Earlier this year I hit the big 30, my career and social life blossoming more than ever but there was one thing in my life that was still lacking, a loving relationship. Like most young women, I too dreamt of a devoted husband, marriage, children, living happily ever after and maybe even getting a dog some day. However, in order to get all of this you have to be on the dating scene, a notion that if I am completely honest, terrifies me.
With the emergence of dating sites and apps, dating in the 21st Century can be very intimidating. The dating world seems to have merged with the consumer world where we want beautiful things at a click of a button and we can 'swipe' them away if we don't like what we see.
So why I am I so unlucky in love?
Firstly, and most honestly I do have high standards when it comes to men....
Secondly, my single lifestyle is still very appealing and maybe a part of me wants to cling onto it for a little longer.
Lastly and I believe the most significant factor, is that people are still very awkward and uncomfortable when it comes to dating a person with a disability. My theory was quickly backed up after reading statistics published by the charity Scope who found that "just 5% of people who aren't disabled have ever asked out, or been on a date with, a disabled person". Even more alarming, half of the British public have never met a person with a disability.
Not one to be defeated I decided to take the dating game head on, signing up to dating sites such as Tinder and match.com
My first dilemma came as I was filling out my personal information. Do I or don't I disclose my disability straight away? After lots of contemplation, I decided not to mention it in my bio. For no other reason than not wanting people to pigeonhole or stereotype me from my physical appearance and I am not alone in wanting to hide my disability, almost 40% of disabled people feel like they need to hide their disability in fear of being judged or treated differently, according to Scope.
Once I dropped the disability 'BOMBSHELL' the response was shocking and at times very upsetting. Some men immediately blocked me and others respond with patronising comments such as 'you are so brave to be on a dating site's though I should have never entertained the idea in the first place. Others asked inappropriate questions about my sex life or sexual capabilities, "when was the last time you had sex?' and "are you sure you can have a boyfriend?"
Others suggested we 'just be friends'. When I reply that I already have an abundance of friends and didn't sign up to a dating website for 'just friends' they become offended and insinuate that I should be grateful to them for even coming out on a date with me.
Ignorance and fear that surrounds disability is still rife and dating someone with a disability seems to be too much to handle for many people. But I do not want to generalise or pigeonhole anyone and I know not everyone thinks like this. I know my prince charming is somewhere out there waiting for me.
Scope's new End The Awkward campaign has a great Do & Don't tips page, with a short film (which includes me!) so if you're not sure what to say to disabled people just visit http://www.scope.org.uk/end-the-awkward