When I found myself separated from my husband of 28 years and realized I was suddenly single, I assumed I would be “undateable”. I knew I was prettier than the average 52 year old, and maybe a little smarter. I imagined these traits would get me somewhere, and I was correct.
I started with an account on OKCupid because it was free and accepted members who were in “open relationships” since at first I was in an open marriage before we officially separated. I was upfront and crystal clear in my profile that I have a minor disability from a cerebral hemorrhage that left me with a pronounced limp and limited use of my left arm. I assumed this would limit my prospects. Why would anyone in their right mind want to be with a disabled woman?
I went out with one man who told me that he mentioned me to a number of his friends and they asked why he would want to get involved with someone who has a disability. His answer was it didn’t bother him, and he really liked me.
Becoming disabled at age 35 was part of what lead to the disengagement of my husband from the marriage. It seemed reasonable to assume that other men would have similar feelings regarding being involved with someone with a physical handicap.
I’m sure there were men who used this information to weed out my profile from the scores of able bodied women who are online.
I did get quite a few responses from men who seemed genuinely interested in me, however. Often, they were attracted by my pretty face. I’m an above average communicator so I could offer intelligent responses and carry on witty banter with the best of them.
One of the first men I communicated with thought my having survived a stroke and going online was impressive. He was right. We dated, and it turned into a year and a half true love affair. He continued to find my adaptation to being handicapped both impressive and interesting. He was an alcoholic so he understood what it was like to be out there and present with a potential deal breaker from the get go. I think this was part of what helped this relationship to last as long as it did. He used to say we were equals in “needy”. He was the first date in a short line who challenged my “undateable” assumption. In fact, he often criticized me for referring to myself as “handicapped” or “disabled”. He told me I wasn’t. There is a continuum of degrees of being disabled. I am on the very low side of this continuum, but there, nonetheless.
I’ll never know how many dates dismissed me out of hand after reading online that I have a disabling condition.
I do know that I met a few men for a first date who were fairly quick in figuring out that I was not for them with my limp and my cane. Some told me straight up either on the date or shortly thereafter. I welcomed this early feedback so as to avoid getting involved with anyone who would turn out to be unable to cope with my condition in the long run like my husband.
Even though I spelled out in my profile that I have a limp, one date was shocked to see my cane when we met. He more or less said this was a deal breaker. He got over it, though, and we went out a few more times. There wasn’t a great connection in any case. I subsequently revised my profile to specify that a cane was part of my deal. I suppose there were some who simply disappeared from my radar which is fine, too.
I had a few short runs with some men that were satisfying in their own way and also upended my “undateable” or “undesirable” assumptions.
I’ve learned to be on the lookout for taking things personally.
I met a very nice man at the end of last summer who has fallen in love with me and has accepted and adapted to my condition. He is interested in being with me in the ways my husband definitely couldn’t handle. He will walk next to me at my slow pace. He will offer a helping hand anytime I need one. He wants to make love to me. We should never ASS-U-ME anything.