Sara, 24, is a person with Cerebral Palsy - a group of disorders that affect a person's ability to move and maintain balance and posture.
Be honest about yourself
Dating someone on Tinder but hiding your disability is a big no. Always inform the other person about whatever disability you have right from the beginning. Once Sara was dating a person who was too shy to admit his disability. He kept postponing meeting her or talking to her on some or the other pretext.
When he finally admitted he could not hear, Sara could not help but wonder what was the need to hide. Disability is a part of you. But that does not imply that all the talks and chats you do have to be around your or their disability. Remember, the disability is not the person. It’s just one part of who they are.
What ‘others will say’ should not bother you
If you are dating someone for a long time and now plan to meet outside, inform them about your shortcomings because of disability. Let them be as mentally prepared as you are.
Sara once went on a date with Mayank and spilled the coffee over the table. Mayank did not panic in that situation and handled it calmly.
Her tip – Never ever feel conscious if people start staring at your table. Handle the situation, calmly. That’s the best way to win their hearts. Everyone has some or the other weakness, the other person just needs to accept it and move on in a casual manner.
Your disability doesn’t have to define your relationship
Your relationship shouldn’t be just in and around your disability. Your medications, your therapy, appointments or doctor visits, can not be a part of each and every conversation with your partner. He/she might be having their own challenges in their life. You cannot always bother them with your problems.
Take care of each other, equally
Dating someone with a disability doesn’t mean you’ll have to ‘take care of them’. They’re probably used to looking after themselves. People always perceive that your partner (especially if he is able bodied) will always take care of the disabled partner; but that is not the case. The person with a disability can take care of their partner emotionally, if not physically.
Sara was by Mayank’s side when he lost his job recently. She searched for job opportunities for him, had a pep talk with him when he felt low, tweaked his resume and even helped Mayank prepare for job interviews by throwing probable questions at him.
It’s not always that a person will need just the physical support, emotional support is equally important in a relationship.
Don't believe in stereotypes
When Sara started dating Mayank, she often heard from her friends and relatives – there must be something fishy. Is Mayank after your wealth? Is he/she not worth enough for any other partner? Oh! It won't last long. She also heard that she is ‘lucky’ to be with Mayank!
Disability is not the only thing that defines someone. You fall in love with people. Mayank liked Sara because of her great sense of humour, her nature and not for any other reason. Yes, their relationship has its own challenges but so do other relationships have, don’t they?
Never jump into a relationship in haste
Sara and Mayank have been dating each other since the last one six months now. Do they want to take it forward? They are still not sure. They want to take their own time. This tip is true for every other relationship, as it is for the relationship with the person with disability. To make a relationship on the foundation of love and trust, all you need is a little time.
Don’t ever force someone into commitment. It might scare them away from you. Always give them some space and time to build your relationship stronger over the period.
Confidence is the key!
When Mayank goes out with Sara, he is not conscious of her disability. He is confident of his choice. People with disabilities love the dates who are confident about being with them. Confidence in the terms of when they know that you have made the right choice. People with disabilities (or anyone for that matter) would not like to go on a date with someone who is a little hesitant to be with them.
Don’t assume, communicate and seek consent
Does he like me? How would she feel if I hold her hand? We wish there were automatic answers to these questions but there are not! You have to ask, talk and check about all these thoughts rather than just assume.
As in any relationship, communication is central. Once you develop a level of comfort, ask them do they feel attracted to you? Do they want to kiss, hold hands, or have sex? Do not assume things, ask to find out!
Don't forget to check out our video - Pyaar ke Ishare: Love knows no disability below:
To protect the identity, the person in the picture is a model and names have been changed.
About the author: Vinayana Khurana is pursuing M.Phil in English literature from Delhi University. She is a woman with Cerebral palsy but that is not her identity. She's a writer, a poet and a Comic Artist. You can reah her out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn