Learning & Information | Rukuhia Te Puna Mātauranga

Dating and disability

Man and woman at a cafe

Having someone special to share life’s ups and downs is important.

It’s not always easy to find someone special, especially if you find it difficult to get out and meet new people because of your disability.

If finding a girlfriend or boyfriend is important to you, don’t give up. Let your friends, family and support workers know that having a relationship is important to you and ask for their support.

You can also talk with your needs assessor. They’ll be able to support you to join social groups, find work or study so you can meet people who share your interests. The more people you meet, the more likely you are to find someone special.

Where to meet new people

Person in a wheelchair on a film set
Jai Waite

Jai’s life nearly ended after a dip in the ocean resulted in a high-level spinal injury. He explains how he’s carved out a great life for himself and why he has no use for pick-up lines. Watch Jai’s Question Time video.

Dating online

An online dating site is a place for you to find other people who are also looking for a relationship. You can look at people’s profiles, message them so you can get to know them online, and arrange to meet with them in real life.

Some dating sites offer a free basic service, but you may need to pay a subscription if you want access to extra features.

  • Find Someone – one of New Zealand’s largest dating sites with 500,000 members
  • MyKind – a dating site designed by Kiwis with disabilities and people working in disability organisations for single adults aged 18+ with or without disabilities and health impairments.

Writing an online dating profile

When you join you will need to write a profile of yourself and you will have the option of putting your photo up too. You don’t have to put a photo on if you don’t want to, but people are more likely to be interested if there’s a picture.

It’s up to you whether you tell people about your disability in your profile or wait until you start getting to know someone. On the one hand, your disability may turn people off before they’ve had the chance to get to know you. On the other, it will weed out any close-minded people right from the start.

Whatever you decide, you should always be honest.

When you write your profile it’s a good idea to be positive. Talk about your interests and the things that inspire you and make you happy, rather than the things that get you down. You’ll also want to describe the type of person you are looking for. Remember, you may not find your dream date so it’s better to think about the qualities that are most important to you and be flexible about other things that are less important like hair colour or height.

And when you’ve finished writing your profile, you may want to get a friend or support worker to read it first – how do they think it sounds?

Online safety

You should be honest with people – but it’s important that you don’t tell them everything about yourself. It can be dangerous telling strangers anything that may help them figure out where you live or work.

When you write your profile or talk with people online do not use your surname, address, phone number, email, place of work or links to your Facebook page. Most dating sites will have advice about how to stay safe when you’re online, and if you decide to meet someone in real life. Here’s some safety advice from the MyKind website.

Unfortunately, some people online may not be who they say they are. And some may be rude or abusive. If you ever feel suspicious or uncomfortable about anyone online, you should block them. That way they won’t be able to see your profile or contact you.

Meeting an online friend and going on a date

If things are going well after you’ve messaged a person online, you may want to chat with them over the phone and, if you still like each other, make plans to meet in real life.

To be safe, it’s best to choose somewhere public to meet someone. Always let a friend or family member know where you are going and who you are meeting.

Sometimes it’s best to arrange a quick date the first time – maybe just grab a coffee during the day to make sure you hit it off – then you can plan a second date for another time.

More dating tips

  • Plan ahead to make your date a success. Make sure the place you are meeting is accessible for you. And if you have any dietary requirements, it’s a good idea to phone first to make sure there is something suitable for you to eat.
  • Think about how you will get there, and how you will get home again. What is parking like? Will you need a support person? Or money for transport?
  • It’s normal to be nervous. Before you go out, you might want to think about things you and your date could talk about. You could also plan some questions to ask so you can get to know your date better. You might want to practice this with a friend or support worker to build your confidence beforehand.
  • You might also want to plan what to say at the end of the date. How will you tell them politely that you don’t think they are the right person for you?  What will you say if the date goes really well and you’d like to see more of them?

Visit the Mencap website for more Dating Dos and Don’ts. Mencap is a UK organisation that supports people with learning disabilities. They have lots of other great articles about relationships too.

Other advice about meeting people and having relationships

The Specials is web series that follows five young people with learning disabilities who share a house in Bristol. Watch the series to follow all their relationship’s ups and downs.

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