This email came from a DGS reader who is about to go through a divorce, and is looking for advice about dating with a disability:
I have been married to my second husband for 15 years. Several years into the marriage, I was diagnosed with a rare condition that has impacted my vision – mostly night vision. I have always been an independent woman on the go between my job, kids (now grown) and activities. I still try to do as much as possible, however, I know longer feel comfortable driving at night or going into dark restaurants, etc.
My husband does not want to be tied down to someone who may become reliant on him. He lacks empathy on so many levels that it has driven a wedge in our relationship. To the point that we are living separate lives and living apart for the past 7 months. Neither one of us has made much of an effort lately to work on the marriage, as it feels like there is nothing there anymore. Yet I haven’t filed either.
I’m looking to the future and would like to meet someone for companionship. How does one meet someone with my limitations? I feel like the person that promised “For better or worse” didn’t mean it; why would someone else want to walk into this situation? I have no fear of moving forward, but I don’t want to miss out on having that special someone in my life. Any pearls of wisdom?
Advice for dating after divorce and dating with a disability
Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing what your experience has been like and where you are struggling. That takes courage and I am grateful to you for reaching out.
Divorce is messy, regardless of when you pull the trigger, so I would like to challenge you to dig deeper on what is really holding you back from filing. What is your real reason? My gut says it is fear-based. Fear of being alone, fear of being accepted and/or fear of putting yourself out there as YOU. Fear of not having an excuse to rely on.
So many of us become dependent on our spouses and lose ourselves in our marriage. We don’t know who we are without them. Without their approval. Without seeing your reflection in them. It sounds like the man you married and the reflection you saw of yourself was highlighting ONE part of you that does not define WHO you are.
Why do you believe every man out there is like your husband? Is your first husband like your second husband? I would guess not. So, what makes you think you won’t find a man who reflects back the woman you are INSIDE? Who will honor his vows, especially since you can be upfront about your disorder?
I am hearing a lot of self-doubt and a lack of self-esteem. This is completely normal as many other women leave their marriages in the same place–regardless of whether or not they have a disability.
You are not alone. I would encourage you to rediscover who you are now that is not defined by your eye disorder. And that means looking in the mirror and confronting the good AND the bad. It means finding your voice, who you are, what you want and what you don’t want. Looking at who you want to bring forward in this next chapter and what you want to leave behind. So I ask you – who are you? What do you want to bring forward? What do you want to leave behind?
Doing this deep dive is crucial before we can heal and find companionship and love again. You are a person just like anyone else and have the power of choice to NOT let your limitations define you. Yes, it has a huge impact on your life. But a caring, loving, understanding man will see YOU, not your limitation and better to wait for him to show up than settle for someone else.
Here are some tips on dating with a disability, and how to find yourself again and strengthen your self-esteem:
1. Write a list of all the things you LOVE about yourself. Don’t be shy – acknowledge it. Many of us are taught to be modest and it was selfish to “toot our own horn.” I say DO IT!
2. Write a list of everything you do NOT want to bring into your next chapter. This is called “owning your side of the street” and acknowledging what parts you are not proud of. Just remember you have the power to change!
3. Write down what you enjoy doing – hobbies, activities, etc. Perhaps this includes activities you stopped doing because you never made time for it or a hobby you enjoyed, but don’t make a priority.
4. Write down what you are looking for in a companion. Be as specific as possible! Also write down what you enjoy doing together as a couple! Perhaps there are some activities you wished someone would do with you – now is the perfect time to write it on the list!
One more tip! When you are ready to go on your first date, consider a daytime date so you don’t have to be concerned about your vision. You can also take a cab, Uber or Lyft so you don’t have to worry about driving.
Remember you have options and there is already plenty to worry about on a first date! Make it easier for yourself and less nerve-wracking! I know someone special for you is out there – and the universe will bring you together when it is meant to be.
Wendy Sterling is a Divorce Recovery Specialist, a certified life coach, writer, author and speaker who founded of The Divorce Rehab™. Wendy helps divorced women remember who they are and what they are capable of by ending their pity party, mourning their marriage and MOVING FORWARD with dignity to see how much better life is afterwards. A graduate of UCLA and The Co-Active Training Institute, Wendy is also a divorced single mom who has transformed her own life from Corporate America employee to entrepreneur. To connect with Wendy you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit her website at wendysterling.net.
Like this article? Check out, “Getting Naked After Divorce Can Be Really Scary”
Leave a Reply