Tips for Wheelchair Users to Create an Online Dating Profile

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Before writing my article, a few friends of mine had seen my online dating profile and they loved it, so they asked if I would take a look at theirs and help them spruce it up. Not sure if it was the changes or not, but one of them had instant results! After the article, I had people reach out to me and ask if I’d look at their profiles, and I started noticing a common theme of problems. Recently I spoke at a men’s disability support group regarding dating and relationships, and they had so many wonderful questions that led to great points. The following morning I had an epiphany, I am going to take what I’ve learned and write about it, because after all, doesn’t it fit perfectly with the dating articles?

Like my other article, I feel the need to have a disclaimer: These tips aren’t for everyone. These things worked for me, but that doesn’t mean they’re a perfect fit for you. You need to be you, that’s what will help you find your dream partner.

The Great Debate: Up Front with your Disability or Not?

When someone asks whether or not they should share they have a disability, I ask them why not? Are you ashamed of it? When you hide something, it’s generally because shame, embarrassment, or some other negative emotion. Why would it seem any different regarding a disability? Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard the excuse, “No, I’m proud. I just want them to get to know me.” What’s that smell? Oh, it’s B.S.  If you had genuine pride in your disability you would broadcast it. Ok, so for those who don’t agree with me, fine, but that’s exactly what you’re portraying. When you are proud of your disability, confident, and don’t make it a big deal, your future partner will reflect the same perception. We put an energy out into the world, and those around you will reflect that energy.

Beyond you having pride, hiding things can often come off as deceptive. When you drop the D-word (disability) it’s likely they aren’t thinking as much about that, but instead thinking, “What else are they hiding?” People appreciate openness and transparency, well, healthy people do. When I was talking to my Dahli Momma (my mom) about this she had the funniest comment, “Yeah! Serial killers have secrets.” I cracked up, but what a great comment! I understand that putting your disability can attract unhealthy people as well, but if you portray that confident, assertive person you won’t attract that predator type, they are looking for weak and submissive.

Confidence is sexy in anyone, and it’s no different for someone with a disability. In fact, I think confidence is even sexier in someone with a disability. I’ve heard from different people that they’re trying to be more confident, and to them I say “Fake it until you make it.” Before you know it, you won’t be faking it, but instead it will have become a part of who you are.

You’ve got to see your disability as a gift. Like I said in a previous article, the disability is like a weed eater. It detracts and deters those potential partners you wouldn’t want in the long run anyway. Perspective is everything, and seeing your disability in a more positive light will result in confidence and pride.

Don’t be Negative

When I have helped other people who have a disability with their profiles, I find the number one issue in their profiles is that they tend to add a lot of negativity in their profiles. I’ve heard excuses for why people do it, but none of them work with me. Whether or not it’s your intention, you’re portraying and perpetuating the stereotype that disabled people are depressed, negative, and unhappy. I often hear, “Well I want them to know everything right away so later they don’t ditch me.” Some examples are: “If you’re looking for that model type, keep looking”; “There is more to me if you would actually take the time”;”I do need a lot of help”; “I’m trying this because people are so negative about my disability and was trying to meet someone who isn’t shallow”.

Which my response is something like, “Ok pessimist. That’s what later conversations and dates are for, you know, the whole getting to know you part. I get it, you’re wanting to avoid rejection, but that’s part of dating. I’m sure you’ve done it to other people! Sure, you’re turning people off that would later reject you, but you’re also turning people off who would accept and love you wholeheartedly.”

You should focus on you as a person and not your disability. We often complain about people defining us by our disability, yet we do it to ourselves. Beyond that, don’t be negative about a potential partner. If you have a list of “What I don’t want” go delete…now! If you’re going to talk about what you want in a person, touch on the positive attributes you’re looking for.

Dahli Momma had read a book written by Steve Chandler that she swears by, and I can hear her saying, “There are victims and there are owners, be an owner.” In other words, take control of your situation and own it, don’t be the victim, nobody likes the person that is always the victim. That means, you need to make sure you aren’t playing the victim in your profile. When I have spoken to people with disabilities about dating, the ones that aren’t dating almost always are the same ones that blame their disability or surrounding circumstances on not dating, when in reality it’s just that they have a crappy attitude or they aren’t putting themselves out there. To attract others, you need to be attractive, and I don’t mean physically.

