SMA News Forums Forums Life Advice and Transitions Dating and Marriage Going on a first date when you have SMA

  • Going on a first date when you have SMA

    Posted by kevin-schaefer on May 13, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    The majority of the time I’m hanging out with friends, I ask one of them to drive me in our accessible van. This works out great, as it gives me more independence and my parents are totally fine with friends taking me.

    I’ve also gone out with girls who I’m good friends with, and they’ve been cool with driving me as well. Once I train someone how to get me in my van, strap me in and get me out, the process is pretty smooth. As long as I go with someone who’s dependable and trustworthy, having friends drive me makes my social life significantly easier. I also try to thank whoever I’m with by buying them dinner or something.

    However, let’s say someone with SMA is going on a first date with someone they just met or only connected with online. What would you do in this situation regarding transportation? Do you agree to meet there? Do you have someone drive you and pick up your date on the way? I’m curious to hear what you all think.

    deann-r replied 5 years, 10 months ago 7 Members · 13 Replies
  • 13 Replies
  • adnan-hafizovic

    May 15, 2018 at 11:36 am

    Main thing is to find boy or girlfriend.Other things ,where we go out or who will drive me to a date is secondary thing.When I had some dates in a past with girls,it was easy for me because I live in centre of my city where has few nice caffee bars or restaurants,so I was going alone in my electric wheelchair.Of course I had sometimes problems with bad weather but if we cant to find today we had a date other day.One time I couldnt go because weather was cloudy and she came to my house and we were sitting in my garden and talk,and it was nice.

    • kevin-schaefer

      May 15, 2018 at 11:55 am

      Yeah that was the nice thing about college. Meeting up with friends and going on lunch/coffee dates was so easy because there were plenty of restaurants and coffee shops right by campus. Now that I work from home I need someone to drive me to get to places, but there are still plenty of places nearby to hang out.

  • lourdes-maria-pena-strom

    May 15, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    When I used to date years ago, I use to have a cousin or friend who was trustworthy drop me off at the mall or restaurant.  If that person ever worked out to where we had a relationship, later on, then they start would driving my van.

    • kevin-schaefer

      May 15, 2018 at 3:20 pm

      Thanks for sharing! Yeah I think that’s a good approach. My brother drives me quite a bit, and then once I feel comfortable with a friend driving me I train them to use our accessible van.

  • brynne-michelle-willis

    May 17, 2018 at 11:12 am

    Modern dating is very interesting. We used to live in a culture where the people you date were the people you see everyday in person. Not only do you get a pretty good idea of what the person is about, good and bad; but if you like them, you better make a move because who knows when you will see them again or if they will be snatched up! Now, our dating pools are as large as the planet we live on, literally. Tinder, Bumble, and expansion of other dating websites has made finding someone on the internet the norm. We are no longer forced to abide within the pools of people we meet in-person. If things don’t work out with the coworker, family friend, or college mate, no biggie I’ll just do a few swipes and match with someone else. The possibilities are infinite.

    This new culture has led to two problems in modern dating:

    1. Development of false impressions: filtered pictures and short bios leaves the person looking at your page to fill in the blanks for themselves. Because its relationships, we tend to fill in the blanks with unrealistic positives because we look for the things we want most. Furthermore, there is a risk assessment with everything placed on your page: expose too much and you may scare them away, or cause them to get the wrong impression of you. When posting about  disability or a condition, they may think you have cognitive impairment, more disabled than what you are, unable to be independent, etc. This is where stigma surrounding disability is seen most explicitly. Expose too little, they will be disappointed with finding out that you have a condition. Both have happened to me.

    2. Development of unrealistic expectations: Because of the above, in between “matching” and first date, we dream up unrealistic expectations of the other individual. This makes it difficult to see past the first sign of imperfection. The risk of seeing such imperfection leads one to just end the date and hop back on the website. This is what I call FOBO, or Fear Of Better Option. There is no perfect person, everyone knows that, but what if there is a more perfect person than the person sitting across from me tonight? I think many individuals in my generation experience this, which lowers the tenacious resiliency needed for a meaningful and committed relationship.

    Having SMA type 3 and being ambulatory with need of assistance from a scooter for long distances, broaching this condition online has been very interesting for me. For a year, just as an experiment I tried 3 different ways to broach my disability, all warranting different reactions. Below are the effects I have found:

    1. No pictures or signs of me having a disability-this has led to extreme anxiety about when I will disclose and if he will reject me because of it, or if my disability will be exposed through a fall or difficulty getting out of a chair. This usually ends with the guy being uncomfortable and feeling mislead because he didn’t know. The deal breaker was surprisingly the possibility of me not being able to have children (if he is a carrier). the honest ones expressed they would have appreciated knowing this going into the date, which I took constructively since I was experimenting at the time. With no indication of disability, I got the most swipes and likes.

