Dating after Spinal Cord Injury
Would you describe dating as exciting or scary? Fun or stressful?
For most people, there’s a thin line dividing the extremes in emotions - and dating can really mix all your feelings up together. After a spinal cord injury, life is never the same again. Just because it’s not the same doesn’t mean it’s not fun or exciting, and that goes for dating, too. In fact, the best dating experiences of you’ve ever had could be just around the corner, and it could lead to the partnership of a lifetime.
Before You Get Back on the Dating Scene
Do you love yourself?
SCI impacts your confidence, body image and self worth. Falling in love with yourself might sound a bit strange - but it’s the first thing you need to do before you can give and receive love again.
Continuing rehab helps. It becomes more than a guide to tackling everyday tasks - it’ll give you the tools to cope in the short term and eventually, the skills to thrive in the long term. On top of that, rehab helps you find your identity again.
It’s a long process during which your mental health will suffer, making you feel like love is an impossible achievement; but you’ll be okay. Actually, you’ll be better than okay - you just need to reach out, let others in and get to know and love yourself.
That’s not exclusive to Disabled People. The best relationships are those forged by people who know their own value - and even if you don’t feel like it right now, you’re very valuable. You deserve to be appreciated by yourself and others.
Fear of rejection. Not knowing how to meet people - or how to engage with them when you do. Modern dating is fraught with obstacles, but most of them are self-imposed.
These fears and anxieties can be even more pronounced after spinal cord injury. That’s why it’s important to get a sense of “you” back first, to regain confidence and that spark that makes you who you are, who you’ve always been.
Happiness and self-assuredness are attractive, magnetic qualities that draw people in. Don’t settle, or tolerate intolerance, or compromise who you are. Be with a person who can see beyond the injury. Sometimes, that’s someone who has shared a similar experience to you and can relate to you on that level - and you will naturally meet people with similar experiences as you make your journey through life with SCI.
If you’re looking for love later down the line, or want to dip your toe into the dating scene again, Tinder and similar apps have the added bonus of accessibility. You can start on your own terms, build confidence and just start chatting to new people at your own pace.
Joining Facebook groups, forums and dating networks is a great way to get out there without actually having to go out!
However you decide to start, try to open your mind to new people and new experiences. You never know how good it could be until you give it a shot.
What About Sex?
Disabled People have sex, too. There’s an assumption that paralysis means no more intimacy or adventurousness in the bedroom (or anywhere else).
Sex after spinal cord injury can be just as adventurous, intimate and mind-blowing as it’s always been. Getting your groove back won’t happen overnight, but with a little work, you’ll find that satisfaction comes in many forms.
Learn more about sex after spinal cord injury.
What About Existing Relationships?
SCI is hard for loved ones, friends and family. Sometimes, relationships and marriages can become even stronger after a partner sustains a spinal cord injury.
Counselling can help, even if you’re rock solid. Don’t avoid it or think yourself above it. It really does help to build bridges and mend strained relationships - we’ve seen it work firsthand for enough people to advocate its value.
It doesn’t always work though - and relationships can break down. Divorces and breakups aren’t only down to the injury; relationships are never perfect, and some are just meant to have a shorter lifespan than others. Even with counselling and all the support in the world, some things can’t be resolved.
It doesn’t mean you’ll never find love again.
It’s never too late to start anew - by finding that love for yourself, giving yourself a chance and putting yourself out there for discovery.
Love and sex aren’t everything - but they’re really big parts of life that nobody should ignore, injury or no injury.
Patients and outpatients at Stoke Mandeville and Southport can join a sexuality and fertility clinic, free of charge. To make an appointment or for more information, contact Stoke Mandeville or Southport.
We’re a Different Kind of Law Firm
Aspire Law is a specialist law firm, working for people with SCI. We help and support everyone affected by spinal cord injury.
Get in touch: give us a call on 0800 030 20 40.