Dating again after my Injury | Cole Syndor

Posted by Reeve Staff in Life After Paralysis on August 01, 2019 # Mobility

I was 16-years-old when I was injured. Just like any young man, one thing was ever present on my mind: girls. And, not to boast, I would say that before my injury I was on a lot of girls’ minds as well. I had a lot of things going for me in those days: athleticism, intelligence, attractiveness. At least attractive enough that when I made eye contact with a cute girl she’d hold it for a moment. Not so long as to be obvious, but long enough that I knew. Flirting was a favorite pastime of mine and it came easily.

After my injury, things changed. I found that eye contact with cute girls now came rarely, and when it did it was fleeting. It didn’t carry the same unspoken meaning as before. Suddenly I became unnoticed, like a ghost, which is ironic as I was now in a humongous power wheelchair. In hindsight, perhaps that was why girls didn’t look at me, because they were scared I’d think they were staring at the quadriplegic kid. Although to me, it was worse they weren’t staring. I’d rather be balked at than ignored.

There I was, then, reeling from breaking my neck, facing a life in a wheelchair, no hand function, likely going to need a caregiver with me all the time, and what brought me down more than all of it was the worry that I was no longer attractive. For the first time in my life, really, I lost my self-confidence, and once that feeling sets in it spreads like a vine through a tree until it’s entangled and choking everything. I was no longer confident that I’d find someone, that I should even try, and worst of all if I even wanted to try.

I’m sure it sounds silly to many of you. How could I be so shallow to think that no one would be able to see past a wheelchair? Perhaps it was an extension of my own shallowness as a young man. I don’t know. Whatever the case, lacking any real confidence I nearly went through the entirety of my college experience without going on a single date. Everyone says college is a dating playground, yet it took me to, literally, the last month of my senior year to ask a girl out. Guess what? It went great! I got a taste for dating again and regained a piece of the confidence I had lost. Finally, I wanted to put myself out there.

Dating did not come easy, however. It’s harder to find fun dates when you’re so limited by what you can do physically and the first dates with a girl always carried the subtle tension of her dancing around my disability. It took a good while, and a bunch of dates, before finally, it clicked.

Her name is Charisma, and she is the woman I knew was out there, but who I was terrified I would never find. From our first date, it just seemed to…work. When she looked at me it was like the old days before my injury; the kind of eye contact that would put butterflies in your belly. And trust me, I sent that look right back.

She’s in the health field, so there was less apprehension surrounding my condition. She is patient, loving, and giving. Oh, and she’s HOT, HOT, HOT! We’ve been together almost nearly a year and a half and it is surreal how much happier life is with someone in it who loves you like she loves me, and I, her. People told me for the longest time that someone would come along, someone special, and to be patient and ready when she did. Charisma is my someone. With her by my side the skinny bridge I roll along is much wider, and she keeps me right down the middle.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.