By Mike Moore
How do blind people date? How do we meet a potential date? Where would you go, and what would you do? The list of questions can go on and on, at least that was what I experienced with my friends and family! It is ironic, because before losing my sight, I wondered the same types of things. How does he or she know what the other person looks like? What about love at first sight? Who introduced them, and what was that initial conversation like?
When I first lost my sight, I was primarily focused on figuring out the life changing situation that I found myself in. So, at that time, I did not have to concern myself with dating and how I would go about entering into that scene. Once I got myself situated with my blindness and began to move toward getting back to my new normal self, dating did cross my mind. But even then, I did not think about how I would be able to get a date. When my family and friends started asking me about dating, I remember getting anxious about it, because I had no idea how to do that!
As a sighted person, I enjoyed an active social life. I visited lots of places, did many things, and dated quite often. Now I am blind, and I want to date. I also want love and perhaps marry as well. Where do I start? How would I meet her? Honestly, I had many reasons to be hesitant about getting back on the dating scene, but none bigger than wondering how to get started.
As I began hanging with friends, I quickly realized that an answer to my “how-to get started” question was to just get out there in the mix with other people. I was able to mingle and socialize, and before long I was feeling like my old self again.
I have been on the dating scene for several years now, and I have learned some things about sighted people’s perception of a blind person’s approach to dating. It seems that some sighted folks think that the physical appearance of a blind person’s prospective date is irrelevant to him or her. I also learned that some sighted folks don’t believe that a blind person could fall head over heels for someone after just one conversation. From my experience, neither the former nor latter is true.
Personally, I am constantly asking my friends to describe the person who I am speaking with. Or, if I have a picture of them, I will ask the same. Why do I need to have this information? Just like our sighted counterparts, we are influenced by media, culture, fads etc. We are getting the same information as everyone else. So, the same standards held for beauty and beyond by sighted people, are more often the same for blind folks as well.
As for the latter, it is absolutely possible for a blind person to experience love at first sight! well, not actual sight, but definitely at first encounter. A sighted person can be moved, enamored, or mesmerized by seeing someone’s physical attributes, for the very first time. So too can a blind person experience those feelings via a conversation, a touch, or the voice of another the very first time they encounter them.
In addition to learning some things about a sighted person’s perspective on how the dating experience is for the blind, I’ve found more information on how blind individuals view dating and relationships overall. Personally, I discovered that blind people view dating, love, and marriage in a similar, if not exactly the same, as sighted folks. Whether we are dating a blind or sighted person, we want the same things out of that relationship as everyone else. We want love, respect, companionship, honesty, trust, and commonality to name a few.
Do blind people enter into relationships for the wrong reasons? Yes, as do the sighted. Both sighted and blind folks have some of the same type of concerns when it comes to relationships. We ask similar questions of ourselves pertaining to whether we really like a person or if it is what they have or what they represent and vice versa. Many people may be surprised by the similarities between blind dating and sighted dating. Honestly, there is very little difference.
As far as my personal experience dating as a blind person, it has gone very well. At the beginning I was extremely nervous and anxious because it was so very new for me. If you are blind and just getting out on the dating scene, just know this: The better your blindness skills are, the more confidence you have, and the happier you are with yourself, these will all bode very well for you as you venture out into the dating scene! Dr. Jernigan of the NFB said that being blind is respectable. Be the best blind person you can be and take your rightful place in whatever space you choose to be.