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Valentine's Day - The Struggle to Find Love With or Without a Disability

Photo by Interrobang Media

It is the time of the year again where we must find love in order not to feel left out. It is a bit like New Year’s Eve where you must have fun, but where can we find love? Sometimes I have this fantasy that approaching Valentine’s Day a special aisle will appear at the supermarket and you can choose the one you like, or maybe a pick and mix offer.

I like to think I am a very romantic type, so in my head the perfect way to find love is by bumping into my prince charming and fall in love and we will live happily ever after. My mum used to say that she told me too many fairy tales when I was a kid, probably true, but who doesn’t like to dream a bit? Perhaps I do it too much.

Although I am romantic, I am also very practical, so I need to find a way to find my prince. I tried hooking up with guys in pubs, and it worked well until I had to use the wheelchair to get around. Since then, I have become invisible.

I have muscular dystrophy, which is a progressive muscle wasting condition. There still is this stigma attached to people with disabilities where we are not considered sexually attractive anymore and people probably think we do not work properly so we cannot have a normal sexual relationship. Unfortunately this is a misconception that still is quite hard to overcome. Although it is improving, but still there is a lot work to do. Most people just think sex is only the actual intercourse, but there is so much more you can do, explore and enjoy even more. Besides, you can always use toys!

An important factor is confidence. I have learned this through my own experience. This does not only apply to people with disabilities, but to everyone. If you lack confidence then your potential partner can smell it from a distance. Like dogs they can feel your fear. Unfortunately nobody can help you building it up, only you can do that. You need to find a way to feel and show people that you are great, you are gorgeous and nothing and no one will take you down. Or at least try to gain confidence by thinking one of those things. People will feel it. In the last year, for several reasons, I have found myself in a dark place. I was very depressed, tired, my self-confidence was under my shoes, you name it and I felt it. However, towards the end of the year I thought, right, now it is time to stop this. Pull yourself together, put some make up on, get your hair done, put on a nice dress to kill and go for it! Nothing could break me! I had my confidence back. I was tired of crying and feeling sorry for myself. I isolated myself from all the people I know, I wasn’t going out any more and I got to a point where I thought “stop wasting time!”. I don’t have much time, not because my condition is terminal, but life is short anyway and I am not getting any younger, so it is not worth it wasting it this way. But there are times where you can’t help it. Have your moment of devastation, but don’t get too comfortable and it is in that moment where you need a lot of energy to pick yourself up.

Obviously, the dating scene is not the easiest and you need a very thick skin. So, once you feel ready, go for it! Go to a pub and have fun. You might not find anyone, but you never will if you don’t even put your nose out of your house.

When pulling guys in pubs wasn’t working any more I tried the online dating scene. I joined all of them, from the free to the paid once and guess what? No luck whatsoever! Full of all sorts, from weirdos to devotees and everything in between. I don’t know what was worst, being ignored or being asked questions about my condition before disappearing. Sometimes I felt my name was Wikipedia and not Romina anymore!

The other day I came across to a new online dating app called Glimmer, which is supposed to be more inclusive. It feels like if you have a disability the other apps, let’s call them the mainstream apps, you are not allowed on them. Of course you are but forget about having any luck. Which in a way, from personal experience it’s not far from the reality. I think the solution to the problem could be to keep pushing and be more present on the mainstream market, in order to get society used to us and we won’t need “more inclusive apps!” Nonetheless, there will always be someone who asks stupid questions or ignores you, it is not easy to educate the whole of society at once.

As I mentioned earlier, I tried apps without any luck. However, when I decided to end my dark period I rejoined an online dating site, just to give it another chance. Well, call it luck, call perseverance, call it whatever you like, but I have found my prince charming or at least he seems like one for now. Ask me in a year and I will let you know.

So, the advice I can give you is NEVER GIVE UP, keep trying while having fun. I know it is not easy, but if it is of any help, it is not easy for anyone disabled or not.

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