​Dating While Disabled

Posted by Nila Morton in Life After Paralysis on October 17, 2022 # Relationships

Nila's artworkI believe we can all agree that the dating world is TRASH! From ghosting to annoying dating apps to people wanting relationship benefits but not a commitment, dating is a difficult activity but even more challenging for a disabled person.

There are many misconceptions about disabled people that have caused people to be less willing to date or pursue a relationship with a disabled person. People perceive a relationship with a disabled person to be a burden or “too much work,” depending on the severity of the person’s disability. When being with a nondisabled person, people seem to understand that relationship requires patience, work, effort, and support. People also are willing to help their partners in any given situation because they want to help make their partner’s life easier. No one ever sees it as too much work because, in people's eyes, it’s love. Once it’s someone is in a relationship with a disabled person, it seems people confuse the role of a lover as being the caregiver.

My dating life has not been a “roll in the park” (haha!) because, being in a wheelchair, men make multiple judgments about me before even knowing my name. With me being in a wheelchair, many men assume that the relationship would be inequitable because they think I will require more care and support than they do. There’s an assumption that my disability makes it impossible to be intimate with my partner. I know it is very important for many people when it comes to dating and relationships. Another assumption I know many other disabled people have dealt with is that I do not have the mental capacity of an adult to handle a relationship. I could go on about all the judgments and assumptions that have been made about why dating me, a wheelchair user, would seem impossible. There have only been a few times that anyone has ever asked me questions to know the truth without letting their internal ableism make a judgment.

When I started to date, there were many times when men would feel the need to tell me that my wheelchair was an issue to them and did not wish to date me. I honestly prefer the men who are honest about it at the beginning instead of the ones who claim to like me but secretly had an issue with me being in a wheelchair but won’t tell me until later. Some men would ghost me instead of telling me the truth like that would make me feel better about the situation (NOT!). To be honest, I’m glad it didn’t work out with those men because I’m too much of a hottie to be with losers! Seriously, as much as it does hurt to be judged and told that my wheelchair is an issue, I do know that I deserve someone who accepts who I am and put in the effort to show me their love for me.

Disabled people deserve to be included in the dating world and to have a chance at love. Yes, a relationship is different when being with someone who is disabled but, to be honest, relationships vary for anyone who’s in one. There’s no right way to be in a relationship or to love. As mentioned before, people confuse the role of a lover as being a caregiver when it comes to being in a relationship with a disabled person. That’s not how it should be because disabled people, in their own way, do support and care for their partner to the best of their abilities. I truly believe that when people learn to unlearn their internal ableism and the misconception about disabled people, people will start to understand that we are also people who deserve a chance to love and be loved. Love is love. Love can be disabled as well.

My name is Nila Morton. I’m a 23-year-old woman in a wheelchair. I have a bachelor's degree in Psychology and hope to become a Clinical Psychologist one day. I love being around my family and friends. I have a dog named Chloe, who is the light of my life. My favorite things to do are shopping, traveling, trying new restaurants, writing, and reading. I hope that every day I inspire other disabled people to not be ashamed of their disability and to live their life to the fullest.

Social Media:
Instagram/TikTok/Twitter: @nilanmorton

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.