It’s no secret that dating can be really hard. More and more people are now turning to the online world and using apps in their search for ‘the one’. I met my partner, Dan on a dating app. Dan has a rare, degenerative, neurological condition called Friedreich’s ataxia and is a wheelchair user. Pre-diagnosis and before his condition began deteriorating, Dan was confident and had no trouble meeting people. That changed for a long time when his condition became more obvious to the outside world.

By Becky Henley

Having to come to terms with his diagnosis and learning to adapt to life in a wheelchair, meant that the thought of relationships was pushed to the back of his mind. Consequently, he lost his confidence and couldn’t see how he’d ever find someone. How wrong he was!

Dan’s profile was very matter-of-fact. When it comes to dating and relationships, disability naturally raises a lot of questions. Dan had pre-empted some of them and put the answers in his bio. When I read it I knew that we’d get on. He has a good sense of humour and was upfront and honest, which I found really refreshing. His photos were honest too – openly showing his wheelchair.

His bio read: “I’m quite tall when I do stand up. Not looking for a carer, I have my independence. Own place, car, job. And it works…”

As soon as Dan and I met, we clicked straight away. Of course, I had my concerns about his condition, and what it would mean for me if we ended up together. However, I quickly became so wrapped up in his company and charm, that his wheelchair and ataxia became insignificant.

My advice to anyone regarding dating someone who has a disability: Don’t presume anything about their abilities, independence, and the effect that their condition has on their life. Everyone is different. You’re dating the person, not their disability. Just enjoy getting to know them as you would with someone who doesn’t have a pre-existing condition. Finally, don’t be constantly afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing (at least not any more than you would on any other date). Open communication is so important, and if you have any burning questions – ask them! Your date is probably prepared to get the ‘awkward conversations’ out of the way so that the two of you can relax and have fun.

My advice for anyone with a disability who is looking for love is that most people see you and not your disability. Once you make the move and start dating, you may well end up falling ‘head over wheels’ in love!

About Becky Henley

Becky is an active person who likes spending time with her horses, cat and dog. She’s always loved writing and started out by producing a newsletter for the veterinary practice she works for.

Becky blogs about being in a relationship with a disabled person as well as other accessibility issues. She is passionate about changing the narratives and stigmas surrounding disability.