At the age of 21, I met with a horrible accident which resulted in the paralysis of the right side of my body. It took me about a year or more just to come to terms with what had actually happened and how my life changed. My boyfriend of the time was supportive but honestly it was too much for him to deal with and I understood that. The real shock came when my closest suddenly become aliens to me. They started excluding me from our weekly movie nights and brunches and soon, I stopped receiving check in calls from them, too. To say that I was hurt would be appropriate but more than that, I was disappointed; disappointed that my friends couldn’t realise that my wheelchair wasn’t the only thing that I was. It wasn’t that I didn’t make the effort but, you can’t clap from one hand, right?
I went from being the ‘It’ girl of my group to just a girl on a wheelchair. Being on a wheelchair wasnt hurtsome, but the perception of people about my disability was the worst. I lost my friends, my confidence and even my job. The only thing I gained was pity from others and fake concern. My lack of confidence affected my dating life drastically. It wasn’t like many people showed interest in me because all they could see was the wheelchair but even the very few that did, I ran away from them. I couldn’t accept my own disability that it scared me when they wanted to.
After trying a lot of counselling and constant motivation from my family, I decided to try. The next step was figuring out how to step back into the dating world. Getting back into the dating game after 5 years was scared but I decided to get past the fear and focus on the positive side of relationships. Before the accident, I had had plenty of relationships, some bad, some good but they all were educating. I was like an expert. I knew what to say, when to say, what to do and had pretty much handled every situation from cheating to just a boring fall out. Little did I know that the game of dating had now changed for me. I was pushed into the bracket of dating with a disability.
I signed up on many online dating sites because it was the new thing in town! Everyone was doing it and it sounded fascinating. I thought I would meet my potential soul mate on a dating site where there were hundreds of profiles. My expectations were soon shattered. I had conversations with many great and many not so great guys and they were all dud. As soon I would take the conversation to my disability, they would run away before I could even type the world wheelchair, plus only a few of these apps catered to people with disabilities. But, I was the one at fault. I had never felt comfortable in my own skin and thus never posted pictures showing my disability or mentioned it on my profile.
One thing rigorous therapy had taught me was that if I did accept my own disability, I can’t expect others to be comfortable with it. I changed my profile, added the fact that I was on a wheelchair on an inclusive matchmaking app, even though I was scared that people might not approach me after this. I decided to widen my pool and signed up on a dating site for disabled. people in India. The conversations there were very supportive. At first, I was hesitant about dating a person with a disability but realised after talking to him that it was no different! The relationship lasted for a few good months and it was one of the most supportive relationships I have had.
A year of surfing through online dating sites and online dating disability sites made me realise that people have a hard time accepting the person’s disability. There first thought is to try and look past it but that’s just wrong. You don’t look past the fact that somebody is wearing spectacles. Rather you accept the fact that their eyesight is weak and move on with it. It should be that simple with a person’s disability too.
The next problem that arises is family. It’s one thing to find a life partner with disability but to find one with disability and have supportive Indian parents? That’s a difficult combination to have! Parents of kids with disability are generally and naturally more protective and concerned but Indian parents are a whole another level of concern. They try to be as intruding as possible but only out of concern and love. They always want to be kept in the loop and want to have the final say, too. Now that can be really hard for some.
The worst is when people making dating a disabled person a very big thing. ‘Oh, you guys are so positive and optimistic. Its great that you’re dating!’. People date; disabled people date too. It’s simple! Dating somebody with a disability is no. I have realised that the person remains still the same and their disability isn’t something that defines them, it’s only a small part of who they are and honestly, there’s so much more to them!
Note: The writer prefers to stay anonymous and this story has been compiled by the Inclov team!