After reading Shane Burcaw's amazing article on his experience with love and disability, I've decided to share my own thoughts on the subject.
It's no secret that calling me any kind of expert on relationships couldn't be further from the truth. That being said, dating and girls are never far from my mind.
Navigating relationships has always been difficult for me, even before I became a quad. Shyness was a big factor, but it was amplified even more once the wheelchair became a part of the equation. Over the years I may have learned how to approach and talk to girls, but being able to translate that into a successful social life was harder to accomplish.
Nowadays, the first thing I think about whenever I see a girl I want to ask out, all I can think about are logistics.
- How will I get to the date?
- Can she drive me?
- Is she going to be okay feeding me?
- I want to pay for everything, but how do I ask her to take out my wallet?
The list seems to grow longer and longer as I think of all the scenarios and I've officially psyched myself out. Then I think about how I put my best foot forward. I've seen enough romantic comedies to know that manners, sincerity and kindness go a long way. Unfortunately, chivalry in the traditional sense isn't going to cut it for me.
- How do I hold open the door for her?
- What do I do if she gets cold?
- Would I be able to walk her to her door after the date?
Reading Shane's article answered some of those questions for me. I'm not going to ever be able to be chivalrous in the way I was taught to be, but that doesn't mean I can't be a gentleman in other ways. I also realized that I ultimately just need to be myself and let things fall where they may.
I applaud Shane and am happy to know that it is possible to find love, disability or not. He's a great role model for anyone with a disability who may be a little wary about jumping into the dating pool. Even if it's in the shallow end for people like me.