Monday, January 31, 2011

The Dating Game

Happy Monday everyone! I can't believe it's the end of January already. No doubt the supermarkets are already getting filled up with Easter eggs (not that I'm complaining, I LOOOOOOOVE Cadbury Creme Eggs, LOOOOOOOOOVE them.) Anyway, today I have another guest post for you written by Leonie Hazelton. This post was inspired by recent media reports of dating websites specifically for people with disability.

Leonie Hazelton

 There are loads of dating sites on the ‘net at the moment claiming they can find love for everyone.  There are even sites specifically for people with disability claiming they can match people with disability with other “like” people with disability.  I’m not really sure if I’m a fan of stuff like that, because if we’re all into inclusivity, I don’t think launching dating sites specifically for one group whose wants and desires are no different from people without disability is necessarily moving forward.

While I appreciate that it’s safer to date or look for a potential match with someone with a similar disability or condition to you, I don’t think it’s necessarily productive.  What if you don’t find someone?  It has nothing to do with your disability, only the fact that you have different attractions and interests to other people on the site.  Also, what about us antipodeans?  Most of these dating and disability sites are US based so it is difficult for us to find a mate with a similar disability to us, let alone being on the same side of the globe as us.

I had a quick look at one of these said sites and A) discovered that there are Australians and B) they’re pretty forward about (in the site’s words) their “Challenges.” 

I’m still not sure if I like the idea of specifically disability dating, which brings up the question of disclosure.  “When do I tell him/her that I have XYZ disability/condition?” 

I really do appreciate that we want someone who understands our needs/wants/desires, but I honestly think that we should not be restricted to one particular group in society.  I personally believe that we can educate in all areas of our life.  If that means going out on a date with a person without disability and showing them that “Yes we want “it” too” than that’s a way we can teach others.  If on the other hand, a person rejects you outright because of your disability, maybe it should just be chalked up as not being worth it because the person’s not going to respect/want you anyway regardless.  If someone really wants you, it should be with no strings attached, end of chat.  Also isn’t dating about taking chances and risks?  You may get hurt, sure but that’s the way dating is, disability or no disability. 

I’m interested to know what others out there in blogland think.  Do you think you can start an account on a mainstream dating site and disclose later or is it safer to do the disability dating site thing where there’s a field in the profile stating what disability you have so it’s out there from the beginning?


  1. I kind of disagree with what you say about looking for someone else with a disability or similar condition to yours being safer but not productive.

    I used to think that having a relationship with another disabled person was not something I'd ever want to do. I thought relationship success meant being able to snag a non-disabled person, and that 'sticking to my own kind' was admitting defeat. Settling, if you will.

    As I've gotten older and figured out what I really want in a partner and in a relationship, I've discoved that one of those things is a shared experience of disability. I want a partner with strong disability rights politics, someone I don't have to explain equality to, someone who understands the struggles and the triumphs and the pride. I don't want to have to teach all that to a non-disabled person who'll never really understand it, no matter how many disability awareness manuals they read. For me, dating another disabled person is about connection and culture, not about safety.

    Of course, disabled people should be able to date non-disabled people too. But if, like me, disability is a drawcard, then dedicated websites can make it a whole lot easier to target your search. It's not really any different from dating websites for specific religions, ethnic groups or sexual orientation.

  2. @Stella, your perspective is really interesting, especially your thoughts on "sticking to your own kind" being a way of admitting defeat.

    So when we think about disability specific dating sites one side of the coin is that site users are somehow admitting defeat, as if dating a person without disability just isn't possible despite aspirations to "achieve" this!

    But you have really highlighted the flip side of the coin, that disability specific dating sites are there for people who see the value in disability, and the value of other people's experiences, understanding and awareness.

  3. I take your point, Stella. I didn't think about dating sites for specific groups/orientations. I guess it's also an individual thing. I personally am a bit of a nag and if I met someone who didn't share my politics, I would ram it down their throats until they either got the message or ditched me. I don't think it's a failure thing, but I personally am not really into the sharing experience thing. As long as they are willing to accept my general value set, they don't have to have lived it. By the same token, I respect people who want disability as a draw card.

  4. I have to say I have dated both people with and without disability. in fact I've had significant relationships with a person without a disability who I meet through a mainstream dating site where from memory I didn't disclose in my profile but did in the first e-mail, and one significant relationship with a guy who does have a similar impairment and therefore shares my disability politics, my disability focused career was similar to his etc. but we don't share mainstream political views.

    I think it's horses for courses. If I was out looking for a new partner I would probably start profiles on both mainstream and specific dating sites. Ultimately it's about the person isn't it? Shared values is key as Leone said, it doesn't really matter how they got there.

  5. I take your point Leonie and I guess I'm like Joanna - I would try both. It's fun to be with people with disability as you have an understanding and a closeness based on a similar lived experience, without having to explain too much. But then if you are looking for love then you can find it with someone who does or does not have disability!

  6. Back when I had a profile on a dating site, I disclosed my disability a little at a time. Instead of saying, "I have spinal muscular atrophy" on my profile, I said "I use a wheelchair to get around." Then went from there. I found that including a little info up front acts as a good filter. If someone is not going to be interested in you right off the bat because you have a disability, I say it's best not to waste your time. Same philosophy applies to job interviews, unfortunately. :-)