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Look, dating is hard. I’ve been out of the game for a decade. I know everything has changed since I was galavanting around in cars with random people.
I was not a safe teen.
I recently joined a dating app to play with things a bit. It’s so much different than before!
When you’re ready to start dating, it’s important that you don’t let the changing culture impact your decision to date. Never shy away from pursuing relationships simply because you aren’t quite sure what’s popular, common, or trendy. There are always ways to learn and study modern dating before taking the leap.
If you’re ready to start dating, there are a couple of things you need to know.
Phone Calls Aren’t A Thing
People don’t call each other anymore. Like, almost ever.
Part of it is a millennial thing I’m sure, but it’s not just us! Most people don’t want to answer the phone, especially when driving or at work. Many people – like me – simply don’t feel comfortable talking on the phone that much.
I don’t even call to order pizza. It’s definitely not you.
Don’t be upset if someone doesn’t want to talk on the phone with you. There are so many other ways to communicate, such as emailing, chatting, or even spending more time together IRL. This is an excellent excuse to meet up for brief coffee dates and other lower energy activities, too. Having coffee together will give you a chance to talk and spend time together, but won’t take up the entire evening.
It’s always important for me to be home at a certain time for meds. Coffee dates make that possible.
Get Comfortable Texting
I’m constantly on my phone. Let’s be real – when you have a chronic illness or a disability, using your phone is often a lot easier than whipping out your laptop or sitting at your computer. If you’re anything like me, you’re already a pro at texting and more.
If you don’t spend a lot of time texting, prepare yourself. You might need to be able to make plans completely via text.
When texting, it’s important to be consistent in the style you use. If you’re going to use early 2000s era text speech (“U R 2 cute”), make sure that the person or people on the other end are okay with that. The best thing to do is text like you type – complete-ish sentences with punctuation. Don’t send huge, lengthy text messages when something short, brief, and to-the-point will suffice.
Talk with potential partners about how they want to communicate. There are a lot of messaging apps and systems people might use over texting, like Whatsapp.
If texting creates an accessibility issue for you, be upfront in your online dating profile.
Finally, make sure you start getting comfortable with dating apps – and which ones fit the end goal you’re looking for. Tinder might be great for hooking up, but isn’t the best for long-term stuff. Most people use apps or websites, such as Badults, to find and meet new people. Again, be clear about what you’re looking for – friends, hookups, or longer-term relationships – when evaluating sites. It’s always a good idea to clarify that in your profile as well.
Dating apps enable you to meet a wide range of people very quickly. If you want to try long-distance dating, you can find someone far away to spend time getting to know. Sometimes that can be a great stepping stone, too, if you’re not ready to go on dates. If dates are what you’re looking for, apps can be the ideal way to find someone who is in your area and available to meet up with quickly.
Most apps let you connect instantly with people who share your same interests, whether that’s music, reading, or dancing. You can look for people who match what you’re searching for and start talking with whomever catches your fancy. You might not be able to tick every box, but you can certainly find someone who likes dogs, enjoys reading, won’t be a jerk about health issues (relatively speaking at least), and isn’t your parents’ age.
Make sure you head into dating with realistic expectations, especially with health issues. There are a lot of people who are more selfish and unable to commit to us when we might be a little more complicated than the average bear.
You might not find a partner right away, especially if you’re looking for that final relationship. You can meet a lot of interesting, exciting people who have the same interests as you. Finding someone to date can be a fun, exciting experience, so make sure you have reasonable expectations and a great attitude. Chances are you’ll find someone interesting and you’ll be able to get to know them in a fun, casual setting.
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TW sexual harassment, victim blaming, #MeToo
Back in February, I started to publicly discuss a sexual predator within patient communities. I’ve brought it up again recently but, sadly, have wound up feeling less supported. I’m not a celebrity, nor do I claim to be, but it seems odd to have people continue to question sexual harassment in the era of #MeToo.
This whole situation started when this man made questionable comments of a ‘playful’ nature that escalated over time. The first time I was on the receiving end of one of these comments, I actually responded very negatively. He responded and said something about how this was just how he interacted with people.
