Dating and Relationship Advice

Whether you are online dating to find your forever person or just looking to meet new people, it's important to take into account factors like common interests and location when swiping.

Disabled folks have another quality to screen for: ableism. It's of course impossible to get an accurate read on anyone based on just their profile (it's difficult to get an accurate read on someone on the first date) but there are signs that disabled people can look for when deciding who they'd like to reach out to.

These are disability-specific red flags, not a discussion about red flags in general. There is already a lot written on that; the focus here is disabled folks.

1) Insistence on physical activity

If they make declarative statements about activity level: "My partner MUST love hiking/rock climbing/adventure/etc." I'm not assuming that no disabled person can or wants to hike, but the insistence on physical activity indicates a strong value for it.

As you get to know someone, you should assess the importance they place on being outdoors and going on adventures. Pay attention to how that matches up with your needs and desires. There's nothing wrong with wanting an active partner, but it's good to be aware of different preferences.

2) Focus on specific physical traits

If they spend a lot of space in their profile delineating their physical traits or listing what physical traits are important to them in a partner. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be attracted to your partner; again, the issue is the focus. Physical attraction is arbitrary and often grows with time as you get to know someone. A person who wants chemistry or physical attraction right away may not have values that line up with you as a disabled person.

3) Focus on specific emotional traits

The same is actually true for profiles that focus mainly on advertising their emotional traits or those they desire in a date. Disabilities are not just physical — intellectual, developmental and mental/emotional disabilities are real and often overlooked in the broader culture and even in the disability community. The issue is the emphasis — if someone is focused on their ideal picture of emotional health, that's not necessarily bad, but it may indicate rigidity and lack of willingness to accommodate differences that often come with us disabled folks.

So, what should us disabled folks be looking for a dating profile? There are no guarantees, of course, but in my experience, the biggest "green flag" is a balanced, well-rounded profile.

This means one that isn't only a single sentence — "I don't know what to say about myself"and "I suck at writing about myself" is pretty annoying, am I right? — but also doesn't go on and on for paragraphs.

Look for profiles that mention a wide variety of hobbies, interests and experiences. This can indicate openness to the new and unfamiliar; a lack of rigidity 0f preference. As a disabled person trying to date in challenging times, openness is probably second on my list of what I'm looking for. The first, of course, is character — but that's something you can't tell just from an online dating profile.