What happens when you fall head over wheels in love?
I’ll start at the beginning… this is the start of how we fell ‘head over wheels’ in love…
Dan (my better half, significant other, partner in crime….) has a disability and is a wheelchair user. We met in April this year thanks to the dating app, Bumble. Here we are 7 months on, unexpectedly having fallen in love. I tried lots of ways of writing that- I wanted to avoid clichés or sounding cheesy. I failed. Maybe that’s because the story of the beginning of our relationship really is a bit of a cliché? Sometimes you really do meet someone when you don’t expect it.
I began online dating fairly soon after the end of an abusive relationship. I was given lots of different advice; some people told me it was too soon and I needed to recover, other people encouraged me to ‘get myself out there’. Despite actively using dating apps, I didn’t want to get into a relationship. I didn’t even want ‘just sex’ (actually I really didn’t want sex at all!).
What I did want, was some normal interaction, some positive dating experience, and to get back to enjoying myself and having fun. I went into it with zero expectations. I had nothing to lose. I’d already hit rock bottom over the last year or so.
When I met Dan, I was really enjoying being single. I felt like I was getting my life back. My confidence was returning and my anxiety was receding. Dating was nerve-wracking, but fun. And it was doing me a lot of good. When Dan and I started chatting, we laid down the law quickly. Neither of us were looking for a relationship. We are both quite matter-of-fact, and I think that’s partly why we clicked so well. After a couple of days of the usual chit-chat, Dan sent a message saying ‘Do you wanna ask me anything about the wheelchair situation before you fall in love with me?’. I’ve never found such cockiness quite so charming before.
When it comes to dating and relationships, a disability naturally raises a lot of questions. Dan had pre-empted some of those questions and put the answers in his dating profile bio. When I read his bio I knew that we’d get on. He has a good sense of humour and he was upfront and honest, which I found really refreshing. Oh, and the bonus for me is that he has the looks to go with it…
His bio read:
‘I’m quite tall when I do stand up. Not looking for a carer, I have my independence. Own place, car, job. And it works…’.
Right from our first date I’ve been asked a lot of questions too. I’ve been asked things including ‘What’s it like dating someone with a disability?’, ‘How much did you have to help him on your date? Did you have to push him in his wheelchair?’, ‘Are you still going to be able to experience dating and enjoy yourself fully if it’s with someone in a wheelchair?’, ‘What’s the etiquette around someone in a wheelchair? Is it patronising to offer help? Is it rude if you don’t?’.
One of the main reasons I’m starting this blog is for us both to openly and honestly answer as many questions as we can. I want to open up the conversation about disability, raise awareness and talk about dating with disabilities.
It’d be amazing if I could do this and make even a tiny positive change to this statistic:
The disability charity Scope ran a poll of 500 people in the UK asking: Have you ever been on a date with a disabled person who you met through a dating website or app? Only a little more than 5% of people said “yes”. Previous research also showed almost eight out of 10 people in Britain have never invited a disabled person to any social occasion.
Like me, Dan thrives from being busy and getting out and about. We always want to be seeing and experiencing new things, but accessibility considerations mean that it’s often difficult or complicated. The physical ability to go on days out, to pop to the pub, or nip to the shop with such little thought of logistics, or restrictions, is something I took for granted- until I met Dan. Going anywhere new requires research and planning. Are there any steps? Are the doorways wide enough? Is there an accessible toilet? If it’s somewhere outdoors, are there proper pathways and are they smooth or uneven? Are there any steep hills or lengthy inclines?
Finding the answers to these questions is usually a truly tedious task. With large attractions, you stand a chance of a 5 minute search of their website being marginally helpful. But for so many places, accessibility information is, ironically, not easy to access. This is what’s made me want to start a blog. I think there’s a need for it, so why not give it a go myself and see what happens? *fingers crossed*.
I want to candidly share our experiences, the good the bad and the ugly. Accidents and falls, mistakes, worries, stresses, but also the laughter, love and triumphs. My aim (although perhaps unrealistic?) is to provide a go-to place for guides/ reviews of tried and tested days out and attractions and how accessible they are. Hopefully, you can expect to read about places that you’ll want to visit, regardless of whether you have a disability or not. I also want to talk about what it’s like dating someone with a disability and answer the questions we’re asked along the way. Finally, we’ll also talk a bit about any tips and tricks, and some of the kit we use to make life a bit easier. Dan and I hope you enjoy what’s to come.
Love Becky x
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