Heart 3 As a year-old woman with MS who is on the dating scene , I am now starting my second year as a single woman. Add a set of disabilities to that challenge and the equation seems to balloon to a level of complexity that would leave Einstein scratching his head in utter confusion. But a new set of thoughts has sent me in another direction.
After describing my dating escapades to a friend one day, she asked me: Have you ever considered dating a man with MS? And I felt a bit irritated by the question because she seemed to offer it up as some kind of solution to my man problem, which it is definitely not. To my mind, meeting a man with MS seemed similar to meeting someone who shares the same interests one might have such as golf or wine-tasting. That said, the notion of sharing a common disease seemed very freeing in a way, too.
I was getting tired of making the MS speech to every man that thought he was interested in me, having to explain the disease and how it affects me, then waiting to be judged worthy dating material. Nice, but I would still face the same chemistry challenges that exist with any prospective boyfriend.
I cannot, in all fairness, begrudge any able-bodied man his preferences, including not wanting to get involved with a chronically ill woman.
I feel intimidated and awkward around them. He was so big and powerful that his hugs squeezed the breath out of me and knocked me off balance. And I had to crane my neck to look up at him, which aggravated my herniated cervical disc.
So I will not abandon my preference for shorter men. Recently I challenged myself even further. After a protracted and difficult online communication with an able-bodied man on Match came to an end, I met a guy on the disabled site who has Cerebral Palsy.
He was genuine, appreciative, discreet, upbeat, smart and funny. He wrote that he wanted to meet me soon.
We met for lunch at my favorite Lebanese restaurant. Jake was just as genuine, smart, pleasant, and charming as he was in writing. We talked for a long time and found so much common ground, sharing similar online dating experiences with the able-bodied, sharing a developed sense of humor and upbeat attitude about being in the world. At one point, Jake told me he had dated a woman with MS for two years. He expressed one gripe about the experience: It bothered him that she grieved over what she had lost, always talked about being free of disability one day, yearning for it, rather than accepting her limitations and doing her best with what she had.
I told him that we all pretty much feel that way. It might have to do with the difference between CP and MS. Cerebral Palsy is diagnosed in infancy and is not progressive. Multiple Sclerosis is acquired in adulthood, so the patient has memories of being able-bodied and recalls those traumatic events of disease onset, testing and diagnosis.
We harbor anxiety about our future and what kind of decline we might be facing. These things do not encourage us to accept our lot. They give us hope that some day we will be free of it. It was the biggest challenge of all and the thing that did me in that day. His physical affectations made it very difficult for me to understand his speech. And though I understood most of what he said, I had to ask him to repeat himself a few times, which he did with great patience and clarity.
His disabilities affected him in various other ways as well; several times I caught myself thinking if only. If only his disabilities were milder. I heard myself loud and clear.
I had turned the tables on myself with a vengeance. I had become a person who rejected a potential romantic partner because of his disabilities. And I felt kind of shitty about it. The irony of this situation is not lost on me. He wants to be known, not hide himself away. If he had gone through life as an able man he would not be the person he is. And yet I found myself wishing he were just that—an able-bodied man, but with the character that was shaped by the trials and tribulations of living with a disability.
Our dating experiences—frustrating, disappointing and painful as they might be—do, I think, serve a positive purpose. If we are introspective and brutally honest with ourselves then we use each encounter to clarify our own preferences for a partner. Much of it is necessary. This alone makes it very difficult to meet people.
And so my loneliness is largely self-inflicted. I can live with that. Staying in the game is the most important thing. Staying in the game is what life is all about for those of us with medical conditions. If we hide ourselves away then we miss out on giving the best of ourselves to others in any situation. Experience has taught me that giving to others the things that I most want and need will often bring me satisfaction and fill the empty spaces in my heart.
Sign up for emails from MultipleSclerosis. Subscribe Good news - you're already subscribed! Let us know at contact MultipleSclerosis. Try again or let us know at contact MultipleSclerosis.