How do I do this?

So, my sister’s visiting, which is nice, particularly given how few people I see as friends, it’s good to have someone around who wants to spend time with me.  That doesn’t make me not socially awkward / inept though, even though it’s far less than with most people.  Anyway, that’s not why I’m writing this.

Today two of her friends briefly dropped by while she was here today.  Now, just her mentioning it earlier in the day  made me nervous, something like a preemptive social anxiety.  But that’s nothing compared to when they were here, two girls who I’ve never met and don’t know me at all.  They each said a few things to me, but all I could do was smile, or inaudibly agree.  Several years ago I would have been nervous about the same amount (I’m still very on edge, my face is still red, and my heart is just starting to slow down, over an hour later).  I would have been disappointed that I can’t handle social situations and vow to get out more so I get used to taking to people more.

Now though, it also brings up some issues I need to solve.  Due to my breathing situation, I can only speak very quietly and it’s very difficult for people to understand.  People who talk to me often are still able to understand about two thirds of what I say if they focus and there’s no background noise.  People who don’t talk to me much or don’t know me can sometimes understand a sentence here and there, but only if they really pay attention and ask me to repeat myself a lot.  In normal interactions though, most people don’t do that, especially if there are other people around.  So even if I was the most outgoing person ever, I still wouldn’t be able to talk to people.  They were trying, or at least trying to be polite, and even though I had chances to talk, it just didn’t work

So what can I do?  I think one on one conversations could work if the other person is really persistent, but those situations are rare, at least with new people.  The other solutions I can think of are big changes which I think would make me seem more disabled and make people even less likely to see me as just a person.

One thing, which is inevitable sooner or later, is a tracheotomy.  This means that instead of breathing through a mask or mouthpiece, a tube would be attached directly to my throat.  I’ll write something more detailed later, but there’s some chance I wouldn’t be able to speak at all.  In my situation though it’s most likely I’ll still be able to.  In that case, I think I might be able to speak more clearly because my face and mouth would be free.  I’d also be able to say more per breath (now it’s one or two words) because the speed the air comes out of my mouth could be more controlled.  But that’s a major surgery (not medically, but would significantly change aspects of my life), and also there would be times I couldn’t speak at all.

The other possibility is that I could use a computer or something similar to speak for me (or just have people read the screen).  I would either use some kind of keyboard (like the one I’m procrastinating finishing), use eye tracking, or a button to type.  To me, this feels like the ultimate stage of being disabled in most people’s view, which I think narrows my already very small chance to meet someone as more than a friend.

I don’t really see any other options besides those two, and they are most likely inevitable.  I suppose it’s clear that what I’m doing now isn’t really working, and not being able to communicate with anyone new stops all chances.  The other two things will make it more possible to talk to anyone and perhaps make friends, but I think it makes me less desirable to almost everyone.  It’s not so much this specific time or who they were, but I have very few chances in my life to interact normally in social situations, so each time feels very significant since it might be the only time in months.

I used to be able to just say I’d try harder the next time, but now I literally can’t.  I’d be very interested to hear from anyone who has any input on how to fix this issue, particularly in a way that doesn’t compromise my chances of ever meeting someone on the level I want to.  I’d like to have more social interaction in general, but that’s the thing that I want the most.

I’m still here…

It’s been about a week since my last post, which is far longer than I had planned when I started this blog.  I’ve been working on other things some but really I’ve just been procrastinating writing more.  Oh, and I started Game of Thrones, which is far more addicting than I expected.  I was very motivated and enthusiastic about starting a blog and wrote a lot the first few weeks.  I think I had this unrealistic expectation that the blog would quickly make things better for me, like finding someone to date or getting some kind of attention to it and the issues I write about.

None of that has happened, so some of my motivation has worn off.  Also, writing about this puts these issues more in my thoughts – I can’t just try to ignore it like I’ve done in the past.  It’s very hard to face the realities of my situation, particularly with an issue so sensitive and important to me.  So that takes an extra push.   But I have to keep trying.

