in your search for romance—whether it be fleeting or long lasting—you stumble across some cool people along the way.
About two weeks ago, I had a date with a young man (he’s actually a few years older than me, so not so young) named Steve. I joined him on a few errands, then we ate, and he very kindly drove me to a friend’s birthday celebration.
It wasn’t the date that was so noteworthy (though I did have fun), but the person with whom I experienced it. His complete lack of awkwardness with regard to my vision was, to put it mildly, awesome. There were no cringe-worthy unfounded assumptions about Dating Blind People, or awkward, not quite stilted but uncomfortable conversations whenever the topic of my vision did arise. It was great.
I think there was even one point when I mentioned this to him, to his surprised amusement. He seemed a little confused like, “why wouldn’t I treat you like a normal person?” Oh Steve, you would be surprised. Though actually, perhaps not. He seemed to have a pretty good grasp on how uncomfortable disabilities make some people.
During the summer, I met a few others on the same dating app where I found Steve. With one of them, Noah, what started as a potential romantic… something turned into a quirky friendship. I always love finding new creative types. And he’s another one who treats my vision as a well-integrated part of me: brown hair, blue eyes, blind, writer. With him, talk of blindness comes as naturally as conversations about the djinn or female comedians.
I mention all that to juxtapose the others I’ve met who want to ask questions but are so flustered by this great unknown that they can’t seem to fathom that while there may be some specific-to-blindness challenges I face, the divide is not as great as it seems.
Over the years, my friends have said things like “you know, sometimes I forget your blind.” And that, I feel is, one of, if not the highest compliment I can get from a person. It means that it’s not the only thing they dwell on when they think of me. Perhaps somedays they think about my vision, but other days I’m just another one of their friends, special only because of my amazing inability to give straight answers.
There was one outing I went on, where my date felt really weird about reading me the menu. Now, I’m not judging him for it (too much🙂), but it was a bit entertaining to see him so flustered, when I’ve met others to whom dealing with my blindness came so naturally. we actually ended up changing where we ate, to a place with a menu that I was familiar with. I could have just Googled the menu to the place we were at originally, but I wanted to move things along. He had a family thing to tend to (his mom was locked out).
Before I end this post, I want to clarify that I’m not saying that you can’t initially feel anxious around me (I still have some laughably awkward moments with friends I’ve known for years), or ask questions—I love questions—but you’ll definitely get brownie points for immediately being open and receptive. I guess you can argue that if I’m hanging out with a person who already knows I’m blind, then they’re already open. But not always. There’s something about the amount of hesitancy, or whatever expectations you go in with that affect how you treat me. Marveling at me, and everything I do as though I were a science experiment is just weird and discomfiting,, but then, completely ignoring my blindness in an attempt to act “normal” has the opposite effect. Just be natural. If you’re anything like me, your natural is a little awkward (though I like to think it’s apart of my charm😉),but that makes it even better, we can have awkward moments together.
Be hesitant initially (if you must), but don’t let preconceived biases, especially the ones you come up with and never ask me about (or even Google) color our relationship, be it romantic or otherwise.
I don’t know what will happen with Steve, but it’s awesome knowing that there are people out there willing to give me a chance. It’s all anyone wants (along with riches and world peace and stuff).
Well, till next time