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How to (Literally) Meet Your Match

As I grew older and encountered new situations, like dating, I found myself in need of nuanced insight I couldn’t find from anyone without spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

Now, I openly talk about online dating and how it relates to disability, with the hope of other people in the SMA community benefiting from the nuggets of wisdom I’ve learned along the way. After all, dating apps have been a controlled and accessible way for me to find love (at best) and hilariously awful stories to share with my friends (at worst).

Welcoming Rejection

One of the first things to recognize about online dating is that putting yourself out there inevitably comes with passive (ghosting, left swipes) and active rejection. It takes time and effort to meet the right people. This isn’t a reflection of your worth as a partner—and it’s certainly not an SMA-only issue. Rest assured, it’s part of the process for everyone and you deserve someone who unapologetically appreciates all aspects of you. (Plus, it means you’re allowed to be selective, too.)

Dating apps have introduced me to a wide range of people who I wouldn’t have met otherwise, which ultimately helped me hone in on what I do and don’t want in a partner. It’s important to consider that when you feel like it’s not worth the hassle or potential heartache.

“If you’re new to the world of online dating, or have been thinking about jumping in, here are a few things to consider when looking for your match.”

Safety and Planning

I’m not ashamed to admit my mom has brought me to every single (no pun intended) first date I’ve been on over the years. I inform my date as soon as we begin discussing plans because I realize it’s not conventional. This gives them a chance to opt-out if they’re not comfortable with it, but I’ve never had someone bail because of it. We meet in a public setting to prioritize safety and, after a brief introduction, she leaves us on our date. We always decide on a time she’ll come back because, again, safety is paramount.

Top 3 Tips

  1. Your authentic self is your best self
    Curate your profile to unapologetically represent who you are—don’t hesitate to find a clever way to sprinkle your disability into your bio.
  2. Be prepared to get tired of invasive questions
    You’re not obligated to answer if you’re uncomfortable—unmatch, set boundaries, or have fun with your responses.
  3. Don’t settle
    Dating is an adventure—enjoy the ride! Remember, there’s no need to rush into a lukewarm relationship.