Online Dating and Cerebral Palsy

This is a guest post from Zachary Fenell.Hello again everyone! I’m happy to return with another guest post. I hope you enjoyed my first, “How Cerebral Palsy Helped Shape My Work Ethic.”

Today I wish to address an intriguing issue, online dating and cerebral palsy/disabilities. Specifically I’ll discuss the dating website e-Harmony.
In February 2010 I found my life at a standstill. Looking for something different I decided to take advantage of e-Harmony’s special post-Valentine’s Day pricing, signing up for a year subscription at the discounted rate. Over the year I enjoyed in-depth communication with three women, going on to have a date with one of them.
Reflecting back I don’t think I fully capitalized on my e-Harmony experience because I didn’t know how to handle my cerebral palsy. Should I mention my mild CP in my profile, withhold the information until talking on the phone, or not discuss it at all?
Initially I thought an upfront approach served best so I included my CP into my dating profile. I figured “Hey, if my disability is going to put someone off, so be it. That’s her loss.” When I hardly received responses to my communication requests I started second guessing my decision. Perhaps the stigma surrounding the words “cerebral palsy” prevented my matches from seeing how I’m a catch.
Relying on the wonders of Internet search engines I researched the subject when to disclose a disability while using an online dating service. Basically my findings indicated each stage (in profile, on the phone, not at all) maintained some pros and cons. I did remove the fact about my cerebral palsy from my profile after advice an able-bodied friend of eight years gave me. “I don’t think you should put it in your profile because there is more to you than your diagnosis.”
Surely once I deleted CP from my profile I noticed an increase in responses. I still felt obligated to disclose my cerebral palsy prior to meeting a match in person, an obligation which nerved me. Having to disclose my disability just didn’t sit well with me. Explicitly the term “disclose” bugged me. I don’t think cerebral palsy should require disclosing. Instead I think a disability serves as an element that’s simply there.
After all, when I meet someone in person I don’t greet her “Hi, I have cerebral palsy and my name is Zachary.” Rather I say “Hi, my name is Zachary.” Certainly my cerebral palsy will eventually get brought up but as something just there, not a fact I must disclose.
Now I know certain online dating websites remove any disability related stigma by catering strictly to the disability community. Personally I’m not opposed to dating somebody with a disability. However, I dislike the idea of limiting myself strictly to them. Ultimately I concluded meeting people in person works better than online dating if you have a disability. Do you concur? Share your experiences by commenting below. I’ll check back and read them.
Disabilities can trigger self-confidence issues with dating too, a subject I discuss in my teenage memoir Off Balanced (available on the Kindle & Nook). If you want to learn how I dealt with my self-confidence issues in high school, make sure to read my book. A free preview can be found at www.zacharyfenell.com/Off_Balanced_Preview.pdf

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Comments

Online Dating and Cerebral Palsy — 12 Comments

  1. I have a very obvious form of CP – can’t hide it when I meet other people. I’ve been married for 22 years to a “normal” guy I met while volunteering at a local record store. I think it’s important to just be who you are whether online or in person. If you believe in yourself it really does come across in the way you interact with others. It can be a blessing in disguise because it weeds out superficial idiots from your love life. I know how hard it can be. I kissed a lot of frogs before I found my prince – but I did find him. Remember, it’s about who you are, not how you are :-)

  2. I think the online dating is the best way for making relationships and it generates new thoughts and helps us to get out of your work for some time and have an ideal way for your life.

  3. My sister has mild cp. She is 26 and has never had a boyfriend or a date. She is beautiful on the inside and out. I know she dreams of meeting someone but she never goes out. I suggested online dating and she was not very keen of the idea. I don’t know how to help her. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

  4. I have a friend who has cp and I am trying to fine a chat on line for him he is 21 if you can help me out thanks he live in ill he would to date one day

  5. I am so in love with my boyfriend of 3 months who has mild CP. He told me about it casually within a few of our first phone calls and I was surprised but it didn’t occur to me to have a negative reaction, we had met online and had only seen a couple pictures of each other. That day I went online and did a ton of research about CP because I didn’t really know what it was or the different ways it could affect someone.
    We met in person after 3 weeks of talking and I was already in love with him by then that no matter what he looked like or acted like in person I would have continued in love. He is such a sweetheart with the kindest, most tender heart and he treats me like a queen! As a side bonus he is incredibly handsome in my eyes. I would however, have had a problem if he had never told me about his CP before we met because that would have been dishonest. I shared with him everything about me physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally and he should too, that’s what makes a relationship.

  6. Hi~ I am new to this site..
    I have Cp and I am 23 year old girl
    looking a boyfriend ages 18 to 28 :) I am from usa / N.H

    I am easy going girl. I love pets, chilling w friends and family playing x box 360 atv ridding
    talking on /phone texting I love to joke… hope to hear from you~

    • Hey there, I hope this doesn’t get buried. I just started seeing this really awesome woman who has mild CP. I was just wondering if you could give me some date ideas. I’ve kinda suggested we do things only to have them come up as difficult for her to partake in. I feel really bad when this happens. I feel worse asking her, because I feel like it makes her feel like an inconvenience. Which is furthest from the truth. I just want to spend time with her and I want her to have fun too. Any help with ideas for fun activities would help, and be appreciated:D

  7. I have cp to and im glad someone brought this issue
    up. It mentally challenging
    to say the least . I have tried everthing but blasting off the sun all to find me someone who can past my leg’s or im told to date another disabled person like you side i don’t mind it but why limit myself. Thanks for the outlook im glad im not alone in this.

  8. Pingback: Handling Your Cerebral Palsy When Meeting New People - Zachary Fenell- Author & Online Freelancer

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