What's the REAL reason I'm seemingly undesirable?
March 7, 2009 7:32 PM   Subscribe

I am a 28 yr old female who technically has never had a date--least of all a romantic relationship. Perhaps a few others can attest to the same situation, but I've been feeling over the past couple of years that the real reason is due to my physical disability. My condition causes me to use an electric wheelchair. Personally, I regard myself as highly attractive: nice figure, beautiful hair and face yet men rarely approach me both in person or on the two online dating sites I've tried. I have various theories on why this is so, but I'd love to hear from the male point of view. Putting my feelings aside, what really gives?
posted by arizona80 to Society & Culture (36 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Possibly they might think sex might be awkward.
posted by kldickson at 7:46 PM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Possibly they might think sex might be awkward.

Or impossible.
posted by jayder at 7:49 PM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Some people who don't have experience around people in wheelchairs may not know how to act and are afraid of saying or doing something insensitive.
posted by fructose at 7:51 PM on March 7, 2009 [5 favorites]

If it's not off-putting to you, what about seeking someone for whom your disability is a turn-on? Maybe you're just looking in the wrong place.
posted by glider at 7:52 PM on March 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Being blunt, but honest: Dating you would make ordinary life difficult. Your disability would become his disability to an extent and not many people can handle that.

Wants to go to the movies? The guy can't sit with where he wants, has to use the special handicap seating. Just getting into and out of a car will be a strange new ordeal. Want to go out to eat? Getting between tables might be an ordeal. What about sex, how is that going to work?

Pretty much everything the guy is used to in dating women will become vastly different and perhaps not for the better. Younger guys are usually more vain and concerned with looks and things being easy, so yeah, you might seem like a drag. Other women might be less attractive, but they don't come with such obvious baggage, you know?

That sucks and I'm sorry you have to put this. There are guys who will look past this, but it's going to be hard and I think you're going to have to take the initiative a lot.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:52 PM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

It could be something as simple as seeming awkward to approach... I would feel like other people (at the bar, at an event, etc.) might be judging me or thinking ill of me. Not that I have any evidence of that at all, and I've engaged socially with folks in wheelchairs before. But it might give some men pause.
posted by zpousman at 7:53 PM on March 7, 2009

It's the chair. Yes, we are mostly ignorant, prejudiced, frightened little pigs.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:09 PM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

(I'm totally unqualified to answer this, having not studied anything remotely related, and this is just from observing people on both sides of the Atlantic, so if you think I'm talking nonsense... well, then you're probably right)

I think there's a sense of politically correct guilt that permeates white middle-class able-bodied Westerners, at least in the UK and the US. There's a sense of avoiding potentially awkward situations where there lies the possibility of exposing some sort of inherent bigotry or whatever. I've bumped into this several times when talking about a varied array of subjects with relative strangers. People I'm more intimate and familiar with tend to let their guard down, and crucially, have by and large, exposed themselves as being sensitive, open-minded and genuine in regards to dealing with any sort of minority. What I have found to be very rare is a sort of disability-blindness, and that might be the problem.

Basically, fructose said it far more succinctly and effectively:
Some people who don't have experience around people in wheelchairs may not know how to act and are afraid of saying or doing something insensitive.

Maybe it's as simple as you needing to be the one who approaches guys? From my perspective, a bit of boldness goes a long way. An attractive woman, especially if surrounded by friends, can be a daunting proposition!
posted by Magnakai at 8:10 PM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm going to go ahead and be frank here. I do apologize for my biases and ignorance. And I really, really do sympathize with your plight in this.

The issue of sex would be the big one for me. Brandon Blatcher is right about the rest of things being more difficult, but the one that would (and has) prevented me from asking out hot disabled folks is sex.

I recognize that there's a large range of ability amongst the disabled, and I have no idea what yours might be. But, basically, good sex is mandatory in a relationship for me (and lots of folks). And yet it's not the kind of thing that's easy or acceptable to discuss before asking somebody out. Basically, with somebody who isn't in a wheelchair, I can generally assume that sex will, at the very least, be mediocre but improvable--that enthusiasm counts more than experience. But, with somebody disabled, it's possible that he or she is simply physically incapable of actively participating during sex. I mean, you may simply need a wheelchair because of some gross motor control issue; but, I don't know that when I see you at the bar, you could easily be paralyzed from the tits down. It may be possible that not only would you not be able to participate, but wouldn't even feel it--and I can't think of a bigger turn off for me, honestly.

