By David Miller, Disability Match

2020 has been a very strange year, we are in the midst of a pandemic that has locked us down and played havoc with our social lives. Arranging to meet new people was always a challenge especially for those of you with significant mobility issues. Now it is important that you spend more time online chatting and getting to know potential partners before getting to finally meet them. In many ways the disabled community is more adept at dealing with this situation. We have always needed to make more provisions before rushing into a casual date.

No one really knows the best way to date right now and we are all navigating the dating landscape the best ways we know how. I have heard
about people falling for each other over Facetime, and people hooking up with masks on. I am sure you will each have your own dating stories which I would love you to share with me on Facebook.

There is no rulebook when it comes to dating, and there is certainly no rulebook when it comes to dating through a pandemic. The fact we get to envision relationships and make up the rules as we go is both exciting and scary.

In a normal year I would be giving my dating workshop at NAIDEX in Birmingham and sharing my best thoughts and techniques for dating if you have a disability. NAIDEX has been postponed to 2021 so I am using this article to bring you up to date on dating in 2020.

One of the trends I have noticed is that the messages being sent on the
disabilitymatch site have been getting longer and members seem to be getting more in-depth than pre-COVID so you will need to up your game in terms of interesting messages. On the plus side, however, all the lockdowns and restrictions give you a lot of topics to talk about. I have always advised my private coaching clients to write upbeat, positive messages when they are establishing an online relationship. I think this is more important than ever as it is easy to slip into a negative mood with all the bad news floating around.

And so by the time you do have the first date, it’s going be much more meaningful. I think it’s good to show that you are abiding by public-health measures. That you want to not only keep yourself safe, but you want to keep other people safe. And I think if you put things like, “I enjoy watching a Netflix movie,” or, “I enjoy brewing coffee, or I love trying new recipes” things like that, where people can show that, you’re staying home and you’re doing these things. But public health experts aren’t just worried about the fact that lots of us are experiencing a lack of physical intimacy.
It’s actually the loneliness that can take a major toll on our well-being. 
In a way, this is a very good time to start online dating.

Money and sex are off the table so you can really focus on exploring the person rather than their physical presence or lifestyle. You can take it nice and slow, pace yourself over a 6 month window rather than trying to hit on a new romance in 6 weeks. I have also noticed that new members are signing up for longer subscriptions since they realise that the dating timeline has changed and expectations have to adjust accordingly. Several coaching clients have also asked me “what happens if you are on a date with someone and they’re not willing to have that conversation about whether they’ve been tested for COVID?” That would concern me. It would suggest that they are not going to open easily about other important things . Many in our community have underlying conditions that would be compromised by COVID so you have a right to know if a potential partner takes their responsibilities seriously.

So, whilst I doubt you’re ever going to be able to completely replicate that physical chemistry with someone over video chat it is a good litmus test. You’ll be able to work out if you don’t like someone and save a wasted trip – especially important if you have mobility issues. One thing that we can be sure of; the kind of physical intimacy we’re used to may be severely restricted for the foreseeable future .

David Miller is available and happy to answer you dating queries on the
disabilitymatch Facebook page

For private dating coaching email david@dmiller.co.uk