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The Challenges of Dating a Man in a Wheelchair

by Latoya Newman, studioD

Dating a man in a wheelchair might not present any additional -- or any fewer -- challenges than dating a man not in a wheelchair. A woman can have quite enjoyable times with a man who is in a wheelchair. The concerns that she may have will depend upon his level of autonomy, the extra planning that each date will involve and how prepared she is to handle the emotional and social issues that come along with being disabled. In addition to the added responsibilities, a woman will have some of the same concerns as she does when she is on a date with any other man -- the desire to be liked for who she is. Time and making sure he is comfortable is necessary to make sure the date goes smoothly.

Extra Responsibilities

Getting ready for a date with a man in a wheelchair will involve extra steps. Either the woman or her date will have to find out if the location is wheelchair-friendly. Although many men in wheelchairs might be quite autonomous, it may still be necessary for you to offer a helping hand. This may involve doing the driving, assisting him in getting in and out of the car, moving extra chairs, helping with his coat and holding the door open for him.

Efforts at Comfort

A woman might be worried about offending her date by offering too much assistance when he does not need it. From his point of view, he may feel belittled. She needs to be mindful of what an appropriate touch is and when to use it. Touching the man’s wheelchair or patting his head before he has become comfortable may be construed as condescending, says the United Spinal Association in its report, “Disability Etiquette.” Broaching the issue of his disability too soon or referring to it too frequently may be a turn off and might result in making him feel uncomfortable. For some wheelchair users, the reason for the disability and the daily experiences of using a wheelchair can be quite emotional to handle.

Prepare for Unwelcome Reactions

Going out with a man in a wheelchair may invite unwelcome attention and reactions. People tend to be uncomfortable with whatever is different, writes Tiffiny Carlson in the Huffington Post article, "10 Things to Never Say to a Person in a Wheelchair." Uncertainty as to how to act around a person in a wheelchair may cause some people to refuse to make eye contact, attempt to avoid the man or the couple or to speak over the man's head as if he is not there, says Rick Chillot in his article, "Do I Make You Uncomfortable?" on Psychology Today. The woman should prepare for the stares and remarks that people who are not sensitized to being with people who have disabilities might make. Although the man may be accustomed to these types of behavior from others, they may still hurt him and affect how much he enjoys his time on the date.

Venues May Be Limited

The types of dates a woman goes on with her partner will face some limitations simply because he is in a wheelchair. This may rule out some activities she'd usually enjoy on a date, like dancing and sporting activities. He will also be limited to places that are wheelchair accessible and have elevator lifts. Although she may prefer it, her date may not be able to walk her to her door at the end of the date or to stop by her place for a nightcap, if her house is not wheelchair accessible.

About the Author

Latoya Newman is a novelist who wrote and published her first novel in 2012. She has a background in education, research and counseling. She taught at the elementary level for eight years, and has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from York University in Toronto, Canada.

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