I did get one response on eHarmony, but it’s someone I wasn’t really interested in or attracted to.  I’ll definitely keep the conversation going, but it’s not who I hoped would respond.  That brings me back to the issue of how close a person I can find to who I’m ideally looking for who will like me and not mind my disability.  In a perfect world, I could wait until I find her, but if it actually came down to it, I’d have to decide whether I want to risk never finding the ideal person or accepting someone who I could be happy with but isn’t exactly who I’d hoped for.  I don’t really know how to handle this – I try to be open to anyone, but it can be hard not to fall into seeking the ideal person.

Beside that, there isn’t anyone else who’s been interested.  I guess I have to keep messaging people until there is.  It’s just hard to keep trying without getting much back.

eHarmony Hiatus and POF: Day 1

Well, I haven’t gotten any replies to the 37 messages I sent on eHarmony 5 days ago which isn’t a good sign.  I was about to pay to subscribe since I think you can get more matches that way, but the $30 for 3 months plan expired!  All the other plans require you to pay for at least 6 months at a time, and will cost around $200 for that time period.  I don’t think it’s worth that much if so far nothing’s happened.  Chemistry.com has a half price offer that ends today and the best option seems to be $38 for 6 months because at that price they’ll allow non-subscribers to respond to you.  But Chemistry.com doesn’t have many users, so I’m not sure it’s worth it.  I signed up for match.com, but it costs more than I’d like.  So my plan is to wait to try a paid service until eHarmony has the 3 month deal again,, which seems to happen every month or two.

I also went back to POF (aka PlentyOfFish), which is the other major free service.  I signed up several years ago, but never really used it because I like that OkCupid shows match percentage, so you know if they’re actually a good match.  But I think I’m going to try again.  I updated my profile and pictures.  I think I’ll try it again.

This week’s Goal: Send 20 messages this week since I skipped last week.
Today’s Goal: Send at least 5 messages.

KM – 26 – She didn’t write much, so I’m not really sure what to write.  Sent a short message, but not as good as I had hoped.

OPPE – 25 – Sent a short message, probably not great.

ZF – 26 – Wow, she actually wrote more than 1 line.  That’s unusual but appreciated.  Let’s see if it helps me write something.  Helped a bit, but not much.

DG – 29 – Wrote an okay message.

KG – 27 – Wasn’t sure what to write, so it’s not a very good message.

S_PD – She didn’t write much, so my message wasn’t great,, but good considering that I didn’t have much to go on.

6 messages down, 14 more this week…

eHarmony Free “Trial”: Day 1

eHarmony is having one of their free communication weekends.  They make it sound like a free trial, but it’s not the full service, just limited communication with your matches.

The Free Trial offer valid only in the United States and does not include Photos, Secure Call® or Skip to Mail

So, you can use their “guided communication” but not much else.  Still no pictures.  But there is a way to see thumbnails.  When you’re looking at a profile and hold your mouse over the “PREV” or “NEXT” arrows, it will show you the thumbnail of your previous and next match’s main picture.  Since eHarmony uses first names instead of usernames, and you can’t see profiles you haven’t been matched with, I think I can be more specific about them on here.

