Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. This brings up visions of flowers, chocolates, love notes, and of course dating. When you have a visual impairment dating can be even more daunting than it is for a sighted person. The uncertainties can be vast. This blog will look at some tips and tricks for dating with a visual impairment. Information for this blog came from Dating 101 for People with Vision Loss, Tips For Dating for People New to Visual Impairment, and 10 things to learn about dating a blind person.
Having and Maintaining a Love Life
Navigating the twenty-first century dating scene is stress-inducing for most singles. Learning how to interact, make friends and date can be quite different when you have a visual impairment. For example, commuting to the location for the date might be different now. Or once you have arrived locating the person in the room or restaurant. Although you have lost vision it does not mean that your love life is over and that you should stop socializing. There are ways to get out and engage with others to meet that special someone or just have a good time on a casual date.
Hints for Getting Back in the Dating Game
Tip 1: When meeting a new person you are interested in dating give them your cell number not your home number. This is a good safety precaution because home numbers can be traced to your home address. A cell number gives you some level of privacy and can keep you in better control of the situation. Until you really get to know the person lean on the side of caution. In lieu of a cell number, some have given out an email address instead. You can create an anonymous address with a free provider such as Yahoo, Hot Mail or Google.
Tip 2: Play an active role in setting up the date. Do not let the person you are seeing do all the work. Suggest a great restaurant or movie you would like to see. This is also a good way to be sure that your needs as a visually impaired person are met. For example, suggest places to go that are on public transportation so that you can get there independently. Recommend movie theatres that have audio description so that you can enjoy the movie too. Propose a restaurant that provides readable menus in Braille/large print and understands how to work with the blind.
Tip 3: Let friends and/or family know you are going out with a new person. Once you have met someone you are interested in and have set up the date night; let someone you trust know. This is a safety precaution. That way if things go bad on the date people who love and care about you will know what is going on.
Tip 4: Be prepared to have a conversation about your visual impairment. This can be a bit tricky especially on a first date. Go with your intuition as to how much you want to disclose at one time. I would discourage giving an extensive history on your vision loss. Just keep things light and simple. Be positive and share how independent you are.
Visually Impaired Persons’ Advice on Dating Them
There is a lot of unseen stuff that folks notice that shapes their attraction to someone new. Smells, the ones we cultivate or the ones we do not even realize we have, are a big part of that. If someone has strong body odor smelling of sweat, beer, or unbrushed teeth chances are they will not make a good first impression.
Like scent, the sound of a potential partner can go a long way to affecting how attracted a person will be to them. It is more than the timbre of a voice; it is everything from the sound of their breathing to their chewing to what their shoes sound like when they walk. Word choices and volume are key, too.
Do not write off activities like going to movies or the theater. There are apps and tools for that. Going to the movies or a play are time-honored dating activities. Those do not have to be off-limits because you are dating someone with a visual impairment. Lots of movie theaters are equipped with audio descriptions so that moviegoers can fill in the gaps for scenes without dialogue or narration.
Do not diminish the relationship between a blind person and their guide dog. For a relationship between a person and their service animal to work, they both need to trust each other implicitly. Potential partners need to be comfortable with always having a third (four-legged) wheel around and not distracting the service animal from their important daily duties.
They do not need a savior or a servant. Having a partner who is helpful can be wonderful but not when it comes at the expense of being self-reliant.