And the only solution to those assumptions and questions is to talk to you, personally, about it. Which means that when I see you in the bar and think you're pretty cute, I'm stuck in a position of either asking you out and perhaps discovering in a couple of weeks after four dates that, in fact, it's not going to work for no reason other than sex being impossible or awkward; or, I'm going to have to have a very intimate talk well before we've formed any sort of intimacy.

You may well accept it, but I don't think most guys are going to feel comfortable walking over in the bar and saying, "Listen, I think you're real hot. And, I'd like to take you out. But, you've gotta tell me: does your pussy get wet? Do you come? Can you move around at all in bed, or are you just going to lie there? Is it going to be missionary position every time?" And if they're crass enough to be comfortable asking such questions in the first five minutes of knowing you, they're going to be crass enough to split immediately when they don't like the answer.

I don't know what advice to give you. I think the online dating sites are probably the easiest way to go. I think they're probably easier because you can disclose that sort of information up front. So, if there isn't already one, I'd put a section in your profile about what you're physically capable of in bed. I know, that sounds really weird... but, I know that I for one would happily overlook bad movie seats, inconvenience getting in and out of cars, and all the other annoyances of a wheelchair if it turns out that you're a freak in the sack.*

*If I weren't married.
posted by Netzapper at 8:20 PM on March 7, 2009 [6 favorites]

I think it depends on how YOU approach it. Are you making a big deal out of being in a chair? What do you say on your online sites? Is it a throwaway or prominent? Is your disability full time? That is, are you paralyzed or are you in the chair only under certain conditions? As a guy, even a young guy, if I thought you were paralyzed, I would think it would be way too much effort to overcome on a blind date or first date. If I got to know you under other circumstances such as work or a club, if I like you as a person, I would overcome it. If I knew that you were not full time disabled such as you have severe arthritis of you legs, but could get up to go to the bathroom at night on your own if you had to or wanted to, then I would be less reluctant to date you.

You mention you are attractive with a good figure. If you are in a wheelchair, a guy cannot see your good figure and likely assumes that all that sitting has spread things out down there. I am not sure how you would do it without it being really awkward or inappropriate, but assuming you are able to have sex and enjoy it, try to find a way to say that such as, "I would love to go on a date with you and get to know you better. I know what you're thinking Mr. Hunk and do not worry. When we are both ready, I am able. What do you say you buy me dinner tonight?"
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:31 PM on March 7, 2009

I say cast a wider net. Don't be afraid of the "friends zone" or being a tomboy and make friends with a lot of guys (maybe you already got heram, I don't know). One of my good buddies is in a wheelchair and we take him out all the time and I can't remember when I ever felt weird about it. My point here is, once people get used to you it won't seem like anything. After that, I'm sure several of them will get a crush on you at some point. One of them will get over himself enough to be the first to tell you, and probably one that you aren't even into, but that's a sweet agony you'll have write another askme for.
posted by wobh at 8:33 PM on March 7, 2009

Yep, Brandon Blatcher nailed it. My mother (who is only 49) has Multiple Sclerosis and even before she used a walker to get around, she had men who turned her down and insinuated her disability had something to do with it. One even walked into the restaurant and turned around and left after he saw her (and I think she was only on a cane at the time).

A lot of her friends who also have MS are single too. And yes, your life does change when you have a loved one with a disability. I wouldn't say it necessarily makes your life difficult though. Just different. You need to learn a lot of things and be aware of certain stuff a lot of people are oblivious to. Making travel arrangements for my mom and I required I ask a bunch of questions on accessibility and about the facilities. That's just one example. I don't doubt that you're pretty self-sufficient, but people don't know that at a glance.

Sex is a concern as well, as Netzapper spelled out. Unfortunately, bias is high and there are a lot of people without disabilities to choose from so they move on. It really stinks.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:40 PM on March 7, 2009

A lot of discussion around the intersection and conflict of disability and dating (from a previous question).

