1. Telling yourself and your friends that you “treat me like everyone else” is a sham
This seems easy. It sounds easy. It’s not easy. We live in a politically correct world. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for thirty years, you’ve been taught that the correct way to behave when you meet someone “different” is to treat that person like everyone else. Sounds great, right? There’s one huge problem there. The minute you decided to “treat me like everyone else,” you decided that I am fundamentally different than you and am somehow deserving of special consideration. If you honestly treat me like everyone else, you shouldn’t have to convince anyone.
2. If you want to know, ask
Curiosity is natural. Not everyone feels the need to ask, but I’m used to fielding questions like “Why do you walk that way?” or “Were you born like that?” It truly doesn’t bother me, but if you stay quiet when the “awkward” questions are on your mind it’s about as subtle as a nose ring and much more painful for us both. Sometimes, these questions are actually great icebreakers. During my junior year of college, a girl I met in a bar asked me if I walk straighter after a few drinks. I don’t, but it made me laugh anyway.
3. My Life isn’t a constant struggle
Women often ask me if it’s “hard” being me (or something to that effect). They point out that life is hard enough without my limitations. What most women (and plenty of men) seem to forget is that I’ve always been like this, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. Sure, some things frustrate the hell out of me. I never could get the hang of riding a bike or throwing a baseball. On the other hand, I built my first computer at 13, graduated from college Summa Cum Laude and am currently working on my Ph.D. in Psychology. All things considered, I think my life is pretty good.
4. Sometimes looks are deceiving. Sometimes they aren’t.
I suck at sports. I can’t run very fast. I’m not very coordinated and I fall over more than most people. That doesn’t stop me from lifting weights, practicing Mixed Martial Arts and driving like a New Yorker. It sounds cliché, but nothing in life is simple. Get to know me before you assume anything.
5. It’s a gift
Sometimes, dating with a visible disability is frustrating. Most days, though, I see it for what it is; a roadmap to the rare and truly beautiful fish in the proverbial sea. The push to find the “perfect man” in modern culture is so strong that it’s easy to forget the things that really matter (for the record, that’s just as true for men in our search for the perfect woman). It maybe a little harder for me to find a date on any given Friday, but I can always be sure about the women that stick around. Any woman that truly enjoys being with me is someone special. Someone who appreciates what people have to offer as human beings and understands that that superficial cultural standards count for very little in the search for happiness and fulfillment. Guess I’m luckier than most.