Getting Back Into the Dating Game
When I lost my vision I was already single and unattached. I had been going out on dates and was very interested in marriage. But my top priorities were getting some vision rehabilitation training so that I could live more independently. I also was laser focused on getting back to work and getting my overall health back to normal. Once all of those things were successfully in place and I was feeling good about life again I wanted to return to the dating game. But that is when the challenge began.
No Dating Resources for the Newly Blind
The first thing I notice was that there was little to no information available for people like me who had lost vision as a single person and wanted to date and/or get married. Everything I found on-line or in books addressed if your spouse goes blind and what to do. Everything seemed geared to couples who already had an existing relationship. But what about those of us who were new to dating with a visual impairment? What about those of us who were single when we lost vision? What about those of us who were blind but wanted to date a sighted person? How would we go about meeting people and going out on dates? I had friends in the same boat as me and we were all scratching our heads as to what to do.
You might think what is the big deal? But when you lose your sight and you literally can’t see who you are dating it is a huge deal. Things like giving a cute guy eye contact across the room become virtually nonexistent. Exchanging phone numbers on slips of paper becomes challenging because your vision is too poor to read it. Knowing if a person is physically attractive and well groomed becomes extremely challenging to determine without sight. Driving to a restaurant to meet your date becomes impossible because you can no longer drive. So what is a single blind or visually impaired person to do? Well, I can’t say I have found all the right answers but I am willing to share some of the things I have done to help enhance my love life and meet new and interesting people. My tips are geared toward dating a sighted person and also are cautionary because I am a woman. I quickly realized that some of the traditional methods of dating change when you become disabled and also are female. I encourage you to share your own tips in the comment section. Perhaps you have also discovered new and interesting ways to meet people and make dating enjoyable and fun again after vision loss.
Dating Tips for the Visually Impaired
Tip 1: When meeting a new person you are interested in dating give them your cell number not your home number. I have found this to be a good safety precaution because home numbers can be traced to your home address. A cell number gives you some level of privacy and can keep you in better control of the situation. Until you really get to know the person lean on the side of caution. In lieu of a cell number, some have given out an e-mail address instead. You can create an anonymous address with a free provider such as Yahoo, Hot Mail or Google.
Tip 2: Ask for a hook up. Let your friends and family know that you are interested in dating and to look out for you. A friend might know a person that would be a good match and can set up an introduction. This can be a great help because you are not meeting the person without knowing anything about them.
Setting Up the Date
Tip 3: Play an active role in setting up the date. Don’t let the person you are seeing do all the work. Suggest a great restaurant or movie you would like to see. This is also a good way to be sure that your needs as a visually impaired person are met. For example suggesting places to go that are on public transportation so that you can get there independently. Or movie theatres that have audio description so that you can enjoy the movie too. Or a restaurant that provides readable menus in Braille/large print and understands how to work with the blind.
Tip 4: When setting up the date night meet the person at the location. Do not have the person come to your home unless you feel totally comfortable. Since this person is new and somewhat a stranger it is not wise for them to know where you live until you want them too. Offer to meet them there and take your own ride home too. You can use public transportation, a cab or have a friend drop you off. Again, you want to maintain some level of control and only move forward when you feel comfortable doing so.
Tip 5: Let friends and/or family know you are going out with a new person. Once you have met someone you are interested in and have set up the date night; let someone you trust know. This is a safety precaution. That way if things go bad on the date people who love and care about you will know what is going on.
Tip 6: Be prepared to have a conversation about your visual impairment. This can be a bit tricky especially on a first date. Go with your intuition as to how much you want to disclose at one time. I would discourage giving an extensive history on your vision loss. Just keep things light and simple. Be positive and share how independent you are. I have found that when I confidently share this part of my life the guy seems more relax and at ease. Unfortunately some people think that those of us with a visual disability can be burdens or that we are looking for a caregiver. I have also learned to not share too much because that can be overwhelming and seen as too much information. Just take it one step at a time and go with the flow.
More Useful Tips
Tip 7: Try a double date. I have done this on dates before and it has worked out very nicely. Sometimes a double date can take the stress and pressure off when meeting a new person. There are others to join in on the fun and conversation. Plus they can visually observe how the person interacts with you and pick up on things you might miss and not see.
Tip 8: If you are meeting people on-line please be extra careful. On-line profiles can be misleading so have lots of conversation before meeting the person face-to-face. I would avoid disclosing your visual disability right away since you really don’t know this person and not sure of their intent. Some might disagree with my reluctance to full disclosure; feeling it is better to just get that part of the conversation out of the way quickly. Telling someone that you are visually impaired immediately can help determine if the person is really interested in you or not. But whichever approach you decide have fun and enjoy the interaction.
Tip 9: Don’t forget about those traditional places to meet people. Although you now have a visual impairment you don’t have to completely reinvent the wheel. Meeting places such as church, book clubs, social or civic organizations you belong to can still provide excellent opportunities to meet new people. I know that on-line dating is very popular but those old haunts can work just as well. I actually met a former boyfriend at some book club events. We kept seeing each other each time and decided to chat. We discovered how much we both enjoyed reading books and the interaction went from there.
Share Your Dating Tips
So, are you ready to get out there and date again? I hope my tips have encouraged you to take that next step. Please share your ideas in the comment section!