When is disability disclosure “too much” on a date, and how can we disclose about our disabilities with confidence? 

03/04/2023 0 Comments

Welcome back to Caring About Sex and Disability.

One of the hardest parts of dating while disabled is the act of disclosing our disabilities (and all that they may entail) to a prospective partner. I can tell you from experience how absolutely nerve-wracking it is to know that a partner is okay with you being disabled, until they realize that you need assistance or care on the date. The number of times I have seen my date’s face drop when I asked for a hand eating is far too many to count. In that moment, I often feel like I am “too much” as a disabled person, and the all too familiarity of being a burden sets in. So, let’s explore when disability disclosure is too much on a date, and offer some tips for how to disclose with confidence! 

When is disability disclosure too much?

This is such a tricky topic, mainly because every disabled person has a different view on disclosure. Some of us (like me) prefer to disclose their disability straightaway to leave nothing to the imagination. I’ll often say something like, “I have Cerebral Palsy, and that means I use a wheelchair. This will mean that I need help with certain things like eating on our date. Are you okay with that?” I like to leave my disclosure with “Are you okay with that?” because it gives my prospective date the agency to say no if they are not comfortable. Others like to not mention their disabilities at all, choosing to allow the other person to get to know them without the stigma attached. I have been known to tell prospective dates about every single one of my needs over dinner or on the app; every little minutiae detailed out for them because I wanted them to really understand what getting to know me, a person with a complex disability would be like. But, when I did that, I could see the fear start to well up behind their eyes. So, where do you draw the line on disability disclosure? I think you have to consider a few things like these below:

  • How well do you know them?

  • Do you want to see them again?

  • Do you want to be intimate with them on this date?

  • Will you feel good about whatever their reaction is after you disclose?

  • Are you disclosing all this disability info as a test in an attempt to weed out ableism, or do you want them to learn?

I think asking yourself these questions before you disclose will help you decide how much disclosure is comfortable for you. Give it a try!

Another part of the disclosure process that is often really tricky to navigate (at least for me) is:

How do you disclose your disability with confidence on a date? How do you make a potential date see you as your whole self and not just your disability?

Now, I am no expert on this, and I stumble constantly with this part of disclosing my disability, but here is what I think might be helpful:

  • Try saying it repeatedly to yourself.

    Try different words and tones in the mirror or with a friend you trust (ex: Hi! I’m _____ and I live with Cerebral Palsy or Hi! I’m a wheelchair using hottie!). Play with it a little – make it something sexy.

  • Set boundaries!

    Usually when we disclose our disability to someone else, this comes with a bunch of follow up questions, many of which can be rather intrusive and really throw off the dating vibe you’re going for. So you can say something like, “I have Cerebral Palsy, and I know you may have lots of questions, and I’ll reveal more if I feel comfy, okay? I want to get to know you on this date too.” This way you have made it clear that you have set a boundary, but also made it a little fun and mysterious too.

  • Be vulnerable.

    One of the things that I like most about dating and disability is that my disability allows me to tap into vulnerability. You might try something like, “I’m ____ and I have Spina Bifida. Some days are really good, some days aren’t so good, but that’s okay too, and we can talk about that as we get to know each other.” I personally like this approach because it doesn’t rely on machismo or bravado to impress, but rather underlines the humanness of disability, and shows your date that you’re a person – not a superhuman trying to overcome their disability.

I hope these pro tips on disclosure help you on your next dating while disabled adventure. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Did these help or did I completely miss the mark? Leave a comment below.

Also, if you are wanting to improve your dating confidence, Care Rehab runs a Dating with Confidence 4-week group workshop, or you can have 1:1 coaching with their psychosexual therapists and social workers.

Until next time, friends!



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