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Dating with a Disability

Posted By Loolwa Khazzoom On January 29, 2008 @ 9:20 am In Living with Chronic Pain | 12 Comments

As with other disabilities, chronic pain creates a chain reaction of struggles in one’s life — not the least of which is dating. For me, the dating struggle has manifested in a number of ways:

Sometimes getting out of bed is a Herculean task, and the major events of my day consist of taking a hot bath, then lying sprawled on a post-apocalyptic size ice pack. (It’s fun. You should try it.)

In this case, the impact on my ability to date is obvious: Unless a gaggle of metrosexual hotties not only line up on my doorstep but also magically whip out a key to my apartment, I’m not playing.

The rest of the time, pain sucks my energy non-stop — making it enough of a challenge to crawl over to the espresso machine in my kitchen, never mind accomplish my objectives each day.

As is the case with every other young, single, professional goddess-type, my to do list include theses basics :

  • tidy the apartment (Why is it always messy, when I just freakin’ cleaned it?)
  • organize paperwork
  • respond to snail mail & e-mail (Viagra Corporation: Back. Off.)
  • return phone calls
  • pay bills
  • buy groceries (Why, oh why, do I live on the top floor?)
  • do banking
  • clean laundry (Maybe the metrosexual hotties can help with this one?)

In addition, in order to stave off my pain through natural means, I’ve got a collection of regular must-dos that are merely occasional or optional for the able-bodied among us:

  • meditate
  • dance
  • swallow lots o’nasty crap (a.k.a. supplements)
  • do Feldenkrais routine
  • practice visualization
  • prepare three organic, nutritious, anti-inflammatory meals
  • do physical therapy routine
  • exercise
  • go to a never-ending stream of healthcare appointments

Side-by-side with taking care of myself through these various means, I also run multiple businesses, spend time with friends and family, actively work on self-improvement, and do what I can to nurture my musical path.

Forget the man. Where’s the extra 48 hours I need each day?

Initially, when I took a stab at resuscitating my romantic life, I was sure that the almighty Internet would deliver the solution.

While Internet dating sites are highly convenient for pain-drained, busy individuals, I ultimately came to see them as a set-up for failure. I mean, how unnatural is it to express the innermost core of your being to someone who has never stood within a 100-foot radius of you?

I know, I know, a bazillion of your friends have gotten married through Internet dating, which is exactly why I tried it (your fault), but still: In my opinion, that relationship approach is too top-heavy.

Then there’s the unpleasant aspect of screening through random weirdos — going out to coffee with those who seem fabulous on the computer screen but turn out to, shall we say, not quite pass muster in real life.

After a string of Internet disappointments and resulting frustration about wasting my time, I concluded that the best way to meet men was to be out there in the real world, doing my “thing.”

So I hauled my weary, chronic pain ass to band performances. Literary events. Community forums. Vegetarian dinners. Prayer services at synagogues — of every denomination. Hell, I even went to a Buddhist temple. (Come to think of it, there were some cute guys there. Maybe I should go back.)

The “problem” is, I love what I do so very much, that in most cases — given my time and energy constraints — I prefer to be sitting at my ergonomic desk in my cozy home office, sporting my plaid flannel jammies and big fuzzy slippers, maniacally rubbing my hands together while crafting my latest plot to take over the world.

In other words, I’ve got shit to do. Despite my disability, I am living my dreams — which leaves me with a very low tolerance for anything less than fantastic.

I don’t have the energy, time, or interest to deal with the hit & miss of random encounters or even the hassle of trolling through the Internet and local papers, looking for something fun to do.

And that’s when it hit me: Just as I’ve hired a program coordinator and administrator for my business, so must I hire a social manager for my personal life — someone who will do all the screening for me. Find events that meet my interests. Find people who meet my standards. Then call me up and tell me where to go, what to wear, and when to arrive.

So last week I signed up for a dating service called Table for Six. I like it because they organize dinners of three women and three men — which I anticipate will create a laid-back environment, where I can organically make new friends without feeling the pressure to make a romantic connection.

I also like it that they organize group events out — dancing, going to the theater, taking hikes, and other activities of interest to me.

The downside is the cost of membership and events. For me they are pricey, given that chronic pain and disability have left me financially drained. Ironic, isn’t it? The very thing that makes disabled people need a dating service like this is also what makes the service potentially inaccessible to us.

Regardless, I decided that my romantic life is worth the investment, so I took out a loan to cover the costs, and I’m going for it. This Thursday is my first dinner. I’ll keep you posted.

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