Even the best people can be very superficial when it comes to initial attraction. Your disability is an unknown. I can see it raising questions about sex, and children, and like Brandon Blatcher says, just generally how life will change. I don't think guys are necessarily going through this checklist consciously, I do think in the back of their minds there is the sense of major complications that diverts attention from you as a date or relationship partner. A lot of people have virtually zero direct experience with significant disability there is a stigma attached to it in this society unfortunately. All of these things are likely to be very difficult and uncomfortable to talk about to boot. So to me it seems daunting.

I would say I think I would try to get past those sorts of prejudices if someone had pretty forthrightly expressed interest in dating me. But I regret to say I can see myself, when I was younger and single, not really giving you the consideration you no doubt deserve because of these not very laudable reasons.
posted by nanojath at 8:52 PM on March 7, 2009

I have to disagree with those who say it is the chair. It's not. Well, it's part of it, but definitely not all.

My ex's best friend is a tetraplegic[1] and dated a lot. She met guys online and in the real world. She slept around a lot for a while, but eventually she ended up with a guy that adored her.

Being in a wheelchair is definitely a negative when it comes to potential relationships, but it isn't a dealbreaker. Your attitude is a deal maker or breaker. Work on that. You'll probably have to be more aggressive (she was) than normal to make up for the negative effect from the wheechair.

Just to clarify, I'm not saying you have a negative attitude, but one that doesn't close the deal for getting you the dates you want.

[1] This is the term she used. She had no use of her legs, partial use of hands and weak, but full control of arms.
posted by thekiltedwonder at 9:14 PM on March 7, 2009

Most people aren't used to people in wheelchairs, or the 'disabled world' for that matter. I think you have to be assertive to cross that gap. I would have to imagine there are online dating websites for people with disabilities. Using such a service you would ensure that the people there are used to disabilities and can continue as normal. Failing the availability of that in your area, surely there are groups that you can join to meet people, personals, etc. You -can- meet someone if you want to. You have to make it happen. Don't just assume it will come to you.
posted by GleepGlop at 9:36 PM on March 7, 2009

Perhaps you could focus on making lots of friends / acquaintances? Often the best romantic relationships grow out of one of those, and you'd be building a pool of people (and friends of friends, etc.) who are already comfortable with your disability and can look past it.
posted by mmoncur at 9:49 PM on March 7, 2009

At the most basic level, there is sheer ignorance. "Geez, she's really cute, but.... How could we go on a date? Does she have to use a special van? Or could she ride in my car? Does that wheelchair fold up? What about getting in and out of a car, how would that work? How could I ask her up to my place if there are steps up to the porch? How would we watch a DVD together — could she sit on my couch and cuddle, or is she always in her wheelchair? Etc." That ignorance is unfortunate, but might prevent a guy, who otherwise likes you and finds you attractive, from asking you out.

You might overcome all that by developing a smile, a wit, and a charming personality that is so attractive that guys love talking with you. Then, as you chat with them, you can drop hints about your favorite restaurants and movie theaters, how you handle transportation, what you do when faced with steps in your path, how much you enjoy cuddling on a couch (or not), and (as pointed out above) just how much of your, um, equipment is fully functional.

Then too, you could enlist a friend or two to spread the word about how to date a woman in a wheelchair. If the questions are answered in advance, ignorance couldn't prevent a guy from asking you out.
posted by exphysicist345 at 10:01 PM on March 7, 2009

I can understand, arizona80, as I'm in a very similar situation, though I've gotten dates more often since I AskedMeFi. It's not simple, I know. Feel free to drop me a line if you'd like to chat about it.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 10:34 PM on March 7, 2009

There's and old Savage Love column out there (ah, it's this one) that, even though it's for a guy, says pretty much everything I would hope to say about it. They don't call it a handicap for nothing. But that doesn't mean that it's impossible or even improbable to date.

