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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Dating with Disabilities > Disability Misconceptions

Dating with Disabilities
by Melissa Blake

Memo to Men: Disability Misconceptions
(Part 2)

TO: Men all over the planet
FROM: A very strong-willed woman
RE: Everything you know about women with disabilities is wrong
DATE: April 7, 2009

I sometimes like to think of myself as a Wonder Woman of sorts. I, as I’m sure you can imagine, take great pride in taking my gigantic foot and stomping all the misconceptions away. Misconceptions about women with disabilities, that is (I may be mighty, but I am only one woman, remember). I honestly don't think people mean to form these misconceptions, and maybe it never even occurred to them that they ARE misconceptions in the first place. But never fear. Yours Truly is here yet again to save the day - and save the world, perhaps?

Let's just clear a few more rumors up, shall we?

*NOTE: My use of "you" shall refer to men in the following scenarios. I’m sure you men know who you are. It’s time we put a solid stop to your sorely ill-informed way of thinking*

When we chat you up, we're not actually trying to court you: Why is it that any time I talk to some guy, he spontaneously gets this glazed look over his face like I'm some sort of alien. Do I look like Gordon Shumway to you, boys? (Google it, for those who didn’t love ‘80s sitcoms) Granted, sometimes I have no other motive when talking to you than, well, just talking. But if I start to get giggly and seem to have something stuck in my throat, I'm brimming with more than just good cheer over our chat about the afternoon meeting. Contrary to that pesky rumor that keeps floating around, we’re not “all business, all the time.” We do have a (very cute) playful side.  

We don't know how to flirt: OK, I may be an awkward, dorky sort of flirt, but trust me: I do know what I’'m doing. The only problem is that I don't think the guy on the receiving end of said flirting has a clue what I'm doing. I'm assuming it probably looks like some weird tango, freak show to him - the laughing a bit too loudly, the grin on my face the size of the Grand Canyon, my downright defiant attitude and overabundant sarcasm (read: my sarcasm level is in direct proportion to my attraction to you. Translation: The more sarcastic barbs I sling your way, the more I want you to capture my heart). I swear, it's like some sort of switch: any time I flirt with Mr. Could-Be-Right, I become the most sarcastic person this side of Melmac (another Gordon Shumway reference for those in the "know"). So you think that's not flirting. Oh well. That's my charm; the beauty that is, well, me.

Our wheelchair isn't sexy: I'll never understand this one! Is there another riddle in the galaxy that has ever been so perplexing as this? I can't speak for all of us (my people, that is), but I for one think my wheelchair is incredibly sexy. It's shiny. It's red. And it's fast. Hell, I'm Wonder Woman on that thing....I'm just saying. I could probably race it in the Indy 500 if I really worked hard at it. It’s that powerful. Well, almost as powerful as I am.  

We don't want to date an able-bodied person: I've had this conversation with so many people that I've lost count of the number of times people have tried to placate me by saying, "Date someone in a wheelchair." OK, so they may not have been that blunt, but I couldn't help feeling like they were trying to put me in my place, as if I'd never in a million years have a chance with an able-bodied man, so don't humiliate yourself trying. The thought of an able-bodied guy actually WANTING to be with me seems like such an inconceivable thought to a lot of people. I’m sorry, but I’m not that powerful that I can choose who I fall in love with and NOT make myself fall in love with certain people.

Have I missed any misconceptions? What do people assume about you before they've even met you that just ticks you off? It could be during that first meeting, or even on your first date with a guy. My advice: Just get those misconceptions out of the way from the beginning. Trust me: It’ll save you a lot of frustration and hair-pulling. I’ve come to be a big fan of just putting all the cards out on the table – no secrets, no pretending, no awkward silences or forced laughter. Just tell the guy Wonder Woman told you to do it. He’ll probably think that’s incredibly brave (and sexy!) of you.

So go forth…and be bold!


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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