Hi, my name is Dom, and I am disabled. I have Cerebral Palsy, and I have had this condition my entire life. I grew up believing that I would never have a partner/girlfriend.
When I went to College at 16 (college in the UK), I became more comfortable with myself. I listened to music that I loved, I studied things that I loved, and I dressed in clothes that I picked out for myself — my parents had been super over-protective of me for a long time. In fact, until 16, I was in and out of hospitals having operations, and getting various parts of myself cut into (for my long-term benefit)! Anyway…
I want to share some short, key tips that helped me, and still help me to this day make myself for attractive to others.
This is the first of a few (really) obvious tips.
I’m not saying I am the snappiest dresser in the world, in fact, I am a product of 90s grunge, and goth! Still, I pick my clothes carefully, and I have had more success dressed in a black button shirt, fitted black jeans, nice Doc Martens shoes and a black suit jacket than any other attire in my life’s history! Keep it smart casual! A good blazer or suit jacket with pretty much any style of shirt and jeans/suit pants can be a real winner, and dressing well, of course will make you feel great.
A friend once said to me, you’re going to have to work harder, and look better than everyone else, because you don’t look like everyone else. We still live in a society that wants normal.
The majority of people might not look at you (initially) in a bar, and think….’man, I want to do f*** that person’, it’s just the way it is (because, in most cases people are afraid of what they don’t understand), but you will stand out, give yourself the best chance of sparking up a quality conversation, by looking awesome.
Don’t try too hard, or make yourself uncomfortable, but definitely take stock in your appearance, be proud of how you can (potentially) look, groom your hair, and beard, and wash regularly.
Okay, so I know that last one is a weird one to mention, I appreciate that! It doesn’t matter if you need a bit of help, I was in a wheelchair until 16, so I absolutely get that it might be difficult to get in the shower every day, and take care of yourself in that way, but if a family member can help, or a friend — then, I promise it’ll be worth it for that date, or even for yourself, if you clean regularly, you will feel so much better about yourself, and (this is one of my fundamental points, as well), if you feel good about yourself, then other people will feel good about you too.
Invest in some good aftershave, and fragrances to keep you smelling good through the day(s).
If you’re looking to keep it cheap — Lush have some pretty interesting products, but if you’re looking to spend a bit more (and by a bit, I mean a bunch), then Tom Ford is the absolute best on the market (just sayin’!). Smelling good will go a long way to building your confidence, and attracting others to you.
Don’t be afraid to ask your (future) partner for help
I always say BE FRIENDS FIRST (sorry about the caps there, but that’s a real important point!), to anybody, whether they have a disability or are able-bodied.
The best way for someone to get to know what you need as a human being, or in a relationship, is to build a solid friendship first! Connect with people (and maybe, follow these other steps!), and perhaps (of course, I can make no great guarantees), a friend can become something more. Think about it, I don’t want this to sound depressing — but if a person who cares for you, knows how you struggle (whether that constant pain, or even getting in and out of the shower [also, what you’re comfortable with sexually]), and what you’ve overcome, then they are best suited (in many cases!) to building a solid future with you.
At the worst, you start talking, and you gain a close friend, and at best you gain a life-long partner to share everything with.
This is another obvious one, I guess. But, still! The biggest thing I have learned as I have built four businesses over the near decade that I have been self-employed — do check out Soundsphere magazine, Creative Condition, Wobbling About and Rocking Out and Disabled Entrepreneurs, by the way — is that the busier you are, the more attractive you become, on a personal (and professional level).
If you can show that you own your own shit, and can handle yourself, no matter if you’re in a wheelchair or otherwise then that, is such a good quality. You feel good because you are keeping focused, and motivated and other people feel good with you because you are putting out good vibes into the world.
To be fair, this is a most excellent life lesson as well, if I do say so myself!! Stay busy, and you won’t know just how many people you could benefit. I’ve met people with serious conditions effecting movement (maybe they are full-time in the chair, or stuck on their back 24/7), who have started businesses (often times using the internet, and a computer simply), and changed the world around them for the better. Put simply, this is because they have found incredible people, and partners in life. It’s a really wonderful thing.
No, this isn’t actually a call for you to furiously masturbate! Haha! What I am talking about is that age-old adage of, you can’t love anybody else until you love yourself — I hate to use cliches, man. That is really true, though!
I know that some of you reading this might suffer from depression and stuff, and I appreciate that -(I would be more than happy to discuss things with you, if you like) — but you have to be proud of yourself, and your accomplishments, however small or large you think they are!
I’m not saying be over-confident. I am saying be grateful for all the things you have in your life, but certainly do things to make you happy — maybe that’s dress well, and staying busy! :) — maybe that’s playing video games or hanging out with family. But, if you do these things, as often as you can, then that happiness will rub off (excuse the term), on your partner/future partner. The result? You will be in a great space to help them be happy too.
Hopefully some of this advice has resonated with a few people! I am, of course, open to criticism and I want to know your experiences, and points of view as well. If anybody needs to talk, feel free to drop me a DM on Twitter: d0m_Sm1th, or Insta: https://www.instagram.com/d0msm1th — I am happy to answer any type of questions you might have.
Thank you for reading!
Image: Me (and partner, Esther) at Sherwood Pines in the UK