People who have never been in a wheelchair don't know what it's like. And don't want to know, it's the 800 lb gorilla in the room. Hell, I've got a sister in a wheelchair and I still don't know what it's like. She's a young, interesting, intelligent, attractive woman, but when I push her around I don't see people looking at a young attractive intelligent interesting woman. I see people feeling sorry for her.
posted by Ookseer at 10:34 PM on March 7, 2009

You're 28 and you've waited this long to ask this question? I don't think you're suddenly going to change the way you relate to people, to be more aggressive as it were. But if you think having a relationship is worth you'll have to work into on your own terms. I think the suggestion about making friends and going at it from that angle would probably do you well. I spend a lot of time in on line social groups playing card games. A lot of elderly, disabled and otherwise limited people show up there because it doesn't show unless you want it to. Your computer is your friend here because you can develop relationships with people to whatever level you want and the wheelchair you live with isn't a factor. Find an activity you can put some time in and start meeting like minded people.
posted by ptm at 11:37 PM on March 7, 2009

You're just gonna have to light it up more top make it work. Although I haven't been in a situation with someone being in a wheelchair, I've met women with physical disabilities who have been very flirty with me and have drawn me in. The one time I really kind of thought it, she was married and my boss. But she was the type of flirt that made me feel special and frankly, you can't help but be drawn in.

So, you are going to have to make the first meeting about them. You make conversation about them, be the flirty one, etc.

You have nothing to lose.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:17 AM on March 8, 2009

Nthing thoughts about operational realities that will be detrimental to anyone in this situation. It's maybe a little bit like common thoughts men have about dating single moms, 'specially those with relatively young kids.

In my experience, those of friends, colleagues, we've not had an approach of "no way, no how, never," and those who have that approach probably aren't good catches, but we have seen plenty of situations where operationally (time constraints), what's on the woman's mind, how much it's on her mind, what she's talking about, her energy level, etc.

Independent of gender (or orientation), me thinks most people will be disinclined to get close to someone who faces serious time constraints, is regularly tired and stressed, is consistently thinking, talking about something of relatively little interest... much as it's more than understandable that the single parent is often in that position.

My best relationship, though, was with a single parent. (It ended b/c I took a job out of state and she could not move.) I met her through work, got a much more comprehensive picture than I would have through an online dating site, a club, etc. (We were in different departments, different floors, our departments did not interact, for what that's worth.)

Again, not the same as your situation, but it speaks to prospects. Your chances seem far better if you're in situations where people who might be uncertain and not wanting to offend--and have concerns about the operational realities--can get a better sense of you than the first impression.

Hopefully someone thinks, "Wow, okay, the chair thing was a surprise and it's not trivial, but she's smart, funny, quick-minded, thoughtful, has a million-dollar smile, we're on the same page with a lot of things so I'm a gonna ask her out."

If you want to keep online options open, guys have varying degrees of insistence on breathtaking sex, but it's rare as steak cooked for 5 minutes at 100 degrees that guys are okay with boring sex; little or no variation in anything; limited range of things done, forays into experimentation, etc.--because of the partners mind, body or both.

I think most guys would reasonably have no guess about your physical capabilities in that realm, assume they're limited. Perhaps an online profile could address that in an understated way with a little levity. Something like, "I can move less than a gymnast, more than an inflatable love doll and my enthusiasm is more incendiary than indifferent... not that you're gonna gain first-hand knowledge on the first date."
posted by ambient2 at 1:26 AM on March 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

You say "men rarely approach" you on the internet dating sites. Maybe this is obvious, but have you tried sending the first email yourself?

I'm a...boy oh boy...far too experienced internet dater, and I did once go out with a woman who used a (non-electric) wheelchair and/or crutches. I think she had MS. (This was probably seven or eight years ago.) In any case, I can't remember who emailed who first, but her profile was understated about it...I think that her list of "five things I can't live without" included crutches. And a few emails into our correspondence, she stated more explictly that she had a physical disability. By that time, though, I had already been charmed enough by her that my immature early twenty-something self was not scared off.

So, my advice to you is: be forward in emailing people, and be honest, but there is nothing wrong with sending a couple emails just to chat before mentioning the wheelchair.

For what it's worth, I only went out with this woman once. I was perhaps a little put off by the wheelchair, but I was far more put off by a gross joke she told about a mule.
posted by HeroZero at 4:06 AM on March 8, 2009

Best answer: My wife has cerebral palsy, mostly affecting her legs and feet. She can walk (slowly, precariously), but her balance sucks so she was in a wheelchair when I met her, and did most of her traveling that way. We were both about your age at the time. She confessed, after we'd become close, that her dating history was pretty limited too.

