5 tips for dating with a disability

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I used to think that dating with a disability shouldn't be any different, because…I didn't want it to be different!

I have felt different my entire life – and I didn't want to keep doing that.

I mean, my friends don't see me as any different... they don't talk about my disability. They just see me for me. Why can't someone else do the same? Especially the person who is supposed to love me for who I am on the inside?

But dating with a disability is different, and here are my top 5 tips for making sure you don't miss out, like I did.

1. Joke about your disability, immediately

Human beings are intensely curious creatures, and we are very skilled at noticing differences. Your differences make everyone curious – they are wondering which condition you have, whether or not you need help with something, and even how you use the bathroom – but people know they are not supposed to talk about that.

Which makes them uncomfortable, because when they speak with you, everything they say must go through a filter.

Now, this filter isn't bad – I mean, I don't want to be seen as just a disabled person, or get stopped all the time by people who are curious – but this filter will prevent you from building any sort of sexual attraction. Because you need to be seen as fun and playful to be sexually attractive, and that won't happen if the person you're speaking with feels that they need to be overly cautious about what they say.

Fortunately, as the person with the disability, you have a TON of influence over the presence of the other person's filter. Because human beings are also very social creatures – we look to each other to decide how to feel about a given situation.

So if you can show someone that you're okay with your disability, then they are more likely to be okay with it, too. And the best way to do that is with humor – something as simple as "Hi, my name is Amin, but I also respond to 'that handsome guy on wheels'" immediately puts people at ease about my disability, and allows me to immediately flirt with them ;)

2. Be sexy

Yes, people with disabilities CAN be sexy – case in point: me :)

Would I trade in my body for that of an underwear model? Absolutely! But given that that is not an option, I do the best with what I have. I eat healthy, I exercise to the best of my ability, and I wear clothing that makes me say "damn, that is one sexy man" when I look in the mirror. I actually like the way I look, and not because I'm following the advice of fashion gurus on Instagram, but because I'm choosing the style that *I* like.

It took a while before I got there, though. I used to try to dress "normal, " so that I would blend in. But then I realized that people are going to stare at me, no matter what I do. So I colored my hair, I wore big funky blue glasses, and I wore jeans that were way too tight. It took a lot of experimentation to settle on a style that I like (and it still changes) but it is totally worth it, because I feel awesome every morning when I look in the mirror. And that helps when I'm going up to women on the street and trying to strike up a conversation.

So invest the time to find the style that you like. Most of my wardrobe comes from Asos, because they have smaller sizes, cheaper prices, and better quality than most of the stuff I find at the mall. Most stores offer free shipping and returns (in the States, at least) which beats trying things on at the mall, or carrying things back and forth. I usually order a BUNCH of items, and only keep the ones I really like. Here's more advice on how to choose clothing.

I recommend being bold, but classy with your choices – this sends the signal that you know people are going to stare at you, that you're okay with it, and that there is more to you than meets the eye. That self-awareness is incredibly sexy.

3. Be very clear about your intentions

People want to be very nice to people with disabilities, as I'm sure you know (and hopefully take advantage of, wink). So they will avoid directly rejecting your romantic advances, because they don't want to "crush you" and your fragile little heart.

I know, I find it annoying too…

But if I was in their shoes, I would do the same. Which is why I recommend that YOU take responsibility for getting a clear answer from people that you are interested in.

When I ask women out, I don't say I want to "hang out" – I say I want to "take you out". It is scary, but it sure beats the endless wondering and heartache that results when you hang out with someone for months or years, only to finally realize that they are not interested in you romantically.

Could you come off awkward or creepy if you do this? Yes, absolutely. Dressing sexy (see #2) reduces that risk, but there are no guarantees. However, you'll be surprised at how often people respect this kind of courage. Several women that have "rejected" me for a date have become my good friends, because they value my courage and sense of humor. And they enjoy being flattered by a sexy man :)

4. Be extra cautious

Go ahead…roll your eyes at me like you do to your parents when they talk to you about "being careful."

But then listen up, because I don't want you to make the same mistake I did. I met a girl online, and she seemed very willing to meet up, so I picked her up and we agreed to go straight back to my place. We had sex, but there was no emotional connection, and she was not very understanding of my limitations, so it was not at all enjoyable. And then she asked me for $75 to go further.

I thought about it, because at that point, I hadn't even been on a real date, and I thought I might never again have the opportunity to be intimate with a woman. But I said no, because it didn't feel right. I dropped her home, and I remember crying myself to sleep that night.

So yeah, I lost my virginity, but at what cost?

Looking back, this was a very risky situation. This able-bodied woman, who I barely knew, was in my home, with nobody else there. Any number of harmful things could have happened. Plus, I knew nothing of her sexual history. I used a condom and tested clean, but I remember being deathly afraid waiting for the results, as she had told me that she lived in a transitional homeless facility.

When you don't have a lot of dating experience, it's easy to throw safety concerns out. But as they say, you will always remember your first. Make it a better memory than mine.

I recommend talking on the phone before meeting up, even video chatting. Always meet in a public place, and take your time through the process. Before having sex, talk about what you would do in the event of an accidental pregnancy, and share STI test results. You may think this will be a buzz kill, but it will actually make your partner want you more – because you will be worth the wait for people who are genuinely interested in you.

5. Do something courageous

You have an advantage in the dating world that you may not realize. Anything you do to live your life to the fullest, is seen by the rest of the world as incredibly courageous. Even simple things, like going for a st(roll) and having a smile on your face. Or more daunting things, like rolling up to women and saying, "Hi, I had to roll over here and say hello, because I think you're stunning – my name is Amin."

And lucky for you, courage is incredibly sexy.

So get out there and do something that you care about. Speak up for something that you believe in. Or just share your story, and what you have learned.

Ironically, my dating life improved even more after I started speaking as The Dating Coach on Wheels. Women started reaching out to me, and I didn't have to swipe 100s of them to the right.

So find something courageous to do. If you can't think of anything, I highly recommend public speaking.

I started out at my local Toastmasters club, which is how I ended up speaking at City Hall, and then a magazine wrote about me, and then a YouTube channel filmed a video of me that got 2 million hits, and then I wrote this for you, and I know you're getting a little hot and bothered about me right now… ;)

Seriously though – my dating coach said to me "Amin, 95% of women, or maybe even 99%, may not be interested in you, because of your disability. Are you going to let that stop you, or are you going to try 100 times, and then 100 more times, to find the one who is?"

I've made my choice – what's yours?

Amin Lakhani
The Dating Coach on Wheels

Amin Lakhani