When I was newly injured I saw others who were injured inadvertently push people away with their negativity and anger. Heck, I didn’t even like being around them. I love people, I’m a social person, and I made the choice to not do that. Yes, I made the choice. Life gives us excuses, it’s how we choose to use them that reflects who were are at the core. That being said, if you’re struggling with this, you need to make yourself emotionally healthy on your own before you try to find someone.

As I do with many of my articles, I discuss the material with those around me in order to bounce ideas off each other. I was talking to Jennifer “Jenn” about the fact that a lot of people with disabilities blame their disability for their lack of having a partner, when in reality it’s that they have a crappy attitude. Sometimes it’s easier to point the finger (or quad paw) and blame our disability, rather than truly self-reflect and put the work into growing as a person. While we were talking, Jenn had such an incredible metaphor. She said, “Imagine you could clone yourself and had to interact with yourself, do you enjoy the time? If you can’t enjoy yourself, how can you expect a potential partner to?” I got to thinking about my clone, and we would definitely have power struggles.

So moral of the story? Don’t start dating to make yourself whole. Make yourself whole, and then start dating. You will attract a healthier, happier partner. You need to ask yourself if you’re happy, truly happy. If you honestly are, you will find someone. Therapy session over, onto more tips!

A-Sexual?

The only way A-sexual applies to me is if you’re talking about my grade in the bedroom. A disability does not result in instantly becoming A-sexual, so why would you portray that? Granted, it’s generally more accepted by men when women discuss sexuality, and instead men sound like they’re just looking for a hook-up. Therefore, men, be careful to not come off like you’re either 1) desperate for a physical relationship or 2) only looking for a booty call. There’s a fine balance of innuendos and suggestions, and you need to find it so that it represents who you are.

So what is a good balance? It all depends on who you are, your sexual appetite, and who you are wanting to attract. I suggest you elude to sex by making a joke, instead of putting it out there directly. It makes it a much more approachable topic when you’re light hearted about it, heck that applies to any topic!

Which Picture do I choose?

This is a big one! I see people post photos that instantly knock them out for me, or it may be the fact they are missing certain pictures. Below are some do’s and don’ts as far as photos.

DO:

  • Do include at least a face and a full body photo. In addition, be sure you’re smiling in most, if not all of them…at least a smirk!
  • Do post photos of you being active, because we all know that the stereotype is that we just sit on our bum bum all day moping about life sucking. When the reality is, most of us are busy living our lives.
  • Do post ones of you in fun settings, and don’t use all selfies you took in your home. It makes you look boring and lonely.
  • On sites where you can add captions to your pictures, add clever captions to your photos.
  • Do add pictures of you and your kids, but not all of them should be all you and your kids. HOWEVER, don’t add photos of you and other people’s children, because people will just assume you have a kid. If you feel the need to still post it, be sure you make it clear in the caption.
  • Do post pictures of you and animals. Especially you men who love cats, that’s a heart warmer for us cat lovers…instant hot points.
  • Post funny pictures. It shows a lighter side, and that you don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Do add some of you dressed up, and if you can, add ones that aren’t you at a wedding dressed up. That just says you don’t dress up for anything else.

DON’T:

  • Don’t do all professional photos, people will think you don’t look as good in person and you’re hiding it.
  • Don’t add photos of you with pretty people of the opposite sex, trust me, even if it’s your sister or brother it’s a bad idea.
  • Don’t do all party pictures, unless that’s the type of person you’re trying to attract.
  • Don’t post photos of you in all different exotic vacations and other places, it will come off like you aren’t available.
  • DON’T skip the picture! The only thing that is worse than a bad picture, is no picture at all.
  • Don’t post super old pictures of you. Make sure you post pictures that show what you really look like, and not what you looked like 10 years ago.
  • Don’t have filters on all of your pictures, and make sure you aren’t bleached out in all your pictures…it says you’re hiding wrinkles or acne.

Gina Schuh, Editor, Law and Advocacy

Gina, a C-5/6 quadriplegic, describes herself as a “politically incorrect foodie who is an equal opportunity offender.” Beyond that, Gina is a law school graduate who grew up on a farm in California. Gina’s true passion is food, and you’ll often find her posting food pictures on her Instagram under Culinary.Quad . Raised by a strong mother who had an insatiable appetite for any educational psychology materials, Gina swears she was raised by an unlicensed psychologist which led to her being so introspective. After people observed her success in dating, they asked for tips, which eventually led to her regular contribution here at Push Living on issues of dating, disability parking, and medical supply reimbursement, leading to the role of Editor of Law and Advocacy.

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