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Dating with Disabilities
by Melissa Blake

Disabilities List of Questions I'm Asked

Living day-to-day with a physical disability is sort of like being a celebrity of sorts. I've grown used to the glares, stares and occasional finger-pointing. I just pretend I'm some famous Hollywood starlet who's being photographed in the aisles of Target for next week's US Weekly "They're Just Like US" column.

And you'd think I've heard all the questions too. But there are still some that surprise me to this day. Let's take a gander at a list them, shall we?

Keep in mind that most of these questions were asked by ADULTS. I, of course, don't blame children for asking me questions - I figure it's one way I can hopefully at least start to eliminate the "disability stigma" for the next generation. You know, a way to show the young crop of toddlers that those of us with disabilities aren’t as scary as we may appear sometime. And children are surprisingly a lot less rude in their question-asking than adults. Who knew? Shocking, isn’t it?


Hint: The following list of questions should not be asked because people with physical disabilities are far more powerful than you could ever imagine – and I’m not just talking about our masterful eye-glaring, either. Remember my surprisingly massive upper body strength? I thought so.

It should be obvious, boys, but these questions should never, under any circumstances, be asked before, on or after a date. Need we review my massive upper body strength again? Good.

Can you read?
Someone asked me this at a church function during a responsive reading. I politely said yes and left it at that.

What I was really thinking: No, I've been illiterate for 27 years. I just decided to minor in English for the heck of it. I thought there would be more picture books involved. And the fact that I'm a writer must just be some sort of fluke.

What's wrong with your face?
I can understand why children especially ask this question. They're curious. I'm really good about being friendly with them and explaining that this is the way I was born.

What I was really thinking: The little boys who ask me that better learn now never to use that as a pick-up line when they get older. For the girls, I use it as an opportunity to give a little Girl Power speech that I hope will raise their own self-esteem. By the way, I'm sort of, finally, maybe, starting to like my unique-looking face. My eyes, for one thing, are very expressive.

Do you work?
Every time I take the bus to work, people (read: ADULTS) are surprised I'm going to work. As in a job with other people. Out in the big, bad, wild world. I tell them, assertively, of course, "Yes, I'm a freelance writer and college newspaper adviser. I really love my job."

What I was really thinking: No, I'm a shut-in. I don't go outside, let alone work. I spend my days in a bed in my room, looking out the window and silently crying to myself.

Do you wish you could walk?
This one always perplexes me, and I always tell people the same thing: This is the only life I've ever known. I don't see how you can miss something you've never had. This is my normal.

What I was really thinking: I've been thinking a lot lately and have come to the conclusion that if someday, by the wonders of science, they could "cure" me of my disability, I honestly don't think I'd want to be cured. My disability is a part of me - and yes, I sometimes get frustrated with it - but I somehow can't imagine the person I'd be without it. Is that insane?

Do you have friends?
Of course, I tell them. I have greatest friends in the world.

What I was really thinking: Well, we know someone who will never be my friend. So you think my disability is some sort of plague that is so powerful, it will kill anyone I come in contact with? Oh, that's right. I forgot. People should stay away from me. I'm SOOOOO toxic, aren't I? :)

So there you have it. Now you know the questions my people NEVER want to hear. Trust me, I probably just saved you from an "accident" involving your limb and someone's motorized wheelchair.

You're welcome!


Dating with Disabilities is published every Tuesday by Online Dating Magazine columnist Melissa Blake. Melissa is a freelance writer and columnist. Her work has been featured in Redbook, Pregnancy magazine and the Chicago Tribune. She can be reached at

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