It's funny how things work in life... My friend Stephanie, who is a very active member in the SCI community with promoting positive awareness and views on life in a chair to all people, had contacted me via text message yesterday with wanting help answering a few questions from a mans perspective in a wheelchair to help her out with her blog. I found the questions quite interesting and very thought provoking as I hadn't given much thought to dating after SCI, I just figured if it happened then it happened..in the spirit of my last blog post and the Recency of this loving time of year I thought some of you may find the thoughts and perspective, directly from someone living with SCI, on dating that it may enlighten you. My responses I'm sure are different from gender to gender living with SCI and even person to person but I guess the moral of it all is self sacrifice, and a willingness to risk your heart and to give up things without expecting something in return, which would go for any type of relationship.. Here's our Convo
Steph: Hey Halgrave! You up?! :))
Steph: Awesomeness! :)) haha mind if I ask a few serious questions?? You dont have to answer them all if you dont want to but I need a mans perspective for this next blog... I've asked a few others but no one has responded yet :/ lol wanna help?! :D
Hal: Of course :)
Steph: Ps. I read your vday blog! ;) your great at writing! I read it to my mom too! We both enjoyed it! Thank you... Before I ask my questions I wanna thank you for whatever questions you do feel comfortable answering. :)) I appreciate your help!
1) Has your feelings about dating changed from before your wheels to now? How so? 2) Do you think its more difficult for a male or female to date while in a chair? 3) Would you have dated s
omeone in a chair before? Would you date someone on wheels while you are? 4) How would you feel if someone refused to date you because of your chair? 5) What do
you believe is most rewarding about dating someone on wheels?
Hal: Okie I can answer those!
Steph: Yay! Thank you! <3
Hal: Do you want it In a text or email ?!
Hal: 1. I definitely would say my feelings about dating has changed not in necessarily more of a negative or positive way but definitely a greater sense of appreciation that is willing to put in the effort that I am to make it work! I realize relationships take effort but now it's a different type of effort it's more of an understanding and respect amongst both individuals to know that both can't offer what they normally could physically but the heart soul and passion of both can make up for any lacks for any physical lacking
Steph: Whichever is easiest for you! :)) Thank you so very much!! Heres my email just in case: Stephanieannaiello@gmail.com
Hal: 2. My opinion personally not cause I am one or biased but I believe it's tougher as a boy in a relationship ... Boys most of the time feel a large sense of pride in being able to take care of the woman they love! By meeting some physical demands, but namely just the proper standard and expect ediquet of taking care of a woman like opening doors for them, pulling out chairs for them, driving them home, walking them out to their car, tucking them in bed , they being the ones driving them places, taking the girl they love out on dates not thee other way around .... All things that break my heart at the end of the day that I'm not able to do to take care of the girl I care about most. I try to make up for those things with my heart and respect. If the situation is flipped and the girl is in the chair not to say this is a stereo type or how everyone feels but I feel that if the girl were the one in the chair the boy taking care of her would feel a huge sense of pride to be that guy that can take care of her and even meet all the physical "standards" of taking care of a girl and even by doing transfers that a woman may not be able to do allowing a relationship to be more versatile and independent... There's also a stigma about being a father and raising your young kids through sports by being their coach and doing those physical activities with them.. Not to say a mom couldn't either just my opinions..
Steph: Exactly what I was thinking! I feel its harder for men too but I didn't wanna be the first to admit it! Thank you! us girls have it so way when it comes to dating and theres nothing wrong with the female doing those things its just not what we are taught growing up through movies and the father son talks... I can't wait! Your gonna help me make this blog amazing! <3 thank you!
Hal: 3.honestly I don't know I'd like to think I wasn't shallow enough to at least consider the thought of it... I just don't think I ever took the time before to ever understand someone's true beauty beyond a chair .. I know selfish ... But I also was never exposed to it. I think I would At least give it a thought or consider it but the basic reality is it would be very tough to maintain a balanced emotional , physical , intimate relationship with both in a chair but anything is possible after overcoming what we've all dealt with.. Having said all that I really respect, admire and tip my cap to all those individuals who have taken the leap and sacrificed things to make those in a chair by either sticking by their side before , after and through this tough injury as a girlfriend or boyfriend or spouse or fiancé or husband and wife, those who newly met someone after they were in their chair and saw through their chair to see their true beauty, and even those who maybe who knew and were friends with the individual for a long time and still saw that person for themselves after the accident and fell in love for that person.. I understand these situations all take extreme courage by both individuals but I promise you the cost also comes with a huge reward.. I highly respect and admire all of you for your perseverance as both individuals trying to date after SCI .
Hal: 4. I would be understanding of it no question cause I get girls need certain things that I can't necessarily give or offer to them... Id also feel degraded and helpless but also motivated to prove to another girl out there that there's other things that I have to offer that other men don't and that I can make up in other areas for those things thAt I lack with with other aspects and facets of life that may be even more meaningful in a relationship. I'd hope they could see beyond my chAir and see me for me still.
Steph: Thank you so much! Your answers are so helpful! <3 So great to hear from a mans perspective. I hope you dont mind... Can I quote you??
Hal: 5. I think dating someone on wheels is love , respect, caring , unselfishness, non shallowness, lower expectations knowing you'll get gains in other things, all of this at its purest form... Dating someone in a chair is both people seeing through Boths flaws and imperfections and seeing eachother perfectly and knowing than that person inside and their heart, love , personality , passion , determination , willingness, respect, emotional capability, mental compacity is far greater than any physical capability and who that person is visually .. None of those things matter... And if you can find two willing individuals regardless of which one is in the chair than this is the strongest most powerful love you'll ever find ... It's truly unlike any other experience and I wouldn't change it for the world cause I know If I can overcome this than I can do anything I set my mind too.
End of Convo
Now that you all had a brief experience of what it may be like to date before, during and after SCI what do you think ? Are you grateful for your situation? Or not? Do you maybe all understand it a little more? This isn't to make anyone feel sorry for me or anyone living with SCI, it was just merely meant to put it all into perspective of what may go through some of our heads in regards to dating. This isn't to say my opinions are the only correct or meaningful ones because I'm sure woman would also tell you else wise of raising and mothering their children which I also entirely respect and agree with... The fact of the matter is is that this injury and dating situation stinks, is unfortunate and alot of the times extremely unfair.. But those couples and individuals who can somehow manage to make it work have done something unbelievable and unheard of after SCI, almost every statistic and common knowledge has shown this injury tears couples apart, but never give up! So if you've ever considered it hopefully this blog puts you over the top and changes your perspective forever and just know that your counterpart who Is in the chair believe it or not makes sacrifices and would trade positions with you in a heartbeat just to thank you for all you've done for them and to be the one that "takes care of you"! There isn't a day that guy that I wish I could be someone I'm not physically to take care of a love one the way I want again. But at the same time I would never change who I am because I'm prideful of myself with knowing I have something to offer that no other man doesn't and that's a heart that's forgiving, full of passion, full of desire, full of respect, full of willingness, full of sacrifice, full of pride, full of courage, full of will, full of perseverance, but most importantly full of love... Now I want all of you to know how much I admire and respect all of you who have ever considered, have tried, have worked, or even had a situation that hasn't worked and dating someone with SCI or even a relationship that's able body.. Any type of relationship is extremely tough all that you have is two individuals who are reciprocally willing to sacrifice certain things and I promise you if you can find that in someone else with you than you two have a shot at making it work.. We all need to be loved by someone... I love you all... CAN YOU LOVE?! Be Perfect