Love(less) on Wheelz: Swiping for Love… One Dating App At A Time
My personal perspective as a single woman in Los Angeles, navigating the dating app world as a wheelchair user.
I have been single for over 4 years, and even when I was dating someone, it wasn’t serious. I can honestly say as a 33-year old woman I have never been in love and have not been in a serious relationship ever. It hurts to write that. Of course I’ve been on dates, had the average f’boy come in and out of my life, but love has evaded me. In my 20’s I didn’t feel the real pressure of being in a relationship, plus I always had school and/or work to occupy my alone time. I also thought I had plenty of time to settle down; I figured by the time my 30’s were here I’d for sure be in a deep, committed relationship, hopefully headed in the direction of marriage.
Well, here I am… approaching my 34th birthday this year, and I’m not married, not dating anyone and will spend another Valentine’s Day alone. Clearly, I’m not the only single woman in America, nor will I be the only woman spending the day of love alone on the couch, cuddled up with an old blanket, Netflix and a pint of her favorite ice cream, but it truly feels like it when all your friends are either married, engaged, in a relationship or at least actively dating someone.
So why am I single? I’m pretty, employed, educated, well-traveled, friendly, and sincere; sounds pretty good… right? So what is it?! The simple answer is “it’s just not my time” or my favorite one, “it will come when you least expect it.” well, i’m sure that is true, but after so many years of “waiting” it made me think, maybe, just maybe my disability or more frankly, my wheelchair is deterring men from approaching me.
I hate to think my wheelchair may be one of the causes to the longevity of my singleness; especially since there are plenty of people who use wheelchair that are in happy and committed relationships. I just can’t help but wonder, if I wasn’t in a wheelchair would my love life be a bit more interesting or active compared to my current inactivity. In my 20’s I tried everything under the sun to be more “available” to meeting a guy; from dating websites, chat rooms, speed dating, school socials and clubs, blind dates, and of course online dating apps. Out of all of the options, online dating apps seemed to be more promising, so I put all of my effort (and hope) into it successfully working. I always believed that once people got past the shock of my wheelchair, they would be able to get to know me, talk to me and have a real opportunity to see that I was more than the wheelchair I ride in.
For over a decade I tried every app, filled out profiles, upload photos, reached out to “matches”… but just never had any luck. Either, I was never matched with anyone I was attracted to, I never got any feedback from my matches I contacted, or once they knew I was in a wheelchair they would stop all communication. Now, I can’t say that every experience was horrible, but hands down the bad outweighed the good.
So when I turned 29 years old I decided I was done with the online dating app game; in my mind… if I didn’t meet this mysterious guy organically, then it just wasn’t going to happen for me. I cancelled all my profiles and just went about my everyday life. It wasn’t until recently, one of my friends thought I needed to remain “open minded” and give online dating another try. After some deep thought (and prayer), I thought, maybe I’ll download Tinder and use it to meet people in Barcelona for my upcoming trip.
This small re-entrance into online dating would allow less of a negative experience since my optimism for it being successful was dismal at best, so whether I meet anyone or not, it wouldn’t bother me a great deal. I decided to download the popular dating app, Tinder. It is the perfect app for me to experiment with. Although I’m not a fan of “swiping for love” I couldn’t deny that it is one of the most simplistic platforms and easy to navigate, plus for a nominal fee of $20.00 per month it would allow me to swipe all around the world.
I signed up on January 26, 2019 and begin “dressing up” my profile with some photos; I decided not to write too much within my profile since Tinder is predominantly based of photos and physical attraction. Below you will see my profile photos I selected. I wanted to share this journey with you, to provide a true sense of transparency when it comes to my experiences. As you can see in my pictures below, I indicate on my profile that I use a wheelchair, so this fact is not hidden.
Immediately after uploading my pictures, I began swiping in Barcelona and very quickly I started a conversation with a few gentleman that seemed interested in getting to know me. What I noticed is, I wasn’t as interested in them. I say this because, for a long time, whenever a man gave me attention, whether it be sincere or pure physical attraction, I would peruse him. It didn’t matter if I was completely interested; my insecurities just feed off the validation he provided. I was constantly looking for validation in my looks, my abilities and worth.
For a long time, I allowed my disability and wheelchair to affect my self-esteem and confidence. I was always trying to overcompensate for what I was unable to fulfill physically. Well, this go’ round was different. I no longer was looking for men to provide ‘validation’ because I was already validated within myself. I will admit, over the past few years, I have really grown to love myself and know my worth. Everyday is not perfect and of course I have insecure moments, but overall my confidence is ever-increasing.
After a couple decent, but short-lived conversations I decided to open up my settings to check out the local selection. I matched with a lot of the people I was interested and sparked even more conversations. I exchanged my number with a couple of matches; and although it has yet to produce real success, I was so happy with the way things were going I downloaded the Bumble dating app to test the waters even more.
Bumble allows all initial communication to be made by the woman and it’s one app that I have never tried before. With Bumble, I put a bit more effort into my profile by answering some of their “interesting facts” questions. I have been on the site for a little under a month and I’ve had some decent interactions. Nothing promising but I will say I’m not against continuing.
My first two off- app conversions from Bumble were with two local men, one from Torrance, Ca and one from the San Fernando Valley. Both were aware I utilize a wheelchair and although there wasn’t much chemistry with either. once they realized I was disabled the communication decreased and they pretty much were uninterested in pursuing me beyond a hookup. One example is Mr. Bitter; I call him this because he made it very clear that is does not pay for dates, everything is “Dutch” and there will be no meals on his dime. When I told him that I’m not on Bumble for free meals nor to waste time he seemed to calm down a bit. He went on to say he has been through some bad experiences and refuses to invest anything unless it’s determined he’s interested. Now, I’m not saying you have to wine and dine me for our first date or meetup BUT I’m a firm believer that if you ask me out then you should be prepared to actually “take me out” whether that be dinner, coffee, or cocktails. I knew immediately that this wasn’t a good sign but against my better judgment I continued the conversation. He finally offered to meet up and when I reiterated I was in a wheelchair (b/c once again no one reads the profile) here is where the conversation went (excuse the typos, it’s text… not an essay paper.)
Now obviously me being in a wheelchair changes things for him, which is his right but this brings up my first issue; if our vibe is decent … why does the fact that I’m in a wheelchair change things? I’d prefer to be rejected because there isn’t any chemistry not because I’m using four wheels to get around. In this particular case, I attempted to try and link up per his text but it just never worked out (probably for the best.)
I’m still on both apps as of 2/14/19 and plan to continue but I will say with my busy schedule I often forget to log in and swipe for love lol but as I spend another Valentine’s Day working, I can’t help but wonder if I don’t make the time, will love keep evading me?
I will keep writing about my dating on wheelz experiences and I hope you continue to tune in to the shenanigans of finding love one swipe at a time!
Until next time… this is my world on wheelz!