Dating Awkward? Its Not That Simple.


Dating is always awkward. Now I don’t claim in any way shape or form to be an expert but that never stop me from throwing my two cents in any way. But why am I writing this now? Well, last week with the fallacy that is Valentines’ day on the horizon, Scope decided to release another one of their pop surveys – this time about ‘love’.

This is all under the banner of their ‘End The Awkward’ campaign. Now I will just throw this out there now – I do not like this campaign. Why don’t I like it? Simple, it implies and creates awkwardness and is PR gaffe that has been going on since the dawn of time.

The best-known instance of this gaffe was shamed US President Richard Nixon. In November 1974, then President Nixon denied any involvement with the Watergate scandal by claiming, “I am not a crook.”

The problem was everyone watching instantly thought ‘crook’. It’s like me telling you “don’t think of an elephant.” See – you’re now thinking of elephant. By saying, “let’s end the awkward,” Scope are planting the seed that those things should be awkward.

They quoted survey statistics that stated only 5% of people polled have asked/been asked out on a date by a person with impairment. 67% of people said they felt awkward around such a person and 76% people said they had never invited an impaired person to a social occasion. It might just be me, but I do not find these statistics shocking. I also do not think they a true and accurate reflection of what’s really going on.

Lets start with the 5% of people who had asked/been asked out. I’ve been going to clubs/bars on the Leeds scene on and off for 8 years. Now in all that time, I can tell you that none of the clubs have been over flowing with people with impairments. In fact quite the opposite and the upshot is contact with impaired/non-impaired people is going to be limited.

There are many reasons why there aren’t too many impaired people on the club/bar scene. Accessible venues are an obvious one but in my experience of working with people, I found one of the main barriers is fear. I’ve had people often ask me, “what if my wheelchair breaks down?” Well call the AA (that is not a joke). What if this, what if that, what if the other?

They hold themselves back because of what they think might happen. Which is just genuinely sad that they lack the self-assurance to let themselves find out. Scope are so quick to suggest that the problem is all about how a person is perceived by society, but in my experience, sometimes it can be how the person perceives society.

Equally, I have also found many people with impairments who abuse their position to act inappropriately. I remember in student halls, when a guy in electric wheelchair used his position to touch a woman who obviously did not want to be touched. The girl in question did not stop him, nor did anyone else say anything to him but what he was doing was wrong. Needless to say, he did not get invited to the next social occasion.

Social skills on the part of the person with impairment are just as important as those around them. Getting social practices right in a wheelchair can be tough – you do not for example be staring right into woman’s chest the entire time you’re taking to them!

Personally, I don’t think that we do enough in terms of talking about dating and relationships on the whole, so from that perspective at least Scope are starting the conversation. Quite a lot of the important stuff is still something of taboo especially when it comes to people with impairments.

This is what I feel contributes to things like the TLC trust, many people not attending sexual health checkups and not using contraception. Forget falling in love, if you’re serious about dating you need to know about these things.

Over the next week, Team Ethos is going to be sharing some our best pulling advice and we’re also going to be hosting our own ‘Dear Deidre’. So get your questions in and we’ll do our best to answer them.

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