The Rest of the Story

Writing Is There Disablism in Dating? was an exercise in theory and reason, but it stirred up my feelings. At the time, I knew this other part of the story needed to be told, but tried avoiding it. Guess it’s time to stop.

Whenever I think about dating, my emotions are intense and attempts to find resolution fruitless. I wind up traveling deep mental ruts that go something like this:

I notice a couple happy in their coupledom and have just enough dating and relationship experience to know with total certainty that I’d be joyful as well. A moment of longing is followed by a mental sigh. I understand the reality of the world I inhabit and know I’m statistically far less likely than the average Jane to find my Wonderful Person. It hurts in a way I cannot explain to know that something which would bring me great joy is unlikely. Very unlikely.

My inner problem solver steps up to the plate. What are the obstacles? Well, most people my age are already in relationships. Can’t change that. People don’t seem to be into me. Am I doing something wrong? Not really. So why no interest from anybody? Nobody can see the attractiveness for the disability.

Because of the socially perpetuated myths and misconceptions of disability, I will be deprived of something I want. Whether the desire exists because of conditioning or biology, it is present within me. Why do I have to live in a world that makes getting it so hard?

I am left with a problem I cannot solve and a tangle of sorrow and anger. It is an all too familiar place. No matter the detours I contrive or potential solutions I employ, always here.

Even the seemingly innocent takes on frustrating proportions. Whenever somebody tells me I’m amazing, I think two things: “If I’m so amazing, why am I single?” and “Your low expectations of me are exactly why I won’t get what I want. It gives an experience I’ve always found unpleasant stronger teeth.

One of the ways I compensate for the lack of a life partner is to develop friendships with a degree of intimacy beyond what is typical. In this way, I at least have some of my needs met. Unfortunately, whenever such a friend finds their own significant other they rightly forge that connection with their love interest. Happy as I am for my friend, I do feel the loss.

I also try to meet my romantic needs with little mind tricks. Whenever I encounter someone who tweaks my romantic curiosity, my inner voice launches its offensive. “Jen, there’s probably an other half or you’re not their type. Besides, dating generates drama by the boat load. You don’t need the stress. It’s bad for your immune system.” With such words I try to shunt the person into the category of unattainable crush. They can take the central role in daydreams and fantasies because, at least in theory, I don’t attach hope to any of it. I can enjoy the fun energy of a crush without getting hurt. Theoretically.

Yet at the end of the day, I am left by myself and wanting it to be otherwise. There is a kind of sorrow knowing I have no real control over the situation. There is an anger in knowing others have a far greater influence over my destiny in this regard. You can’t make somebody love you. You can’t make somebody find you desirable You can just live your life and hope you beat the odds. It’s not enough to truly comfort. It’s not enough to fill the person-shaped space in your life.

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About Jen

After acquiring a degree from Vassar College in psychology, I moved to Western Mass where I ran a peer mentoring network for disabled college students as well as activism and organizing around disability issues. I also conducted research on disabled women’s body image. An Upstate New York native, I eventually followed my heliotropic nature to the sun of Southern California. I divide my time between writing (disability fiction and essays) along with moderating San Diego Bisexual Forum which is one of the oldest groups of its kind in the country. In my off hours I can often be found in my neighborhood live music venue enjoying our local talent.

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