Should I disclose my disability on a dating site? That’s my dilemma. Leather and Lace advice, I really need your help. I’ve been online for about 6 months and haven’t had a lot of dates, but I did have a few. I have a disability as I walk with a limp. I didn’t disclose this in my online profile but I told a few of my dates that had a limp after we made plans to meet.Those men didn’t‘ cancel the dates and were nice enough during the date, but they didn’t want to date me again. I didn’t tell the next two because I didn’t want to be rejected again. One man said he didn’t think he could deal with a woman who had a disability. That hurt, but at least he was honest. The other man was outraged and told me that while he wasn’t sure he would want to date someone who limped, but he was more upset that I wasn’t up front about it. He said things might have been different if I had been honest, but since I didn’t tell him he couldn’t trust me, and it was just our first meeting. I was crushed. I feel doomed if I disclose my disability on the dating sites, and doomed it I tell the men after we meet, and doomed if I don’t tell them. I am so deflated and confused. What should I do?
Diana, Down in the Dumps
Alison’s Take: Should you disclose a disability on a dating site? That is a dilemma, indeed. There isn’t an easy or definitive answer to this question, and as you will see when you read Tony’s take below (we discussed this one together before we wrote our responses), even he and I, dating and relationship experts, disagree on what’s best.
As I have said in other articles and in several of my books, in a perfect world, no one would feel awkward around someone with an obvious (or not so obvious) disability, large or small. No one would be hurtful to someone who is different. But it’s not a perfect world and dating is not a politically correct activity. People with disabilities are not always treated equally or fairly.
Like it or not, dating is a process of elimination, not of selection. You eliminate those you don’t’ see a future with (for whatever reasons) and they eliminate you (for whatever reasons) until you find someone who wants what you have to offer, and you feel the same way about them. That means if someone isn’t interested in dating someone with a limp, they aren’t going to want to date you no matter how charming and attractive you are in every other way. The same goes for people who are too fat/thin/tall/short and the list goes on and on. It might be shallow, unfair, even cruel, but the minute you put yourself out there to look for love you are going to be judged and you are going to judge others. That’s the process of elimination –the harsh reality. You are going to face rejection, but people without disabilities face it too.
That being said, if you say something about your limp in your profile, how you describe it is important. Tony says to soft peddle it, but that didn’t work so well for you, did it? People don’t like to be deceived. You can say you have a limp, without screaming: “I’m disabled.” Are you, really? It doeesn’t sound like your disability is that bad. As you have described it, you are not so disabled that you would be a burden to someone who wanted to have a life with you.
Oh, and make sure you have a fabulous profile photo just to illustrate the fact that you are healthy.
A limp is obvious. You can’t hide it and I think you should disclose it, but it’s not that horrible. Any man who would find it unacceptable is a man you don’t’ want to date, because he doesn’t want to date you. So your pool of suitable suitors may be leaner, but maybe not. After all, there are plenty of women without any disabilities who are either very picky, or simply can’t articulate what they want, so they end up with a pool of unacceptable choices. The men who read your profile and aren’t put off by the fact that you limp will be the men you want to consider, because they are open minded and are willing to see you as a whole person, not just as one aspect. From those men, you will select someone that interests you and either continue to date that him or reject him –and that’s the way the process works for everyone.
Although internet dating is easy, I think it’s also a good idea for you to get out there in person and meet people too. Again, you may find that you meet with some rejection, maybe a lot of it, but the men who are interested in getting to know you will be “keepers.” In the end, you don’t need a lot of men to date, you need the right men to date. Letting men see you and interact with you in person is a good way to show how fabulous you are in a way that no online profile can convey.
Tony’s Take: Should you disclose your disability on a dating site. I don’t really think so. When we began writing Leather and Lace Advice columns, we had a question from a reader in a wheelchair who wondered if she could ever find love (read: I’m Disabled, Not Dead! Help Me Find Love.
Alison and I advised our reader to own her disability. To triumph over it by rising above it.
Your case is a bit different because you have not as of yet explored all of the alternatives which would increase your mobility and decrease your social awkwardness. If you require a crutch, the same support might be accomplished with a light brace and a cane, which means minimum social awkwardness — especially in a dating situation.
But no matter how you look from the outside to your potential dates, it’s up to you to write a profile that stresses your mental aspects and intellectual interests over the physical, so that you attract a male who is interested in your personality and your mind first. And I would add to your profile something of the form “I have a leg injury so I don’t run very much nor dance quickly but I do like going places and seeing and doing things.”
I might also suggest (if you haven’t done already) that you seek out the specialty hospital in your area which specializes in the treatment of your condition. In many cases, proper treatment and physical therapy can give you more strength and muscle tone.
I wish you success and happiness in your search!