Dating, Disability and Disclosures
By Leah Bauman-Smith for Mad Hatter Wellness
I recently came across a thread in my Long Covid Support group where people were asking when others disclose that they have a chronic or long-term illness when they start dating or a new relationship. Does having your disability listed on your dating profile deter people from chatting with you? Let’s be honest, if it did deter them, they probably aren’t a good match for someone with a chronic illness or disability. But sometimes you might just want to go on a date or hook up with someone without thinking about your chronic illness or disability.
The people in the support group had a lot of different ideas and opinions. It got me thinking about all the types of things you might disclose while dating; disability, illness, children, STI’s, debt, criminal background, mental health diagnoses and so much more. Some of these topics might be very personal and private for some people, while others are open and feel comfortable sharing.
There is no one answer or solution that will work for everyone. We all have different boundaries, levels of comfort disclosing information and values around dating and starting new relationships of any kind. Some people may need to disclose their disability early on for accessibility reasons. If you are going on a date and use a mobility or communication device, that may need to be discussed early on so you can find an accessible place to meet up.
Options and Considerations:
Here are some possible options, along with additional considerations, that could be helpful for some people who are thinking about disclosures:
- Be honest and open from the start. I have seen a lot of people put information about their disability on their dating apps and social media and talk about it regularly. I have seen a few people who put their STI status on their dating apps as well. Some people like to have everything on the table before going on a date.
- You could wait until you meet in person. Whether this is a first date, a job interview or meeting a new friend, some people are more comfortable waiting until they meet someone in person before sharing personal information.
- For some people it might be different depending on the context. Are you on vacation and just looking to hook up with someone? Are you looking for a long-term partner? Are you looking for a friend to game with? People may have different boundaries depending on the situation.
- Other people like to wait until they have been on a few dates with someone. Disclosing personal information can be painful or hard for some people, and they may not want to do it if they aren’t going to see this person again.
Whatever you choose to share information, make sure it is because you want to. Not because you think you have to or feel pressure to. You get to decide what works best for you.
Here are some additional resources about dating, disability and disclosures:
Dating sites specifically for disabled adults:
Articles about sharing information while dating: