– Make sure the place where you’re going is accessible! Your date might opt to use a wheelchair that day, and if they’re using a cane, best to make sure there aren’t a silly number of stairs involved in whatever date you’re considering.
– Call ahead to the place to see if wheelchairs are available to borrow if you’re going somewhere that involves a lot of walking and standing around, like a museum.
– If your date is using a cane, they likely only have one arm to hold things. Consider bringing their food/drinks to the table along with yours– let them claim a booth while you get the food!
– Be prepared and willing to be someone’s physical support sometimes, especially if your date is having a rough leg day.
– Be prepared for a Plan B Date: it’s so awesome to have a back-up plan for the date if the day comes around and your person is spoonless. Believe me, it’ll mean a lot.
i just really want to add some from my own experience:
- ask yourself, really ask yourself if you’re fine with plans being cancelled at the last second, cancelled mid-event, and for plans to often be “come over to my house and lump on the couch with me” – if you aren’t? don’t date somebody with chronic pain/fatigue. especially if you will take that sort of thing personally and/or hold it against the person. if you date me, you date my disabilities. i have to deal with them, so do you.
- if you are grocery shopping with someone who uses a mobility aid like a cane or rollator, and that person is pushing the cart? DO. NOT. MOVE. THE CART. while they are using the cart, it is taking the place of their normal mobility aid and moving it is like moving their leg. DON’T DO IT. i have fallen in grocery stores more times than i want to think about due to an ex who couldn’t get it through his head that THIS IS MY CANE RIGHT NOW and would just grab the basket and drag it somewhere.
- if your date says “no, it’s fine, i’ve got it” when you try to do something? let them. just let them. my disabilities takes so much away from me, the things i can actually do are things i am proud of. it makes me feel better to be able to do things for myself. i detest nothing more than an able-bodied person INSISTING on doing something that i can do myself, even though i’ve said multiple times that i’d prefer to do it myself. it says volumes on what that person really thinks of my abilities as a functional human, none of them positive. i get that you’re trying to help, but i promise, taking away what autonomy we do have? not helpful.
- learn to tell your date beforehand what the date will entail. learn to look for the things your date would need to know. i had an ex that never factored in things like “walking half a mile” or “it’s a three story walkup with no elevator” because those things were no problem for him. i, on the other hand, would arrive at the destination crying from pain and unable to enjoy a damn thing – and exhausted in advance by knowing i’d have to repeat the journey just to get back home. don’t be afraid to ask your date what things they need to have taken into consideration. ask what accessibility options are necessary for them when it comes to cane/wheelchair access, how much access there is to regular seating, how much walking will happen, how many stairs there are.
if you go to a movie and the only parking is way in the back, ask if they’d rather you drop them up front while you get a spot – because sometimes traversing a large parking lot is the difference between watching a movie and sleeping through it, or being too distracted by pain to follow it.
by and large, we know our limitations and it means the world to have someone say “hey i want to take you to this exhibit, i think you’d really enjoy it! there’s several stairs to the entrance and the wheelchair ramp is kind of obnoxiously far away, so it’s either a bunch of walking or deal with stairs to get in there, but once you’re inside there’s a lot of comfortable benches and not a whole lot of walking.” because they thought about how you navigate the environment.
- if your date is using a rollator or wheelchair, make sure your car (or whatever form of transportation you are going to be using) has space to put it. don’t ask me out to the renaissance faire and then show up in a CRX and look confused when i say my rollator can’t go in that so i’ve gotta stay home.
- BE. PATIENT. this shit is unpleasant enough for us already, the last thing any of us need in our lives is another able-bodied asshole making us feel like burdens. we can’t do everything as quickly or as easily or sometimes at all. sometimes we need your help. sometimes we have to cancel plans. even big plans. even big expensive plans. it’s no fun for us either. sometimes we have to back out of shit halfway through because our bodies have absolutely hit the wall and have failed us. i’ve had to abandon a cart full of groceries before and sleep in my car before i could even manage to drive home because my body just gave the fuck out with no warning. can you imagine? just for a second? imagine being young enough to still get carded for booze and your body literally collapses and you have to almost crawl to your car, sitting in the middle of the floor several times on the way. don’t get frustrated with us, we’re doing our best. it’s just harder than you can imagine.
Also remember just because the cane isn’t there doesn’t mean the disability isn’t there. All of these points are still relevant. Be aware. Be considerate.
I want everyone to see this
The “only one arm to hold things” point is really important. I find that most people have a grasp of the walking stuff (stairs, long distances etc.) without having to think about it much. What most people don’t consider is that the tools you use to deal with lower limb impairments essentially mean giving yourself an upper limb impairment instead.
This also applies to situations like getting things out of your wallet/bag while standing or walking. Something as “simple” as pulling your train ticket out of your wallet isn’t as easy as you think when you’ve only got one hand free.
Also, those drink bottles with the pull-tops that you can drink straight out of? Way better than screw-tops where you have to hold the bottle in one hand and unscrew the lid with the other.
Omg yes I never really thought about it but opening bottles (or, actually, walking with hot coffee without one of those stoppers) is suuuuper annoying and takes skill to do without making a mess.
Under the heading of “Be prepared and be willing to give physical support sometimes,” many people don’t know how to do that well (either effictively or in a non-objectionable way, which actually boil down to the same things in this case). I wrote a post about how to give someone physical support (specifically for getting up and walking around), in case that’s useful.
Also, I’ll add that you should be particularly cognizant of the surface you’re walking on. If someone has balance issues or leg issues, it’s super annoying to have the person you’re supposedly with book it across the grass when you have to trudge around longways or risk toppling over taking the shortcut. This applies to friends, not just dates. Pace yourself to the slowest person in the group and realize they might not be able to handle off-roading.
Want to go on a date with someone with a cane and chronic pain?
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