Dating with a Disability

Visitor's Question from a 21-30 year old Male
I am a 23-and-a-half year old male. I have a minor spinal chord defect that effects me mildly from the waist down. Statistically it could effect my "performance" - you know what I mean! I have not had that much relationship experience, in fact the furthest I've ever "gone with a girl" is kissing. My last "real" kiss was over two and a half years ago, the night before she disappeared (see below). I have had a few dates since then, but they never worked out.

Most people don't even notice my condition unless I tell them. The main problem I have with relationships is that every time I find someone that could be "someone special" I have no idea how/when to tell her of my disability????? When I do tell her (or if she discovers in other ways) she inevitably runs for the hills and I never see them again. In one instance she even distanced herself from our mutual friend that introduced us in the first place.

How do I tell her while keeping the "run for it" risk down?

One other problem is that I keep falling head over heels with a girl only to find out much later that she already has a guy. In one case of this I was meeting a girl for dinner once a week for about six weeks before she (quite cryptically) told me about her boyfriend. It always turns out that she only ever liked me as a FRIEND! (I'm really starting to HATE that word!) It's happened at least three times in the last two years! Advice
I have many friends with disabilities and it can definitely be harder to date - but it is also quite possible! Many of my marriage-aged friends HAVE gotten married to wonderful partners and are quite content. So it just takes a good attitude and getting out into the world where there are single people who you enjoy. Hobby clubs are a GREAT place to meet people who share your common interests and who you can have fun with without much effort at all.

While you look down on the "just friends" thing - you need to realize that ALL great romances begin with great friendships. That friendship is what sustains a couple through ups and downs while the passion mellows into a mature love. So all it means if someone says they are "just friends" is that the friendship level was there - and that it never fully developed into the more mature love. So you were partway there and need to find out what the 'sticking point' was. If it was the disability, then they are a bit shallow to think that is more important than a great partner. Sure, THEY are healthy right now, but age takes a toll on ALL of us. They could easily be sick or injured in a few months - and then what would they do? They wouldn't expect you to leave them?

I think as you get a bit older you'll find that the people around you have matured and begun to realize that. People often think they're "invincible" when they're young and it's age that helps them realize otherwise, helps them realize just how important a great FRIENDSHIP is rather than 'perfect body' or anything else.

People are often really afraid of things they don't understand, thinking it might somehow be "catching". Again it has to do with the whole "invincible" attitude many teenagers have. Hearing about your problems reminds them that the world has faults in it and that scares them. And again, as people age, we all realize that we ALL have faults and it's more like "Yeah, you have that issue, I have this issue, my brother has another issue ..." It would be more unusual if you were perfect!!

So don't stress about it. As the years go on, this will become hardly an issue at all to the woman you talk to. For now, I would go low key on discussing it. Really, I don't think there's a reason to talk about it until you get to the point of actually making love. This doesn't affect any other part of you. And if they're not interested in making love to you yet, that situation wouldn't affect them either. If they are interested in making love to you, heck, many guys have problems with impotence and such. That is hardly unusual! So it can become a joint adventure, to see if it works or not. Believe me, if you can't please her in that manner, there are PLENTY of other ways in which to please her.

-- from Jenn
One of Your Friendly Advisors at

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