When you have a disability of whatever kind, you are literally one goal down in the game of life. This is because the world was not made with disability in mind so you have to adapt, improvise and overcome more challenges and obstacles than anyone else in life.
For those of us with visible disabilities such as physical disability or visual impairment or hearing challenges, we let our confidence go ahead of us to cover what we lack in physical outlook qualities. For myself who uses a wheelchair, my presence in class went ahead of me in terms of personality. I was a quisitive person in class answered many questions and gave classic examples, much to the amazement of my classmates in school all the way from primary school to campus. Of course, the brains attracted the ladies and its the same for the ladies with disabilities. If you are intelligent, men will come to you.
Disability makes one over think when dating or trying to date someone, especially when the other person does not have an impairment. Persons with disabilities ask themselves endless questions most of which are just assumptions based on their experiences from a disability perspective. Some of the questions are like:
- Why date me who has a disability when there other guys/ladies without a disability?
- How do you describe me to your friends and people close to you?
- Are you ready for the sacrifices that come with this condition (s)?
- What about the things we can't do together?
- Are you ready for the staring from the public when we're out?
The answer to these questions will mostly tell if the partner is really interested in dating someone with a disability. If they are interested, they will basically learn to cope with these issues but not without asking themselves questions in the process as well. They may ask themselves questions about the future of the relationship especially if those close to them like family and friends are opposed to the relationship. The person without a disability may ask if one with a disability can get intimate and be able to start a family.
Over time, the conversation shifts from if they can cope with the disability (if the partner is not disabled) to if they are okay with some of the embarrassing and not so comfortable things that happen because of a disability. Case in point is the use of special hygiene items for calls of nature for some disabilities. I for one hated welcoming visitors to my room because of my inability to clean it as often as I should. It left me what kind of impression my friends had after leaving my room back in campus. One also has to have the difficult conversations mostly about parenting. Some disabilities affect one's ability to be a parent through the natural way and this has to be put into consideration. Is the partner ready for surrogacy, adoption or no kids at all?
Assurances also have to happen to the person without a disability. One of the Assurances is that we can do things on our own even though differently and most times slowly. They should not fear that persons with disabilities will turn them to maid of sorts since they are their partners. Of course this will depend on the type of disability in question to which a caregiver may be needed but its not always the case. The other assurance needed has mostly to do with medical conditions linked to disability or that happen as a result of a disability. Most partners experience traumas after seeing something related to a disability for the first time. Something like a wheelchair accident or falling for a visually impaired person after miscalculating their steps in a staircase. A person with the disability ought to assure their partner that these happenings are 'normal' within our circles..
Depending on the type of disability, conversations have to happen around the progress of the disability itself and how prepared the partner is in dealing with the outcomes of the disability. Some disabilities are retrogressive and this means more challenges in the future. The partner has to be ready for this. This is to mentally prepare them for the new reality and be able to adapt easily when the time comes. They have to be prepared for more hospital visits, painful procedures and loss of an ability in one way or the other.
Inter-abled dating is possible through patience, perseverance and understanding from both sides. For persons with disabilities, just work on yourself. Improve your skills, body mind and soul in addition to being positive in life. After all, it's the best built house that has most buyers.
For people without disabilities, date the person not their inabilities and don't try to play a hero by dating someone with a disability.. in any case, doesn't love conquer all? Don't be shy and give it a try. It doesn't hurt to try does it?
By Brian Ndiritu