What is Dating like for People in a Wheelchair: Hope's Story

Hello, I'm Hope! I am 25 and I am lucky enough to be in an interabled relationship. I have a mixture of complex disabilities ranging from neurological problems, joint damage to a irregular heart, and quite a few other diagnoses but I won't bore anyone with that list. I am blessed to be dating my best friend. He is quite literally my best friend; we were best friends at university and then we started dating.

I think interabled relationships are perceived radically different for each person in the relationship. For the abled-bodied person, they receive all this attention about how they're angels sent from heaven. In contrast, the disabled person is just seen to be “lucky to be loved.” Yet, in my relationship, my partner and I are both fully aware that he is the lucky one. A few things my partner hears regularly when we're together is “what a great guy!” or “well done mate!” as if being with me is charity work.

Little do these commentators know, my disability isn't the hard part of our relationship, it's my personality! The majority of my disabilities did not present symptoms until my early twenties, so I have been in both able and interabled relationships. There are quite a few positives to being in an interabled relationship for both people. One of my favourite things about being in an interabled relationship is there tends to need more comfort and openness quicker. For example, burping openly in front of each other usually has a build up in a relationship. But the beauty of my interabled relationships is that burping is only ever congratulated. My partner Dan hears regularly “Dan! I need burping, hurry!” and he is very pleased when I burp which is always reaffirming of a great job well done. This also means he is free to be as gross as he fancies.

Another major plus of interabled relationships are the disabled jokes in public. Also, the numerous fake stories about why I am in a chair is another classic; “she lost them in poker ” “I was rock pooling in Devon and a shark came out of nowhere. ” Having fun with my disability is so important, it can be such a serious and delicate subject, so a little push into the cereals at Tesco is sometimes just what is needed. Of course there can be some real rough days when I am chronically ill. But I believe that “medium” level sick days can be enjoyable. I mean, it's such a shame I have to be waited on hand and foot. Shall we pig out, have hot water bottles on every limb and watch the programs I like. It does sounds like my partner is getting the rougher deal here, waiting on me, but he gets to share in the snacks I promise.

My interabled relationship has made me feel surprisingly more secure. Very early on, he saw me at my worst and he still wanted to come along for the ride. It's only because of my disabilities that we were open so quickly, more honest with each other about our feelings and able to laugh about life's toughest moments. 

Follow Hope's Story on her instagram @hopeivy12