No, it’s not the stigma connected. But I have been hiding behind that excuse for a long time.
It’s not the array of weirdoes either. They are there, but I know from friends’ experiences that the internet dating world is also inhabited by normal, handsome and perfectly respectable men.
I have two essential problems when it comes to internet dating and they are both linked to blindness.
The first problem is probably all in my head. The revelation. Let’s say I’ve somehow managed to find a likeable man in the ocean of less likeable men. We’re talking, the conversation is going great and we’re about to meet. And that’s when I have to tell him. “I’m visually impaired. Actually I’m blind.” He needs to know this, because he is the one who needs to find me in the public place we’ll be meeting. But revealing such a fact to me, feels equal to committing social suicide, or at least romantic suicide.
Because in truth, most people wouldn’t know anything about blindness and blind people unless they have experienced it. And not everybody have positive experiences with blindness. So when I reveal my lack of sight, the man in question will perhaps imagine a helpless, badly dressed woman who needs help with everything from cutting her food to wiping her backside. And he might get cold feet and cancel the date.
Yes. You’re telling me that I’m not losing out and that a man like this isn’t worth it. And I’d hope a man I took a liking to would be a bit more open minded and ask questions he may have. But like everyone else in this world, I’m a little scared of being judged on something I haven’t chosen to be before I’ve been able to show them the full deal.
So what do I do? Do I say “I’m blind, which means you’ll have to find me in the café, bar, or whatever. But just in case you’re wondering, I take great care of my appearance, have a profession and I can cook and get around quite independently.”
This could also push him away, because by saying something like that, I’m showing low self-esteem. And men love women who are confident in who they are. Something I am face to face.
A more basic and pressing problem with internet dating, is accessing the dating sites. These sites are full of pictures, adverts and graphics and thus very hard to navigate with a screen reader. The easiest dating sites to use are those catering to the disabled and I’d refuse to sign up to one of them.
So there you have it. I need to identify a website I can use, and I need to stop thinking that people would turn me down because I’m blind. That’s why I prefer meeting men face to face. There’s no moment of revelation and they immediately see that although I can’t see, I’m just a regular woman.