Sadly, the media does not portray people with disabilities as romantically available. This couldn’t be more false! People with disabilities have to work hard to combat these negative stigmas.
If you approach dating with an open mind and provide a caring and welcoming environment, you can grow closer with a person with a disability.
Relationships and dating can help you establish social confidence and the ability to open up to others. Dating can be a stimulant for personal growth because at its core, relationships are about providing love and support for another individual. This sounds like a very appealing idea.
Many people are unable to act selflessly and truly care for their partner. That is why it’s important to be extremely intentional when dating people with disabilities. Keep reading to learn some tips to help you navigate dating for people with disabilities.
Tips for Dating for People With Disabilities
Dating with a disability can be an intimidating and scary experience. When you are dating, it is important to be considerate of both people. This rings even more true when dating with disabilities.
Many of these rules seem to be applicable in any dating situation, however they should be strictly followed when dating an autistic person. By following these tips, you can seek a healthy relationship.
Establish an Open Line of Communication
When you are dating as an autistic adult, you need to open a clear line of open communication about what makes each of you comfortable. By directly opening up a line of communication, you will both know when to substitute a hug with a hand hold or look of affection.
This applies to sensory issues such as hugging and public displays of affection and communication styles.
When it comes to dating unpredictability is one of the only things that you can depend on. It’s important to openly communicate and constantly check in with one another to ensure that both parties feel comfortable and informed, even as feelings or plans suddenly change.
Pick the Right Setting
When you are going on a date, it’s important to think about the setting in advance. By selecting a venue that will be comfortable for you and your date, you can focus your attention on getting to know each other.
If you quickly string together a date, your date may be uncomfortable with the lack of information and the setting of the date. Using forethought can allow you to evade potential social barriers at a location.
Someone who is autistic may get anxiety from going to a new place with a stranger that is full of busy stimuli. The best tool you can use to pick a location is your date, it’s as simple as connecting with them about their favorite place before embarking on your date. Finding a neutral ground that is already familiar can ease a lot of anxiety about an upcoming date.
Send Clear Signals
The social construct of dating can often seem like a series of riddles to solve. We spend hours judging social signals sent during a date and trying to read body language. However, interpreting these signals can be even more difficult for someone on the autism spectrum.
Unclear signals can create a flurry of confusion and frustration. It may take some extra attentiveness on your part, but it’s important to provide clear direction in a relationship rather than a series of subtle signals.
Actively Learn About Each Other
Learning about one another is one of the foundational aspects of dating. When you are dating someone on the autistic spectrum, you should learn about their unique needs and try to accommodate them.
It’s important that you actively learn their comfort levels. It is important to learn about the fixations, behaviors, and comforts of your date. However, dating someone who is differently abled does not make you privy to their medical reports.
It can be difficult to keep a steady flow of conversation when an individual becomes fixated on a particular topic. As time goes on you can take note of what types of conversations or topics trigger excitement or anxiety.
Understand Body Language
Body language can be a key indicator of if someone is interested in you or comfortable on the date. When you first go on your date, you want to be sure that your body language is directed at them and you are visually showing interest.
When it comes to progressing your body language through physical touch, actively communicate to be on the same page about both parties’ comfort level. You want to ensure that you never make your date uncomfortable with prematurely moving onto physical touch.
In any relationship, you want your significant other to actively listen to you and the best indicator of this is eye contact. Breaking eye contact can unintentionally make it seem as if you don’t care. If either of you are uncomfortable with eye contact, that is something you want to share with your date.
Begin Your Dating Pursuits
Dating is difficult, so not every date is going to go well or even ignite a spark. It’s important to know that that is a reality no matter who you date. If you begin falling for someone with a disability, don’t view them as your responsibility.
Being respectful versus prematurely assuming a ‘caregiver’ role is very different. Dating for people with disabilities should just lead you to be respectful and reinforce best dating practices, not entirely change your approach to dating. Connect with us to learn more about how to navigate relationships with people with disabilities.