The dilemma of online dating with disabilities

by Ivano Abbadessa - 2016.03.04
The dilemma of online dating with disabilities
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If not now, when? This is the dilemma for many people with disabilities who are looking for love online. If you are upfront about your disability, the risk is that no one will contact you. But if you wait too long you could become paranoid about when is the right time to tell the person you've been chatting to, for hours, days or months, about being blind, deaf or in a wheelchair. And then there's the matter of how to handle a possible negative reaction.

I cut my wheelchair out of any photo I put on Tinder, admits a British 19-year-old who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. “I never get approached in bars when I’m out with friends,” she continues. “I feel as if they look at me and just see the wheelchair. Online, I can speak to them for a day or so before revealing anything.

This sentiment is echoed by Michelle, 26, from Liverpool, who has a noticeable limp. When she first began online dating, she chosen to conceal her true condition and would normally wait at least a week before telling the other person about her disability. But, after one man accused her of lying, Michelle changed her mind. She decided to run the risk of creating a desert around herself and was open about her disability in her profile, despite the findings of a recent survey showing that only five per cent of Britons on dating sites or apps would go on a date with someone with a disability they met online. Most people would openly avoid this situation.

This didn't discourage Andy, a 43-year-old from Manchester who was left paralysed from the chest down after a motorcycle accident. His online profile shows his wheelchair quite clearly, even though he knows that it will keep lots of women away. He says he chose to do this because he wanted to make it clear that he enjoys life. Often he sends a message to users who looks at his profile without contacting him: “Can you be honest, is it because I use a wheelchair?” But that is a question that has so far gone unanswered.

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