Kristen Parisi has been a wheelchair user for 27 years, ever since she was involved in a car accident at the age of five—and now she wants everyone to know just how hard it is for someone in her position to find love.
In an episode of Love Story for CNN, the 32-year-old writer shares her insight into some of the many challenges of dating when you're living with a disability.
One of the biggest challenges she's had to overcome is that of her own self esteem. A former on-off boyfriend would never actually admit they were together, which led Kristen to believe, "There was some reason I was not deserving of having a boyfriend who was proud to be with me."
Other challenges are a matter of pure logistics of getting out and about to meet up with potential partners. "Getting around New York is one of the more difficult things I've done in my life," she admits. "I think about 35% of the subway stations are wheelchair accessible... Cab drivers [are often] not willing to pick you up."
Yet another challenge makes for very uncomfortable viewing—that is that if you happen to be in a wheelchair and are brave enough to put yourself out there in the hope of finding love, you might end up attracting the wrong types of people. Those, for instance, who might think it's cool or quirky to briefly date 'someone in a wheelchair' just so they can say they did.
Despite these many setbacks, Parisi has a remarkably healthy view of what a good relationship is and what she's hoping to get out of one.
"Most people's issues you get to hide for like a really long time. That's not fair - mine is out there; I can't pretend it's not there. I try. I can't. [But] whoever you date is going to have an issue. [Living in a wheelchair] is just one of them," she says.
"A good relationship will involve an awful lot of communication. Spending time with somebody and doing nothing with them...sitting around eating Doritos and watching the sunset...I don't know if that's love but it sounds pretty awesome."
That sounds pretty awesome to us too, and so does Parisi. If you, like her, are a person with a disability who'd like to find love, Flame Introductions can help. Our team of professional matchmaking specialists is the only one in the UK to specialise in personal introductions for people with mild disabilities. If you'd like to find out more, leave us your details
and we'll be in touch.