Apparently I have 59 matches.  This could take a while…

  1. Christine – 30 – She didn’t write much, so I guess I’ll send a guided communication message.  You have to choose 5 multiple choice questions from a list and they send her those questions.   Some of them seem way too personal for a first message, but maybe there are different “rules” here.
  2. Karis – 32 – Sounds interesting, but a lot about physical activity and outdoors.  Sent message.
  3. Brianna – 32 – Sent message.
  4. Lauren — 25 – Didn’t write much, sent a message anyway.
  5. Lauren (another) – 28 – Sent message.
  6. Jess – 32 – Sent message.
  7. Cassandra – 311 – Didn’t write anything, but why not send a message?
  8. Stephanie – 31 – Sent message.
  9. Audrey – 29 – Sent message.
  10. Shannon – 30 – Sent message.
  11. Gretchen – 30 – Sent message.
  12. Anne – 27 – Sent message.
  13. Mandy – 37 – Maybe too old, but I sent a message anyway.
  14. Katrina – 28 – Lives in Canada.  Probably too far away, but Canadians are supposed to be nice, so I sent a message anyway.
  15. Mary – 30 – Sent message.
  16. Megan – 30 – Didn’t write anything, but I sent a message anyway.
  17. Crystal – 34 – Sent message.
  18. Monique – 26 – Didn’t write anything, but I sent a message anyway.
  19. Kat – 29 – Sent message.
  20. Regina – 29 –  Sent a message.
  21. Mandi – 33 – Sent a message.
  22. Hope – 29 – Sent a message.
  23. Phylicia – 30 – Sent a message
  24. Nataly – 33 – Sent a message.
  25. Kelly – 37 – Gies a link to her OkCupid profile.  We’re a 50% match there.   I guess I won’t send a message.
  26. Jacqui – 31 – ID Verified which probably means she’s a subscriber and might actually respond.  Sent a message.
  27. Malinda – 30 – Sent a message.
  28. Ellie – 29  – Sent a message..
  29. Holli – 26 – Sent a message.
  30. Vikki – 322 – Sent a message.
  31. Phoenix – 26- Sent a message.
  32. Margot – 35 – Sent a message.
  33. Emiia – 35 – Sent a message.
  34. Liz – 30 – An engineer!  Sent a message.
  35. Tasha – 34 -Sent a message.
  36. Ashleigh – 30 – Another engineer!  Sent a message.
  37. Kels – 33 – Sent a message.

After hiding all the matches whose profiles were deleted and people I choose to hide for various reasons, there are 44 matches left.  I wasn’t really interested in the other 7 that are left, but I  thought they should stay on the list.

I didn’t write much here because they don’t tell you who’s actually a subscriber.  I doubt most people would start paying after getting a message, but I guess they think so.  So if I get responses I’ll write more about them then.

Update 5/30: Still no replies, but 5 people viewed my profile.

OkCupid: Days 4 and 5

I’ve been trying to put more effort into OkCupid, both for the blog and to increase my chances of meeting someone sooner rather than later.  But for some reason it’s been really hard to make myself do it.  It’s nothing new – for the majority of the many years that I’ve had an OkCupid account, I haven’t been trying much.  I just go through short phases where I do and then burn out.  I think actually trying makes me realize what I’m up against. All the effort writing messages and making profile changes gets little to no replies.  I thought this time would be different because I’m blogging about it.  I thought it would bring more routine to messaging people and would allow me to see it more as an experiment, thereby taking the edge off the harsh realities it makes me confront.  I might have been a bit unrealistic and possibly selfish too by expecting to have a lot of readers to support me and to motivate me to keep trying.  I guess expecting to rely on that, especially this soon was kind of a longshot.  But regardless, I have to keep trying.

So as you might imagine, I haven’t spent much time on OkCupid the past few days. But I’ll still hold myself to my objective of writing at least ten messages per week. So that means 7 more before Sunday. Then, if after a few weeks of serious OkCupiding I don’t have much luck, I’ll finally pay for eHarmony.

Ok, enough stalling, let’s get to messaging. I’ll just post the basics for now, so check this post in a week for the detailed report.

  1. yysft – 97% – 25 – Actually, I just remembered that I sent 1 message yesterday.  I thought it was good, but probably too short – only 1 sentence. 6/10.
  2. LLL – 99% – 27 – Nothing really sparks any inspiration on what to write.  I wrote a decent message, I’d say 6/10.
  3. Td – 96% – 26 – Wrote a bit longer message but I might have mentioned myself too much or asked too many questions (3). 6/10
  4. uc – 97% – 34 – Wrote an okay message, 5/10.
  5. FBB – 95% – 35 – Wrote an okay message, 5/10.
  6. GEB – 94% – 29 – Wrote an okay message.  She’s also a blogger so I also asked for advice, hopefully that wasn’t a mistake. 6/10.
  7. plsh – 91% – 31 – Wrote a decent message, 6/10.

Weekly Goal Accomplished!

Well, I guess I got carried away and already reached my goal message quota!  Maybe I’ll have to raise it.  I’ll probably write at least a few more this week.  Hopefully I get some replies…

Why Don’t You Just … Pay For It or Something?