Against my better judgment, I let it go. Part of that was his involvement with other prominent patients and patient organizations. None of those connections should have pushed me to do differently than my gut suggested.
Over the years, this continued and got worse. Incidents took place between this man and other women – especially young women, like those in high school – for years. The fact that this person is in his 40’s wasn’t, apparently, a deterrent to his actions. Most of this was on social media but wasn’t limited to that. He has harassed and cornered young women at conferences and events, making inappropriate jokes and comments. Other patients have tried to step in and help him understand what is and isn’t okay but ultimately abandoned that task.
As I’ve talked about before, I believe that we need more male voices within patient spaces. Even further, we need more voices around queer, trans, and non-white experiences. So why are we allowing people within the first category to make things uncomfortable and painful – especially while excluding those in the former? I just don’t know.
It’s something that took me a long time feeling comfortable discussing, even among friends. Mutual friends would entertain the idea that this happened and claim to support me and others, but maintain an active friendship with this person. It was beyond frustrating to see, especially when fellow patients echoed similar situations and concerns.
If I’m completely honest, it still feels that he was sided with more often than those of us speaking out.
Something I wrote in February that continues to ring true today, especially in light of the MeToo movement:
People who call these issues out aren’t trying to stage a witch hunt [sound familiar?]. That’s not what I’m after. I’m not vindictive or hateful on that level and, by golly, I have enough going on with my health and my things I’m running and doing that I don’t need the drama. None of us do.
As a society — whether as a whole or as patient groups — we cannot make excuses for sexism or sexual harassment. We must call these issues out. Just like with ableism we experiences [sic] at the hands of people who don’t understand, we have to call out this behavior so that it can be corrected. Ignoring it as a courtesy only allows it to get worse and for more people to be violated.
And again, just like with our illnesses, sharing our stories helps people feel less alone. When I’ve shared my experiences with this person and experiences I know of with people, they have felt redeemed and like their gut reactions to comments or questions have been validated.
#MeToo (unless it upsets someone)
When people began to share their #MeToo stories, I took initiative in posting about this person. I used his name publicly on social media. This was met with a variety of responses from shock to shared experience and more. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long until statements dripping with victim-blaming mentality started showing up.
As a sex educator, I can’t let these kinds of comments go unchecked.
No one’s story about sexual harassment should be policed. A person should be believed, regardless of how much they “fought back” against someone. No one should be met with victim-blaming statements as they speak out about sexual harassment or more.
Could I have handled it better? Absolutely. I could’ve taken the exchange to a private message – though, it should’ve started that way as well. Since I didn’t start it, I don’t feel too much pain over it – especially when victims from various walks of life messaged me about why victim-blaming comments were being made.
People who know me know that I speak my mind – and know that my history of abuse combined with chronic pain is why. I’ve been nothing but forthcoming on how holding in emotions causes me physical and emotional pain. Despite that, I tried for a few months to ignore my gut (yes, again) and continue relationships with people who want everyone to just get along.
TBH Losing Friends Is Okay
After losing several friends during this exchange, I feel better. My pain has gone down in huge amounts. Emotionally, I know that I’ve spoken my truth to the best of my ability. Physically, my pain related to holding in emotions is no longer there. I’m no longer dealing with emotional potatoes.
When combined with other self-care methods, my daily overall pain has gone from sitting at 6/10 to 3/10.
My social media accounts have gone back to what they always should be – a way for me to speak to the world. I no longer sit worrying about how others are perceiving what I’m saying. Between that and the below tweet, I’m back to feeling much better about why I do what I do.
overheard the dunkin donuts cashier tell someone “if you don’t like my content you’re not my audience” and now i’m saying that to everyone
— Kristen Arnett (@Kristen_Arnett) October 27, 2017
You can share things with others – illnesses, life experiences, etc – but not really get along with them. The people you share XYZ with and those you feel are your friends don’t always overlap – sometimes they’re a Venn diagram. That doesn’t mean you aren’t acquaintances – we just can’t all be friends.
I see friends as people who hold each other accountable for these kinds of comments. Sometimes, that’s not what others think friendship is.
And that’s okay.
Sometimes all you can do is step out and bask in the sunshine of your truth.