I don’t know much about the congenital birth defects that left me, among other things, regrettably short and reliant on crutches to walk.The damage happened before I emerged from the womb and life since has been learning to live with it. My amazing parents were fierce about treating me like any child, and taught me to see myself the same way.I’m good at my job, love my city, and have strong, meaningful friendships. Early on, my romantic experience consisted mostly of professing love to close friends who suffered a kind of emotional whiplash when a relationship they thought was platonic swerved in an unexpected, and unwanted, new direction.By my early 30s, I took up a friend on his recommendation that I try something different, and created my first online profile. I dated, experienced my first serious relationship, and found I could hold up my end of an adult partnership. For a single person in the 21st century, online dating is the most ready way to go about meeting a partner.I write this with the important caveat that online dating has at times worked, and some women from my life might say with a weary laugh, “Yeah, his disabilities definitely weren’t the problem.” I have as many personality flaws as anyone and it’s almost a relief when my romantic failures can be blamed on me and not my body. That said, though, it’s hard to escape the thought that my disabilities play a role in my being single.There are also things that have to be present for a relationship to spark. Earlier this year, after going weeks without a match, much less a date, I removed from my dating profiles any pictures that made my disabilities apparent. After weeks without a match, I made several within an hour.
She helped me work through some of the internalized ableism I had about using a mobility aid by reassuring me that I shouldn’t be embarrassed and that I was making a positive choice.
They already have existing assumptions about our bodies, minds, and abilities.