Misconceptions about dating when you live with paralysis

BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 108Moderator Moderator
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As far as romantic relationships and dating go, what do you wish more people knew about those who live with paralysis? Are there any stereotypes you'd like to prove are not true?

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  • IrinaCarmenIrinaCarmen Posts: 2Member
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    I would like people to know I rely on my fiance as much as he does on me. We all have needs, they just happen to differ.
    “Be brave. Be open-minded. Be kind. Be forgiving. Be generous. Be optimistic. Be grateful for the many unexpected lessons you will learn. Find the joy inside the hardship. It’s there. I assure you. And, too, be opened to inspiration from unlikely sources.” - D.R.
  • WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Posts: 81Moderator Moderator
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    We find from our perspectives as Wives/Girlfriends of SCI, that we don't even see the chair after getting to know someone for who they are. Every single relationship has issues..able bodied and paralyzed alike. The issues that come with being in a wheelchair are sometimes nothing compared to being with someone who is selfish, insecure, jealous, envious, angry, immature or may not be the right person for you but who happens to be able bodied. Just because they have legs and arms that work, and their lives may be physically easier, doesn't mean they don't have problems. People are people for their souls.. their spirits. The chair is just a thing that helps them get around. Sure its a pains sometimes, as the world really isn't set up for people in wheelchairs, but, WHO you are is all that really matters in life. Like we have said before, we have all been with able bodied men - and they're great - but the reason we stay with our partners (or choose to be in a relationship with them post injury) is because of who they are... and who they are is better than anyone else for US. We find men who are in chairs tend to be insecure about themselves after injury when getting into dating, and thats understandable, but what they all need to know is the RIGHT person for them wont care if WHO they are is someone who is compatible with them. When you cant work on your physical body anymore, or are limited that way, work on your mind. Trust us, at the end of the day - you want someone who you can laugh with and be happy with, not necessarily someone with a hot body who can walk. That gets old after a while if it isn't the right person anyways. 
    Your WAGS of SCI
    (Elena and Brooke)
  • Dan_GottliebDan_Gottlieb Posts: 13Moderator Moderator
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    Many years ago in the depths of my despair sprinkled with a bit of self-pity, a colleague and friend of mine was visiting for the day. We had open and in depth discussion and she heard my despair. At one point she put her hand on my shoulder and said: "Dan, you are a teacher now whether you like it or not. But it's your choice about what you teach to those you encounter."

    I have taken that wisdom to heart and I openly display my humanity to whoever with. I smile, make eye contact, listen-and care. One woman told me that women really want to see a man without his mask. That is what makes us more attractive. Whether it is man or women or same-sex couples. Our humanity, our vulnerability, and our tender heart is what makes us attractive. Trust me on that, I've got lots of experience being vulnerable!
    Dr. Dan
  • BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 108Moderator Moderator
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    @IrinaCarmen, that's so true. Relationships are a two-way street. I wish people realized there's more to a relationship than what someone might need help with physically.
  • BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 108Moderator Moderator
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    @WAGSofSCI, it's all about the person's soul! If someone isn't in a relationship with someone for who they are, then what are they even doing in a relationship? I remember in high school, I had a crush on a guy. He happened to use a wheelchair. When I showed a picture of him to some friends, one of them said, "But doesn't him being in a wheelchair make you think of your brother?" (My brother uses a wheelchair). How ridiculous is that?! My response was something along the lines of, "If your brother wears glasses, can you not have a crush on someone with glasses?"
  • BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 108Moderator Moderator
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    @Dan_Gottlieb, you're right that human connection is key!
  • WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Posts: 81Moderator Moderator
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    Hey All - Brooke here - We have another comment about this topic. This time it has to do with the misconceptions people have surrounding dating someone before OR  after their Spinal Cord Injury. 

    Just last week we received a message over Instagram from a man in a wheelchair who was wondering about our opinion on dating after SCI. He said that he noticed that both Elena (the other founder of WAGS of SCI) and I had been with our partners prior to their injuries, and he wondered how many women we knew who actually started dating their partners post SCI. He was sceptical about there actually being women out there who wanted to date someone with an SCI. He obviously hadn't been following our page for that long, because we surprised him by saying that approx. 70% of the women in the stories on our page actually met their partners post SCI. He was shocked.

    Our opinion on this:

    We read a stat in a scientific study while our partners were in rehab that stated that 80% of relationships do not survive after spinal cord injury. This was for various reasons: stress, loss of sex life, trauma, lifestyle change etc. We started this WAGS of SCI group because we wanted to prove that this does not HAVE to be the case for us. We wanted to rise above the statistic... and prove that love can endure even the hardest traumas if you have the right attitude, support system, and strong relationship. Our opinion is if your relationship is not the right one for both of you, it wont be the injury that is the catalyst to your break up.. it will be something else. We believe that if you are in a strong, loving, committed relationship, the injury will only strengthen your bond together. 

    We have noticed over the past 1.5 years since we began this group that the women who start dating someone post SCI do not care about the chair or the injury. They fall in love with the person. This is hard for some of our single Male followers in wheelchairs to process because they believe the chair is an obstacle for them to find someone. 

    We propose this new way of thinking about the chair and the injury when it comes to dating post SCI: Think of the chair like a filter. It will filter out women who are not the right ones for you, and narrow down the ones who ARE. Sure it may seem like you may have a smaller pool of women to choose from when it comes to dating, but do you really want to waste your time on the ones who actually care about the wheelchair and not what's between your ears? Someone who look at it as an obstacle instead of a non-issue or something you can overcome together? NO! The right woman will look past the injury, and while she may be harder to find, she's out there for you and you will find one another at the right time.

    - Brooke (WAGS of SCI) 
    Your WAGS of SCI
    (Elena and Brooke)
  • ZcollieZcollie Posts: 86Moderator Moderator
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    @anlyerla Your comment made me laugh and smile. The way you described your husband totally reminds me of myself. I am a go with the flow kind of guy and don't let things get to me. My girlfriend is usually the one stressed out and emotional. We work well together though because she is there for me physically I am there for her emotionally or at least do my best(:
  • youngatheartyoungatheart Posts: 6Member
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    @BrookeU definately! If the relationship isnt there with your whole heart...its just not there:(
  • Mnichols23Mnichols23 Posts: 29Moderator Moderator
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     After being in a chair for five years I have found that at times it may be difficult to meet someone new. But Ive also found that many women look past the chair and even curious about it sometimes.  It’s all up to the individual in the chair to be open and optimistic! 
  • BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 108Moderator Moderator
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    anlyerla said:
    Good meaning people always throw me off when they tell me what a saint I am for being with my husband. Little do they know I'm the storm and he's the calm. If anyone is a saint for being with someone its him. I'm the short-tempered, over-emotional, high-strung one. He's just chill. Haha. 
    People say similar things to me about being such a saint for being a "good sister" to my brother, who uses a wheelchair. Similarly to you and your husband, my brother is mostly calm and I'm the one with quite a bit of "personality" most of the time. So what if he needs my help getting up a hill sometimes? He deals with my outspokenness and high-strung self all the time!
  • Dan_GottliebDan_Gottlieb Posts: 13Moderator Moderator
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    So what I read in your message is simply to humans being human, that's all. It has nothing to do with wheelchairs or heroism. It's simply about knowing who we are and who we are with each other.
    Neither one of you are heroes, just people who probably know more about love and respect than most other humans.

    Daniel Gottlieb PhD
    WWW.DrDanGottlieb.com
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