Heck, we tend to forget this about dating in general.

It’s NOT about your body or mind. And it’s certainly not about how attractive you think you are…or aren’t.

It really, truly comes down to self esteem and confidence.

Those are your power tools, the light for the way for someone to find your heart. And yes, they will find it beyond the wheelchair, the gait in your walk, the spasms, the difference in processing, and yes, even the drool.

Here’s the rub, though, and oh, you may disagree vehemently with me on this. You HAVE to do two things and I’m not one to tell anyone (okay, besides my husband and son) they have to do anything. To each their own is my motto.

The two things you have to do to be successful in dating and relationships?

  1. Nurture your self esteem specifically in regards to the vulnerability that comes with dating, the risk of rejection, and the willingness to fully open ourselves to another.
  2. Build confidence, also in relation to putting yourself out there in a way that is different from other areas of your life because it’s about someone choosing YOU, not just being your friend, giving you a job, or another opportunity.

Too many people with disabilities are alone, lonely, longing for their life to change, and if I can be real frank, wanting to have sex.

Sexual Ableism

And unfortunately, sexual ableism is very alive and well. Sexual ableism – as a society, we don’t address ableism nearly enough and now I’m opening Pandora’s Box by throwing the word “sexual” in front of it.

Do you know the phrase “sexual ableism” isn’t in Wikipedia or Webster’s Dictionary? Little hint of our culture’s reluctancy to even acknowledge it. So allow me to take a stab at it:

Sexual ableism is a system of beliefs that discriminate against people with disabilities in dating, intimacy, and relationships, suggesting the very presence of disability implies inferiority.

Did I warn you that every now and then I can go academic on you? Here’s the gut translation:

People still have a lot of baggage, false beliefs, and projections about people with disabilities being partners on every level, including the bedroom.

Yeah, you see the future posts coming on this too? For now, though, let’s jump back to what we’re forgetting – how to best combat sexual ableism.

The Most Effective Way

The most effective way to eradicate any “ism” (ableism, racism, sexism, etc.) is to transform the heart from one of fear (root of any ism) to one of love.

People learn to dissolve their fears of differences when WHO the person is, disability and all, becomes the focus.

Ah – and this is where you may not like what I have to say – but this moment depends on you and your self esteem to shine forth. Yes, it is NOT FAIR that the onus is on you, but you know that saying about life…so darn true!

If you want that date, that relationship, and are sick and tired of another lonely night, you have to acknowledge that sexual ableism is out there. Look it in the face, and then one up it with YOU AND WHO YOU ARE.

BUT HOW? When there have been so many times you were told no, you can’t, not for you, never?

Resources to Help

The next few weeks, we’ll be breaking it down. Let’s begin here, click on one or both of these to help you in sharpening that most powerful tool you possess, your self esteem:

Healthy Sexuality and Relationships – a guide with questions and reflections to help in strengthening your own sense of sexuality, body image, and sense of attraction.

10 Affirmations for Confidently Dating with Disability (and why they work!) – positive statements to help strengthen your self esteem in the area of dating and relationships.

Join me live tomorrow at 4pm (ET) to chat about this more.

Also…are you a member of the private Facebook group, Confidently Dating with Disability? I’ll be giving a live training in there tomorrow, May 16 at 3pm (ET), on How to Gain Confidence to Get Out There and Meet People.