My entire opinion on dating changed the day I became disabled. I have always hated it when my family and friends told me “when you stop looking the right person will find you.”

Nothing ever just happens without considerable effort, and the idea of finding love when you’ve stopped looking seemed like a statement reserved for the gullible and naive. Did you ever obtain anything in your life without actually looking for it? Why not just tell a person asking for directions to just start walking and they’ll find it eventually? It just didn’t make sense to me.

Despite the annoying clichè, I think what they were trying to tell me is that I simply can’t make someone love me. It’s a choice another person makes willingly and independently of anything I do. In fact, there is to nothing I can do to try and make it happen aside from being the kind of person I think is loveable. Because, if there’s one thing that is absolutely true, it is that in order to be truly loved - I have to love myself first.

Self-confidence and a strong appreciation of what I've accomplished and overcome in life is easily the most attractive quality a person can have (as long as it doesn’t turn to arrogance and conceit). If I accept myself others will too.

Now that I know the secret to letting love find me, or at least what those horrible clichès actually mean, let’s talk about the facts. I have a physical disability and I can’t ignore or hide it. The media makes us believe that we should be tall, athletic, physically gorgeous creatures who are powerful and wealthy with just a hint of vulnerability to keep things interesting.

The truth is many single people are chasing this illusion. This leads to false expectations and disappointment because no one can live up to the stereotype. Many people tend to think they have found the ideal partner, only to be disappointed when they find out that the reality is very different.

Fortunately, people with disabilities in the dating game can’t hide their body issues and therefore they can be addressed openly. Not being able to hide your vulnerabilities is actually not a bad thing when it comes to building a healthy relationship. You should consider yourself lucky to have a head start!

However, getting people to talk about the negative topics that affect their lives, especially if they are considered to be unattractive, can be a very difficult task. I have found that discussing my disability and being open about the things that make me different has helped me see dating differently to how I had seen it before. I realised how shallow, insecure and vain some of the most physically attractive people can be, and I find myself more drawn to people who had strong opinions, values and self-confidence.

Our personal experiences are diverse and finding something in common shouldn’t be based solely on factors such as having a disability. For me, I’d much rather have an emotional connection with a partner, whether they have a disability or not.

ri-dot