In every walk of life dating is tough. The whole process of first date nerves to getting to know each other better to things getting more serious for it to might not even work out.
The brutal truth of someone not liking you back is difficult enough but what if it’s because of something that is out of your control?
People with disabilities face unfair discrimination in several aspects of their life and for some it’s no different in their love life.
24-year-old Rebecca Smith is no stranger to this. Rebecca has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) type 3 and has to use a wheelchair as she is no longer able to walk unassisted.
Her dating life has massively suffered since she has had to rely on her wheelchair more.
In one particular incident she turned up to a date and he left, giving her nothing more than ‘I didn’t know you were in a wheelchair’. Rebecca is open with her disability and doesn’t feel like she has to hide anything.
She said: “I was completely honest with him, we had a long conversation about my SMA. Being made to feel so awful about myself over something I have absolutely no control over, I just don’t understand it.
“I now feel like I’ve got to say to people ‘will you still date me if I’m in a wheelchair?’. It makes me feel really sad that it’s come to this.”
The popular Channel 4 show, ‘The Undateable’s’, illustrates what life is like dating with disabilities. It provides an accurate representation of the highs and lows and shines a light on the issues they face.
More than anything it educates people and shows disability do not define a person, it’s opened up more honest conversation about the struggles.
Rebecca was diagnosed with SMA at 15 years old and her condition deteriorated, losing the ability to walk relatively quickly.
She claims she experienced discrimination before with her disability but more so when it comes to dating, she explained: “A lot of men have said it’s the disability that puts them off. People have said to me before ‘you can’t really get angry because surely it’s just a preference’ but you wouldn’t say that to someone who’s been discriminated against for their colour?
“It would be my preference that I didn’t have a disability but I do and I’m not ashamed of it so why should other people be?”
Margaret Fletchman is a dating expert from Kent who works with people who struggle to find love and has experience working with disabilities.
She told us she has seen first-hand the tribulations they face: “Some of the stories I have been told by clients are that someone doesn’t want to date them because of their learning difficulty or the fact that they’re in a wheelchair.
“Those who can’t see past the disability are not welcome to date my clients.”
Rebecca is taking part in the ‘Marathon in May for SMA’. She said: “I want to make a difference, I’m truly I’m inspired by the work of Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK and wanted to support them by raising money.”
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