and we’ll continue to crave love and acceptance until the day we die, fighting all the way down. Just remember, treat your heart with care constantly, and know that there’s always a reason to still have hope.
Have a dating dillema? Email me firstname.lastname@example.org