Valentine’s Day is Coming: Dating with Vision Impairment

Last updated: February 2020

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and for some, that means meeting new people and going on dates. That can definitely be an exciting experience, but it isn’t always as easy as it sounds. For those of us with vision loss, a new date can mean a little added worry or stress on top of the ‘regular’ new date worries we all commonly experience.

First date worries

Not only do we have to worry about what we’ll wear, where we’ll go, who will pay, and how we’ll get there, but we also have the added worry of WHEN do I tell them about my problems with vision?

When spending time with someone new there’s always that initial anxiety of letting the cat out of the bag. And, knowing when to say something isn’t always clear. Do we tell our new date or a new friend that we don’t see well right away? Is it important to be THAT upfront? Or, do we wait until we ‘need’ to say something? For example, when asking to sit in a specific spot at the movie theater so we can actually see the movie?

When to tell someone about a visual impairment

The answer to that question is...there’s no clear cut answer. I know, I know...but here’s some support and advice if you’re looking for some.

First of all, we are all different in how we feel comfortable approaching this. Some of us want to get it out on the table right away, while others may want to wait. Will it even matter if we only go on one date with this person? That depends on YOU.

When the time is right

Guess what, YOU have total control over this! You know yourself better than anyone else! That means you get to decide when you discuss your macular degeneration with anyone. I believe that this is one of those things that will just feel right when it’s time. Trust your gut. If the timing is right, it won’t feel awkward or unsafe to talk about. It took me a long time to learn this in all of life's relationships including friends and coworkers!

Avoiding awkwardness

If you’re someone who likes to be upfront about these things, then I encourage you to do so...but with the understanding that our approach matters just as much the actual news itself. Most of us won’t respond to or offer a date by immediately blurting out our ailments. If we did that, it would be pretty weird for us all.

It may be awkward to ask someone on a date by saying, “Will you go to dinner with me on Valentine's Day? Also, I have macular degeneration.” Likewise, we wouldn’t accept a date by saying, “Yes, I’d love to go out with you on Valentine’s Day, but you should know I don’t see well.” This isn’t just for macular degeneration and vision loss, this is for any and all ailments that humans experience.

Timing and approach matter

“I have Crohn's disease, do you want to join me at dinner on Valentine’s Day?” is an awkward way to be upfront if you ask me. However, I think it would be very appropriate to say something like, “I’d love to have dinner with you on Valentine’s Day, but can we have Italian instead of Indian...spicy food can cause my Crohn’s to act up.” See the difference? Timing and approach matter!

It is important to be upfront but in your own time. Plus, I’m willing to bet your date has something going on too that they may be worrying about telling you too. We all have ‘things.’ That's just a part of life.

Things can pop up

Remember, things can ‘pop’ up that we can’t always predict. Like, what if the font on the menu is too small to read and it’s difficult to order a meal? Or, what if your new friend suggests a place to hang out that doesn’t have lighting that allows the best of your vision? You may find it easier to say something then, than to just struggle through things.

Real friends accept us completely

Finally, I’ll tell you all something I tell my students and children frequently because it is so true. If you’re hanging out with someone who doesn’t accept you completely, or if your friends make you feel bad about things that are meaningful to you...find new friends! Anyone who is uncomfortable with your macular degeneration probably isn’t somebody you’ll want to continue spending time with in the future. Right?

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all! Spread love and kindness.

Andrea Junge

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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