I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for about five months now. We met online and, in the beginning, he seemed to be alright with my wheelchair situation, but now I am not so sure. Things are going pretty well... I've met his parents, friends, except I'm starting to worry that my limitations may be getting on his nerves.
He's really sweet, and that's part of the problem. I'm afraid he wouldn't tell me to what he was really feeling even if I asked him. What can I do to make sure he's not starting to get annoyed with my disability (I would hate for it to get the point that he gets so fed up that he just walks away)? Thanks for taking the time to help me.
In love but worried
Dear In Love But Worried,
What you're feeling is one of the most common things someone with a disability feels when they're dating a partner who's able-bodied - are we good enough and will our limitations eventually drive them away. To be completely honest, they could, and this has happened to many relationships, but that's life, it gets messy and sometimes hearts get broken.
When you have a disability, preparing yourself for rejection is something we always have to be ready for. I'd hate saying this (because I wish it wasn't true), but the fact of the matter is that it is true. But this shouldn't be an excuse to never date. There will always be some disappointment in life, but the risk is always worth it, and that is especially the case in relationships. No one wants to live alone for the rest of their lives, so I applaud you for getting out there dating despite everything.
What makes you think he's getting sick of your limitations? Has he said anything in particular or are you possibly being paranoid? When the summer months come, there may be more activities than usual you can’t do together, and you'll have to make sure (especially when you start dating) that they know it's okay to still get out there into the things that they like to do. One of the main concerns able-bodied people have when dating someone with a disability is this very thing - so they don't want to feel guilty.
Make sure you give your partner permission to enjoy their body still. Tell them to still get out there and run, golf, play hopscotch, whatever they can do that you can't. And make sure you say it with a smile so really they believe you.
Five months is not that long of a time to be together, but it is usually a long enough time for someone to figure out if they think they're ready to be with someone with a disability for a long-term commitment. Maybe it's time for you to sit down with your boyfriend and have an honest conversation about your concerns.
Remember, every relationship - whether there's a disability involved or not - always hinges on good communication. Start talking to him. My hope is that you're just being paranoid, but please keep me posted.
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