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Out on a date with a person with disability? Our Guest Editor Abhishek Anicca shares the dos and don’ts to keep in mind!

The card shows two people holding hands. There is a flower in between their clasped hands. One of them is in a wheelchair. Text on the card reads:

Going on a date with someone with a disability? Here's some etiquettes to keep in mind - By Abhishek Anicca.

There are three images on the card. The shows two people talking to each other, where one is asking the other, “What happened to you?” The second image shows a small stack of books. The third shows a person playing a guitar. Text on the card reads:

1. Don’t : Start with “What happened to you?” 

Lots of things have happened. Life happened. Society happened. They will tell you what happened when they’re ready. 

Do: Talk about the music they like. 

Or books you both are reading. You might have much more in common than you realize. Find that. 

A person's disability doesn't define them. A part of their story might be about getting over obstacles. But there's more. They are human, vulnerable and full of desire. Ask them what you would want someone else to ask you.

The card has two images. The first shows two people sitting at a table and talking with each other. One of them is drinking something with a straw. The other is eating a sandwich. The second image shows two people sitting at a table. One of them has a walking stick and is speaking animatedly. The other is  listening to them intently.
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2. Don’t: Say I am sorry to hear that. Or even, sorry this happened to you. 

(We have heard this so often. What are you sorry about?)

Do: Listen empathetically if they discuss their challenges. Pity and empathy are not the same thing. They are not out there looking for sympathy. They want someone to understand them, like them, love them - don’t you?

The card has three images. The first shows a location pin on a map. The second shows two people holding hands, about to board a train. The third shows one hand reaching out to another. A speech bubble nearby has the words, "Can I?"
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3. Don't: Make a solo decision regarding the meeting point. 

Do: Ask them about their access needs. Step into their shoes. If they have locomotor disability or chronic pain, places with lots of stairs are probably not a good idea.

Ask if they are comfortable traveling alone or will need someone with them. Be prepared for that idea. Everyone has different access needs. 

Ask if you can touch them, hold their hand or hold their wheelchair. Disabled people can be very touchy about these things. Ask them first!

The card has two images. The first features a couple. One of them has an arm around the other, and has a rose in their mouth. The other is holding a walking stick.  The second features a person sitting in a wheelchair. A speech bubble nearby has words, "Can you hear the cafe smoke alarm babe? Cuz you're so smoking hot!"
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4. Don’t: Make all your interactions about their disability. 

Do: Flirt. Give them flowers. Try to be funny. Steer clear of disability jokes.

5. Don’t: Infantilize the person. Don't question their decision making or their ability to think about themselves or your relationship seriously. 

Do: Remind them that they are adults. They are sexy.

The card has two images. The first features two people lifting rocks over their heads. One person's rock is smaller than the other's. There is a pair of hands tugging at a "1st place," trophy over their heads. The second shows a person giving another person a pair of heart shaped balloons. The heart shapes seem to be battered and patched up.
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6. Don’t: Make it a victimhood competition. Of course, you have childhood trauma. Of course, you have body issues. Of course, you don't fit into normative standards of society. But don’t equate your experiences with those of a disabled person. If you tell them that your experiences are basically the same, you are negating the stigma and discrimination they face in everyday life. 

Do: Talk about your life and allow the two of you to get to know each other with vulnerability.

The card has two images. The first shows a person looking through a magnifying glass. The second shows two people in bed, embracing. Text on the card reads:

7. Intimacy talks

Don’t: Make assumptions about their intimate life, desires and needs. Don’t hide your desires from them.

Do: Be honest. Tell them whatever you feel. What you find attractive, what you don't. What is your idea of sex and intimacy. What are your bodily expectations from your partner. Tell them if you have kinks and fantasies. Ask about their experiences. How comfortable are they with getting physical? Some might be an expert in bed, others might be starting on their journey. Don't be shocked if they use a diaper or are on some medication which makes them vulnerable in bed.

The card has two images. The first shows a person on a wheelchair with a sad expression. All around them are hands that seem to be pointing at them judgementally. The other image shows two people sitting on a bench, holding each other. Text on the card reads:

8. Don’t: Body shame them. Don’t make them feel small. The way we are all conditioned, most of us get attracted by whatever standards of beauty or attractiveness set by society. 

Do: Tell them if you are not attracted to them. Tell them the reasons. Otherwise, they will just assume that it is because of their disability. It’s not easy for them to date, to put themselves out there, reach a place and meet you.

The card has two images. The first shows one person hugging another. A board above their head says, "Looking for romance, sex and marriage." The second image has one person telling the other, "I'm not free, sorry." The other person looks confused by this. Text on the card reads:

9. Do: Discuss each other’s expectations from the date and relationship. They might expect romance, love or sex. They might expect friendship. That said, this should happen in every relationship. 

Don’t: Be vague about what you want. It doesn’t protect their feelings.

There are two images on this card. The first shows one hand offering another an engagement ring in a box. The second shows one person grooming another person's hair. Text on the card reads:

10. Don’t: Commit before you discuss long-term care needs.

Do: Ask them about their everyday life. How much support do they require in everyday activities. Ask what kind of emotional support they require when they are down. How much care do they require when they fall ill and what role would they like you to play when they fall ill. Don't commit to things you can't handle. Care work is not uncommon. We all do it when our family member or roommate falls ill. We do it for the elderly in the family. We also do a lot of emotional caring for people important to us.

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