I'm not very good at picking up signals from guys.
When I worked as a cashier, on three separate occasions someone slipped me a piece of paper with a number on it. Every time I said: “What am I supposed to do with this? All our customer cards start with 26, not 06” and threw the number in my paper bin, only to realize days later that what does start with 06 are all Dutch cell phone numbers.
But lately I think I have been getting signals. Emails from men I met through volunteering or after being stuck in the same accessible train car, saying things like “I found you interesting, shall I come over and cook for you?” (the major hint that he wasn't saying this because he really loves cooking was that it was sent around 2 in the morning).
Or, “If you need cheering up, because your recovery from surgery is taking much longer than expected, I'd be happy to come over” (okay, I'm not sure about this one, but we also had several phone calls, that lasted for hours).
And then there was the one signal even I could read: “I'm in love with you”, on my wall of a social networking site.
Of course, I could just be glad that my acne treatment seems to be working, but I think it's remarkable that all three of these guys are visibly disabled.
I probably know a few more disabled people that non-disabled people do, but this is mostly because disability access limits my options, so wherever I go, I tend to end up somewhere near the extra-wide doors and elevators – with other disabled people.
However, even in my world, disabled people are few and far between. Since I know many more guys, roughly my age, who are not disabled, why aren't they the ones sending me emails in the middle of the night?
I briefly contemplated the possibility that non-disabled guys communicate in a way I just don't pick up, like notes with numbers, as they did back when my disability wasn't as visible as it is now.
But that doesn’t make a huge amount of sense – guys with disabilities are still just guys, they’re unlikely to have their own, completely different method for communicating with the opposite sex.
So it seems like non-disabled guys are not flirting with me because of my disability. After all, when there are a lot of girls in their twenties around, why would you go for the one who is disabled?
Don't get me wrong, I think I'm hot in my own way, but I’m sure that in the eyes of others my disability does make me less attractive.
Whenever I go out with friends, they are approached by men, requesting their phone numbers, dancing with them, buying them drinks, and potentially kissing them. I'm am approached by people, and not just men, who pet me over the head, and tell me “how good of you to do this, act like a normal person”.
I've never given out my phone number during a night out. On the other hand, it just doesn't make sense that disabled guys who also are faced with a large pool of women, only a few of which are disabled, would specifically target the disabled ones, which is what seems to be happening to me.
Either way, I’ve reached the conclusion that I'm just more attractive to disabled men than I am to non-disabled men.
I consulted a friend, because that is what I do when I'm not sure how to interpret an email (or pieces of paper with numbers on it). She suggested that there were probably lots of non-disabled men out there who do find me attractive, but who are hesitant to come forward, as disability can be frightening.
I concluded that non-disabled men might see me as some fragile flower, who could break if you fuck her too hard.
As a side note, I really wish I could say that wasn't the case, but as I dislocate everything all the time doing absolutely nothing, I'm bound to dislocate something while doing things (i.e. sex). But, since it happens anyway, I wouldn’t hold it against you – unless I ended up dislocating my hip and you refused to take me to A&E, but that is just common courtesy.
I guess disabled guys are less likely to find disability scary or a turn off (although there will still be plenty of disabled guys out there that would never want to make out with a girl in a wheelchair).
And given that male attractiveness often is very much determined by physical ability, I assume that many disabled guys feel like they are significantly less attractive than non-disabled men. Not only would it be easier for them to approach me, but it might seem like the only feasible option.
I feel like in any setting where I could talk, my personality and obvious abilities would compensate of my inabilities. To be honest though, I don't have the guts to approach a guy when there are able bodied women around, let alone actually flirt with him, so I can certainly imagine the same being true for disabled men.
I don’t believe that in a situation as superficial as flirting (and maybe even dating) the fact that I have gorgeous legs would ever compensate for the fact that it looks like I can’t wrap them around your middle (but I can!).
Essentially, I feel that in a situation where I cannot make use of my personality, I am no competition for other girls at all. I'm a pretty confident person, so if I don't dare to approach a guy, because of my disability, it isn't much of a stretch to think that this is also true for other disabled people.
And non-disabled guys might never approach me because of the 'fragile flower' thing (I don't know if this is true, but I don't have a bunch of emails in my inbox telling me that I'm wrong about this). So my dating options are really limited.
It's sad, because even though I am a fragile flower, I'm also really flexible and have super-soft skin, and I think I should profit from that a lot more than I currently do. And so should the guys I fancy, but don't dare to approach.
So if you want to tell me I'm pretty, or ask me out, I'm on twitter: @fatalefem I live in the Netherlands, but don't let that stop you.