Dating And Blindness


Dating And Blindness

     "Would you go out with me?" I said. Then, thinking it over, I said, "I would be very honored if you would accept a date to go out with me." It still sounded
hollow to me and I don't mean from the acoustics of the kitchen where I was alone, practicing my opening lines.

     Earlier today a group of us were discussing dating and ,specifically, dating when you are blind. We know that dating for the sighted isn't all perfect,
all cut and dried, but when you add in the disability factor for us, it moves on to a different dimension.

     Gloria said, "I tried one of those dating services over this elaborate telephone menu. In my first profile of who I am and what I like, I mentioned my blindness.
I didn’t get a call. So I remade my profile and didn’t divulge it, then when I got a call, I brought it up. This guy seemed interested and said he’d call
back. I’m still waiting."

     Peter said, "Believe it or not, I tried a ‘blind date!’ My cousin set me up. Most of the date was helping her get comfortable with the blindness. I think
she might go out with me again."

     Jackie, who had the most wide ranging experience, said, "Well, yeah, I’ve gone out with several guys, some of them more than once. I’m going with a guy
now. But you know, it’s a mixed bag type of deal for who you find out there. And, you know, some of us just mix better than others and get asked to do
things. If you ask me how I do it. . . well. . . . ", And she told us what she felt was the secret to getting dates. Which, of course, sparked a whole
new round of discussion and debate.

     (Sigh) I know I have to put more thought into this.

e-mail responses to

**1. “I like this new thought provoker. As a sighted lady who has dated a blind individual I feel I have something to contribute. I think it all boils down to two things: 1) A mutual attraction for each other. I have never had a man's blindness stop me from dating him if I was attracted to him. If you
are attracted to someone blindness shouldn't matter. I know many couples who are married with one or both of them blind. 2) Attitude or self concept If you go in to a situation asking for a date with a attitude that the person won't date you because you are blind of course that will be a turn

Mary Reese (California USA)

FROM ME: “I wonder what the percentage of married couples who are, ‘one sighted and one blind’ compared to ‘both blind.’ What do you think?”

**2. “While I have found that dating is somewhat cumbersome, I generally adopt a very simple stance with regards to it. If the person in whom you are interested sees your blindness as a nuisance or hindrance, then he or she is not worth dating to begin with. I have found that it is easier to attract people if you just be yourself. Be humorous, sensitive, and demonstrate a high degree of independence, and you're generally set. Next comes ... paying for dinner.”

Ryan Strunk (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

**3. “I read your post on the NFB Human Services dating listserve. From my
perspective, it was right on target. For me, a 24 year old single man, this has been an important issue.

I've been doing all sorts of things to find dates. I'm subscribed to telephone dating services, internet dating services, tried blind dates, the whole gamut.
I've had a small amount of success. I've gone out with some women, some of them more than once. Some women are willing to work through the blindness and date me. Others are afraid instantly. And the most confusing are those in the middle. By the middle I mean they are willing to be just
"friends," or show a subtle reluctance about going out with me in public. 1. The "no way women"

The "no way women" are those who make a almost instant decision that they are not interested. These women have feelings like "I'd have to take care of him," or "I might have to feed him, change him, burb him," or "his blindness is a turn off... what a shame." These types of women used to
anger me and frustrate me. I've found myself feeling overwhelmingly discouraged and furious because of their opinions. Usually, these are people that I would meet on the on-line dating services. I'd get a message
or e-mail, but once I revealed that I was blind, oops, that was the dropped ball. I usually didn't get much of a response. Some women were honest and expressed that my disability would keep them from pursuing me
romantically. As time as gone on, I've learned to respect such reactions. These reactions hurt, but I know that it doesn't concern me, it is the other person’s difficulty.

2. The "just be friends women” These types of women usually start out with me dating or talking on the
phone. usually dates are difficult to get with them. The bulk of the relationship turns into a friendship in which they are not interested and that they would better enjoy a friendship with me. Usually these are women that I find to be confused and in a state of ambivalence. "Wow, only if he
could see, we could be." These women also might deny that they feel this way and pretends to hate anyone that speaks harshly of the disabled. One girl that I spoke to last week, denies that she has any negative feelings towards me being blind. However, when I ask her out on a friendly
get-together, she always declines. She has gone out with me before, but only, and I say only if others are with us. Those others may include one of my friends or family members. She often talks about how she is unhappy with her life and wishes that she could go out places. Hm, how
contradictory .

3. The "just right women” These are women who will go out with me. Once a blind person finally gets
to go out with someone, then we haven't even begun talking about complications. Now after they go out with you, you have to decide if they are actually good for you. Are they fun? Are they cool with the
blindness? Are they willing to take you home? Do they like you because they feel they couldn't be with someone sighted? Who knows? Sometimes
these women are afraid to talk about my blindness and never want to discuss it. Others of them are fixated on it and look at me like a new discovery.

The question for many blind people is "What are you willing to do? I don't have any problem with educating people, but after some time, enough is enough. I have been in a few relationships that were good. It is a given fact that it is much more difficult to know what to do and how to act in a dating situation.
I've never been a blind woman, but I especially feel the pressure being a blind man.
As a man, I have to be the one who approaches, makes the initiative, and starts the contact. for a blind girl, that is different. Parents always tell their daughters "the right man will come to you." But to a blind man,
those words don't really make much sense. If I were to wait for the "right" woman to approach me, I would have no control over who I dated.

This is something I feel like I could write an entire book about. It is fascinating.
Thanks for posting that letter.

Andre Watson (NFB Human Service list

**4. “In response to your question: I don't honestly think I would have accepted a date from a blind man in college. However in graduate school I met a man in graduate school with RP, I became his reader and we became good friends throughout school. A couple of years later I married him, that was over sixteen years ago. We have two beautiful kids Rachel 15(with RP), and Aaron 10. My husband is a wonderful man, great father and a successful professional.

Life with a blind man has not been easy, but everybody has junk they bring to a marriage. Having children I think is what really complicates things. Diagnosis of my daughter was a horrible experience after genetic counseling had told us we had no more chance than that of the average population for passing RP. She had been twice tested at ages one and five and we were told negative results both times until the third testing last year. So now I am looking at what will dating be like for her as an adult depending on her progression, not to mention hundreds of other concerns. I love my husband and there are so many many wonderful things he has done, from teaching my son to hit a baseball to climbing Pikes Peak and changing his fair share of diapers. He would
do anything for me and I mean anything, but I would be lying to tell you after nearly twenty years of being with him I am resolved with his blindness.
He has light perception only now, he certainly has had to adjust to changing many things over the years. As friends we fell in love, but in a formal dating situation it probably would not have happened. I have to say that all my relationships came out of casual friendship, I was never one to enjoy a set up with someone I didn't know.

Does our marriage really have more barriers than the next couple.. I don't think so, but that doesn't mean I have to like that fact be is blind, that was my biggest barrier.”

Anne Ferlins (USA)

**5. “It has been years since I've last dated. I'm almost 32 and I've been married for seven and a half years. The few dates I had in high school lasted, literally, days or weeks (as soon as the boys' parents found out, they forbade their sons from continuing to date me.) One father told his son that "You're a sucker for a pretty girl. But you're not responsible enough to be with a blind person, and what happens if she thinks you're serious?" (In other words, he couldn't possibly become truly serious about me, given my defect.) To put things in perspective, however, this man developed a hearing loss, and it slowly and gradually was becoming more pronounced at the time I knew his son. When his family hold him to get a hearing aid, he nearly hit the roof, and said that there was no way in hell he was going to act like he was a deaf person. (Oh, yeah, perish the thought. Right up there with the criminally insane - and worse, the lawyers.) I'm a lawyer, btw, so I'm allowed to make comments like that. (grin).

Another boy's parents told him he shouldn't "take advantage". Gee, that never happens to sighted girls, huh? I guess it was OK to take advantage of them because they were going into the relationship with their eyes wide open. On the other hand, I had a ver close friend in junior high school; we became practically like sisters. Her other never liked our friendship, and eventually her discomfort with having me over ("she might get hurt") ruined the friendship. I wasn't invited to a pool party at her house simply because I was blind. (At the time, I was a swimmer on a swim team and won ribbons in the races held). Another friend, a girl, in high school, had a other who was a nurse, who told her "I don't want you spending too much time with her; blind people have serious emotional problems." Huh? And what exactly was *her* problem?
So it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with dating. In college, it was simple to get dates; there were no parents around. I met my husband my last year of college. In high school, I spent an inordinate amount of time flirting with a particular teacher (with whom I am still good friends -- in fact he often relies on me for advice with his own love life!) I think it depends on many, many variables. Sometimes, frankly, poor training and poor social skills are to blame. It's a mixed bag for everybody. That's the nature of the game.”

Christine Faltz (USA)

**6. “It has been said that the problem of blindness is not the lack of sight, but the lack of understanding by the sighted public about blindness. Let m take this one step further. The problem can also lie in the lack of understanding we have about ourselves and our blindness. This would apply
to dating, as well as anything else. Often times, we as blind people throw up our hands in frustration and anger at the sighted community. We like to jump to the conclusion that sighted people don't like to date blind people because we are blind. For many, this may be part of the reason. I once met a woman on a phone dating network and we hit it off beautifully. Our personalities clicked, our values were similar and we had a great time. I was very open about my blindness from the beginning and I encouraged her to
ask questions about it. She seemed comfortable with first. But as our relationship progressed and I kept pressing for her to meet me in person, her insecurities regarding my blindness began to show through. It soon became apparent that we weren't going anywhere, so I ended the
relationship. I felt this was a great loss, for her as well as me. I can safely say that the main factor in the problem was my blindness. However, on reflection, I realize that she may very well have rejected me for any number of other reasons if I'd been sighted. People often have their ideals
where a mate is concerned, and they often pick and choose their mates using these ideals as a guideline. Unfortunately, blindness is a very prominent characteristic, but men have been rejected for many other reasons. Some are too fat. Others are too thin. Some are too dumb and others are too smart.
Sometimes I think that we focus too much on the blindness factor and forget that sighted people notice other things.

This brings me to my next point. Often times, I don't believe it is just our blindness that contributes to our lack of opportunities in dating. The unfortunate truth of it is, too many blind people don't pay enough attention to their personal hygiene and social skills. They often feel a sense of
negativity about themselves because of their blindness. Sighted people can pick up on this. It is a small wonder why a blind person doesn't get a date when he/she sits in public and rocks, puts their fingers in their eyes, uses poor posturing, grabs their crotch and does other things associated with a
negative stereotype of blindness. I consider myself to be a positive, outgoing and reasonably happy person. Often, sighted people have told me they are inspired by how "happy" I am. Some have said that I take my
blindness a lot better than other blind people they've met in the past. While I assure them that I am just a guy who loves life, they bring that unfortunate truth home to me. In my opinion, the bottom line remains
constant. If we, as blind people, take better care of ourselves, both physically and emotionally, we will have more success in the world...whether it may be the blind or sighted world.
As for dating itself, I have done my share. I have dated both blind and sighted women. I can safely say that women are same, whether they are blind or sighted. They have their goals, their expectations and their private issues, just as we men do. Unfortunately, whether blind or sighted, some
have lack of expectation and this is a sad thing. Recently, I have found a person whom I feel is a very good mate for me. She happens to be blind, but if she were sighted and had the same characteristics that she already has, it would make no difference to me. The deeper issues...the ones that go
past superficial things like appearance, vision or economic standing, are the ones that really matter. Some people will never be able to look past these issues. It is my view that they are lesser persons for it and they
will always be trapped in a world of a lack of fulfillment.”

Ryan Osentowski (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

**7. “I have been married for thirty years, so some of my imput is a bit rusty, but like friendships, dating came about for me by being involved with things that interested me. Seeing a blind girl in the context of a dance class, club or church activity allowed others to see me as a person instead of a disability. I was also careful to get to know a potential date in a group setting first before going with them on a date. I knew I would have a hard time walking home from a date and so chose to only date men who were friends first. I am naturally friendly and most times don't mind putting people at their ease, and since I have three younger brothers, I knew a little about getting along with the opposite sex.”

DeAnna Noriega (

**8. “I'd say the main thing with dating and blindness is the same as making friends, finding jobs and going to school. Most people are afraid of blindness because they don't know anyone who is blind, but there are also the few who know people with disabilities and are more outgoing. I'd have to say in my experiences with people, it takes time for people to become more at ease with blindness.”

Lisa (USA)

FROM ME: “How about these last two responses? They suggest that by getting red of the ‘unknown factor’ is the key to getting accepted, getting dates. What do you think?”

**10. “Dating and blindness... *sigh* It was somewhat challenging for me, but I followed my heart and have been married for 8+ years now. The secret - be yourself at all times. The other -whether he/she be blind or fully sighted - needs to learn what type of person you are and put the disability aside.

I had a limited dating life - all but one was visually impaired. My dates were gotten through blindness activities and, when our parents weren't complaining about how much sacrifice they needed to make in order for us to see each other, things were pretty good. I found, however, that the men weren't perfect
fits because while I was encouraged to become more independent in all aspects of my life, they were not. It made for a rather short dating cycle.

The one man I dated who didn't have a disability was a student going to Princeton who came over to the U.S. from Pakistan. I met him on the Internet and we met and seemed to hit it off pretty well. My parents nearly had a fit when they found out where he was from and tried to convince me to dump him
from the start, but I was convinced - with his help, of course - that he'd adjusted to the American way of dating and that he was being truthful and faithful despite our long distance apart. I introduced him to my folks and that escalated things even further. I thought by pampering him with gifts and
such that he'd look past my disability and see me as a capable woman and I'd be treated with respect. Yes, my parents' words as well as my own knowledge of Islamic culture was constantly ringing in my ears and I wanted to find every way to ignore it. Anyway, to make a long story short, he'd convinced me that
my parents were way too over protective and that I needed to stand up for myself and move out. I was blind in more than one way all through this relationship and I almost went with him back up to Princeton. If it hadn't been for a phone call I'd made telling them I was going and a heart-felt
meeting of all of us to try to work things out, I'd have gone and who knows where I'd be today. Now, I was never mistreated by this man and, to a limited degree, he did spur on my own desire to become allot more independent, but his methods of doing so almost alienated my family and friends and I, with the
help of a girlfriend, ended up leaving him for the man who is now my husband. He called me once and went through the motions of trying to get me back, but his heart and mine wasn't in it. I'd heard too many stories from his friends that he wasn't as honest as he seemed and I had another man to distract me.
*smile* I was allot poorer of finance, but allot richer of heart.

My girlfriend set me up on a date with a friend of hers she knew through a community theatre. We went out to a kareoke bar and we seemed to hit it off. By the end of the night let's just say we'd gotten quite close. He was visually impaired, but not as severely as myself. He pestered my girlfriend
for my number for 2 weeks and so she got us together for another kareoke session. I broke up with the former guy the following afternoon and was glad for it. My heart was sure I'd found the right guy, but, of course my parents weren't satisfied...and I can't blame them. What synched the dating deal for
us was a little kitten. My girlfriend and brother had just decided to end their relationship mutually and they'd just gotten 2 kittens - one at her house and one at ours. My mother was tired of hearing it meow all night and day and so my brother decided to give it up for adoption. My girlfriend knew
of someone who'd be able to get the kitten a good home and that someone just happened to be the guy that was interested in me so my parents got to meet him while we got a little closer thanks to the kitten. That was in September of '92. We were married in June of '93 and that time in between was pure terror
with my mother looking for every way she could come up with to make me stop listening to my heart and dump this guy because she didn't think he could "take care of me". Talk about a lack of confidence! Anyway, we got married and have far surpassed their expectations on our capabilities as a disabled
married couple by moving all the way across the US - to and from MN - and have happily settled down in Boston...for now.

All of the men I dated enjoyed music. All of the men enjoyed sports - some more than others - but that commonality was there. All of the men loved animals, especially cats. The only exception was the man from Pakistan. He never seemed to be passionate about any of these things which - if I hadn't
been so blind - I'd have realized as a good sign of our incompatibility, but I
digress. My husband loves baseball and our CD collection - now at 2,880 - is still climbing. He's also introduced me to Dungeons & Dragons which is a great was to meet new people and be who you'd never be in real life or this time and age. We have a 6-year old calico cat named Solia and have been sharing in each
other's interest of astronomy and meteorology. We're both lazy and have picked up each other's worst habits over the years *laugh. We still feel like
newly-weds 8+ years later.'s good to read stories and take what you can from them, but as to the crux of my advice...
1. As Mulan says: "Be true to your heart" - Do what makes you happy, but think
it through for the consequences first.
2. Try not to spend a whole date trying to make the man comfortable with your disability. He needs to see you and not the disability/
3. Having something in common like musical tastes get the conversation
4. Both must be willing to give in the relationship. If he's sighted, he must,
over time, learn to work with your disability. Just don't let it get into the
spotlight. You need to work with him as well. The worst thing to happen is to have your different perspectives cause a gap/wall to form. At the other end of the spectrum, letting him coddle you is o.k. to a point. Showing him/her you are a capable individual is crucial.

I'll keep thinking and read the other responses. If I come up with any other thoughts/ideas, I'll be sure to write in!

Shelley Proulx (Boston, Massachusetts USA)

**11. “I can't speak about the art of dating because I'm not sure myself how to go about it. I met my husband through a newspaper personal ad. In our original correspondence between each other I did not tell him about my disabilities. I was terrified of what he would think. I didn't even give him my phone number because I knew once he called me he would know about my hearing problem, which always led somehow to my vision problem. But finally he came right out and asked me for my phone number. He wanted to meet me. Okay, what should I do? I sent him a letter pretty much revealing all. And I waited. He didn't call. Finally I said this is ridiculous and I picked up the phone and called him. I was peeved that he, who sounded so incredibly wonderful via regular mail, could take offense to my disabilities. But you know what he said to me when he answered. He was relieved. He had received my letter and thought I was kissing him off. We got together and a few years later, ten years ago, we got married.

I think we have to stand up and be confident about our disabilities. We can do anything anyone else can do. That includes in the work force and in relationships. Twenty four years of total shyness got me no where when it came to the opposite sex. Living a lonely life because of being afraid to try is a lot worse than trying and maybe getting burned a few times. I learned that first hand.”

Patricia Hubschman (New York State USA)

**12. “One thing that struck me about this PROVOKER is the issue of disclosure. Like with employment, I don't think there is a right or wrong time to disclose blindness to a potential date or partner. Lots of variables are at play for each particular situation.

I used a very early and up front disclosure strategy regarding my blindness about 3 years ago when I joined a listserve forum about rock & roll. Not only was I immediately and fully accepted by the participants for my knowledge and sincere interest in the topic, but within a year or so, I struck up an off-list friendship with one of the sighted female members of the group. A few months later, we finally met in person at a festival in Las Vegas and our friendship turned to dating. Now we have just returned to Canada from our Las Vegas wedding and California Honeymoon and are about to re-locate in Toronto (she's from NYC and I'm from Thunder Bay, Ontario).

My point is that blind people using the considerable advantages of the internet to meet others and/or find a mate should consider forums, services and discussion groups well beyond those just dealing specifically with blindness or generally with match-making to explore passions and interests which may well be compatible with those of a potential partner. And disclose honestly when you think the time is right. You may be pleasantly surprised with the attitudes of special people toward your blindness. After all, being blind is only one part of a multiple identity. Best of luck to all still looking for Mr. or Ms. Right!”

Rocky Serkowney (Thunder Bay/Toronto, Ontario, Canada

**13. “This is an interesting subject. Dating is like any other part of your life. A blind person has to educate a possible date about blindness just as you would a new friend and co-worker. It is sad but true. In my opinion, the only way to get around that is to date another blind person. There are no easy answers.”

(Dothan, Alabama USA)

FROM ME: “Question- think about when and how to best educate this person you are dating or wish to date?”

**14. “when I was sighted, I was very shy around females. this, of course, resulted in a rather inadequate level of experience.
when I lost my sight and went to a blind rehab center, I went with several blind women, some total and some partially sighted.
one thing we miss as blind people at social settings is that eye contact.
if I’m in a crowded room, I can't tell if there is a female from a distance away making eye contact with me.
I guess the old reliable method of finding someone, striking up a conversation etc. is the way to go.
naturally, they won't know anything about my blindness and will perhaps focus on it, ask questions, etc.
if, after a while, that's all we talk about, then it's probably not going to turn into a relationship.
one thing I have noticed: sometimes, heavier, somewhat less attractive women will approach me. I’ve wondered if they feel more comfortable with me not knowing what they look like and feel safer and less likely to be rejected. just a thought!”

Brian Langlois (Haverhill, Massachusetts USA)

**15. “Here is a phenomena for you. I am a fairly attractive woman. What I find is the majority of men who hit on me are ‘not attractive.’ They may be over weight or handicapped in some way other than blindness, or foreign born or dorkey in some way or just… unappealing to the ‘normal’ type of girl. I ask you, is this some kind of pecking order of dating thing or what?”

Mary P. (USA)

FROM ME: “I too wonder about the dynamic described in the last to responses. I have some ideas, what do you think?”

**16. “I have only had 1 date in my entire life and this a "blind” date that a friend of mine set up for me for my senior prom. I had never met the girl before the prom. She was pretty good looking and she seemed to like me. We had a great time on the date, but after this, I didn't hear from her again. I am not sure if she went with me out of feeling sorry for my blindness or if she really liked me, but I'll never know, because she never called me up for a second date. I never had any dates in college, since I wasn't ever sure on how to deal with my blindness in asking for a date, and I feel that most girls in college might have felt the
same way. I did have a lot of female friends, but never any of these evolved into any dates. I have also tried going on a date at national convention, but I've never been able to get up the nerve to ask someone for a date. I didn't mean to ramble on, but these are my feelings about this subject.”

