It's A Lot Worse Than It Looks
Dating With A Disability
Today was the first time I went on a date without the man knowing in advance that I am disabled. I’ve been disabled for 19 years, dating for 3. Since I started online dating after becoming separated, I felt it was necessary to present myself as having physical limitations so it was clear to anyone looking for a hiking or skiing companion that I would not be a good match. I’m also aware that not every man is capable of or interested in being involved with someone who is “different”.
The date today was with someone I met on Tinder which is the most superficial dating app in my opinion. My profile consists of pretty pictures of me with the following description: Victoria, 55, Writer, NYU, X miles away. Separated looking for new friends not hookups. Let’s date and see where it goes. Looking for someone who is smart, kind and fun with a sense of humor.
Unlike in my old profile on OKCupid, I don’t explain that I have a disability. I thought it was a good way to weed out anyone who wouldn’t be willing or able to deal with it. I thought showing up on dates limping carrying a cane would be unfair.
Today, I did just that. Just 2 days ago I swiped right on a handsome man in my age and geographic range. We messaged a few times before I decided I was done with Tinder for a while, removed my profile, and asked him to text me instead. He reached out quickly, we exchanged a few messages, he checked on a good time to call, called me, and we set a date for the next day to meet for coffee.
I started thinking about if it was necessary for me to make him aware that I am injured prior to meeting. I went with a what the fuck attitude and decided to just see what would happen.
I arrived at the coffee place exactly on time. There is always that awkward looking around a place for someone you’ve never met but have a picture of on your phone. I stood looking at the menu board and was getting ready to send that “I’m here” text when I looked around and noticed someone who could have been my date. We eyeballed each other with a confused look for a bit then I waved and said hello.
We shook hands and introduced ourselves. There was a slightly uncomfortable moment when he wanted to know where I would be most comfortable sitting as there were banquettes, as well as regular four legged chairs. I opted for chairs. I hung my cane on the side of the table. He asked how I liked my coffee. I sat and waited for him to return with our drinks.
We talked about the usual things. Where we’re from, what we do, kids and so on. He had tattoos and I asked him to tell me about them. It was interesting. He made a good joke and suggested we get matching tattoos. He seemed smart, kind and fun with a sense of humor.
He very casually asked, “What happened, do you have an injury?’, while glancing at my cane. My answer was “Yes, I had a stroke 19 years ago.” He wasn’t expecting that. I went on to explain that it happened when I was 35 and 6 months pregnant. And I had a 2 year old at the time. I realized as I was saying this that it was plain shocking. He asked me what caused it. It was a congenital defect in my brain that could have ruptured at anytime, or not. I explained that the left side of my body was paralyzed at first.
He was curious about whether I was able to drive. I told him that I drove there by myself. I liked him, and wanted him to understand that I can do just about everything ;) other women do. One notable exception is I am unable to run at all. I told him that I am an accomplished equestrian. He pointed out that I am still pretty.
We had an engaging conversation, more than a few laughs, a cup of coffee, he walked me to my car, there was some flirty, appropriate touching and a casual kiss.
He pointedly asked me what I thought of him and the connection. I told him I thought he was a cool guy. I was thinking I would fuck him if he was interested.
My guess is that when he saw me at first he probably thought I had some sort of temporary injury such as a sprained ankle or knee/hip replacement surgery. The fact is, I have a permanent brain injury that has caused a severe movement disorder. I’m not going to recover in 6 weeks so we can go to the beach, unfortunately.
I’m not sure how much of that he grasped by spending an hour with me in a supermarket coffee shop.
It doesn’t matter. He will either recover from the shock of my story and process it; figure out if he’s interested, write me off as undateable, or some combination. He texted me that he enjoyed meeting me. I said it was mutual and thanked him for the coffee.