Dating in midcoast Maine is hard. Frankly, everything in midcoast Maine is difficult. But dating in particular is difficult – it’s an extremely small dating pool and the activities to pick from are limited. “Do you want to go drinking?” “No we did that
last week…let’s go eating instead.”. So even if you’re not disabled, this post will probably be pretty relatable. But you know what’s extra hard? Dating when everyone thinks of you as “that girl who’s really pretty, for someone in a wheelchair”. (Did I just call myself pretty? Yes. No shame in my confidence game).
This one’s a weirdly sore topic for me, because my middle school and high school years were actually pretty great as far as adolescence goes. I had a ton of friends, I got out and did a lot of things, and for the most part my wheelchair was the least of my worries. As a matter of fact, the only time I really remember recognizing that I was different because I was in a wheelchair was when the guy I was crushing on (do kids still say this?) said “I really like you but I couldn’t date you because we couldn’t dance together at dances”. Which, first of all let me say, nobody dances at a middle school dance.
Nobody. I’m calling you out on your shitty excuse, sir.
This wasn’t an isolated incident, although after that nobody ever put words to what they were feeling quite as concisely. Through high school, while my friends cycled through boyfriends, I was constantly hearing “You’re so great and your friend is really cute, do you think you could set us up?”. And I did, because I’m nicer than one might expect. Although all of my classmates were great about including me in everything we did – but I lived, and still live, comfortably in the friend zone.
People won’t tell you the friend zone isn’t really a thing, and in many cases that’s true. However, I think most disabled people – wheelchair users in particular – will agree that it is very real, and it is something that we fight our whole lives. Just because Spinal Muscular Atrophy is a pediatric disease, that doesn’t mean that I am indefinitely a child. I am 24, I work more or less full time, I have friends, I drink, I shop, I own my own vehicle. I am very much an adult – and having a pediatric disease shouldn’t mean that I am destined to become a 45 year old chihuahua lady who’s “a great girl, I just couldn’t date her”.
Being disabled doesn’t make us children, and it certainly doesn’t make us undateable. We like movies, and hanging out, and sometimes even Netflix and Chill. It’s not up to you to worry about “well how does it work?” because that’s our job. We’ve spent our whole lives figuring out how to do every day things, dating would not be the biggest hurdle we’ve had to overcome. Seriously, give it a shot. You might just find we’re not all that bad, after all.