I’ve had several relationships through online dating sites. Every time I tell people how we met I get that look. You know, the one that says diving into a crocodile infested sewerage outlet would be safer and less disgusting than dating online. But since I’m right there and apparently willing to talk, that look quickly gives way to morbid curiosity. What’s it really like to date online? Why do it?
Before I started online dating, I would have felt the same. I was afraid I would end up meeting the geeky equivalent of Freddy Kruger: homicidal intentions and Star Trek quotes in one horrifying package. I also worried about meeting the ones who dodge the truth in more mundane ways: older, less attractive or less available than their online profiles might suggest.
So why did I start? I’m deafblind. Going to a pub or a nightclub to meet people is on my list of
Things I’d really rather not do, thanks, just below walking across a bed of hot coals. It’s not like I can command my seeing eye dog to find the cute, smart and compassionate ones who will respect that I’m a feminist and who won’t laugh if I need one of my shameful Celine Dion fixes. As an added bonus, he should know something about disability.
It’s that last one that’s tricky in the online world. What do I say? Do I talk about it in my profile, or do I wait until we’re chatting? How much of a lying cow will I look like if I leave it til later? It’s the same problem that comes up when you go for a job, except I’d like to think there won’t be a selection panel and a practical test as part of the dating process.
Whatever makes you comfortable
I found that the best answer was
whatever makes you comfortable. For me that meant hinting strongly at my disability in a casual way.
Walking my guide dog listed as a hobby, for instance, and then directly raising the topic of disability when the time felt right. Though the conversation about being disabled is always awkward, the plan of attack seemed to work pretty well. I never got angry responses and I actually met a few serious prospects who had disabilities of their own without me really looking for them.
So online dating has been useful for meeting people, but has it been safe? Yes, but I’ve had to make some decisions about what “safe” meant for me. No giving out identifying information until I was okay with them, though that was tricky because saying I’m deafblind pretty much identifies me. I encourage you to let your friends know who you’re talking to, arrange meetings in public and teach your assistance animal the ever-crucial “maim” command.
Online dating has worked well for me. I still have all my limbs and vital organs, and I have a boyfriend. I never did find a guy who wouldn’t laugh at my Celine Dion fixation, but I guess that was asking a lot.