Freedom to Choose

In Columns, Life With Laura by Laura StinsonLeave a Comment

It doesn’t really matter who you are: dating is hard. Really, really hard. First, you have to meet someone. Once you finally find a person, you have to get him (presuming you are female, like me) interested. Then, there’s the first date, which may be the most difficult thing a human being ever has to endure. If that succeeds, there’s a second date; if one is lucky, many dates follow after and there is even a possibility of a long-term relationship.

But, there are still more directions this situation could take. Let’s say that a relationship blossoms from that awkward first date. A serious, long-term, committed relationship. Not even discussing all the problems that come just by being in that relationship: what if it ends? Then, you have to start all over.But, if that dreaded first date fails, you don’t even get the luxurious break of a committed relationship. You have to start over right that second. Difficult, isn’t it?

What if you’re in a wheelchair?

This suddenly sheds a new light on things. Not only must you get that certain someone interested in you but, before you can even get to that step, you must first get him to see past the obvious and look at what is truly important.

I’m a twenty-one-year-old college student. At this time in my life, I should probably be dating up a storm. “Playing the field.” Checking out all my options. But, it’s really not working out that way. I am in a wheelchair. For my entire life, I’ve had to deal with getting people to look past that fact. It’s especially hard when it comes to the opposite sex. College-aged guys are not all that interested in the mind, heart or soul of a woman, just the body. Granted, there may be exceptions. I’ve just never encountered one.

I’m smart, funny, reasonably attractive. I’ve had a few guys tell me just that. However, none have ever been interested in moving past friendship with me, so their reliability is in question. In fact, I’ve only had what I would consider two serious relationships. However, in hindsight, neither were smart moves…or serious relationships. The most serious was a British boy-toy I met over the Internet but never face to face. The pathetic thing is, he will always be “the one that got away.”

In a few days, another possibility may be arising. A friend is coming for a visit with her boyfriend and a few of his friends, one of which they want to set me up with. When she told me, my first question was, “Do they know about the chair?” It’s certainly reasonable. On the one hand, I feel that any guy being set up with me has the right to know about the chair. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to go into something like this wondering how he’s going to react when he sees the chair. I’d just rather he know from the beginning and we can get over that hurdle as soon as possible. So, naturally, when she said, “Yes, they know about the chair,” the fact that this guy still wanted to meet me gave me a real boost of confidence. And, maybe, renewed hope for the human race.

Of course, the fact that he knows about the chair doesn’t really do anything to alleviate my anxiousness. Just because he knows that I’m disabled doesn’t really tell me what he’s expecting. My friends don’t usually know too many details about my disease, osteogenesis imperfecta. Not because I don’t want to tell them; they just never ask because they feel it’s not important. Therefore, I know that he most likely couldn’t have been told too much beyond the fact that I’m in a wheelchair. So, really, what is he expecting?It’s only natural to be nervous, I guess. It just seems like there’s a lot more at stake for me. I don’t get a lot of shots at meeting guys who might genuinely be interested in cultivating a relationship with me. For one thing, I’m not what one would call a social butterfly, but I’m okay with that status. For another, like I’ve said, I’ve rarely come across a guy my age who would be interested in dating me, including the wheelchair. I’ve met plenty who would like to date me minus the chair, which isn’t going to happen any time barring an earth-shaking miracle. So, any tiny chance I get, I want to take full advantage of and that can sometimes come across as desperate. And, certainly, I don’t want to appear desperate! Because of my lack of opportunities I want things to work out so badly even when it’s evident that they won’t. Sometimes, I want too much.

All of that scares me. I don’t know what exactly will come of this whole “blind date” thing. It could just be a good friendship, which would be nice, too. I can’t help but get my hopes up, however. Even though I tell myself not to, there is a little part of me that’s wondering, “Is this him? Could this be that guy? That guy that finally sees past everything and sees me?” I’m trying not to think like that often in this situation, but it creeps in every now and then. And that’s a lot of pressure the idea that he might be the guy. Even if it turns out he’s not.

As of press time, the time for this blind date has passed. Unfortunately, my friend and I were never able to get together and I therefore never met “the guy”.

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