In doing research to find articles about disability and dating, I’ve been disappointed by the number of people who only talk about disabled people and sex, as if somehow they’ve solved the problem entirely.  Typically the implication is that we have to pay for it, and when we don’t, it’s not going part of something meaningful.  Sure, it’s probably not the most uncommon thing for people to pay for it, and I’m not here to pass judgment on people who do, but it’s definitely not for me.  That’s not to say I’m not interested in … physical things … but not on their own.  I’ve started using the phrase “meaningful touch” in response to that when explaining what I want.  If someone is doing something as a job or for myriad other reasons, it’s not the same as doing something solely because they want to.   I’m not sure if it’s offensive or just realistic that people assume that that’s where the possibilities end for a disabled person, especially someone with a disability as all-encompassing as mine.

I don’t really have a logical justification for what’s inherently wrong with these attitudes, so instead imagine this.  First of all, you’re human and have the same needs, wants, and desires that most people have.  Now, take all the physical things off the list of things you might actually get. Those are hard limits which most likely will never change.  What’s left? Anything intellectual or creative, interactions and connections with other people, and the possibility of finding a deeper connection with someone.  You live within the confines of that short list, which isn’t necessarily as limiting as you would think.

Sound manageable?  Now you think about relationships, which in theory belong on that list, at which point you realize that something’s wrong.  You think about meeting someone and, if they’re the right person, the possibility of things going further. However, all steps to find this person are to no avail.  Add to that the constant bombardment by media about people in various stages of unrealistically amazing relationships, and seeing your friends happy in relationships.  You think to yourself “wait, there are so many ways that I’m limited, but (at least in theory) a relationship is a mental and emotional connection between two people. I can do both of those things!”  Meanwhile in reality, people can very easily see the limitations, but they rarely stop to see the full picture.  Then when you do find someone who takes the time and interest to understand, your short lived optimism in their ideas and advice on how to finally have a chance turns to dismay.  “Well, you could pay someone to have sex with you…”  *Sigh*, as if that would even solve the problem.  And then what, lying there after, disgusted with yourself for compromising your integrity just for that fleeting moment, disappointed and depressed that it came to this?  (By the way, I don’t know from experience.  Just considering it makes me start to feel that way)

My feelings don’t change reality though.  This is a tricky issue because dating and relationships are a very personal thing.  If someone isn’t interested in another person for whatever reason, then it probably won’t work out.  So I don’t want to make it sound like I think you’re a bad person for not wanting to consider a disabled person on that level.  While it’s very discouraging and frustrating that it seems like the majority of people feel that way, I can understand why.  So what’s the solution?  I honestly don’t know.  My plan to raise awareness still stands, but I don’t know how to reach the number of people it would take to make a significant difference. Another goal is to raise societal acceptance of disabled people dating and being in relationships.  I think that if someone is open to the possibility of being involved with a disabled person, they might be discouraged or even pressured not to.  I’m not asking anyone to do something they’re not comfortable with, but at least don’t get in the way of people who are.  On that note, I’ll end with a (slightly modified) quote that says it more eloquently than I can.

“People Who Say It [Should Not] Be Done Should Not Interrupt Those Who Are Doing It”

– Chinese Proverb

An Account of Dating While Disabled

I’m not sure I’ll be able to post any updates today, so until next time, here’s an article I came across about someone who went on an OkCupid date and is disabled.  I’ve never gotten to that point, but it’s good to know that it can happen.  This was just posted yesterday, so she doesn’t say what happened after the date.  Hopefully there will be more (if she’s still interested in him).

Dating While Disabled: A First Hand Account

OkCupid: Days 2 and 3

Not much to report really.  On day 2 I didn’t do much OkCupiding.  Today (day 3) I did Quickmatch for a little while and “liked” another 19 people, so messaging all them should take a while.  Tomorrow I’ll set the same goal of messaging 3 people, so check in tomorrow night!

I’ve also decided that I shouldn’t post as detailed information until a week later.  I’ll post updates anyway, but no specifics until the next week.  Just enough so you know what’s going on and anything else I feel I can add.  I’m debating posting a link to the blog on my profile.  What do you think?