John TeBockhorst (Davenport, Iowa USA

**17. “I have two friends, we are all blind and women and none of us have ever been asked out. I went to a public school and my two friends went to the state school for the blind. I can understand how they might have not been in an environment where much dating went on and the numbers of kids wasn’t high and there wasn’t much opportunity to meet members of the opposite sex. But I went to a large urban high school and there were hundreds of possibilities for meeting people. But it didn’t happen for me either. In fact, the only time someone showed interest in me was another girl and I’m not oriented that way.

We discuss not being married and we have gotten use to it. We do have a couple of male friends, but none of us are interested in going out together in that way, as boy and girl friends. I guess I would also say that none of us are pretty. Two of us are over weight and one is skinny. What we don’t understand is about not being ask to go out is that we are nice, we think so. But I guess the male, the sighted population couldn’t get past our blind eyes and canes. Well, their loss.”

Me and my Two Friends (Colorado USA)
**18. I always thought I was the only one that had a non-existent
dating life! I vividly remember the high school prom when I bit the bullet and asked seven male classmates if they would consider attending with me. I had even tried to emphasize the "as friends" method. I was rejected seven times. Words will never describe the damage those rejections inflicted. Things did not really change in college. After college, I continued trying and not succeeding. I was only successful when I was introduced to a man in another state, we spoke on the phone a couple times before I wrote the letter with the bombshell. He
wanted to cut everything off right then, but he decided it was nice to talk with someone. Each time he called, I was canning apple sauce, repairing a vacuum cleaner or finishing with giving horseback riding lessons. He decided I wasn't that helpless. We married six months later. Now, comes the difficult part; starting the family.”

Marcia Beare (Martain, Michigan USA)

FROM ME: “Look back through this ladies response and see what it was that turned the tide for her. What is it in your life that may help others to know about you? Does everyone have interesting segments to their lives? Can these interesting segments be developed?”

**19. “This is an interesting question, one that I haven't had to deal with for several years. At first, I was nervous, unsure and afraid that I couldn't find a woman who would be interested in going out with me. Actually, I didn't date (go out on a formal date till I was in college). I didn't really try to attract anyone for a date previously or at that time. Much of my concentration was on succeeding in school and with civic activities. However, I did employ several readers, mostly girls and got to know them better and met many of their friends, both male and female.

I did become involved (active) in civic and other groups though and we
would regularly get together for social and/or project activities. Thinking back, I found that being easy-going, friendly and trying to be
understanding and helpful tended to attract the attention and good-will of others. I did have a relationship with a girl who had been one of my readers and a member of one of the groups that I participated in. I
remember that I was nervous the first time that I asked her to come with me to a formal dance (I had never done it before). It turned out that she was just as nervous, so we talked about it, discovering that we both had similar feelings.

The subject of my inability to see really wasn't an issue most of the
time, other than there were some things that I was not good at, but there were things that she had problems with as well. Actually, I've found, in examining this question and speaking with others, that we all have insecurities, doubts and lesser abilities, but we all have things that we
are skilled or accomplished at. I wonder if others become and remain
nervous and overly concerned with our inability to see when that is our
focus. Perhaps we should focus on our abilities rather than our blindness.”

Doug Hall (Daytona Beach, FL, USA)

**20. “This thought provoker reminds me of how hard we all have to work to educate the public. When the general public is asked what disability they fear most, blindness is almost always at the top of the list.

Given this overwhelming fear of blindness, I believe those of us with visual impairments have a better chance of dating a "temporarily able bodied person" once we know that person well, and their fears are eliminated. Those of us with blindness must work on our confidence and self-esteem so we can make others comfortable in our presence. The goal would be to help others forget about our blindness, and just think of us as people.”

Mary Ellen Ottman (Daytona Beach Florida USA)

FROM ME. “How many times do we hear/find that good skills and confidence are at the bottom of achieving success. How many specific potential problem areas relating to being blind can you come up with?”

**21. “I am a forty-eight year old blind man. My dating/relationships with the opposite sex have evolved over the years and most of it has had to do with me, not that sighted people have somehow changed their attitudes. I dated none in High School and almost none at all until I was twenty. Then I dated blind women because I began making friends with blind people. It was sort of a natural thing to make friends and then date. I was also comfortable around blind people and not particularly around sighted people. When I was around sighted women I focussed all to often on why they wouldn't want to go out with me, why I didn't want to take the risk of asking them out and why I would probably do something to embarrass myself. The few sighted women I went out with in my twenties were associated with the blind community and therefore I had a certain comfort level with them. Eventually, my businesses and other interests drew me away from the blind community and into the broader sighted world. I am now dating and find that I
date both sighted and blind women. I have learned a few things over the years and it is that there are some advantages to blindness in the dating game. To often we look at the disadvantages and if we do, we will make them true.

1. Many very beautiful sighted women like to go out with blind men because we don't undress them with our eyes. They feel valued for who they are as opposed to their breasts.
2. Sighted men and women often wonder, "Do blind people really have an extra sensitive touch?"
3. Sighted women like to go out with a man whose eyes aren't wandering to other women all the time.
4. Women want to be with a man who is confident and sure of himself. That's why you need to be an excellent traveler--able to walk with confidence, stand with pride, walk in a relaxed manner. The initial attraction in the man-woman relationship is visual and you need to be well dressed, confident and proud of who you are. Not in an arrogant way, just comfortable with yourself. But you can't do that easily if you don't practice travel skills until they're automatic. When a car pulls up you should be able to make very educated guesses about what size car it is, how big it is and within a few inches where
the door handle is. When you feel natural and relaxed in your surroundings other people will to.
5. Blindness is an advantage in getting attention drawn to yourself. When I walk in a room everybody looks. I can either use that as an opportunity or let them look away in pity or confusion. I prefer to use it to my advantage. If I walk into a room I look around and smile at everyone--putting them at ease and showing that I'm somebody who knows who he is and what he's doing. That first impression of relaxed confidence sets the tone for everything else including potential relationships with the opposite sex.
6. Hand gestures, head nods, waves and dancing all need to be learned. When somebody tells you "just be natural" they don't know what they are talking about. Sighted people learn what they call "natural" behaviors by watching others. You need a good friend to help you know how people are standing, using hand gestures, sitting in chairs, walking, waving, high-fiving, Etc. It's all visual stuff that you have to learn if you're going to look natural (like everybody else).
7. Being attractive to the opposite sex is kind of like looking for a job. It's harder to do when you need it. You'll find that people are attracted to you when you're not trying. I noticed that when I have a girl friend there are always women taking an interest in me. When I don't have one and am "looking” they must sense it and so it isn't as easy.
8. There are some people that, no matter what you do, will pity you, look at you like you're their child instead of their colleague and never consider you as dating or marriage or job material. That's ok because you aren't looking for them. You can't change everyone, just don't let their attitudes get you down. If you know who you are, what they think may hurt a little but it won't effect the positive outcome of your life. There are enough people out there who can "get it" when it comes to blindness. they are the ones you're looking for and trying to build friendships with.
9. Take time when you meet people to really express your feelings and thoughts. There is so much superficial conversation these days--people really do respond to a person with sincerity and depth. When all is said and done, you really want this person to get to know "you", and that requires sharing yourself and who you really are which often makes you vulnerable. Being vulnerable though is often what is needed if you're going to make true friends. And, making true friends is more important than whether any sexual relationship results. but, if you're being yourself, relationships will truly grow and develop.

Well, my advice and a dollar will, as the saying goes, get you a cup of coffee. Mostly it's attitude. The reason I find it so much fun to meet people now, in my forties, as opposed to my twenties, is that I have grown confident and more self assured. I've learned good skills and I've had positive reinforcing experiences that I suppose only come with time. I could say I wish I knew all this at eighteen but I don't think I would have believed it. I would have told you that blindness was a huge hurdle and that the sighted world just wasn't going to accept me. I was wrong. Having said all of the above, the best relationships are built from friendships, not by going to bars or nightclubs. I own a bar and can assure you that
of the thousands of relationships I see get started in that kind of environment there are virtually none that last or turn into anything meaningful. Despite the best efforts of the political correctness police to stop male-female relationships in the work-place from happening, the most common way to meet your mate is still at work. You get to see one another their being confident and demonstrating skills and aptitudes instead of putting on a dating face. so, my advice---make lots of friends and you'll have lots of dates and you'll have a much better chance of finding someone to share your life with which, after all, is the need and the goal.”

Mike Bullis (Portland, Oregon USA)

FROM ME: “See the above response is in contrast tot the one coming up. With all due respect to both gentlemen, how are these two guys similar and/or different in where they are personally coming from, in their approach to this question/PROVOKER, etc?”

**22. “Let me say at the outset that I have no pearls of wisdom to shed on this topic. As one who is singularly inept in the area of dating I look forward to hearing the experiences and advice of others.

I do have some suggestions that may facilitate a constructive discussion on this matter.

First, let's all remember that we're dealing with a particularly delicate subject, and an added measure of empathy is in order here.

Second, those of you who have been successful in this area need to recognize that simple advice like "You just need to get out and mingle.", "Everybody gets nervous about dating, so just deal with it.", or the ever-popular "Just be yourself." will prove inadequate.

Third, let's none of us try to pretend that our blindness isn't a huge factor in our dating relationships.

I wonder if much scholarly research has been done on blindness and dating?

I have observed that, while lots of blind folks seem to find success in the dating world, others seem to have serious problems with it, and others seem to cope with the situation by partnering exclusively with other blind people. As active as many of us are in the blind community it is inevitable that this social involvement leads to many marriages within the community, and there's nothing wrong with that. Still, when I consider what seems to me to be a significantly large proportion of such relationships as well as the many blind folks who appear to be unattached altogether, I can't help but suspect that dating patterns among blind people are heavily influenced by the presence of barriers to social integration in the larger society.”

Frank Welte (San Carlos, California USA)

**23. “I think, when you come down to it, the issues involved in dating as a blind person are the same as those any blind person faces in day to day life, interacting with the sighted public. There are some of us who are better than others in "fitting in". Many sighted people are still very uncomfortable with blindness. So, it's up to us to educate and show them that we are just like they are, with the exception of blindness. If we get past the first step, making the other person feel comfortable enough with us to ask us out or to accept an invitation from a blind person, then the education is more intense; on a one to one basis.

All of the above was assuming that the other person in the relationship is sighted. The story didn't say so, but that's the impression I received. I think, from my own experience, that dating (and

subsequently marrying) another blind person is a little different. For me, it was a more comfortable situation. We have like interests and issues. So, the obstacle of overcoming blindness is not another issue in the way of getting to know each other.”

