This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/amazing/challenging this. This is Melissa’s story of navigating dating as a person who has Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m Melissa from So About What I Said, and I’m a writer and a college newspaper adviser from Illinois. I turned 30 this year, which, surprisingly, wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be! In my spare time, I like to watch TV, spend time with my family and indulge in one of my favorite activities: shopping.
Can you tell us a bit about your disability?
I was born with Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome, a bone and muscular disorder. I’ve had about 26 surgeries to correct my bones and joints. Despite my disability, I’ve lead a pretty normal life: Graduated from college with a degree in journalism and now work as an adviser for a college newspaper. I enjoy getting young people excited about journalism and writing.
How does your disability affect your dating life?
Of anything in my life, my disability has affected my dating life the most. I’m usually a pretty self-confident person, but when it comes to dating, I’ve always been a bit self-conscious. I often worry that guys won’t be able to see past my disability…
Tell us about your dream guy!
Oh, definitely someone who can make me laugh. Laughter is one of the most important things in life, and any guys with a sense of humor has my heart. I’m also a romantic at heart, so I love guys who are romantic and charming. My family mean the world to me, and you know a guy is a keeper if he’s close with his family.
What are the biggest misconceptions about disability and dating?
Definitely that women with disabilities aren’t interested in dating. Sometimes, people forget that we’re just like them. Maybe they think that we have “more important things to worry about,” but we want love just like anyone else.
Where did you meet the people that you’ve dated?
Confession: I’ve never been on a date or had a boyfriend. I sometimes find myself getting really self-conscious about that, but then remind myself that during the time when most of my peers were first learning how to date – when we were teens – I was going through all my surgeries, so I’m a bit behind my peers now in the dating field. I’m trying to live by the motto that love finds you when you’re not looking. But…it is hard not to want to look sometimes! 🙂
How have the people in your life reacted to your dating life?
Actually, people in my life haven’t ever been very vocal about my dating life. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. Thank goodness, no one has ever said anything offensive. Maybe they didn’t see me making a big deal about my dating life and took their cue from me. I’ve found with my disability that if people don’t know what to say, then they don’t say anything at all. And honestly, I’d rather have them ask than not ask. It’s not like I have some big secret that I don’t want to talk about.
What advice would you give to anybody in a similar situation?
Be honest. Be true to yourself. My parents raised me with the belief that I could do anything, and it’s that sense of independence that has made me reach for so many things in life. Yes, there are obstacles in my way because of my disability, but I don’t let them stop me. I’m grateful for all their encouragement.
Thanks so much for sharing your story, Melissa! Do you guys have any questions?