I live in a small college town, and met her amongst a group of younger faculty, staff and associated hangers-on that got together once a week for beer at a local bar. I warmed to her immediately because I was shy and she was outgoing and made it easy for me. I think I would've been unsure how to act if we'd been explicitly dating, but the casual, among-friends setting format allowed me to get to know her without so much dating-related anxiety.

When we started venturing out unchaperoned, she was happy to answer my questions. I knew nothing about C.P. at the time. Was it painful? Would it get worse over time? Were her bones especially fragile? My ignorance left room for all sorts of fears, and dispelling them required that I broach some delicate topics. She never made me feel like a heel for asking about them.

There was no getting around the fact that she couldn't participate in many of the activities I was used to enjoying, or hoped to enjoy one day. Long walks on the railroad tracks at night were not going to happen with her. Backpacking the high Sierra - no way. Bursting into a dead run just for fun - never gonna happen. These sorts of things bothered me much more than any worries about the mechanics of sex. And there was no way to cleanly deal with them up-front. I kept dating her because I liked her company, and simply put many of my worries on hold as bridges we'd have to cross if we got them.

If you are hoping that your looks alone will make up for being in a chair, I suspect you're going to be disappointed. If you are uncomfortable about your disability and tend to minimize it, this might block opportunities to address the anxieties potential partners will feel. Any disability that keeps you in a chair is going to have a serious impact on the shape of a relationship, and you need to be honest with yourself about this so that you can be open with potential partners. Finally, do understand that (unfair as it is), the obvious disability is a hurdle for anyone who might be interested. Cultivate social skills that make it easy for people to clear that hurdle.
posted by jon1270 at 5:39 AM on March 8, 2009 [7 favorites]

I think that your asking this question is a good example of an approach you might take to starting dating - You were open and honest and friendly, and asked a question, and said you would love to hear the opinions of some men on the subject.
This question speaks to a variety of things men appear to be biologically inclined to do:
-offer their opinions on things they may or may not know anything about
-help out a cute girl with something she probably already knows the answer to
-help a girl get some lovin'

You started a conversation, and made a bunch of guys feel useful, and the more you improve your social skills at taking the initiative "on the fly" as you have done here, I am sure the more your romantic opportunities will increase.
posted by extrabox at 7:21 AM on March 8, 2009 [4 favorites]

Lots covered already, but here's my speculation, mainly about in person situations:

1. Some may be thinking that sex is awkward or impossible; I bet a more significant factor is that given the wheelchair, the guys aren't even thinking of you as a sexual being. This suggests that the trick in part is to trigger their imaginations.

2. A significant proportion may not be approaching you not because you're not attractive to them, but rather because they don't want to be perceived as patronizing or pitying. This suggests, however unfairly, that you may bear the burden of initiative.

3. Another significant proportion may not be approaching you because they don't know much about you and don't want to be stuck talking with you. This is just another instance of a more general problem with achieving a critical mass of interest; anyone who seems too alone, or too difficult to veer away from, has a substantial negative. This probably reinforces the wisdom of going with a wing-person.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:26 AM on March 8, 2009

Best answer: I've seen a strikingly attractive girl in a wheelchair at a bar in Brooklyn a few times. She was well-dressed and poised, having animated conversations with friends. To me, the wheelchair was intriguing, and if anything, made her stand out from most other girls at the bar. I can't imagine that I'm the only guy who felt that way.

On the other hand, I'm afraid that approaching her directly would lead to a response, from her or perhaps her friends, of "Oh, so you've decided to go for the girl in the wheelchair. Do you have a fetish, or do you figure she's just an easy target, or are you leading up to a question about her sexual ability, or what?" That's the part that I don't want to have to deal with. On the other hand, if she smiled at me, I would be over there in a second.

As far as a lot of issues discussed above... meh, I'm not really worried about it. There's no need to force a conversation about the wheelchair lifestyle, because she'll probably just go ahead and tell you what you need to know, when you need to know it. Right?

Sure, there would be 'difficulties.' But every relationship has difficulties. Last night I went out with a girl who burst into little paroxysms of delight every time we passed a dog, of any kind, on the street. She also talked extensively about how much she loves reality TV. To me, that stuff is a much bigger deal-breaker than a wheelchair.

I mean, at least she would never ask me to play tennis with her, right?