Cindy Handel (Willow Street, Pennsylvania USA

**24. “One serious issue related to dating I have dealt with recently is acquaintance rape. Several months ago, a friend of mine, who is visually impaired, was sexually assaulted by someone she knew, who is sighted. When they first met, they had both agreed to be just friends. I don't know for sure if he raped her because she was visually impaired but I do know that he had a previous history of domestic violence, which she did not know until after the fact.
So, the visual impairment might not have made a difference. Unfortunately, he could not be prosecuted because she had waited too long to report the incident and he eventually left town. I am pasting below a poem I wrote, which was inspired by the fact that after this happened, he told her he cared about her
and wanted to continue having a sexual relationship.


If you care about her, as you say you do,
You'll go to the police and you'll confess to them what you did to her,
And you'll tell your attorney that you want to plead guilty because that is what you are,
And you won't recant any information you provide to them without your attorney being present,
If you care about her, which I seriously doubt.

If you care about her, as you say you do,
When the sentence is handed down, you will not appeal it because it is what you deserve,
And you will take your punishment like a man,
If you care about her, which I seriously doubt.

If you care about her, as you say you do,
When you get out of prison, you will register as a sex offender and you will be glad that there are laws out there that protect women like her from men like you,
And if you have trouble finding a job at first, you will take it in stride and be relieved that employers are reluctant to hire men like you in order to protect customers and employees,
If you care about her, which I seriously doubt.

If you care about her, as you say you do,
You will find a program where you can learn to keep your male reproductive organ where it belongs when it is not wanted,
And if you are unsuccessful at this endeavor, then you will not engage in any relationships with women at all because you will never be able to control that urge of yours,
But then again, if you cared about her in the first place, you would never have done to her what you did, now would you?”

Abbie Johnson (Sheridan, Wyoming, USA. )

**25. “First of all, let me say that I've been married for nine years, and I am truly grateful not to be on the dating scene anymore!! As the story mentioned, it's no picnic for sighted people, either, and I wouldn't want to deal with it. I can only hope that my wife outlives me! I was fortunate enough to be friends with her prior to our dating, and at the time, I was only legally blind, and thus did not require too much in the way of alternative techniques or mobility aids. Consequently, not being able to drive was really the only big difference between me and others, so my credibility here may be pretty
thin. Here's my two cents, anyway.

There are a few things that I think would be important for a single blind person who is looking for a mate. First of all, there is the question of getting a date in the first place. I can imagine trying a dating service, and being passed over if you mentioned blindness in your profile. That is just human nature, unfortunately, sad but true. I would say that it is probably better for people to know you as a person first, and then consider blindness as a part of the package. If a potential mate can't get past this first stage, there's not much point in worrying about it, because they're not worth your time anyway.
Second, I would think that safety is a big concern, especially for blind females going out with people they don't know well. That is a pathetic thing to say, but we live in a country where one in five women reports having been abused physically or sexually on a date. If women in general are this vulnerable, it would be a good idea for blind women to be extra careful about whom they date, and maybe take a self-defense class or two. I would want my daughter, blind or sighted, to be aware that dating can be fun, but that there are awful individuals out there who can take advantage of a situation, and to be careful.
Another concern would be the "getting comfortable with blindness” thing. If I had to date tomorrow (God forbid, who'd have me?) I don't think I would go through this. No amount of bravado and joking on my part will put someone at ease; that can only come from a person spending time with a blind individual, and realizing that we are not so different than anyone else. In fact, I would think if someone went overboard to put their date at ease with blindness, it might give the impression that blindness is that person's main characteristic. I hope that is not true for others, and I don't consider it to be true
about me; I'm just plain old David, who has hopes, dreams, frustrations, and joys like everyone, and my list of frustrations is a little different than most.
Finally, I would hope that there aren't people out there who do physical things on a date just because they think they have to because of blindness. That was the feeling I got when I read about Jackie in the story. (Maybe I'm just a dirty old man, but that is what I thought of!) That is not good for a person's self-esteem, and it can only lead to a bad relationship. Of course, sighted people do this, too, so I don't think the issue of pressure to engage in physical stuff is only a blindness issue.

Well, I've rambled on long enough. For the sake of the dating public at large, here's to my remaining happily married for a few more decades.”

David L. Thurmond (Atlanta, Georgia USA)

**26. “Nice one. Since I knew David was blind when we first started dating, I have to say that blindness was not the first consideration. What I wanted to know was, did we have anything in common (we did, as both of us were social workers), was he considerate (yes), was he intelligent (yes), and would we get along. The last was answered later. He liked to make jokes, and I liked to laugh. He was employed, shared my religion, wasn't afraid of marriage and wanted kids. My mother met him when she was in mourning (her father had just died), and told me he was the first man I'd dated. My dad seemed to think that he could somehow "cure" the blindness. He couldn't, but he predicted that someday David would read print. He now has a scanner, so Dad wasn't wrong.

Negatives? Oh god, yes. My landlady kept trying to warn me in the worst way. Finally I flashed my engagement ring, and she shut up. My friends all thought I planned to have a party, keep the gifts, and ditch the guy. What? After all the trouble I went through to get him to notice me in the first place? Were they nuts?”

Lori Stayer (Merrick, New York USA)

**27. “This is definitely a hot button issue for everyone, but especially for those of us who are blind. I know it is for me. I am 38 and still single. I dated several guys in college. At that point, I don't think I even considered the blindness as a factor. Perhaps I was in some denial; I don't know. Anyway, the guys I have dated since then have all been blind or visually impaired. I used to say I would not date someone who was blind. That's pretty ridiculous, isn't it? At the time, I guess I felt I needed to prove something by only dating sighted guys and I lacked the confidence to realize that another blind person and me could manage just fine together, just as I do in my own life. Thank God, this is no longer an issue for me. I guess it's about coming to the point of feeling it is "respectable to be blind."

On another note, it does seem to be more difficult to meet and date men if a person is blind. Sighted men seem to have lots of stereotypes about blind women such as assuming we can't cook, couldn't take care of children and couldn't nurture them in ways that a sighted woman could. I also think finding eligible men to date is difficult because so much of the process of communicating one's interest is visual. I'm not saying there aren't other ways to communicate it, but in our culture, much of attraction between men and women initially is communicated nonverbally. Finally, I think it is important for some of us singles who are blind to realize that there are plenty of sighted people out there who have also not found the right person. Let's face it, if you have a busy career and life, it's easy to let those things take over. If a person's faith is very important, as mine is to me, that can affect how many individuals one would consider dating. In a nutshell, I think we as blind people need to take risks, be ourselves, demonstrate our interest in people and not always assume that the reason someone is not interested in us is because we are blind. It may have nothing to do with blindness.

P.S. Perhaps Thought-provoker should include a "Personals" section. (Just kidding.)”

Kathy McGillivray (Minneapolis, Minnesota USA

FROM ME: “How many of the rest of you also feel that the lack of eye contact and/or lack of visual display is a problem? How do you over come it?”

**28. “Just to let you know I am legally blind. I tell how it
is from day one. Can’t be all that bad I have had
three husbands and it turned out I dumped all the
normal sighted men. They were not what I

Nancy Drummond (RPlist)

**29. “I've been married for 21 years so it's been a while, but I dated some. The experiences were pleasant--platonic, but I wasn't a very serious person in those days either. I had lots of guy friends in our Spanish club and other extra-curricular activities. Girls and guys would do things in groups.

Now, as for our children. This is a different world now. We started talking a little about dating to our daughter when she was around ten. We said that she wouldn't be allowed on single dates, could however do boy/girl youth group activities, etc. She didn't care then, but at least we made the presentation. So it isn't any surprise to her now at 15 that she won't be allowed to single date, but can interact with boys at school of course, and church. We encourage her to have kids over, and make it a point to introduce ourselves to her guy friends. She knows because we told her a long time ago that they have to pass dad's inspection (i.e., enough interaction to have a decent conversation.)

My husband is also blind, dated also.

One thing that came up this summer at a meeting of parents at our NFB convention is: How to help blind teens interact with sighted. Teens
especially do the "eye thing," whereas it seems blind people have to be more in-the-face to relate verbally. For example, sighted teens can eye each other from 30 feet away and make the decision if they want to join the crowd or not. They look out the hotel room window to see who's at the pool, what they're wearing, if they want to go, etc.

Social skills are very important to a blind teen, especially when you need to interact verbally instead of visually. This gets into self-image, self-assertiveness, manners, etc.

This also gets back to the issue of what do you expect of a blind kid?
Hopefully expectations are high. Training has to start when they're little, which will carry through to their teens and young adulthood.

My suggestion is, instead of asking, Would you go out with me, find out what the person likes to do or where they like to go. Or invite that person to some of your favorite activities and let the relationship take its course. That way, you don't have to worry about what to say.”

Judy Jones (NFB Human Services listserv, Tacoma, Washington USA)

**30. “This question is promoting a very unhealthy practice, i.e. marriage based on infatuation. The practice of dating, i.e. trying out spending some time with a person of the opposite sex for whom one feels some sort of romantic inclination, is a very dangerous practice because it seeks to create a bond without a proper foundation. One need only look at our rather high divorce rate in order to verify that our practice of dating just isn't the right way to proceed.

The usual outcome of dating is a break-up. While it may be true that, sooner or later, a man and woman determine that they really should marry one another, it usually takes numerous goes at the dating game for both of them before this goal is realized. In the process, they ultimately learn a lot of bad things, e.g. how to submerge their real feelings in order to handle the severe pain of a repeatedly broken heart, and how to better maintain a deceptively nice façade of themselves. Skills like these, when learned well before marriage, keep the couple from being truly intimate after marriage.

People should only consider marrying if they're already very good friends with and of one another. If this is true, then, blind or not, neither will have any problem expressing his feelings for the other to the other. If mate-seeking is done properly, therefore, then blindness, or any other attribute for that matter, will never be an issue.”

Dave Mielke (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), Web:

**31. “I've really enjoyed reading all of the comments in this first response to
the topic of Dating and blindness, especially responses 21 and 22. More
than one person mentioned the importance of eye contact in social communication and I agree, but it is not absolutely necessary. Sure, it may help in initiating a contact or in nonverbal communication, but it is
one small factor in the total picture of social communication.

I feel that the image we project (our appearance, how we speak, what we say and our behavior) is more crucial than seeing someone's eyes, their gestures or p attractiveness, whatever that is. Blindness is one of many factors that may influence a potential friend or date, but should not be
the most important one. A person who is physically attractive may quickly receive attention, but if he/she is negative, complaining and demanding/critical of others, that original attraction may become
avoidance. Appearance (grooming, dress, stature and image) may help us
in getting our foot in the door, but our attitudes, self-image and subsequent behavior will largely influence whether we achieve our objectives.”

Doug Hall (Daytona Beach, Florida USA

FROM ME: “A small question- So yes, if a blind persons visual ability is so diminished that they can not look into the eyes of another person, what still must the blind person do when engaging in communication with a sighted person?”

