Recently a friend and I were discussing online dating in the context of people with disabilities. In our discussion I came up with three reasons that might keep people with disabilities away from the online dating scenes. These reasons are having to disclose one’s disability, fear of being overlooked and the potential of meeting devotees. Now I am not in any way saying that people with disabilities should stay away from online dating absolutely not, these are simply reasons I came up with in our discussion based on prior conversations with friends with disabilities on the topic and of course my own personal thoughts.
Disclosing Your Disability.
Half way into the discussion, my friend said “I believe in putting everything out there on an online dating profile and the right person will come to you.” Disclosing one’s disability on an online dating profile can be a daunting thing simply because you want interested suitors to see you for who you are without the disability. You don’t want to be judged or to have to put up with a thousand ignorant questions about your disability. Disclosing your disability then forces you to talk about your disability when you might not want to do so because it is such a personal thing to you. On the other hand disclosing your disability means you put everything out there and the right people will come to you.
Fear of Being Overlooked.
This fear is a real thing because let’s face it not many able bodied people are open to dating people with disabilities. This is a judgemental statement I am making here. The world we live in revolves around able bodied people and people with disabilities in the background if we are considered at all or we are treated like we don’t exist at all. We are hardly acknowledged and let’s no forget the ableist nature of our world. One just has to walk on any street to see how people with disabilities are treated. If we are overlooked in real life would the online experience be any different or would be get a lot of swipes on our profiles?
Potential of Meeting Devotees.
The potential of meeting devotees in my humble opinion is the top reason that might keep people with disabilities away from online dating. What is a devotee you may wonder? A devotee is a person who has a sexualised interest in the appearance and experience of disability. Picture this you set up your profile on a dating site, you put up beautiful pictures of yourself and in your bio you list that you have a disability. Next day you wake up to hundreds of messages from devotees. You get excited oh hey look at all these people interested in me then you start reading through these messages and to your disappointment it’s all from devotees. That would creep you out and make you uncomfortable right? When I pointed this out to my friend, she responded by saying “look you can meet weird people anywhere and anytime.” I 100% agree with her but the thought that there are potential devotees lurking on online dating sites would make anyone with a disability uncomfortable to explore the online dating space.
Experience of online dating from a friend with a disability who wished to remain anonymous
“I’ve done the whole online dating. Some girl got angry cause I did not write about my disability in my profile. Some even get mad if you contact them when you write it. Some agree to chat just because they are curious. It was emotionally draining.”
Having said all that, these 3 reasons based on my views and experiences and that of my friends should never stop any person with a disability to try online dating. Seriously go for it, you have nothing to lose.