How I cope with my singleness, dating as a differently-abled woman in Los Angeles and embracing my thirties without losing my mind!
What do you do when you wake up and realize in just four days you're going to be 33 years old? Although it's an amazing time to celebrate this new chapter in my life,a great time to reflect on my accomplishments and creating new goals; the one thing that I found myself focusing on was my current relationship status… that I am turning 33 years old and I'm still single with no children on the horizon. When I say no prospects y'all I mean not one prospect (my phone is dryer than Dubai in the summertime lol) I remember when I was in my 20's and I really thought by the time I turned 30 I would be a homeowner (in California nonetheless lol), happily married with 5 kids (ha!) this very scenario is laughable… because the reality is that I'm turning 33, living in an one bedroom apartment in Long Beach and the closest relationship that I have is with my Netflix and Hulu logins. That fairy-tale that I made up in my mind was just that… a fairy-tale; a fictional timeline that I unknowingly gave myself; and if I didn't live up to it … well that would obviously mean that I failed at life? WRONG!
Don't get me wrong, just like many women, I desire to meet that 'special someone', be happily married, build a family and life together that we can look back on and be proud of; but if I don't attain this when I thought I was 'supposed' to, does that really mean that I failed? Does this mean that I didn't reach my life's purpose because I haven't met 'him'? Why is it that the older you become especially when you hit your late 20's and welcome your 30s; no matter what other amazing achievements you have earned the number one question is: "why are you still single?" or my favorite … 'keep hope alive' statements "if you just keep looking he's going to show up real soon."
In the past few years I have accomplished some pretty dope milestones; I became a first generation college graduate in my family when I graduated with my BA in 2011, followed that up with my Master's degree in 2016; I've traveled internationally; my finances have gradually and consistently increased and although my medical issues may not always be the best I'm working everyday to build a healthier and more positive life.
So as I begin approach year 33, I asked myself the daunting question… 'why am I still single'? I'm independent, self-sufficient, intelligent, funny… I could keep going on but you get the point lol. To be honest, only God knows why am still single and when I'll meet that 'special someone' but I can say this… living in Los Angeles trying to find your soulmate is literally like trying to find a needle in a haystack but on top of the normal fuckboy outbreak in LA… let's add the fact that I'm in a wheelchair! Yup… this opens up the massive can of worms on how I navigate dating in Los Angeles as a disabled woman.
Like many, I have dealt with some crazy scenarios with dating in Los Angeles … I mean just pure insanity but I will say that being in a wheelchair has allowed me to experience an entire different level of the crazy that comes along with dating. I have met men who have a wheelchair fetishes (men who only date women that are paralyzed or wheelchair bound) apparently it gives them some type of power /ego boost. I've had every inappropriate question and/or comments from 'can you feel down there?… cus if you can't it would suck for you because I don't want you to miss out on dis fire." or my favorites: "did you know you're at the perfect sitting height to do certain things?"; "do you take showers?" and "do you sleep in your chair?'
I literally can't make this up y'all lol… and it's no wonder I'm single! However, dating in Los Angeles as a disabled woman isn't just about the rude comments/questions … but how can you navigate the world of dating when one of you is using modifications/equipment and the other is able-bodied? It really became exceedingly noticeable in High School. This is when I realized boys were no longer interested in me beyond the fascination of my wheelchair.
Overall, I was pretty popular in high school; I knew everyone and had tons of "friends" but when Friday night hit, I was alone. No boyfriends, no flirty text messages and throughout my entire high school years I went to every dance single and no one would ask me to dance. I won't lie and say it didn't hurt but it didn't fully affect my feelings until I hit my 20's.
In high school I may not have been a popular choice for dates but I was at least acknowledged but when I hit my 20's guys ignored me and pursued everything else walking for their pleasure. That's when I realized there is an unofficial stigma that if your disabled you can't be sexy… because that was just unheard of; but why?! Why can't I be sexy, funny and be differently-abled? Does walking make you sexy?? I can't walk, can't climb a pole, do aerobatic tricks, I'm not gonna be the chick grinding on you in public (and I'd also appreciate if men stop giving me unwanted lap dances lol, it just weird; i'm in a wheelchair but that doesn't give you the right a-way to start dancing one me or have your junk swinging in my personal space. This is just not my life, but are these the only attributes that I get credit for?
Let's just be real for a second, no one plans to be in a wheelchair and no one thinks their soulmate will be in a wheelchair or use modified items to live; so when it comes to dating… it has it's additional challenges. I am normallyfriend zoned immediately, because "how can I really date her?", "I might break her!" (i'm not sure where these guys come up with this rationale lol) "she paralyzed so that ain't gonna work" (newsflash! Not everyone in a wheelchair is paralyzed, educate yourself before you make assumptions on people's situations.); "she pretty but naw."
In my opinion, the real reason men don't approach is I'm just too different and require someone to look beyond my wheelchair and actually TALK to me, get to know me instead of judging me based on pure appearances; and unfortunately in LA/Hollywood appearances is king.
What about the fact that I am funny, I can hold a real conversation, I'm a grown woman and not some needy individual that requires funds and fame to give empty interest. Does this not matter?! For many years (all of my twenties to be exact) I constantly watched guys approach my friends, boldly ignoring me or using me to get intel on one of them. I was always told.. "man you cool/funny/cute as hell" but I was never quite enough to be be seriously approached.
Over the years I have tried every dating access point there is… from online to speed dating and quite frankly it's all the same. As I mature I'm no longer interested in chasing this "great catch." Of course I have my weak moments, especially around birthday… hence this post; but I am learning that 'what is for me will be for me.' No amount of makeup, sexy outfits, or new weight loss gimmick is going to make me find "him"; and quite frankly the ones that did make it pass the introduction stage weren't much better. I have experienced guys sleeping with my nurses (obviously I fired her and dumped him immediately); men being uncomfortable that I needed nurses or that nurses where going to be around (not all the time, but at the end of the day I need additional support and that is not something I can not compromise on.)
I use to try and overcompensate for the areas I lacked and was VERY insecure in what I brought to the table in relationship because "why would a guy pick me over the girl who could walk and looked "normal" but over time I have been working to respect the woman I am. I'm different and that's ok. I don't get approached in the same frequency as other woman… but that is ok because the ones that do approach are more likely more interested in getting to know me and not grossly hung up on "my chair" or some weird fetish.
Being differently-abled also means that I can't expect everyone to jump head first into a relationship because at the end of the day, I require modifications and that can impact their life so I have to understand this life, m needs aren't for everyone. Some people are just going to say no, they aren't going to want to bend or be ok with an unconventional life and that is ok… what is for me will be for me. If this means i'm single as I roll into my #ThirtyThreeAndThriving birthday celebration then thats ok, because my life is not going to revolve around a man and family that has not come around yet. I am more than my dating status. I am a daughter, cousin, friend; I am a black woman that wants to continue on my spiritual path of growth and acceptance of myself.
I recently attended the wedding of a good friend of mine, who is also diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. We met over two decades ago at the annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Summer Camp and have remained friends since. It was an honor to attend and participate in his wedding and watch him defy the odds and find love in this crazy thing we call life. Real love is hard to achieve, but to be differently-abled and meet someone who can see past your limitations and love you beyond the four wheels and team of nurses… that is rare. He gives me hope that love is achievable.
I want to continue to learn how to love myself and cherish myself before I can even think of asking another to do it. I am no longer in the state of mind that I won't find love, it's more of when I do find love… it's gonna be litty and I'm excited for it!
Until next time, this is my world… on wheelz!