**32. “Some of the responses to this thought provoker have mentioned the preference by some blind people for sighted dates and some for blind dates (the real kind, that is). Although I couldn't say if dating
couples where both are blind are very common, there are some very good reasons for a blind person to prefer dates who are also blind. One reason is that often when people are looking for
romance they want someone who is fairly similar to them. For instance, when immigrants move to this country they may try to find someone from their country to fall in love with. Of course, I'm
not implying that all immigrants do this (my father was an exception to that rule), but they often do. As people who are blind, we feel a certain psychological attachment to our blind brothers
and sisters and that attracts them.

My own girlfriend is sighted but she has come to accept my blindness and now regularly reads magazines on blindness. But if I found a blind person who had the same qualities, the same
interests and the same insight as she does, I would seriously consider them. Thanks for an interesting thought provoker.”

Michael Alvarez (Portland, Oregon USA)

FROM ME: “It would be interesting to make a list of the reasons why a blind person would prefer to date another blind person and/or why they would not. What do you think?”

**33. “Interesting.

But what was Jackie's "secret"?”


Jim Stevenson (Palo Alto, California USA)

FROM ME: “I thought that response to be profound. The next logical step. Try it on in that light.”

**34. “I decided that the only way I would date a sighted person seriously again, is if he were willing to learn and communicate with me in Braille. He would not have to be perfect at it, lord knows I am not, but I feel that this business of all fitting into the sighted world and no meeting the other way, is not going to work for me. I feel that if a relationship is going to be a 50/50 thing and I try to meet him on his plane, then he ought to meet me on mine with Braille and at least a willingness to understand and respect the technology that I use. Robert, you certainly don't seem to be bringing up very pertinent issues in terms getting to the real point. Lately, you thoughts seem to dance around issues and just touching on them but not getting to strong points. I am still interested in your provokers, but I would just like you to stir up the pot more. like asking not just about the dating thing, but putting up with us doing the fitting in, but the sighted not meeting us half way; Braille being to hard to learn, is not an accuse I accept.”

Renee Zelickson (Huntsville, Alabama USA)

FROM ME: “Here is what I see and say I do in this forum. First, I just provide a starting point for thought. From their it goes where you all take it. I try to stay out of it, this is not my therapy session, its power comes from peer counseling. Go ahead, tell me what you think?

Note, I just started a new THOUGHT PROVOKER wherein the question is, ‘How much should a sighted spouse learn about blindness, like skills and how much should they be expected and/or allowed to do for us?”

**35. “dating? Never experienced it, myself, when it would have been appropriate--in my teens and twenties. People who are still single at 52 don't do dates any more, so that's not an issue for me. As to why I didn't date? I think that's basically been covered by those who have responded already--fear of being rejected, fear that I wouldn't be able to handle myself in a strange situation, fear of what my family would think, and lack of confidence in my own self-worth. I believe somebody stated that marriage or long-term relationships with another person just cannot come from dating. I believe that one must look at the purpose for dating. Is it just for socializing? Is dating a way to choose a life-long mate? Or is it simply to have something to do--somewhere to go and not desiring to be alone? I am only guessing, here, but I think way too much emphasis is placed on dating as "shopping" for a mate. Although a date with someone may come just as easily through a group activity through your religious circles or through your associations with organizations libraries, or theater, (whatever you involve yourself in for pleasure or just because of interest), When you choose to accompany another outside this particular group, you have to realize your motives. Am I assessing this person for a mate? Do I really want to know this person better? If one considers a "date" in it's truest since, I had a "date" with my Rabbi last week--we had lunch, it was an appointed time, it served the purpose of ironing out some issues, making plans, etc. This "date" had nothing to do with "finding" an appropriate mate, but did serve to bring the Rabbi and I to a greater understanding of one another.

I realize that some of you might feel that I am not too old to date, and some would suggest dating services, but although I am lonely, I feel that dating someone in this way would be inappropriate for me. I find it easier to get involved with people through groups and get to know people through participating in various activities and if an interest in pursuing a relationship with an individual arises, then doing things together is appropriate. Dating cannot, though, sustain a long-term relationship, and I don't believe it can be a good way to find a mate!”

Phyllis Stevens (Johnson City, USA

**36. Several responses mentioned having common interests. I have been discovering over the past few weeks that there is no better place for this than college. Being surrounded by women who share my passion for music, I find, helps to break some of the ice surrounding compatibility. Also of interest to me was the mentioning of blindness as a "big bombshell." I would personally have to disagree with this statement, as I have found that
if you make a big deal of it yourself, others will as well see it as something major. At eighteen years of age, I hardly consider myself an authority on the subject, but through my experience, I have found that if you adopt a nonchalant approach to your blindness, acting as though it is the least of your concerns, others will not be so reluctant to share their time with you. Finally, Mr. Newman raised a good question with regard to the number of marriages in which both members are blind, as opposed to marriages in which only one of the spouses is affected with the particular characteristic. When I have found myself speaking to members of the sighted population regarding past
girlfriends, I am constantly asked, "oh, was she blind too?" To add the proverbial cherry of knowledge to this sundae of experience, I myself have found that the majority of blind persons I have seen involved in marriage have been wedded to another blind individual. While I do not say that my experience is all-inclusive, I do believe that statistically, it is very close to the national average.”

Ryan Strunk (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

FROM ME: “Does anyone out there/here know what the percentage is of the blind marrying the blind?”

**37. “This has been discussed many times with my fellow blind friends. Most of the reactions that I get, being a single low visioned woman, is this: The blind men and women really want a sighted partner. Besides love, the freedom of transportation is the number one factor. When I have talked with the sighted men and women, their response seemed to be a fear of having to take care of someone. So I have come to the conclusion that neither the blind or sighted want me! So I have settled for living alone.”

Ann (Anderson, Missouri USA).

**38. “Here is my take. I have dated a few sighted but mostly blind or visually impaired men. The sighted men that I met did not really comment much on my vision and since I was able to see enough to function pretty normally in their eyes and did not make an issue of it they never said much either. There was this invisible barrier between us though that I just could not break through. They were all nice and considerate and polite but somehow I always felt they thought they should be responsible for me and that bugged the hell out of me. One of the big issues was that a lot of things sighted people do on dates that they could not do with me. One loved to play racquetball, (nope that was out), another liked to play tennis. So that kind of limited what we could do. None of them liked the movies that I liked and eating out or going to the zoo gets old too.
I dated blind men, most of whom were blind all there lives but there was a barrier there too. Many of them were educated at the school for the blind and some had less than acceptable table manners, or ways of dress for me. I grew up in the sighted world and most of my interaction was with sighted people so there were some behaviors that I could not handle for some time.

I finally ended up dating blind guys who had seen at one time. My last
three boyfriends have all had RP or other forms of degenerative diseases
of the eye. They grew up in the sighted world so we sort of came from the same place but they understood first hand not being able to play
tennis or things that they may have once did. With me they did not feel bad they could not do these things.

Before anyone jumps on me I am not saying that all those educated at
schools for the blind are socially inept. This simply is not true but
yours truly here just tended to attract the strange ones.”

Robyn Wallen (Saint Louis, Missouri

FROM ME: “Read back through the last three responses and se if you too get the notion that people fit that old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.” And if this is a true generalization, does it matter? Are we clear on the why of it? “

**39. “I was surprised to see such a black & white discussion of dating and blindness: either be yourself and let the blindness take a side seat or educate the partner until the blindness takes a center seat. I think there are aspects of these two views that can make a pleasant and successful combination, but above all, don't be someone you're not.

Dating should not be the motivation to improving/developing daily living skills/mobility skills, etc. Confidence must be truly believed internally, not presented as a marketing display to "show the person I am capable". I learned this lesson the hard way as I described in my relationship with the Pakistani man. It was my self-imposed burden that proved to be overwhelming. What's interesting is that upon hindsight, he wasn't concerned about my blindness but that I was supposed to be a subservient woman. It was what he was taught in his upbringing. I knew this, but thought my disability would prove to make me even less desirable so I took on this burden of proof without considering my needs and wants. I was only concerned about "impressing" him. Believe me, a very poor decision on my part.

Education, too, does have its place. When the partner does ask about the disability, talking about it in small doses is good. Their inquiries are not a cue for a full-on lecture. Both partners will learn about each other's abilities and disabilities as the dating process continues. John and I are both disabled and as we both knew our relationship was growing serious, it was me who started voicing my concerns about how I as a legally blind woman would be able to handle the responsibilities of caring for a home and family. He expressed the very same concerns and with allot of trial, yelling, frustration, and errors over the first year or so, we found a pretty comfortable pattern of living. What's funny is that it wasn't our blindness that caused the
complications. It was what our mothers' had taught us. While at home, both of us were subject to constant nagging about cleaning, etc. When asked to take out the trash, it was expected that we interrupt what we were doing and do it because Mom decided it was time to clean. She made chores a terrible torture and both of us felt that it was our mothers' intent to make everyone know it. He'd gotten past that stage of his mom's influence, but I hadn't. No blindness got involved there.

Perhaps friendships are a good starting place for future dating potentials. Friends give a great deal and, for the most part, have gotten past the "are we comfortable with the disability" stage of the relationship. The hearts and actions can then come forth and determine fate's course. I'd agree that going to bars doesn't promote a fruitful relationship opportunity. It is my opinion that when people drink, they are trying to put aside their own insecurities. I haven't met a blind person yet who didn't seem to favor drinking as a dating potential setting, except for my husband. But, that is a whole different story I'd prefer to leave untold. He didn't drink and when I tried to wallow in alcohol on one of our dates, he took me aside and we worked through my trials and tribulations and afterwards, the date was awesome! I knew after that night that he was the right match because he took the time to help me work through my problems instead of getting up and walking out on me.

When we are so concerned about making ourselves look good, act good, etc., we forget the communication of the heart that occurs at the same time - or the lack of communication - as so often happens. It may seem sappy and too romantic for many, but until you feel that connection yourself, you will not completely understand the absolute wonder of such a connection to another - no matter who they are or what differences in ability they have. I can close my eyes to this day and "see" the chain of love that bind us together.

Your heart and instincts, if properly consulted, will also help to prevent date rape. Overly aggressive behavior is one good sign, but equally as notable is the overly casual behavior. I knew a woman who's drink was tampered with and she found herself in a drug-induced haze and being sexually taken advantage of. Yet another reason not to go to a bar for dating potential. My first date with my husband was walking with him for a Diabetes Walk-a-thon in CT. We had tons of time to talk and learn about each other. At the end of the race, I twisted my ankle and he took care of me at his dad's house that afternoon while I got a good taste of his dad's cooking. *laugh* He took me out to a fancy restaurant for me 21st birthday and I was a nervous wreck, but once we got together, the nerves seemed to disappear and even though I got steak juice on my blouse, he ended up tipping over his glass of whine and so we both ended up going home and soaking our clothes.

All right, I'm rambling and it seems there is no point to it. Dating can be both fun and dangerous, but we only live once. To let something like our lack of sight to darken our doorstep does our limited time on this Earth a great disservice. As they say, live your life to its fullest. I consider my disability to be a gift as it provides me a unique perspective on living.

Don't worry, everyone, there's a place in our complex living scheme for you - whether it be with our without a mate.”

