Disability and Dating: How to Find Love While Being True to Yourself

Erin is the Digital Content Producer for Easterseals Thrive, an online support network and community hub for disabled women. You can follow Thrive on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

By: Erin Hawley

Finding a partner can be difficult for anyone, but for disabled people, there are extra barriers in place. Many believe the biggest barriers stem from society’s often-skewed views of our capabilities and what it means to be disabled. The stereotype is one of loneliness; we don’t even have friends, except when an abled person takes us under their wing as a charity case. Many are shocked to learn that we have active social lives and romantic relationships, including sexual ones – gasp!

Erin and her boyfriend

Erin and her partner

There are limited resources for disabled people when it comes to dating and relationships, including sexual and reproductive health. While all disabilities are unique, we also have a common understanding of what it’s like to navigate the world as a disabled person. To me, it’s glaringly problematic that supports for us are absent, or buried under paperwork and abandoned websites.

The unfortunate result of this, of people automatically putting you in the “undateable” category because of your bodily difference, is that you may start believing it yourself. If you’re like me, you might begin to internalize the negative expectations that some doctors, teachers, parents, and others project onto you. I’m not going to lie – undoing that internalized ableism and recognizing your own ability to find love is difficult; but for me, that confidence was necessary.

Finding someone who doesn’t instantly write you off is like searching for the Holy Grail. Even on dating sites geared specifically toward disabled people, that baggage from always being told we were less than our abled peers clouds our relationships with each other. That baggage is so heavy that it even follows you long after you enter a relationship.

But I took charge of my love life. I recognized those negative thoughts that told me no one would find me desirable; I let them pass through me, and pressed on steadfastly. I made dating profiles, I chatted with tons of guys – many who fell off the face of the earth when they realized the extent of my disability. I wasn’t a model who just happened to sit down a lot. I need specific medical care, help with bathroom stuff, assistance dressing, eating, and keeping my airway open. I sit sideways from scoliosis and have frequent back pain. My limbs are contracted, so I have limited range of motion.

People found me physically attractive all the time (I am gorgeous and photograph damn well), but they didn’t want to “deal” with the other stuff. I could write a book about all the creepy, negative e-mails I’ve received while dating – everything from first messages of “hi, can you have sex?” or “will you let me take care of you?” to “Sorry, I’m not interested. You should go on a dating site for your kind.” If you are disabled and just venturing into the online dating world, expect this – a lot. Or expect a low response rate; honestly, I prefer that to the skeevy messages.

Cookies with "Love" spelled out in icingAt this point, you may be wondering how I found my partner, since I’ve painted online dating as a barren hellscape. The truth is, they found me when I wasn’t looking. After two failed, long-term relationships and a slew of terrible dates following, I was ready for a break. I needed to find my inner peace I knew was there, that I owned. I hated that my relationships held such power over me, emotionally; so I made an effort to stop searching and focus on my mental health and self care.

One lazy afternoon, someone from a dating site sent me a message after recognizing me in a Twitter chat about tabletop gaming. Two weeks go by, and we have our first date. Fast-forward almost four years later, and we are in a healthy relationship based on mutual respect, honesty, support, and understanding. My disability is an integral part of my identity, and they accept and love that about me, as I accept and love them.

Dating is treacherous. It makes you feel vulnerable, and constantly tests your inner strength. You will get your heart broken in ways you never thought possible (or you could be the luckiest person ever – in which case, rock on). Remember to love yourself first, as best you can, because that love is something they can’t take away from you. And if you ever feel like no one would want to date you because of your disabilities, silence that beast – it’s lying.


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  1. Joe Says:

    Hi Erin,thanks for the insighs. You are awesome !

  2. donald Chacho Says:

    hello,i’m Donald i wish to have a beautiful lady to be on my yatch with me right now.i just want to talk to someone

  3. donald Chacho Says:

    i just want someone to spend the rest of the year with me and maybe could lead to forever.

  4. Jason vissers Says:

    My name is Jason vissers I am single and never been married before I have short dark brown hair and hazel eyes I where gless. I am 5foot and 9in tell.all my life I had elip hor in the Haret Haret min hip pom Depp and aixs park deaf I love simming. And cooking and I suppter Liverpool FC sin I was just 6 year old.i like going to the pictures and night out for a Mel cuddle kiss . I have no kids of my own at all. I like music. Dvd kids movie and ante movie to and I live on my own for 7 year now.and no parents in my life at all

  5. Thad Drozd Says:

    My name is Thad Drozd. L am 45 year old. L am also disability. I am high functining independent I live on my own Groton,ct part of New London county,Ct. Looking for high functining disability girl live on her own independent I am looking for companionship girlfriend age between 39 to 45 year old. L like to hang out with disabiliy girl do more fun stuff like dining out,coffee shop,walking, auqmium, musem
    ,waking to beach,shopping,bowling,danceing,mystic vllage
    I am looking in to disability girl in Groton,ct, Mystic, Ct. L am close by you have any idea please help me thank~you from Thad Drozd

    My email is tdrozd193@gmail.com

    Home phone number is 860~405~1007
    cell phone number is 860~961~9167

  6. Keith Says:

    Hi Keith here in Ireland and I’m looking to fand love i fand it very hard to so I’m looking for help

  7. Houssam Asmar Says:

    IMY NAME IS HOUSSAM IAM 36 YEARS OLD and Iam single looking for love have got disability and my Disability learning Disability

  8. kristen l tully Says:

    Hi just looking for a companion friend to hang out and do stuff together like movies cooking hanging out dinner shopping lunch and likes CATS. And want to find a place with other people my age and interested. my number is 2076717012 Kristen tully

  9. kristen l tully Says:

    Hi just looking for a companion friend to hang out and do stuff together like movies cooking hanging out dinner shopping lunch and likes CATS. Kristen tully

  10. Beth Finke Says:

    Thank you for reaching out to us, Nathan. I will forward your phone number on to Easter Seals Information and Referral Services. They will get back to you soon with information about Easterseals affiliates that may be able to help.

  11. Nathan E Horn Says:

    Have MS & looking for housing, etc. email is down so phone is best @ contacting me.

    Nathan Horn
    313 732 7799

    Thank you 😊

  12. Beth Finke Says:

    Right on, Erin!

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