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I realize some people are hesitant to date a human who experiences the world sitting down.

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I truly believed he was the person I’d marry, and that I’d never have to worry about rejection again.

When I found myself newly single, I turned to online dating in the hopes of easing my fears that no one else would ever accept me as I am, that lightning doesn’t strike twice. In this virtual world, I could pretend my disability didn’t exist.

Going on dates with me can be a crash course on disability, and I recognize that’s not always easy for non-disabled people to process.

But I wasn’t helping the situation by keeping the existence of my disability concealed, springing it upon people only when I thought it felt right.

I shut that down by explaining that my disability is part of who I am and it’s nothing to be sorry for.

I ended up going on one date with him, and then another.In retrospect, this served only to contribute to the stigma I usually work so hard to fight. In every other area of my life, my disability is front and center.I write and speak endlessly about being a proud, unapologetic disabled woman.It is part of my identity, shaping everything I do and everything I value.But in the online dating world, my disability was my secret shame. I started gradually, making references to my disability throughout my profile, then adding photos in which my wheelchair is clearly visible. For instance, OKCupid asks users to list six things they can’t live without; one of mine is “the invention of the wheel.”Still, I found myself having to make sure that potential matches had actually picked up on the trail of clues I’d left.I grew tired of feeling like I needed to deceive men into being interested because society instilled in me that my disability makes me undesirable.

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