Shelley (Brighton, Massachusetts USA

**40. “I have read through several of these responses. One item that really drew my attention was number 6. I have been told by my parents that they spanked me whenever I started any of these "blindisms". Eventually, they gave me other things to do with my hands to stop the rocking. I never developed the habits. Another thing I have done is to join Toast Masters. This group is open to evaluating my public presentations both speaking and nonverbal communication.
I sincerely wish I had had this opportunity before marriage. It may have made my dating life somewhat more interesting. Even though my husband is sighted, he usually does not complain about my appearance. I still worry about the impression I make on others.”

Marcia Beare (Martain, Michigan USA)

“Oops! I forgot to give my last thought! Has anyone noticed how hard it is to find a romance novel where the hero or heroine is totally blind? The closest I have found is one wearing becoming glasses. Could this be making any kind of a statement? Come to think of it, I don't usually see the hero in a wheelchair, deaf or a serious speech impairment. He may have a limp from a war injury or a scar in a not so noticeable place. I wish more novel characters were blind or something!”

**41. “An interesting thought provoker. It has been several years since I have dated, exactly 10 years as my wedding anniversary is coming up this October 12th. However, the question of dating is no different for someone who is blind as it is for someone who is not blind. As I remember my dating experiences, there needs to be a mutual attraction between the people looking to get involved in the date, not necessarily physical attraction, but at least some type of human experience that attracts the two people together. My wife, is not blind, and we met in the White Plains Metro North train station 11 years ago. For many years, she felt that she
had instigated our mutual conversation, but in actuality, it was me that instigated the conversation or means of starting the conversation. I guess the one thing that I can suggest for others is to just be yourself, trying to be something your not is the big of a turn off for people. I realize that not everybody is as outgoing as myself or others, but the thing that does draw people together is a feeling of confidence in a situation. My suggestion would not worry about talking or speaking to blindness related issues, but talk to and speak about things that interest you as a person, sports, weather, travel, politics, etc. Once people understand your
confidence in being able to communicate they will be able to understand any of the blindness related issues you have. And if they don't, then that’s a real good sign that they are not worth your time or effort.”

Jeffrey Pledger (Burtonsville, Maryland USA

**42. “I remember being a sighted teen-ager and young adult. I was very shy, and consequently, inept in the dating department. Believe it or not, that didn't change very much after I became blind. I have always had many female friends, who tended to think of me as one of the girls. When they would talk about the things that men do, I would always point out "I'm not like that" to which the response was invariably "Well, we really don't think of you as a think like a woman" or something along that line. I was never sure whether to take that as a compliment or an insult. On the rare occasions that I did date, it tended to be women who were friends first, and in most cases, remained friends afterward. My wife and I were friends for about two years before we began to date...In fact, I first met her when she was dating a good friend of mine (Who remains a good friend of us both). The point of my rambling is pretty much the same as several others have said--it helps to be friends first and if romance is
meant to be, it will develop naturally. This is true for the sighted as well as the blind.”

David Bundy (West Columbia, South Carolina USA

**43. “There is a key to dating that should be mentioned here. I think that this key will help anyone. Dating should be at different levels. The first level is the most fun.

DATE ANYONE!! Singles, married, divorced, with kids, without kids, fat, short, sighted, non-sighted, hearing, or deaf, whoever you wish to have a friendship with. And, have fun on these dates. No romantics at all! if you hold to no kissing on the first date, or two, neither one of you will get false hopes, and you have a more solid friendship.

The next level is when you are interested in someone who you wish to be more than just a friend. Here, you should still date (on first level basis) the friends you have made along the way. Here, you should have gotten past the initial feelings about blindness, now with your dating other people, you can get past jealousy.

During dating, a couple should be allowed to date other people. If one gets jealous, that shows a lack of trust. Even though I am married now, I trust my wife to date (friendship date) other guys. I KNOW my wife loves me, and I trust that love. I encouraged my wife to date other guys while we were dating.
This would allow us to make more solid decisions about each other. If she came back to me, then I knew that she would stay! Jealousy means lack of trust in a relationship and can be unhealthy.

Even during engagement to be married, go out with other friends (with AND without each other). Getting to know one another also involves experiencing reactions in public as well as private. Going out with your friends allows you to not neglect others in your life, as well as remembering who you are.

Having the freedom to have fun with a lot of people, you forget about issues and have the time of your life. Make them chase you! If they see your having fun, outgoing, have a lot of friends, this will make a very healthy impression on prospective mates.

Do not "hunt" for a mate, live life and enjoy those around you! Someone will notice you!

Gary Crane (Bellevue, Nebraska USA)

**44. “In your last up date. There was a point, brought up, on the word, " Dating".
I would kind, to agree with this. I am, a single 54 year old male. With 3 sons. Back track, a bit. Married, while sighted, yet as the blindness, continued, it played a part of the divorce. I have now, been single for 12 years. I spent the majority of the first part, in raising my children. That being divorced,
but equal in raising. In my own opinion, devoted, in raising the children, before, getting involved, in finding another person, to share in my life. Then, when it came time to find, a person, I was nervous and scared of going back out. Even, though, having a job, high self esteem and capable of taking
care of myself. Along, in taking care of the house and etc. I found it nerve racking.
Now, about dating: in one respect, I do that in meeting people, going out for dinner, social functions, or gaining new friends. To which, I have three kindred Friends. We have a good time, talk about business, or just a social night out. For myself, I would look at a sighted person or a blind person. Yet, for myself. It is a person, who has good communication skills, understanding, compassion
and the willingness to work through different issues. I miss, the partnership, yet, my family ( Mom, Brothers and sisters and my sons. )says, " Gene/Dad, you've lived to long by yourself. To take someone into your home. " That could be the case. As, I have an active social life, get out and travel, working and enjoy the peace and quiet, when getting home. Along, with knowing where everything is in the house! If any single, parents know, with children, things are not the same, twice. Yet, that is no longer
the issue, as my boys are all grown up. The other thing, I've noticed, in the getting to know a person, in a relationship. Is the fact, ( for this, person ) is children. That, before, the last
one son, left the nest, " Oh you have children. " Yet, a man is suppose to be understanding of a female; with children. Again, I am ready to adopt my ( I think ) my last youth. Would like to find a person; yet, at this point, in my life, I have resolved, to pretty much being single. That, is not to say, that a person, would be nice. Especially, to share, pain, holidays, social functions and cuddle and snuggle up on a cold
night ... As, my family, noted, Bachelor Gene, too long!
Again, if it were to happen. It would have to be on not so much what the person looks like. Instead, behavior, communication, being able to take care
of themselves, and the willingness to openly willing to share their feelings...
Thanks, for myself in the wandering thoughts!”

Gene Stone (Portland, Maine USA)

**45. “I have dated blind men only... I am a fairly intelligent person, in her
sophomore year of college. However, all the guys here see me as a sister figure, not a girlfriend figure. However, blind guys see me differently. They see me for who I am. It took a long time to find a blind guy who has the relatively same tastes as I, who is down to earth, practical, etc, but
now that I have found him, all the woes of dating seem worth it.”

Amber Wallenstein (USA)

**46. “Using dating services is like the bottom of the pit even for sighted people.
My most successful dating experiences have been with women I've gotten to
know first. Some are shallow and would never date a blind person but that is
there problem. The only real problem I see with dating as a blind person is
that a lot is said in body language when people first get to know each
I dated a woman I met over the internet once. That was a experience. You
just don't get to know someone on here the way you do in real life.”

My Web Site

**47. “Charlie wrote:
‘Using dating services is like the bottom of the pit even for sighted people.’

Yes, I'd always been reluctant to try such services because I was worried
about the people in them. Many of them seem to be desperate.

I dated a woman I met over the internet once. That was a experience. You
just don't get to know someone on here the way you do in real life.
Actually I have to disagree with this. While I agreed that you need to be
careful when meeting such people it can happen.

I met Stan (we marry in November) through the Internet. We spent the first
9 months speaking purely on-line (Internet relay Chat) and by telephone.
In some ways it was good because we didn't have to worry about body
language etc. When we did meet it was like we already knew each other.
Now 2 years later we are getting married.”

Stephanie Franklin

FROM ME: “Who sets the limits on how big of a risk we take?”

**48. I'm glad to hear that you took 2 years to get to know each other. A friend
of mine met his wife over this and is getting a divorce now 2 years later.
Turned out they didn't have much in common when it come to the real world.”

Charlie (My Web Site

**49. “Well, I'll agree; I was on 4 different singles lists for blind/disabled
people. Never felt brave enough to place a personals; that is not how I met
Curt. We actually belonged to several other lists-=-Guide dog and technology
lists. We wrote to each other asking questions, etc. that initially had
nothing to Do with our feelings for each other, but subtly--I don't think
either of us was aware of it--our conversations became deeper and more

Darla J. Dahl CRC

**50. “hi there, oh yes, that had happened to me also I had almost fallen in love
with people on the net. you are so right about being careful. I didn't
know that there were any blind singles lists out here. can you give me
some info on these? thanks allot.”

Charles (Blindfam)

**51. “Ah, an interesting subject! Yesterday in the singles chat on the
for-the-people site, we discussed meeting and dating people from the net.
My feeling is much the same as Steph's. You can meet a person online or
offline who isn't what he/she represents him/herself to be. Honesty can be
covered up well in to a relationship online but not quite as well in real
life although it can and surely has happened. Honestly, if anybody were
going to be burned out with singles lists and dating people online, it
probably should be me, but you know what? Love waits. There's no hurry
and I'd rather be with nobody than the wrong person. Having learned this
the hard way, I can tell you that lots of bad experiences can happen online
and offline. We can't be too cautious these days, but we can't build walls
so thick and so high that nobody can penetrate them either.

I have met and made several long-term online friends. I have also gotten
myself in way big trouble. Just recently I finally finished working with a
company to try to resolve a credit card fraud problem perpetrated against my
Ex husband through me and somebody I had met online. Ouch! And then there
is the dishonesty that springs forth when people don't declare they are
married. Ah, now online or offline that can be a real downer for somebody
who wants to find a friend/companion/lover. So take heart! Enjoy the
singles lists for what they are, and the singles chats, and even writing on
lists like this. You never know where your Prince Charming or Princess
Wonderful is. And you don't necessarily have to be looking for a life
partner to enjoy a singles list or a singles chat. I hate it when it looks
like a singles bar or a meat market. Just admire the merchandise and
enjoy the fun. Ah, and one more thing. Seize the moment! Be yourself!
People will gravitate to you and stick with you if you are.

Oops, enough now. I should leave the preaching to the church. Hahahahaha.”

April Reisinger (Blindfam)

**52. “My story is that I once had sight and was asked out on a regular basis. Now that I am nearly sightless I receive no calls. I realize this may be a temporary state of affairs. I am beginning in a rehabilitation program in Louisiana and I am told and I believe I have seen that a difference will come in how I feel and will eventually appear to others. I am sure I have to regain much of my sex appeal by regaining much of my self-confidence and poise. I have high hopes. I believe attitude is more than have the battle.”