I hate tennis.
posted by bingo at 8:09 AM on March 8, 2009 [3 favorites]

A person close to me is in a similar situation due to MS. She hasn't dated in close to 10 years. What I'd really like to tell her, but don't have the guts to, is that she would probably have better luck dating if she didn't talk about her MS and accompanying disabilities constantly. Rather than develop her hobbies or interests, she has become completely defined by her disease and is seemingly incapable of talking about or feigning interest in anything else.

I would make sure that you're not doing something similar.
posted by pluckysparrow at 8:35 AM on March 8, 2009

Regarding the wheelchair, I think there is fear of the unknown. As others mentioned, people do not know what capabilities you have, they just see that you cannot walk.

I dated a girl who worked at a rehabilitative hospital and have a friend who is a rehabilitative physician. At both of their hospitals they have recreational activities for current and former patients, such as tennis leagues, kayak trips and pool activities. The hospitals also have a lot of parties and fundraisers attended by people with and without physical disabilities. You might want to seek out some similar environments or activities so that you will be surrounded by people who have a better understanding of physical disabilities. Once that fear or lack of knowledge is out of the way, people will begin to see you for who you are, not for the way you get around.
posted by Andy's Gross Wart at 10:16 AM on March 8, 2009

While being more outgoing can always be great, I have to disagree with those that suggest you be more aggressive. Maybe there are a few guys out there that would be interested if you broached the subject first, but in reality you are going to be looking at a lot of rejection and very little success, which most people would find depressing.

Instead, I would suggest that you use a dating site targeted at people with disabilities. You will probably have more success there. (And if not, you can always ask here, people will be able to give you tips on your profile.)
posted by grouse at 10:26 AM on March 8, 2009

A couple of opinions:

- Dating sites suck. People who are good at dating aren't on them, they are already in relationships or are able to find dates without them. This isn't a negative, but knowing this helps make them more usable. Too many people approach them as catalogs, flipping through the profiles and making snap decisions as to why each person is not an option. Don't let it discourage you, think of it as a way of rejecting the losers without having to go through all the work.

- I wouldn't suggest using a site geared toward anything more specific than dating. I'd imagine the people who join those sites are people who derive their identity from whatever niche the site caters to. It sounds like you are, and want to be seen as, a unique individual. Not as a member of the wheelchair community first, and a person second. If that's actually what you're going for, they probably work great. I personally wouldn't do it- I'm *me*, not a [some identity]-American, looking for people who are turned on by that.

- Yeah, there are probably lots of dudes who get their brains all knotted up by the wheelchair and wave off the possibility of a date or relationship. Which hurts, but is probably for the best. I wouldn't imagine you'd want to be with someone who thinks like that anyway. It's no fun being with someone who is with you *in spite of* some thing they are turned off by. I've dated people like this, and I'd rather have been rejected outright than suffer the pain of having (what I thought was) a nice relationship ended because that person couldn't get over my beergut or baldness. But that's something just about everyone has to deal with- finding someone to love and who loves you back who truly doesn't care about our imperfections. Instead of someone who simply tolerates them.

- From my perspective as a male around the same age who is also in the dating arena, I find myself attracted to people who effectively communicate their personality (as opposed to listing the stuff they do), and who are not looking for their romantic partners to somehow fill up a void in their lives. Someone who doesn't *need* a mate to complete their life, but who *wants* a mate to share their life with. Again, this is just me, but I can't speak for anyone else but me, so just take this as a single datapoint: when I am reading people's profiles on online sites, I am always drawn to profiles that show what kind of life this person leads, and what kind of life this person might like to lead. Enjoying the same TV shows and baseball team is great and all, but if I see that someone seems to live a life that's a different pace than I like to live mine, I know we wouldn't like each other. In other words, show potential dating partners what it's like to spend time with you. Acknowledge the differences that depending on a wheelchair has in your life, but also find a way to demonstrate where there is no difference. Maybe even tell a story or two that demonstrates this. And yeah, it's probably more important than normal that you communicate how sex fits into your life, without giving any incorrect implications to potential dates, of course. Everyone does this at some point in the dating ritual, some more subtly than others, but you probably have to do it a little earlier and clearer than usual. Something creative like a "25 things about me" or a cute "15 question purity test" would communicate this very well, without making it look like you are bringing anything up in an unnatural kind of way.

