Why the Reality of How Hard Dating with Disability Can Be HelpfulAug 04, 2021
People on social media and the Confidently Dating with Disability Facebook group say frequently how hard dating with a disability can be.
There’s no sugarcoating it. Sexual ableism is alive and well with judgments, fear, narrow-mindedness, and archaic beliefs about disabilities.
When you’re putting yourself out there in the dating scene, risking rejection, and opening yourself to the most vulnerable of vulnerabilities, it can be helpful to think of The Stockdale Paradox.
The Stockdale Paradox
Consider the whole issue of disability and relationships along the line of the Stockdale Paradox. Originated from a commander in Vietnam, Admiral Stockdale, who was taken as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He and his group of men were taken as prisoners, and they were prisoners of war for five years.
After he got out, he was interviewed about what was it that helped him, and his men survive imprisonment, torture, and horrendous conditions over five years. He said the men in this group who did not make it, who died, were the ones who kept saying, “Thanksgiving is coming. They will free us.”
But nothing happened.
Then they became hopeful and said, “Oh Christmas is coming. They were free us over Christmas.”
Still nothing. The troops then said, “Oh, the new year is coming. We’ll get out in the new year.”
The troops who did not survive were people who did not look at the reality of how hard their situation was. They only lived in hope versus the people who survived were not as hopeful, not thinking this is coming, I’ll get out.
Here’s the core of the lesson from the Stockdale Paradox:
You must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time, have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.- Jim Collins
Hard Dating with a Disability
While it can be very hard to date with a disability, but definitely not impossible. It often involves breaking down all of the levels of complexity and focusing on the answer. Remember:
You must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time, have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.
In the years of work and studying dating and relationships with disabilities, there are four key components:
- Positive self-esteem
- Acceptance and positive view of disability
- Increased dating confidence
- Healthy boundaries and relationship skills