Maryland (Louisiana USA)

**53. “Dating is an extremely stressful situation for anyone, well, almost anyone. Some people excel at it, either because they've had a lot of practice, or because they don't take it too seriously, and in that case, it can be a lot of fun! Catching the eye of the person I want to get to know better has never been a hard thing for me to do, but to tell you the truth, I don't know how I would go about it if the person were blind. I would probably feel insulted that the person was not responding to my "come hither" looks I was trying to send, and I'd decide that he was not interested in me and I would move on. Too bad, so sad, what a great time you could have had! So I wonder, just how does a blind person flirt? How is a blind person attracted to a potential mate in the first place? A sexy voice? My eighty-five year old great aunt has a voice that could make millions in the phone sex business, but I wouldn't want to date her. I don't even like to see her in summer clothes! Do you depend on others to tell you if someone is good looking or not, or does that not
even matter? They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what if the beholder has no eyes? It's hard for a sighted person to imagine, because so much of what we do and how we do it involves seeing what we are doing while we are doing it. Also, sighted people judge others by how they look, and
although this is not necessarily fair, it is the way it is. Check out any middle school or high's all about how the kids look, what they are wearing, how their hair is cut and colored, or multi-colored in some cases. It defines who they are, and how they want the world to see them. Some
kids learn this lesson very early in life, and those are the ones who are always well dressed and neatly groomed, no matter what color they are or how much money their parents have. Those are the children who become known as the "popular" kids, and they grow up with poise and self-confidence, even
though they may not be considered beautiful or even attractive. Unfortunately, children are cruel to each other and the kids who get labeled "dork" or "freak" or worse sometimes grow into the names they've been called, although some blossom later in life. It's the way it is, and probably one of the reasons
the world is so messed up right now. So maybe blind people have an advantage when it comes to meeting new people because they are not able to prejudge a prospective boyfriend or girlfriend or even just plain friend, based on how they look. Now that I think about it, I've heard stories of people meeting
on the internet and corresponding and eventually falling in love, and finally facing each other after they are already smitten. By then, they don't care what the other looks like, they are too much in love with the personality, and everything else that the other person stands for. I must say that I am
a true believer in love, and feel that there is someone out there for everyone, you just have to have faith that you will meet your soulmate before your time is up, and be willing to give people a chance. You have to believe in yourself, and love yourself no matter how many faults you may think you have. If you embrace your own ineptitude’s, you'll find it harder to uncover them in others, and you never know if the next person you meet is Mr. or Mrs. Right. The person who waits on your table the next time you're in a restaurant, the politician who is knocking on your door to introduce himself to get your vote, the police officer who routinely cruises down your street, the sales clerk on the phone who wants you to switch your long distance carrier.......all potential perfect mates, possible spouse material. So stop reading this and get up from that desk, get away from that computer. Go outside! It's time
to find Mr. or Mrs. Right-around-the-! corner. Happy Hunting!!!”

Ima Wifenow (Naples, Florida USA)

**54. “I fully believe that dating is a major concern for singles. I remember I certainly did enough worrying about the subject. I am wondering if there can be a fulfilling life while single? I had a wonderful time as a 4H leader, working fulltime, developing my own show rabbits etc. I loved the thought of dating, but I didn't set aside my life because the man I wanted did not want me. We are still close friends, and I did manage to get married. Is the state of being single a problem? I know many sighted people who are successful singles. When I think back, I believe the time I felt the worst about being dateless was as a teenager. After college, I built a life I found satisfying.”

Marcia Beare (Martin, Michigan USA”

**55. “Interesting thought provoker. It took me a while to respond. I am on my second marriage. I am totally blind. My first wife was sighted. that marriage lasted five years. WE had a daughter, whom I have had custody of since she was four-years-old. My second wife is visually impaired. We have been married for 9 years. WE have four children, five including my daughter from the previous marriage. Prior to my getting married the first time I dated mostly blind women. I'm not sure, for me, blind or sighted makes a difference. I was just in a social setting with more blind people. I had plenty of sighted women friends in school and professional settings. I will say though that I have seen many blind people marry sighted people for the derivability of that relationship. I have heard blind people say, I wouldn't marry another blind person because we wouldn't be able to get around without a car. It's never stopped me. My wife and I have every day ups and downs but blindness never is the problem. We understand each others limitations and know how to get around those limitations. My first wife had a lot of other issues. When we split up she told our friends and her family that blindness was the issue. I think it was a good excuse for her, but it wasn't the issue.
I think dating is tough sighted or blind. You have to get out to meet people. They are not going to come to you. Meeting people in the work place, to and from the work place, schools or social gatherings. If you don't go out, that's a missed opportunity.”

Tom Rash (Yucaipa, California USA)

FROM ME: “What about the notion of a person who seeks a mate having one or more specific criteria in mind like something beyond looks or personality? Is this something that only the blind would do?”

**56. “Since having lost my sight 15 years ago, most of my past relationships have been with blind or visually impaired. These men were confident, had been professionals and one had been a lead singer in a rock band. The fact he was in a rock band was not the main attraction, in fact when I first met him he had been married and we became friends later after he divorced. I was attracted to these men by their humor or their gestures of kindness. Many of the men like myself used a guide dog so we always had that in common. It is interesting the few sighted casual relationships were with men, who came across of being insecure, perhaps they were intimidated with my independence and mobility as one who told me "you are so damned independent." I do not know what they were expecting some poor damsel in distress! If I ever do enter into a serious relationship where the person is sighted I would not want it to interfere with my guide dog and her work as I have seen happen in other sighted/non sighted relationships! For myself I think it is easier to have a relationship with someone who is not sighted as to someone who is sighted. as I have met some blind/visually impaired who are fine, caring, good looking, wealthy ones just not the one for me…”

Chris Ross (Winnipeg, Canada)

**57. “I've been married for 8 years and lived with my husband about 5 years before we tied the knot. I met him as a blind date. A friend of mine set us up. He did know about my blindness in advance. He seemed very comfortable with it from the beginning. I found out that his grandfather was blind during the last few years of his life.

There were times when I did have a lot of difficulty getting dates and the dates I got were with people who I definitely didn't want to go out
with. I've also overheard guys say that they'd date me if I wasn't blind.

I think it's important to have really good social skills. These good
skills might make a person more comfortable with your blindness. Then
again, they may not. It's a really tough topic. If someone doesn't want to go out with you because you're blind, then they're probably not someone you'd want to go out with anyway.”

Janet Ingber (Queens, New York USA)

**58 After reading all of the responses, I have to analyze why and how dating has worked for some and not for others.
I would like to think that it is all attitude.
I do not think so. I think that much of it is attitude and a lack of desperation. However, some of it is an assimilation question.
How much are we going to assimilate into the sighted culture? And, do we loose some of our individual "Culture" if you will by assimilation? The example of body language is a perfect example.
Let's face it, body language does not benefit our blind counterpart. The main purpose of this learned behavior is to make us "look" more sighted. Of course, some of this knowledge could be helpful when wondering what is going on around us. But, most of this learning is to appear more "normal.” Thereby, becoming more accepted.
I am not saying the body language is not helpful. It certainly is, It inadvertently makes you seem more capable. It makes no sense. If one can wave, nod and use hand gestures at the appropriate time, they are more capable of completing an important task or communicate in a
Relationship. Nonetheless, the majority thinks this way and one must decide how much of this they are willing to learn and adhere to.
I must admit that I have attempted to learn quite a bit of visual nonverbal language. Even after you learn it, you have to do this without feeling awkward and stiff.
Are we or should we be willing to do this to obtain more friendships and/or possible dating relationships?

Are people more comfortable with the media image of blind people, or are they more comfortable with a blind person who acts "sighted."
Media portrayal is also very questionable. The media helps people to know what to expect on a date.
And, let's be honest, blind people have not been seen as very independent or capable.
They have been depicted as fragile, naive and simple in nature.
Blind people have been portrayed as being in a different world. they have not been seen volunteering at the local homeless shelter. When blind people volunteer, they do so in specifically blind organizations and such. Now, I will admit that this stereotype is being challenged.
And, to be frank, I think that it holds more for blind women , as opposed to blind men.
But, to some degree, women are already inundated with this stereotype.

I also think that some people wonder about sex. They just do not know how a sexual relationship will work with a blind person.
Most media portrayals describe the blind as falling in love and having their first sex experience.
This sets up a teaching experience for the non-blind individual.

Those who have had most of their experiences at a state facility may not have had the experience of the ability to develop good social skills in terms of dating, as well as understood or been a part of dating trends.

I think that it somewhat goes back to expectations of both parties, the sighted and the blind. when many adults talk of the blind being successful, they do not mention marriage.
they mention college, work, and surviving as a citizen. We must remember that in some families, sterilization of the blind family member is still considered an option worth discussing.

Maybe we should also ask, What are we willing to do to secure a relationship? Do some blind people date down for sight?
Do some people date down for fear of being lonely?
Do blind people (in general) really seem more burdensome to their sighted counterparts?
And, if so, is it love or co-dependence that puts some together?
Do you think that an abnormally high percent of blind people settle for
either relationships that are not particularly fulfilling or mates that are not compatible? I will honestly say that I know a large amount of blind people that sacrifice their emotional happiness because they have been alone most of their lives in terms of friends and when they find one special person, will stay with them due to this fear.
Please, do not misunderstand my statements. I know that there are sighted people who do this as well.
I just wonder if there is not a high proportion of blind people who feel this way. And, in many dating and marriage studies, there are trends of minorities who do these things.
If the concept of a privileged class also applies to the blind and sighted, then, there is another more essential reason for blind people to desire sighted dates.”

Jan Wright (USA)

**59. “I have been reading the answers and would like to make some comments:
I believe that blind people are like sighted people who should married the one you love and the one who loves you. Let's be realistic, I mean no buddy wants to married a person who always wants help. No body would date some buddy who does not have good social manners, this is sighted or blind.
No buddy would like to date some buddy who does not dress properly or is not clean. And, if they do, that is a different story. I read once that the divorce rate among blind people is higher then those who are sighted. They were blaming the disability and poor understanding of blindness. I think that this has to deal with the fact that blind people have a higher unemployment rate in comparison with those who are sighted. If you take a look in general what causes more divorces or disagreement with any couple. It has to deal with money. And, of course, many blind people, who are unemployed or underemployed, do not have enough money. Therefore, chances are that they have a higher possibility to get divorce.
Why do I talk about all of these. I believe that it is a matter of attitude, like somebody already mention, but also a matter of having the skills of blindness. The skills which make us be aware of what is around us. That is, how do some people who we care for, or we are interested on look like. Let's face it. this world is made out of things you can see and how you look like. By having or mastering the skills of blindness, any blind person can know how somebody else looks like. Now, you may ask, how do you know how somebody looks in a party and you don't know anybody enough to ask how do people look like? Well, you just treat that person as a person. I mean, as a friend or aquentence . If you have the feeling or sensation that you want some kind of romantic relationship, you fine a way to know how that person looks like later on your own. If you fine out that you don't care about appearance. You don't have to worry about anything.
But I am talking about things in general. If a blind person does not comb his or her hair, does not take showers, does not dress properly, does not know how to eat or drink, does not know how to care an have an intelligent conversation, etc; chances are that no buddy will look at them and be considered a partner. However, this has nothing to do with the fact that some buddy is blind, but by the fact that you don’t look good. How does a blind person learn all of these techniques. By getting the right training and having the right attitude toward blindness. How do we get jobs, so finances will not be an issue, by getting the right training and having the right attitude. How do you understand all of this and don't think that I am fooling you, by joining a consumer organization which has successful blind people and ask them about it. Check it out for your self. This is a fact and not just a theory. Every day the world changes and we must in order to keep up, must take the responsibility and learn all is necessary to be fully independent. That is being
able to participate and contribute in society, both, socially and economically. The day we achieve this goal, we can be free. Join a consumer organization and let's together change what it means to be blind.”