- If you don't have pictures on your online profiles, put some up. This is really helpful at communicating what its like to spend time with you.

All in all, it sort of sounds like you are just experiencing the ennui that is dating in the after college world. It truly is a numbers game- there are thousands of people out there at any given moment who would make great partners- it's just a matter of being in the right place at the right time to meet them. And having the guts to say hi...
posted by gjc at 12:23 PM on March 8, 2009

Been married to Mrs. Webhund for 15 years. She has a spinal cord injury and uses a chair. She had her injury before we met. Love her dearly and she's "the one" for me. Always has been since the moment we met.

Because of that personal experience, when I saw this post, I immediately thought I could offer something helpful. Lots of ideas started bouncing around in my head. But when I actually started typing, nothing seemed right. I think that's because everyone's situation is different and that love just happens.

So I'm reduced to sounding like someone's mother because the only advice I can offer that probably works for everyone no matter the specifics is to get out there and meet people. Be yourself, not your situation. Odds are pretty good, regardless of disability, wheelchair, hair color, height, political affiliation or any other trait/condition/whatever, that someday, somewhere you'll find someone. All you have to do is put yourself out there where that right guy can meet you and you can meet him. That may sound pollyannish to some, but I think that's the way life works.
posted by webhund at 12:26 PM on March 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Not sure if this is helpful, but I have a neighbor (young guy, good looking, works an attorney, seems pretty well-off) who's also in a chair. He's got limited use of one arm and hand. And this winter he has taken up with one smokin' hot young lady. I think this is the first time in maybe 8 years of knowing him casually that he's had a romance going on, but it's been going strong for a few months now and it is clear that she's smitten with him. As she should be! He's a great guy.

I know he's a guy and you're a woman, arizona80, but it's another anecdote that love happens for people in wheelchairs.

Being female I can't speak for what men think, but I think webhund's advice is good. A lot of people in their late 20s who have a hard time finding folks they want to date. Once you're past the built-in social scene of college socializing is a lot more open-ended, diffuse, takes a lot more effort to cultivate. This applies not just to you, but to the guys you might want to date! So.... Get out there and meet people. Find people who have interests in common, get to know them, and yeah, maybe you should think about make the first move--ask some cool dude out for coffee or dinner--just to get the ball rolling.

Good luck!
posted by Sublimity at 2:48 PM on March 8, 2009

Most tall people would have to consistently stoop to a very silly degree to hear you if you have a softer voice. I have this problem with a quiet talker who is 5'9" so you ought to be conscious of this if/when applicable.
posted by cranberrymonger at 8:45 PM on March 9, 2009

You could get involved in activities related in some way to disability -- disability sports, disability rights, disability studies, etc. Not because you should or should not date another person with a disability, but because the disability world includes lots of people -- people with disabilities, people without disabilities, family members of people with disabilities -- who are not freaked out by wheelchairs.

You might also like meeting other women with disabilities, and get a handle on their dating/relationship worlds, as points of reference. Off the top of my head, I can think of eight women I know who use wheelchairs. (I'm in the disability world.) Three are happily married to men without physical disabilities, one is divorced from being married to a man with a physical disability, one is happily single and (I think) lesbian, three are I think single but I'm not sure.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:17 PM on March 11, 2009

The people posting comments on here have lots of different opinions, and they seem honest. Here are my thoughts on it...

I am a 30 year old man, and I also use a wheelchair. Dating has been difficult for me too. I have had some good dating experiences!!

A small number of men/women won't consider dating someone with a disability, and their minds probably won't change, regardless of your approach or how great of a person someone is. I wish I had been on this site before now and read your posting...
Don’t give these people too much thought; passing you or I up for a date is absolutely their loss.

In my experience, a lot of people have common, and unfortunate misconceptions about what a disability is and what will happen to the person. If someone is disgruntled by accessibility issues when going out on a date you or I, they are not worth dating.

There are men who will date you! You seem to have many qualities that men would love to find in a partner. You should carefully pick who you date, as I have experienced once a person who dated me to get money.

I encourage you to keep open to relationships. Feel free to contact me, and maybe we could discuss ideas about how we could both meet people. Here is my email:

posted by Matt79 at 2:16 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

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