Valentine’s Day is the day when you treat that special someone in your life, yet some find it difficult to find the right person. Entering the dating scene can be a daunting task for anyone. It’s even more challenging for a person with a disability. Often, individuals haven’t fully accepted their own disability. They haven’t developed the confidence to meet new people. Even if you have the courage to go out, it can be difficult to be accepted by others for who you are and not on your physical abilities.
I feel comfortable meeting new people, but I often wonder how others perceive my disability in a dating relationship. I attended the Wheeling In New Directions (WIND) Conference last fall in Columbia, S.C. One of the sessions, Single On Wheels: Looking For Love, was about relationships and dating with a spinal cord injury. I wanted to hear other people’s perspectives on the issue.
Minna Hong and Wayne Ware facilitated the discussion. Minna and Wayne work at the Shepherd Center and provide peer counseling sessions for newly-injured individuals. Minna was injured in a car accident. After her injury, she found the courage to date. She and Wayne, her husband, shared their story of dating and marriage after Minna’s injury.
Wayne does not have a disability. The couple shared how much they cared for each other. They do not let her disability define their relationship. Minna talked about self-acceptance. The person with a disability has to accept their disability for themselves before they can feel comfortable for others to be around them.
Even though I’ve been in a wheelchair for a long time, I sometimes feel that it’s hard to create a romantic connection. However, I’m building up the courage to be more open and not let my disability interfere with living my life.
I admire couples like Minna and Wayne who show that love does not discriminate. We, as humans, should not let our physical differences take us away from finding our true love.