Carlos Servan (Lincoln Nebraska USA)

**60. “I think that men should have a good attitude about dating blind women and
vice-versa. One of my male friends dated a woman, but later, she said, "I
don't date blind people." Then, he said, "I don't date people with a bad
attitude." I think that we should teach blind children how to act and look,
so people will want to date them.”

Beth Kats (USA)

FROM ME: “How are the above two responses similar?”

**61. “This issue of dating is truly a sensitive one, but if we take a closer look
at it, we'd find that this also holds true with the sighted community. We,
as blind folks, do not hold a monopoly on this issue. If we are comfortable with ourselves, those who are comfortable with who they are, will have no apprehensions with us. If they are not comfortable
with themselves, then we are better off with no involvement with them, especially in a one-on-one setting.
Everyone has a handicap in some area of their life. It just happens that
some peoples are more obvious than those of others. If we as blind individuals have a problem with social skills and with knowing how to interact with others, be they blind or sighted, then perhaps
we need to take some lessons in social skills. These graces do not come naturally to all people.

After being married for twenty-four years I found myself as a forty plus blind divorcee with a ten year old child thrown back into the social world. It wasn't easy for me, and to be frank about it, I had no intention of ever getting married again.
I did, however, have to make a living and a home for my son which meant that
I had to get out mingle in society and to get a job. In the process of
handling this matter I came into contact with many eligible men. By spending
time in a work environment with others who shared the same interests as I
did, friendships naturally ensued. If people can't be friends before
getting involved in an intimate relationship, the relationship is likely to
become a major disappointment later on down the road. I say friends first
before becoming lovers, and lovers not until after marriage. After all,
what is commitment all about anyway?
One of the sighted gentleman friends who I dated during my thirteen years of
singleness taught me social graces that no one else had bothered to teach
me. Like one of our commenter stated, there are certain gestures and body
language skills that we need to adapt so that we don't just stand around
looking like a knot on a log. If we have close friends, be they family
members, religious associates, work mates or others, we should ask them to
teach us what is appropriate in public and how to dress. We don't want to
appear as misfits from another generation when we make public appearances.
It does not bespeak well of our blindness community. Any of our "true"
friends will be glad to assist us in this manner. Their keeping quiet on
this issue simply because they do not want to hurt our feelings is a
misguided kindness on their part, and it is up to us to let them know this.
I dated several men during my singleness gap but met no eligible man to whom
I cared to make a commitment. Finally, while talking with my tech support
person for my scanning software, I met a gentleman who really wanted a mate.
Even though he is blind, and I had said that I would not marry another
visually impaired individual, we talked via telephone and e-mail for about
three weeks. We both laid our cards on the table about our beliefs, our
goals, our "will tolerates" verses or "will not" tolerate and decided to
meet. We had agreed that if the physical attraction was there when we met
that we would get married, and we did.
We are building a wonderful relationship and growing closer everyday. I
realized that it took me nearly twelve years after my divorce to become
comfortable with myself. This is important before others can be comfortable
with us. When talking to my husband in a professional capacity before we
met, I told him that he was the most arrogant, asinine person that I had
ever met. At times I still feel this way, but he has a right to be the type
of person that he chooses to be and I refuse to let how he or anyone else
feels or acts make me feel uncomfortable with who I am. Also, just because
I perceive someone being a certain way, this doesn't make them so. This can
be applied to our believing that sighted people are uncomfortable with us
because of our blindness too! Maybe they just don't like the way we look or
walk or deport ourselves. Maybe they don't like themselves very much
either. In any case, we must get to where what others think of us is not
more important to us than what we think of ourselves and who we really are.
Now, enough of my turn on the soapbox for today. I'll step down for the next

Alfreda Trusty-Dotson (Pensacola, Florida USA

**62. “ more specific criteria in mind like something beyond looks or personality? Is this something that only the blind would do?"

This isn't something that is strictly attributable to the blind. We all have needs. I
needed someone who could see beyond my physical appearance (which was okay,
but shouldn't have been the only thing that drew men to me.), but who was
also a gentleman and smart enough to treat other people kindly. None of
those things have to do with appearance.”

Lori Stayer (Merrick, New York USA)

**63. I had a couple so-called dates, one when I was thirteen going on fourteen and another when I was sixteen. One had CP and the other was blind. Of course,
we were too young to become serious, but those dates didn't really work out, as both guys were rather flaky or players. I would have had a few other dates
in high school, but those I showed interest in were either dating someone else or were not interested in me. I would like to think that their disinterest
in me had nothing to do with my being blind, but it probably did. I say this because I was never asked to prom. Perhaps they were uncomfortable with
how to approach me or how to deal with me around other sighted people despite that I was in their classes and we joked around about many different things.
I did have one person ask me to dance with them at our homecoming dance, but I wasn't interested in him, as I wasn't one to dance with flaky, game-playing
people like he was. My more serious dates didn't start until I was twenty-three.
The first three were sighted and the fourth one, before John and I met, was blind. only one of the sighted guys drove. In all cases with the sighted
guys, it was their attraction to me that got them asking for my phone number and actually going out. However, when it came to the discussion about starting
a family, the uncertainty--genetics, the fear of having to be responsible for children as well as for me--stopped the relationship with they not making
themselves available for me to contact them. One of the sighted dates, though, probably would have worked out all the way through, but we had totally
different religious beliefs, which would have caused conflict in how we raised our children. I'm not saying, of course, that interfaith marriages and
children raised in an interfaith family could not have worked, as I know of many that have, but this particular relationship just would not have worked
for both of us.

As I said, my fourth date was blind. While we may have had a lot in common--music, the fact that we were blind, and that we both knew the same group
of people--his insecurity and lack of independent living skills was quite an obstacle for me. Moreover, he had a lot of public socialization skills and
manners that had to be improved. In turn, my being more confident in myself and being more independent of my family compared to him made him feel like
he was unable to keep up with me. I tried to teach him different independent-living techniques and give him tips about his strange public manners and
how to rid them to no avail. With the hopes that things would work out for both of us in time, I hung onto our relationship for six months, which was
much longer than my previous dates. We even discussed the idea of starting a family, however, while he was all for it, he just could not foresee how this
would work; thus his swaying back and forth constantly between wanting to get married and start a family to not wanting to ever get married. Because I
was ready to start a family by then (I was twenty-five), I knew by the end of six months that I just wasn't going to get anywhere, so I broke it off.
It wasn't an easy thing to do, but it was the break it off with the hopes of finding someone better or stay with him and be stared at because of his inappropriate
manners drawing attention to us. Five months after that break-up, John and I met after a party through a blind girlfriend of mine; John is sighted but
is on the upper end of low-vision.
John and I not only found that we shared a lot of beliefs in different areas, but we found that we had majored in the same field of Social Sciences
(I had just started attending a four-year college to study my major). I invited him up to my apartment for dinner and visiting for a couple hours, which
turned into an all-night visit; it was the three of us--John, my friend, and I. While John knew that my friend was blind, he never knew until I approached
him from behind outside of the party that I, too, was blind. For once, when discussing starting a family, there wasn't that usual hesitation or uncertainty
despite my discussion about genetics and my likelihood of my condition being passed on to any children we had. John and I have been together ever since
that day. I think that a lot of our still being together today not only had to do with working out any differences we had, but it had a lot to do with
our similar experiences of being used as pleasure toys or symbols of racial diversity in the dating scene or around our previous dates' social cliques
(he's Black and Native-American and I'm a dark-skinned Asian). Moreover, we both have health conditions and my blindness that are hereditary, which have
caused obstacles in our starting families.
On the flip-side of my trying to find dates and finally finding the right person to marry was my mother's interference of control and judgment of who
was the right partner for me and who wasn't. During my teens, the worry about my dating was me coming home pregnant despite my demonstration of being
more responsible than that. Her concern was valid, though, as any parent would be concerned about their teenage daughters getting pregnant or their sons
getting someone pregnant at too young of an age; it doesn't matter whether their children have a disability or not. Even when I turned sixteen and all
throughout the rest of my high school years, she would still constantly use the excuse that I was too young to date then wonder why I was never asked to
go to prom. She wasn't as controlling by the time I was in my twenties, yet she still made her value judgments about my dates, including about John.
Though the first four dates may have been valid value judgments in retrospect, judging John, despite the fact that he had it more together than all my
other dates did, didn't matter to my parents. This time, because of his race, their concern was that he would take advantage of me and take all my money.
Anything positive that I told them about him didn't matter. Like in the
case with Resp. 10, my parents would try anything they could--manipulation, horror
stories about being dumped, harassment, etc.--to get me to dump John. We not only demonstrated ourselves in how we interact and how we functioned as a
functional family, but it got to the point that we had to cut ties with all who were against our relationship.
In conclusion to all this, not only is their the discomfort, fear, or uncertainty of approaching people with disabilities as dates, but whether the
dating actually starts or has already started, the question of *what would people think or say about me being with this person* crosses minds. This attitude
not only applies to disability or blindness, but it also applies to race, or how somebody behaves in public. Such was the case with my fourth and blind
boyfriend. The thought of how people would see me with a man who displayed inappropriate manners in public became the catalyst for me to break it off
with him. As the relationship progresses and the get-togethers and discussions about starting a family become more serious, then genetics, responsibility,
and what people would think if a child with one of the partner's disability (or disabilities) is born. If the partners' families are involved via feeding
negative ideas or judgment about the person or relationship, the partners are left to decide whether they are going to allow themselves to be influenced
by their family or by the negative attitudes from any source or work with their partner on the established and continually developing relationship. In
all of these cases, you have to have the wherewithal to deal with outside negative attitudes and pressures. If you think that your relationship with that
partner is more important than your other friends and family members, then you will want to work on maintaining that relationship. Sometimes in entails
having to cut ties with your family or friends to establish your own family and develop new friends who are more accepting of both of you. Of course,
both partners have to work equally. as they say, "it takes two to tangle in a relationship".

Linda USA