My fear of dating as a disabled woman

I remember when I was a kid, my old carer (would probs now say PA, just FYI for the deets) saw that I was holding a bag of sweets. When she asked where I got them from I said a boy in my class had bought them for my birthday. She got out her best dog talking voice and said “awwww has Gemma got an admirer!?” I was mortified, and shoved them in my school bag. 

That’s kind of the start of how I’ve always been treated when it comes to dating, oddly enough a lot by women. Adults at parties would go around and ask if the teens were “courting” anyone, but when it got to me there was an awkward silence. 

I soaked in that awkward silence (what I later learned was internalised ableism) and felt like, well dating must not be a thing for me then because people act strange whenever it’s brought up. This was also backed up by no one ever really telling me they were attracted to me. I’d get friends saying I looked nice, so I focussed on just looking nice and feeling good. 

But as I got older, I kept up this persona of just looking good, getting on with it and avoiding any kind of chat about dating. I of course liked people but would never DARE tell them. Looking back, I know there were people who found me attractive but because society tells us disabled people are broken and not dateable, we go back to this cycle. 

Anyway, as I got older I got more confident. With a LOT of work, talking to friends, them cheer leading me on – I’m now in a space where I am dating – wehey. And, you know what, it’s fun! Yes god it’s so much harder when the world tells people we’re not part of the gang. But we ARE part of it if we want to be. We’re desirable, funny, entertaining, intelligent – the list goes on. I’m going to talk a lot more about that in other posts, don’t worry. I’ll give you the goss (and advice for fellow disabled pals). God there are some stories to tell.

So why am I talking about this now? I think it’s because I’m coming up to my 30’s and I don’t want to feel ashamed for having desires like everyone else. With the constant pats on the head it felt like I was a sexual woman stuck in a child’s body that only I couldn’t see. It felt so consuming that it became overwhelming. So that’s why I’ve decided to post this. To start the conversation. For me, for non-disabled people, but most importantly for other disabled people who feel a bit trapped too.

To even post this today, I’ve had to announce to my family what’s app that I am officially a “dating woman” and I’ll be blogging about it. Which sounds ridiculous but it was liberating. I have to shout out to my family that they of course were so supportive (including my brother – big high five). 

So to conclude what I said to my family “that’s the news, I’m a 28 year old woman who’s dabbled in dating. No notable men yet, but I’ll let you know when there is”.