It’s the weekend! Whether you are in school or a working professional, this means you might be getting together with friends, going on a date if you’re single, or…. Staying at home alone and wondering how you might join the crowd.
For many who are blind, getting the oomph to engage in a long-term relationship after feeling isolated can prove to be a very daunting task, not unlike a job interview. Even if you’re going to hang out with a group, the questions may make you nervous: What do I wear? How do I introduce myself? Will people include me at first for curiosity’s sake and then back off being sure of how to interact with someone who’s blind? Add the pressure of dating in the mix and the stress level might amp up tenfold.
We who’ve been blind most of our lives heard rather than saw our friends initiate romantic relationships. Their enticing smiles, approving winks, and quick texts even during a class lecture went on unnoticed by us. Maybe, we’ve had to develop our own tricks and social survival skills by trial and error only to be corrected later by a concerned friend or parent.
So unless we date someone else who’s blind or visually impaired, we may take on a more serious air to cover our own feelings of inadequacy. And who wants to date someone who’s hyper self-conscience?-we might think. And this takes the thrill and fun out of diving into those first few stages of friendship impromptu. After all, most people love their fair share of spontaneity, especially when it comes to deciding on where to eat, what movie to see, or how long to hang out.
Dating was a rare event for me in high school, college and during my early professional years. Part of that was on me; I didn’t want the embarrassment of being turned down just because people didn’t know how to date a blind guy. I didn’t want to initiate long-term dating relationships anyway because I was never sure how permanently I’d remain in the same place or mood and I wanted potential relationships to develop “according to the rules” whatever they were. In other words, for many years, I was not ready to date.
Thanks to the internet, those who don’t want to disclose their disabilities don’t have to right up front if they choose to meet someone online. Of course, that involves some risk of facing someone’s shock and awe when seeing your cane or guide dog with you later. While we’d hope people would appreciate us for who we are, blind or sighted, still the element of surprise can make a first meeting a bit awkward if we forget or neglect to mention our blindness.
The internet adds another advantage for us who are blind as well. When suggesting where you want to go on a first or second date, you can look up many restaurant’s menus. This helps alleviate much fear of feeling embarrassed about asking your date to read the meal selections to you aloud. Especially if you go somewhere familiar, you may already know what you want to eat. Bringing your smart phone along with you can give that certain someone a glimpse into how you keep time, chat with friends, and navigate the out-and-about of life when stepping beyond your same four walls of home.
When going to a movie, suggest a theater which offers the option for audio description. That way, you can laugh or gasp or groan audibly right along with everyone else in attendance instead of needing to wait for your date to describe things to you. Beside, amorous multitasking can go on, too. Reaching for her hand doesn’t have to wait till that supposed perfect moment. Or, ladies, getting some skin time while you both reach for the popcorn simultaneously doesn’t have to preclude the enjoyment of an action scene while it happens on the screen.
Here, I’ve provided a link to World Services for the Blind’s blog where an author has posted a few more suggestions for dating blind. I hope you find them helpful whether you yourself are dating someone or giving some advice to a friend or your kids.
Amid all the advice, a big key is not to take yourself too seriously but to enjoy the dating fun for what it is. Tackling further steps toward having a steady relationship, engagement, and marriage can wait for a later time.