But the link had brought me back to the days, not long after I’d moved into my own apartment, when I joined an online dating site specifically for people who have disabilities.At the time, I was looking for at least a penpal who understood what it was like to be recovering from a stroke. We only emailed, but he was super-intense and moved way too fast and seemed to think that we were destined to be together forever after a few emails – where we primarily talked about how we’d both had strokes and how we were both dealing with them now.

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Stephen remembers vividly the first time he saw Marietta.

He was late for a dinner party one stormy evening in February.

And that’s why I never went back to the dating site for people with disabilities.

Because, good or bad, I’m more than just someone who had a stroke.

Knowing what I do about online dating now, I feel now like I walked away from the online dating website having more in common with your average able-bodied online dater than the guy who’d had the stroke to whom I’d been talking – there are a lot of people out there who have gotten involved with someone on an online dating website and had them get way too serious way too quickly – like say “I love you” after three emails. And the one guy that I did meet, admittedly not on one of the more major dating sites, but on an advice site associated with it, who’d also had a stroke at an early age – we’ve been long-distance friends for three years and we rarely talk about stroke stuff. Now, I’m not saying that there isn’t a place for an online dating web site just for people with disabilities.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – there’s nothing wrong with people preferring, and choosing to try to find, the company of other people who share their experiences.

Marietta was among the dozen or so guests already seated at the table when he finally arrived, half frozen, snow still clinging to his hair.

“I couldn’t tell you who else was in the room that night,” Stephen said like a bashful teenager, years later.

“Marietta was looking at me, daring me to talk to her.

I couldn’t take my eyes off this amazingly beautiful woman—and her wheelchair. The other half was saying, ‘What is wrong with you, moron? ’” He listened to the smarter half, walked over, and introduced himself.

Sometimes it’s difficult for people who haven’t “been there” to understand the experience of having a disability, so I understand why people with disabilities might use a dating site where they have a better chance of finding someone else with disabilities. Again and again, it all comes back to people having options.