This was originally posted on May 19, 2017, at 12:59 PM on Blogger.
On line dating.
Despite there being millions of people signed into at least one such app or website at any given moment, there’s still some lingering stigma surrounding the process. I was one of those people who thought it was crazy. I still am, a little. But with everyone’s faces constantly pressed to a screen, or with voiceover in their ears, “how the hell else are we supposed to meet people?” as a friend once queried. But even online dating isn’t a fool proof way to get to know folks. And possibly find your one true love/soul mate (if that’s your thing).
Most of my conversations die after a few days. Even the ones that last longer eventually die. With that said, however, in the past year, I have gone on two app-initiated dates.
The first, was, to put it mildly: atrocious. The guy played dominoes for hours-literally-while my friend and I texted each other back-and-forth about the whole thing (I’d brought her along because, well, I was going on my first informal date with a stranger). The second was a few weeks ago, and it was, ehh. The guy and I talked for hours and then never spoke again.
In between those times, I did meet a young man in person (he worked at CVS). But that didn’t work out either. He had way too much going on. And then, after disappearing for a few months, reappeared wondering if I’d treat him to lunch so we could talk. That thought wasn’t very appealing, especially since I’d begun to get a little bored before we’d stopped communicating.
Over the last year and some change, I periodically forgot about or voluntarily stopped checking the two apps I was using (now only one). But when I returned, I would strike up conversations or respond to missed messages.
The person this post involves, let’s call him Joe, had messaged me about a week or so ago. But my responses were usually a few days in coming because of school. But Wednesday was different. I was actively responding, and we’d taken our chat to one of those texting apps.
Conversation was going well until he sent me a photo of himself. My response,, at the end of replying to his other messages was: also, fun fact, I’m visually impaired so pictures mean little to me.
Now, I must admit, I always derive a sort of morbid pleasure from the “big reveal”. Most people seem to ignore my eyes, assuming their contacts, or just focusing on my chest (I’ve gotten a few messages wherein, shortly after starting a conversation, someone would mention something about my boobs). So I would bring up my vision whenever I felt the time was right/an opportunity presented itself. Though there were a few times where I got a blunt “what’s up with your eyes”, or, more cautious, “so are those contact lenses”. Then they might ask “so how (the fuck) are you texting me?”-give or take the expletive.Â Or they’d ignore or gloss over it. and I would sometimes have to bring it up in later conversation because of the latter reasons.
But this experience was different. After telling the guy my fun fact, he said:
Oh damn.Â Followed shortly by: Um, I’m sorry I wasn’t prepared for that. I don’t think I do that.Â My dog is blind and I’m struggling with him. I don’t think I can do a relationship with a blind person.
As I retype his words for your reading pleasure, something stands out to me now that I didn’t notice before. “I don’t think I do that”? What does that even mean? It’s as though I asked him to do jumping jacks on a tight rope.
In the moment, however, I was too focused on the second half of his message which prompted the following response:
LOL, well, I’d like to put it out there that there is a difference between a blind person and pet but, I get it I suppose.
My “lol” came from shocked amusement, further explained in the rest of my message. So, your pet is blind, and, because of this, you don’t feel you can date a blind human? But on the same token, I guess he doesn’t know how independent or dependent blind people are/can be. His next message: I hope you understand my perspective sorry I just couldn’t imagine a life with you, had me shuddering.
Whoa. First of all, who was talking about a life? I cringed a little mentally but didn’t voice my feelings. And our conversation continued for a few more messages, with me telling him that it was fine. And thatÂ I guessed it was a curveball for both of us; for him, it was learning I was blind and for me, well… I guess learning that he wasn’t okay with it.
One of my favorite blind YouTubers, Molly Burke, made a video about a Tinder experience wherein a guy was uncomfortable with the thought of dating a blind person. He loved (I think it was surfing), and assumed that because she’s blind, she wouldn’t be able to do that with him (instead of asking). Shortly, she found out about a camp in California that taught blind people how to do extreme sports (including surfing).
And watching it, I could imagine someone feeling that way, just going off of people’s reactions to me in the streets. Sometimes they can’t seem to fathom how I even exist without collapsing in terror at traveling the big city with very little vision. But it was a little surprising to experience it for myself. And as I told him, I thought it was so silly. Maybe I’m a little biased but it seems crazy for someone to just decide this type of person is off limits. But with that said, everyone has their preferences, right? I like tall guys. Or is it different? Because blind people come in all colors, shapes and sizes. So is it preconceived biases then, that get in the way?
The next thought I had, that I didn’t share with him was that this was great material for the blog. Especially since I haven’t written in a while (sorry about that, by the way).
The guy also told me, a few hours after I didn’t respond to his last message: also your eyes have that stereotypical blind appearance.
So is the problem my lack of vision and its accompanying misconceptions? Or is it the appearance of my eyes and possibly what others might think? Should I have asked those things instead of saying what I did next?
They do. But that’s actually a very rare… look, for lack of a better term. My eyes are that way from lack of pigment and corneal scarring as a baby
And after some thought, I added: I think I’ve only ever encountered one other person whose eyes were like mine. And what was also interesting was that he was fully blind where I have some vision in one eye.
His last message was Ok, that’s interesting.
Belatedly, I realize that I should probably have asked as many questions about his perception of a blind person as I could. Perhaps I could have dissuaded him or at least gotten him to acknowledge that you can’t write off an entire group of people… because of your dog. But maybe, despite my cool reaction, I was a little shocked.
We’d exchanged only a handful of messages so I had no emotional investment in this. (My friends might tell you that I might not have been emotionally invested even after weeks of messaging, but let’s not talk about that.) But it was still shocking, for lack of an equally fitting term.
Maybe I could have introduced it better? But I don’t see my vision as a big deal. I realize that some people do but I’ve come to learn that if I don’t approach it as this, big thing (because it isn’t), then people won’t, usually, treat it like it is. Sometimes they might still be uncomfortable, but ask questions.Â And sometimes they just ignore it. However they choose to handle it, I think it matters most how I feel and approach it. And the “fun fact” thing is how I’ve approached it in the past.
But, enough of me, I should be studying for finals anyway. So what do you all think?