    2. Half pictures of me in my scooter and me standing-most guys think its a fun ride, or that I am just too lazy to walk even though I explicitly state I have a medical condition. Once I explain I have the condition, they originally feel bad. I usually wait to do this in person since they usually “ghost” me doing it over text. I had fewer likes and swipes than the previous experiment, but still a substantial amount.

    3. All pictures of me in my scooter-they are off-putted by me walking into the restaurant, and feel mislead but in a different sense. They are then confused as to how my disability affects me. Surprisingly, this has usually been the best case scenario, since it ended up being better than they expected, though I experienced the least amount of swipes and matches with this form of broaching.

    I have found that with guys, they want to know how it affects you everyday and what the long term affects are. They also want to know if it can be fixed. Now, I am not saying online dating is impossible, I’m just saying it raises interesting barriers when doing this form of dating with a disability, especially if its invisible. I have found that the open and honest policy is the best, with being as broad about your condition as possible. Sure, you may get fewer likes, but the likes you get will be with people who are at least willing to give you a try. I had to learn to be comfortable with rejection that so obviously surrounded my disability (most likes with no discussion of disability, fewer swipes with disability present), which can be originally be upsetting. But, knowing there are people out there who see past that makes this dating process all worth it! What have your experiences been??

    • kevin-schaefer

      May 17, 2018 at 11:43 am

      Thanks for sharing Brynne! You bring up some great points here.

      I can imagine it’s harder when your disability is less visible. Trying to explain it to people can be extremely difficult.

      In college when I’d go on dates or just have lunch with friends, the hardest thing was explaining to people I just met that I needed extensive help eating and moving my arms. It’s different now that I have my JACO robotic arm, but back then I was totally reliant on people to help me lift a sandwich or prop my arms. People see my wheelchair, but they don’t know at first that SMA goes way beyond my inability to walk.

      Once I explained to new people that I could barely move my arms, they were totally fine helping me, but getting over that initial awkwardness was challenging.

      As far as online dating goes, I do prefer meeting people in person or going on dates with people I know. However, when I have used dating sites I’ve made sure to be very open about my disability in my profile. For one it’s a little hard to hide, and two I don’t want to waste time with someone who immediately writes off someone because they’re disabled. I’ve had no problem getting likes and attention on dating sites, but again I do prefer to go out with people I know.

      Thanks for bringing this up. There really are so many pros and cons to how dating works today.

  • craig-wilderman

    May 24, 2018 at 11:08 pm

    The biggest thing to remember dating is hard for everyone alike, even the walkers. Being yourself with a tad more confidence and humor works most of the time. I’ve been with my share of women and it seemed to get easier with age. I married now and in my opinion marriage is harder than dating!

    • kevin-schaefer

      May 25, 2018 at 1:30 pm

      Thanks for sharing Craig! That’s a great point. Communication is key.

      If you don’t mind me asking, how did you and your wife meet?

  • craig-wilderman

    May 25, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    We initially met online, but were to busy at that time to meet in person. Few years later we met on halloween at a bar. I had a PCA that was friends with her group. I had no idea it was pretty random. She looked me up and finally went on a date couple years later.

    • kevin-schaefer

      May 28, 2018 at 3:00 pm

      That’s cool man. Yeah if you ever want to share tips about dating and disability, marriage, etc. feel free. Thanks for sharing.

  • thembelihle-lily-ngcai

    August 17, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    Hi everyone 🙂

    I have type 3 and had similar experiences to Brynne when I was in university but now I’ve lost my ability to walk and am permanently in a manual wheelchair.

    I haven’t been on a date in two years because it’s been difficult transitioning from being able to do some things to now needing a personal assistant for the bathroom in particular and transferring.

    I want to go on dates (and hopefully if it develops, go the guy’s house and sleep over) but I’m just not sure about having my assistant come with me to something I consider private. I get that most of us have had to relinquish privacy in order to be helped by our PAs but I just want a date where it’s just me & a potential partner but if I’m not ready (and the date isn’t either) to assist me in the bathroom for example, how do I navigate the whole thing?


    Any advice would be appreciated 😄

    • kevin-schaefer

      August 17, 2018 at 1:55 pm

      Thanks for posting. I can imagine that transition is really difficult. I’ve always been in a power chair, so I can’t speak to that exact experience, but I get that it’s hard to date and have that privacy. I always have to get a ride if I’m on a date or have the girl drive.

      I’d recommend listening to this podcast I did with Dr. Danyelle Sheypuk: She writes a lot about dating with a disability, and I think you’ll find some helpful tips in this interview.

    • deann-r

      August 17, 2018 at 9:54 pm

      Might not be the best for an impromptu thing, but I would just have your assistant help at a scheduled time.  That way you could have one on one time with your friend and you know when to expect someone to come as to not interrupt anything.  You could also have them “on call” nearby but not hovering over you. Sure they’d understand you want your privacy.

Log in to reply.