I am: African American, a millennial, a single mom, and an individual who lives with a visual impairment.
Dating as a millenial
As you can imagine, my identities can make dating even more complicated. I recently read an article called "Why Dating as a Millennial is so Screwed Up" by Andrea Wesley. Wesley listed a number of reasons
in her article, including:
- Ghosting as a way to end things
- Being hyper-focused on sex
- Being in a competition of who can care the least
- Being too strategic about our responses
- Expecting perfection that does not exist
- Being overloaded with options
- Becoming content with being alone
- Always stuck in a grey area
- Not holding ourselves accountable for the pain we inflict on others
- Becoming jaded
Wesley has quite the list, and I can’t help but factor a few more of my own experiences to that list. For example, I am a social worker who works with individuals who have HIV+/AIDS. Therefore, I attend many trainings about sexual health. From training on prevention, intervention, and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) epidemics, a part of my daily reality is knowing these epidemics plague people who look like me.
Dating with vision loss
Now, mix in my identities, and one can see my hesitations in stepping into the dating world. On the off chance that I get out of my head and decide to date, there are a few things that are still a little awkward for me.
Trouble seeing facial expressions
Flirting can be awkward for a lot of people, however, with my visual impairment, it is often difficult for me to see people’s facial expressions. Therefore, it is rare for me to know when someone is “checking me out." I am often surprised when my friends tell me that a guy is “checking me out” or being flirtatious.
Flirting or friendly?
Honestly, unless you flat out tell me you’re flirting with me I will not know. I just think people are being nice and social because I feel I am nice and social and since I can’t see expressions clearly I have no reason to think otherwise.
When do I tell someone I'm visually impaired?
Once we get past the flirting stage, and I know that you are in fact interested in me, the next hurdle is disclosure. While I have come to terms with my visual impairment in most areas of my life, I am always leery about when to disclose while dating. I am always nervous about what their response is going to be.
Hiding vision loss
In fact, this can cause so much anxiety that I take extreme measures to avoid disclosing. For example, I will check out the menu prior to arriving at the restaurant so I know beforehand what to order. On the off chance that I am paying, I give my date my debit card and “go to the bathroom.” By doing so, I don’t have to look at the receipt in front of my date. These are just two of many techniques I have mastered to avoid disclosing.
Coping with reactions to visual impairment
Eventually, I reach a point where I have to disclose, and when I do I am met with diverse responses; most are positive, but sometimes a guy is immature and will poke fun.
At this point in my life, I believe that people with the best vision are “blind dating” because you do not know what you are going to get. So I am encouraging you, to be who you are because just like the saying goes “those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”… at least that’s the way I see it!
How do you protect your eyes from the sun?