As I alluded to the last time I blogged for Team AWOT, I’m currently a single gal. My last relationship ended two years ago, almost to the day. Time heals all wounds, it’s true, and I confess that the idea of sharing my life with someone once more has a certain appeal.
(I have not been ‘anti-men’ or anti-a-relationship in the intervening period; it’s just that I’ve taken the dreary, faux-noble, insufferable step of wanting to work on myself, regain myself, first before relaunching fully into The Fray…)
Even when I was twenty, clubs, pubs, bars and night-clubs were never my thing; now I’m twice that age they hold even less of an appeal.
Add to that, I now have a chronic health condition (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or ME, if you’re curious), which means I use a walking stick and, for distances beyond the minimum (which I’m unable to walk), a wheelchair. So, forget dancing round my handbag, dancing around my walking stick, more like; the ultimate in low-rent pole-dancing. Huzzah.
So, on the face of it, online dating is the perfect way for the somewhat-less-than-entirely-mobile to meet future partners. No awkward moments while I laugh off my walking stick; no worry that a guy will feel intrinsically repelled by the slowness of my gait, or being hit on by someone ‘disabled’.
With the written word I can entertain, enthrall and explain; my dating profiles are part pirouette, part pyrotechnic – a feast of verbal fun and fancy. Even the part where I explain the (God’s-damn, natty) walking stick.
So how many dates have I gone on, since I tentatively uploaded my profiles (and by ‘date’, am I allowed to include ‘had a brief coffee with’)?
Even with a generous interpretation of the term by anyone’s standards, I’m struggling to count more than three; and even they were more about ‘meeting a new potential friend’ than ‘golly gee, this fella has the very whiff of romance about him’…
This isn’t to say that my profiles haven’t drawn interest – on a couple of sites an embarrassing avalanche of interest was experienced (almost entirely communicated by incoherent, hormonally-driven text-speak), but it was rapidly clear that the guys were responding to my photograph; to the promise of tits, not wits.
(My photos are fastidiously demure and covered-up, I hasten to add…)
My experiences tend to be keyboard bound, and nary shift into the real world. Guys suggest meeting up and ‘walking up from the river’ without reading my profile – as soon as I explain my limited walking radius, silence. I exchange messages, they say they’ve read The Spoon Theory link I give; yet expect me to drive over an hour to meet them. They say it doesn’t matter, and then are unable to meet. Or disappear. Or both.
I have learnt, the hard way, to ensure any Instant Messenger facility is switched off; the moment I joined one site, the first message I received was, ‘Can I ask you a question? How does CFS affect your sex life?’
(Oddly, I declined his invitation to explain…)
So; what is a girl to do? Worse than that: an allegedly grown woman?
I venture out on my own to live music events and am sat next to tedious, grey-haired men by the host in the hope (it would appear) that we ‘hit it off’ (and if we don’t, the host offers to help me ‘get laid’ the next time I visit; seriously, is there a social convention in place for handling such a conversation??)
I flirt with folks via the power of social media, but flirtation is merely the currency on which such entities exist.
I join forums and create relationships with others who are somewhat similar, and thus have their own particular barriers to meeting up.
I smile and talk to guys when I stop off at a coffee shop, but I hardly think many male fantasies revolve around the idea of a woman on a Shopmobility scooter.
(Sidebar; are the disabled and chronically ill automatically desexualised? I still consider myself ’recovering from and only temporarily disabled by chronic illness’ rather than plain ‘disabled’, but is it in the eye of the potential beholder? Should I be looking to a specialist dating agency, as covered by the now defunct Filament Magazine here?)
I know it must be possible. I know lots of people with chronic health conditions, with disability, with far greater challenges than I possess; they are married, in relationships, in love.
But as the lyrics of the old song have it: “They’re writing songs of love .. but not for me…” .. and part of me is starting to wonder, with a certain self-protective grace, if they ever will be. Regardless of how strongly I may still appreciate myself.
Thimbelina blogs here, a site which was conceived to house her occasional thoughts about sewing and CFS/ME, but which has subsequently collapsed into the incoherent chaos about life, love and relationships that it is today. She also hands out hugs and cups of tea to complete strangers via Twitter here, as restraining orders have yet to be invented for the Virtual World she almost entirely inhabits.