Voices

Does love get complicated when there’s disability?

An illustration of a naked couple kissing on a bed, viewed from the ceiling.

My boyfriend, Dhyaan, and I met through an online dating site. I’m disabled, he’s not. At first his profile didn’t appeal to me, especially since he lives on another continent.

My boyfriend, Dhyaan, and I met through an online dating site. I’m disabled, he’s not. At first his profile didn’t appeal to me, especially since he lives on another continent. I didn’t respond to his request but he managed to find me (read: stalk) on Facebook.

I don’t know what changed my mind but I started talking to him. We would chat every now and then and it suddenly escalated to chatting every single waking minute. We connected like long lost friends.

Turned out we liked the same things: movies, music, animals, especially dogs. We’d both been through traumatic experiences. Our shared misery brought us close, even though it sounds a bit weird.

When we first started talking, I wasn’t looking for a relationship. I had already been in two abusive relationships and wasn’t looking for more heartbreak. We eventually started dating after a few months and have been together for more than two years – our relationship turns three in November!

To this day, it remains a long-distance relationship. But despite Skype and What’sApp, it’s not easy. We’re both busy. Some days we can’t bridge the bad networks or the time differences.

I interviewed Dhyaan to find out how he feels about being in a relationship with a woman in a wheelchair. Honestly, his answers surprised me!

Did my disability have any impact on your first impression of me?
You won’t believe this. When I first saw your profile I was stunned. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that such a beautiful girl was disabled. After putting that aside, I took time out to read your profile and realized that you were honest and straightforward. I had to know you.

Before messaging you, I showed my dad your profile along with some other girl’s profiles and he instantly picked yours out of the lot. He didn’t know you were disabled. All he said was that he thought I should find a way to talk to you.

You know what happened next! I sent you a request but you didn’t respond to it. I had to find you on Facebook which thankfully was easy because not many people have your name. It’s unique, just like you. We started talking and the rest is history.

It was a nightmare. I had to hear it day after day until one day I had a big argument with them. As far as I know I’m not committing any crime, I told them. This is my decision. It’s my wish and my happiness.  They have now understood this and started supporting us.

Does my disability matter to you?
You understand and respect my family and me. Nothing else really matters. And I really don’t think there’s anything you can’t do, even if you’re in a wheelchair!  Remember how we surprised your dad for Father’s Day with a cake? His expression was priceless!

And how you landed us on the guest list at F-Bar in Mumbai, through one of the DJs at your gym? The way you were downing shots at the bar and dancing at the nightclub, not caring about other people. If your disability doesn’t matter to you, then why should it matter to me?

What does your family think of my disability? Be honest.
At first they were sceptical about me dating someone with a disability. They were most worried about how normal our relationship would be. They were also worried about how I would look after and take care of you.

It was a nightmare. I had to hear it day after day until one day I had a big argument with them. As far as I know I’m not committing any crime, I told them. This is my decision. It’s my wish and my happiness.  They have now understood this and started supporting us.

What are the pros and cons of having a girlfriend (me) with a disability?
The one disadvantage is that we as a couple cannot go out to many places that are inaccessible. Some places have stairs, others don’t have ramps, and some are just too narrow for your wheelchair.  But the advantage is that often we get first preference, whether it’s in a mall, a queue, or the theatre. When management sees that you’re handicapped, you get undistracted attention!

Do you have anything else to add?
A lot of people out there think I am there to use you and your disability. They think that I’m going to take advantage of you. To make it clear I am not.

You supported me in following my dreams of modeling and acting. You taught me to see life differently. It finally seems as if things are coming into place.

Featured image credit: Ahmed Awad  – Eritrea Studio

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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