Voices

How Online Dating Boosted My Confidence

A sketch of a girl on a computer in a large room with a bookshelf behind her.

When I became disabled, I was afraid that no one would be interested in me. I always thought…

When I became disabled, I was afraid that no one would be interested in me. I always thought that I’d end up alone because I’m wheelchair bound.

I think I was scared to put myself out there because I wasn’t confident, nor accepting of myself. I wasn’t ready to date because I felt my disability was a curse.

Gradually, as I started to accept myself, I went on online dating websites. I created accounts on many, many websites, not because I wanted a partner, but because I wanted to see how people would perceive a disabled woman. Would they be willing to establish a friendship or a relationship with me?

I won’t lie. It took immense courage to write in my profile description that I was wheelchair bound. It wasn’t because I was ashamed of my disability, but because I knew that not many people would be interested because of my wheelchair. I was as nervous as it is possible to be. I didn’t know how people would react. Would anyone like me? Or would people just reject my profile, and move on to the next person?

Honestly, I didn’t check my dating profiles for a couple of weeks after I created them, because I was scared. When I did open my dating profiles, ever so reluctantly, I was overwhelmed with the amount of responses that I had received. MaPicture of Virali Modi in a wheel chairny men had messaged to tell me that they found my profile interesting, that they thought it must’ve taken a lot of courage to be so open about my disability, and they thought it was cool that I decided to put myself out there.

The best part about it was that these men didn’t make a big deal of my disability. We’d initially talk about how it happened, and then we’d move on to more stimulating conversations. I’ve made many friends and acquaintances via online dating, and we still keep in touch.

It’s really scary to put yourself out there for the whole world to know, judge, and criticise you. Online dating wasn’t always flowers and rainbows for me. I’ve had many men reject me because of my disability. I know how confusing it might be for someone who hasn’t ever been involved with someone who’s disabled, but at the same time I approach it as an adventure waiting to happen. I don’t understand why some people are afraid of someone with a disability.

Gradually, as I started to accept myself, I went on online dating websites. I created accounts on many, many websites, not because I wanted a partner, but because I wanted to see how people would perceive a disabled woman. Would they be willing to establish a friendship or a relationship with me?

I’ve also had men send me illicit pictures of their reproductive organs, just wanting a one night stand. It definitely put me off online dating for some time, but I realized that I couldn’t judge everyone by the same scale. Every man is different. I realized that out of every hundred men I spoke to, only one or two turned out to be incredibly disrespectful, but the rest were quite interested in me, which motivated me to continue my quest.

I know it can be scary and it might even be a traumatic experience to see pictures of someone’s private areas in your face, but in my experience it doesn’t happen as much as you’d think. There are trolls on the Internet, and I’ve had a conversation with some of them, but there’s always that one friendly face out there to talk to you. I also have to stress that your safety on the Internet is incredibly important. If you’re not feeling safe or if you’re feeling uncomfortable because of someone, block them on that respective website and report them to the administrator.

On the whole, online dating has definitely helped me grow a thick skin, and that’s been a great experience. By and large, I found that I was accepted for myself. It really boosted my confidence as a woman. I became more open to talking to people in real life. I started making more eye contact because I was confident of myself, and willingly accepted my disability.

I started viewing myself as a woman whose disability didn’t make a difference, and shouldn’t come in the way of living her life. I learned a lot about myself because of the kind of people I had a conversation with. Online dating was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself.

Even though my intention wasn’t to get into a relationship, I did find love online, albeit a long distance relationship. I’ve actually had two relationships because of online dating. My first relationship that started online wasn’t successful, and that’s okay. It happens. My second relationship via the web, which is my current relationship, has been going strong for almost two and a half years. We live far apart, and have met twice, but it’s amazing to see how accepting he and his family are of me.

Online dating may not work for everyone but it’s definitely been a good way to boost my confidence and come to terms with who I am.

Featured image credit: https://www.goodfon.ru/wallpaper/art-doomfest-devushka-stol.html

About the author

Virali Modi

Virali Modi is a Quora writer, blogger, motivational speaker, aspiring actress, 1st Runner Up of Ms. Wheel Chair India 2014 and a disability rights advocate. Oh, and she forgot to mention that she is disabled, as if that really matters.

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