Playing the online dating game in a wheelchair

Online dating can be daunting, but a great way to find romance in the modern world. Danie Breedt shares his tips for online dating as a person with a disability

The COVID-19 pandemic has had many negative impacts on how we function daily and interact with others, but there have also been some advantages. One of which is that online dating has soared, and people have become much more comfortable meeting and interacting online.

Embarking on the journey of online dating could be daunting for people with spinal cord injuries, but there are some aspects you can focus on for a more positive experience.

The first step is to make sure you are in the right mindset to start dating (online or offline). Having a negative attitude will only make you come across as being downbeat – not something people look for in any partner.

Take some time to think about strengths and what you can bring to a relationship. Asking family and friends what they feel your strengths are could be helpful feedback that will help you gain confidence in creating your dating profile.

Try to take the pressure off yourself and the other person by looking at dating as a way of finding new friends and hopefully meeting someone you really ‘click’ with on different levels. Looking for dates on a disability niche website is an option if you tend to be evasive about your disability or any medical conditions you may have.

Be unforgettable when creating your username and dating profile. Try and go for something offbeat or different that gives other users something to smile at. This is your first impression and an opportunity for people to get a sense of who you are before your first interaction.

Your profile is an opportunity to highlight your good qualities and explain what it would be like to spend time with you. Don’t be modest, include your most endearing qualities.

Adding some humour to your profile and initial interactions helps to lighten the mood. Your disability doesn’t define you and having light- hearted conversations initially gives the other person an opportunity to get to know you as a person. It helps to be specific and give context to your qualities.

Be realistic about your expectations upfront. If you are looking for a relationship, geographic location is important. It will likely be disappointing if you fall in love with someone you will never meet. Ultimately, the goal should be to meet in person if you want to move the relationship forward.

Lastly, be an open book about your disability, as far as you’re comfortable. Answering questions about your condition can be helpful for people to understand you better and show that you are comfortable with your situation. Your view of yourself will have a big impact on how others perceive you.


Contributor

Dr Danie Breedt is a passionate scholar-practitioner in the field of psychology. He divides his time between training, research and clinical practice. Danie works from an integrative interactional approach in psychotherapy, dealing with a wide range of emotional difficulties and sexual rehabilitation for patients with disabilities. He is the co-owner of Charis Psychological Services, a psychology practice that specialises in physical rehabilitation across South Africa.

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