Ableism shows up everywhere. So how does it enter into the dating world?
“Ableism in dating is not overt, aggressive or necessarily oppressive. It is the things NOT SAID, the quiet questions, the missed opportunities born out of fear…”-Andrew Morrison-Gurza, founder of Deliciously Disabled
Ableism can be defined as systemic discrimination based on disability. Basically, you know those encounters that you have that make you feel bad about your disability? Or those barriers that prevent you from having your needs or desires met?
These are a few instances of ableism gathered by interview from people in Quebec and beyond. These are excerpts from interviews/ conversations conducted over the phone and by email. Some people preferred to be anonymous. Some people have websites you can check out!
An anonymous interviewee put it this way:
“I tried online dating a couple of times. I found it so stressful. Having to come out as disabled because it is not obvious online in my case. Having to perform the story : “hey I’m disabled but it’s not that bad.” I can’t do this anymore. it makes me sick.Many friends tell me I should make more efforts and date more often, but I just don’t feel like I have the energy for that right now.”-Anonymous I
Some people said there was more ableism in the families of partners than with partners themselves:
“Most of the people I was seeing, were friends before. So ableism was not manifested in comparison with those who I didn’t know before. They already knew what’s up. The only ableist aspect with seeing friends, is they were more concerned with how their families would react to our relationship.It was like, ‘ya we could get serious, but its gonna get complicated with our families talking’. They were being honest, I guess..”
-Gift Tshuma, member of Accessibilize Montreal, Sociology Student
Another anonymous interviewee shared similar experiences:
“The most common experiences that I have gone through have been attached to the wheelchair and my speech disability and the connotations that others have when they are not aware of my disability. Challenges are seen in the form of either
a) not being able to enter a popular bar or club that a date would have liked to spend a night out or
b) the appearance of being drunk due to lack of coordination and slurred speech or
c) the first time awkwardness linked to getting intimate.
On a secondary level, I have observed ableism from the family and friends of the individuals that I have dated in past.“ -Anonymous II
We’ve written in an earlier post about some of the barriers to meeting people.
This anonymous interviewee talks more about their experience with online dating:
“There are all kinds of reactions. most of the time people feel sorry. and that hurts just as when someone stops replying because they got scared.”
On staying in the wrong relationship…
“There’s two fears right:
1) to not be accepted and
2) of being alone.
I [have] stayed in relationships so that I wouldn’t be alone. But you’re hurting yourself, because its like a poison, it seeps in the farther you go. You get to a point where you say, how did we get here? Wish we had dealt with this earlier…”-Gift Tsuma
We’re not proposing solutions here, just sharing experiences. This is the first post of many on the topic. Thank you so much to those who bared their souls, you’re brave and we’re more alike than you know! <3
Get in touch if you would like to share a story with us, anonymously or publicly! Or use hashtag #ableistdate