Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This Guy’s Update on Dating With a Disability

Almost a year ago I wrote a blog post on the EasyStand Blog called “This Guy’s Take on Dating With a Disability.” The intent was to pull back the curtain on the challenges that I had faced meeting women and dating over the years as someone with a disability. Given the limited space I was provided (I have a somewhat flexible1000 word limit per post) I tried to delve into all of the issues that were involved with that in a truncated history of having little relationship success. In short, I went on barely any dates and had no girlfriends over a twelve year span. It was a lonely period. Very lonely. Worse, I knew that with all of the good things that I had to offer a relationship I wouldn’t have gone date- and girlfriend-less over a twelve year span if I had been able-bodied. Simple fact. And thus I strongly felt like my disability had a lot to do with that.

Now that post was one of the two most personal things that I had ever written in my life and I really put myself out there with it. As I labored over every detail and edited and re-edited it my biggest concern was that it would come across too woe-is-me-and-my-poor-little-disability. I do not use my disability as crutch for anything in my life  as far as I can keep that in my control and I made a point of specifically mentioning that in the post. Rather, the premise was to offer insight about my own unique personal experiences on the matter. And that’s exactly what it was: My own. Unique. Personal. Experiences.

But despite that emphasis and although that post got the most Facebook “likes” and Tweets of any other post that I’ve written on the EasyStand Blog the overriding reaction was that it was too cynical, negative, that I didn’t try hard enough, that I blamed my disability too much, etc. Quite a bit of people – predominantly women – left comments at the bottom of the post mentioning variations of all those things. Some made valid points but others had outright vitriol, one going so far as to call my “take” (quotations added for condescending emphasis) crap. It was hurtful and unexpected but I responded to every one as politely as I could. If you haven’t read any of the comments I encourage you to do so because it was a good dialogue. And, really, who argues with a lawyer anyway?

All that being said, and in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I am thrilled to report that I met a very special someone shortly after writing that post and she has been in my life for 9 months now. In fact, today is the 9 month anniversary of our first date. A few months ago it dawned on me that I should add a comment to that dating with a disability post to update both new readers and re-readers and commenters that my relationship status had changed, and so much for the better. You can read that on the post here but what I wrote was this:

“I wanted to trackback and update new readers of this blog post as well as past readers who still follow the comments about my relationship status. Shortly after this post went up I did try internet dating via okcupid.com for about a little over a month. I put together what I thought was a pretty compelling profile with a good sales pitch, even though I have a tough time talking myself up. I was upfront about my disability in my profile and added that I was looking for someone willing to see beyond wrapping paper to the gift underneath, if you will. Even though I had almost 140 different women check out my profile during that short period of time, and got emails from okcupid telling me that their profile search traffic numbers and attractiveness rankings showed that women on the site found me “very attractive,” I only got two messages from women kicking my tires, neither of which I was interested in. I myself had a hard time finding women that I was attracted to, or if I was something in their profile turned me off (obnoxious, seemingly uneducated, etc.) and didn’t send any messages myself.

I was just about to work up the courage to message a girl I settled on, just to try it if anything, when I met someone out in the real world — a very pretty girl who cuts my hair at the salon I’ve gone to for years, which is interesting considering what I wrote in the 5th paragraph of my post about preferring to meet someone the old-fashioned way such as someone who cuts my hair that slowly builds into something. She cut my hair 3 out of 4 straight trips to the salon. After the third I decided that I really liked her and wanted to ask her out. I went into the fourth haircut planning to ask her out but chickened out as I was paying. But we became Facebook friends the next day (she sent the invite), started texting a few days later, then I asked her out and we went out to dinner the following Saturday night.

And we have been together ever since, going on over 7 months now. She is fun, smart, beautiful, amazing, and everything I could have asked for in a girlfriend. We are very in love and plan to be in each other’s lives for a long time. I’ve been happier the last 7 months than at any other point in my life because she’s in it. And it just keeps getting better too. In the end it just took a ton of patience and being myself, and finding my dream girl was worth the 12 year wait. And BTW, she still cuts my hair every month, and every now and again I even get a few free haircuts out of the deal!”

Not long ago a good quad friend of mine who was in rehab at Craig Hospital the same time as I was in the fall of 1996 asked me if now that I had a girlfriend if I still felt the same way about the subject of dating with a disability as I did then. I said that it was a tricky question to answer. Had I not met my girlfriend the thoughts that I relayed in that post probably would have continued on, if not compounded incrementally over the last year. But now that I do have a wonderful lady in my life I will admit that post was fairly cynical, but that was my mindset at the time. I also think that I should have tried to be more confident around women and asked more of them out, as well as I should have given a much better crack at internet dating, regardless of the cost, a few years before I finally did.

But on the other hand, if I would have done any of that I might have never met my girlfriend, which is tragic to even ponder. So like I said, after years of being patient and holding out for the right one it all paid off in a big way. After two more months have gone by since I posted that update comment I’m even happier now than I was at that point.

So to that I say happy Valentine’s Day and very happy 9 month anniversary gorgeous, I love you so very much!

5 comments:

  1. Katherine Dow McMorranFebruary 15, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    Thank you for sharing this Shawn! Congratulations, you deserve a wonderful woman.

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  2. Shawn - good for you. I'm glad you've found someone that makes you happy, you deserve it. Confidence is a key component in happiness.

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  3. Awwwwww, I love love stories. :) Makes me so happy to hear. "Who argues with a lawyer?" Indeed! Silly people.

    It's so easy to get frustrated with dating, particularly when doing online dating. All of us have something that makes us feel undesirable. I have a friend who was getting really upset doing dating last year online and he kept saying that something must be wrong with him. There's nothing wrong with him at all! It's just hard to find someone for some reason. And it always looks like other people are having an easier time at it. :( Blah.

    The good news is, you only need one "yes" to be back on track. And now you have someone and you met in an absolutely adorable way. So, Yay! This post makes me happy.

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  4. Glad it struck a chord. Thanks.

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