Sexuality & Relationships

Dating with a SCI

Getting back into the dating game after a spinal cord injury takes time. For many, it can take years. Building up your confidence isn't easy when suddenly you can't walk and need help with extra things. It's natural to feel this way. But over time, most discover they're still sexual beings who deserve a partner in their lives and will get out there and date. Online dating, just out and about, at work, euiniting with old high school flames, meeting their spouse in rehab and more, people with SCI meet folks to dates in a ton of different ways.

Many people with SCI do worry about rejection however, especially when they're freshly injured and new to dating. But remember, even able-bodied people share this fear in normal situations. It can also be difficult to trust people after an injury, which makes many not want to date in the first place. Please, don't let this happen. An open heart can bring more people into your circle.

Many too feel like their identity and sexuality was taken away when their injury occurred. The best thing you can do is work on improving your self-esteem, which will improve your confidence and we all know people are attracted to confident people. But how do you improve your self-esteem post-injury?

Getting back to work, living indepedently, dressing right for your wheelchair, getting behind the wheel again, sporting a nice haircut; all of these increase confidence. Whatever works for you! 

Meeting New People

For many with spinal cord injuries, meeting new people can be tricky. A spinal cord injury does make it more difficult to meet people. Getting out of the house and being social can take more work. That’s why online dating has become so popular for people with spinal cord injuries. It allows them to meet new people from the comfort of their own homes.  Pretty cool stuff. Online dating has been around for almost 20 years now, and millions of people with disabilities have benefited.

If you're game  to try online dating, be upfront. Tell the person you're talking to that you have a disability, if it's not already listed in your profile.  Honest in online dating is critical. There is nothing worse than going on a first date with someone who leaves when they discover you use a wheelchair. Be careful of how much you share, though. You don't want to attract weirdos, ie, devotees (fetishists of wheelchair-users).

Meeting prospective partners in "real-life" situations is possible, too. Go out with family and friends frequently to meet new people. Volunteer at events and try new activities and go tolaces that interest you. Community events, sporting events, church, parties, the list goes on and on. If you are confident, approachable and out of your house and out in the world, meeting people in-person is a wonderful possibility.

Talking About Your Injury

While dating, you'll be asked a lot of questions. "How were you injured?" "Can you have sex?" and more. You'll likely find many people who have misconceptions about spinal cord injuries. Let your date know the real facts asap. Being an open book really helps. But if on a first date things turn too personal in their questions, roll the other way...and fast. Simply let them kniw if you like them the more you'll share.

There are several greats blogs and websites on dating with a disability that give much more in-depth advice on this important topic. A few of our favorites are Millie & Me, Push Living and Easystand's blog

Watch the video below on dating after a spinal cord injury, and remember to read the Takeaway Points below. You can survive the dating waters, just remember to bring your life vest.

Video: Communication in Dating and Relationships after Spinal Cord Injury

Takeaway Points

  • Don't let the fear of rejection stop you from dating. AB people get rejected, too.
  • It may take years to find the right person, but there are more open-minded people out there than you realize.
  • Improve your self-esteem to increase confidence.  This attracts people.
  • If you try online dating, make sure you let whomever you're talking to know immediately that you're injured, if you decide not to include it in your profile.
  • To meet new people offline, go out with friends and family frequently  or try volunteering.