All of the time I see people discussing their or others’ relationships. I see or hear about their dates, past relationships, trips or activities they do together and even about their intimacies. I hear about their love, fears, joys, and sadness. I hear about normal human activities and desires.
People start dating in their early teens as they build their experience with a few or several boyfriend / girlfriend relationships. By college-age, people are either well-versed in the art of romance or experimenting. Many get engaged, married and/or pregnant by their early twenties. By their mid-twenties, many are married and settled down. By their late twenties or early thirties, still more are by now married and settled with kids or divorced and either taking a break or back in the dating game By their late thirties and into their forties, their kids are adults and having kids of their own, a full circle of life and progeny.
You’re probably wondering why I used the third person pronoun “they”. This is because I do not consider myself to be a part of society, at least not in the romance, dating ritual or intimate relationship sense. Let’s face it, the world’s number one interest is dating, marriage, love and sex. It’s everywhere and not just TV or magazines but also the frequent topic among friends.
Now, what would you do if you were in your thirties and never had these experiences? Just think about it. I bet you can’t imagine life without these life experiences and emotions. That’s okay because it’s part of being human.
You see, I’m disabled. I have Duchene’s Muscular Dystrophy, a severe, progressive disability and have needed to use a wheelchair since I was age 8. I’m 31 and never had an intimate relationship.
Yes, I do like women and am heterosexual. I’ve asked several women out over the years and have been rejected every time. First, I’ll go over a quick synopsis of my failed endeavors. No names though.
I didn’t notice girls really until I was 19 or, if I did, I never acted on it because I was too shy. I have shared a kiss with a disabled girl when I was 19 but we never really got to do anything more. We shared a few more special moments together but never had enough privacy to be truly intimate.
After a few months into our freshman year of college (different schools, different states), we went to the mall together, kissed a little and I gave her poetry. I was in love with her and, soon after, I told her so in a hand-written letter and asked her out as my girlfriend. She responded and said that she was sorry but had to refuse because she had a boyfriend in New England. I was devastated but moved on with my life. We remain friends to this day.
That’s as positive as it gets. I’ve still never met a woman for a relationship other than the disabled girl I mentioned but, even she wasn’t really a girlfriend.
I’ve met several women online (three local) but for one reason or another (distance, want to just be friends, etc.) it’s never worked out. It does makes me feel abnormal, especially seeing sex & romance all over TV, the net, books and elsewhere and seeing people everywhere mentioning their boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse.
In high school in 1990, I thought I liked this Hispanic girl in my chemistry class. She would smile at me and say hi everyday. I hinted that I liked her and she laughed at me and called me cripple! That really hurt.
In college in 1995, I thought I liked this girl in my calculus class. She would smile at me and we’d talk a lot before class. I asked if she wanted to study together and she agreed. After we finished, I asked to kiss her. She said she just split up with her boyfriend, was becoming nun (yes, she said nun!), we couldn’t date but I could kiss her cheek so I did. After that she stopped talking to me but quickly accepted my offer to give her the answers to a big homework assignment.
In 2000, I met a local girl my age online and we shared a lot of similar interests. She came over to my house to see a movie. I asked her out on a “real” date in e-mail. She said just friends.
In 2001, I met a local 19 year old girl online and we became close and I asked her out. She stood me up three times and after the last time, she had gone out with a 33 year old man, whom we both knew, as friends and ended up moving in with him! I later found out that she had family problems and I was unable to help her get away so she went with him because he could help.
After two days of crying about her, my left lung collapsed. I spent three weeks in the hospital and returned home right before Christmas. While in the hospital, I needed something out my backpack and found a book and poem I had written for the girl.
Also, while in the hospital, I met a nurse’s aide and we chatted a lot and exchanged notes and phone numbers. But, after I got out, I never could get her on the phone. Her family always said she was busy or out and she never called me. My mother saw her in car eating ice cream with a guy.
Around 2002, I met a girl online who I knew from high school when our bus would drop off her younger disabled brother at their house. We chatted a bit and seemed to hit it off. We saw a movie together and I asked her out on a “real” date in e-mail. She said just friends.
So, I didn’t even get to the “date” stage with any of the girls I’ve known. I’d understand it if I had asked them out within one day of first meeting them. But I waited weeks, months to get to know them and get together as friends before asking.
Many severely disabled people are in the same boat. As much as able-bodied people say that disabled people are like everyone else and that our disabilities do not matter, society still thinks negatively of us.
From my male perspective (I won’t try to act like I understand the disabled female side, at least not here), most single able-bodied females are very shallow. Sure, when I talk to them, they’re polite and will tell me that I will find someone. Of course, they’re single but they never consider themselves as possible girlfriends, not even dates without commitment.
A few women I’ve met have even had the audacity to tell me right away that a relationship is off-limits specifically because I was disabled! It’s honest, yes, but damn rude! I just met them! I’m not that stupid or weird to ask for a relationship within five minutes and not desperate enough to consider a relationship with just any woman.
I know, even non-disabled can’t make others be attracted to them and not everyone’s a match but after repeatedly and repeatedly being turned down by women who share my interests and enjoys my company, it gets to you.
Sure, friends are good but sometimes you need more, you need to feel “true” love, you need someone to share most of your time, you need someone who is attracted to and finds you desirable.
Online date sites are awful because you’re judged on beauty and your profile. I’m honest and tell others that I’m disabled in my profile. As soon as they see “disabled”, most people run away.
My question to everyone is this:
Would you ever honestly consider a boyfriend/girlfriend or intimate relationship with a severely disabled person (wheelchair user, paralyzed, etc.)?