This lesson will review some general tips for getting started with dating again since your injury. You may feel differently about yourself or have questions about dating.
If you have questions or concerns about this aspect of your life, you should talk to your doctor or sex therapist.
The common characteristics of all good relationships are respect and safety. This means respect for self and others. It also means that both people in the relationship feel physically and emotionally safe. Let's begin with respect.
Respect for Self and Others
If you want to spend time with someone, try approaching him/her in a friendly, confident manner.
Avoid attitudes like "you really don't want to go out with me, do?" You probably will not get many positive responses with that line. If you do not respect and value yourself, the other person will likely also share your beliefs!
On the other hand, avoid over doing it with too much confidence. Using an approach like you are doing the person a big favor by dating them will almost always assure rejection.
Remember that relationships grow slowly. It takes time to nurture feelings and for love and friendship to grow. Go slowly.
Avoid talking about intense or very serious topics on the first few dates. Try talking about more usual topics such as sports, current events, music, community activities, etc. This would also include not talking about your personal physical care such as issues relating to your bowel or bladder (unless an accident occurs).
Do not plan a heavy conversation about sex until you both are feeling relaxed and safe. Feelings of safety and relaxation do not happen on the first date. Remember to take things slowly.
Pay close attention to the messages the other person is sending you . Ask questions and listen to the answers. Get to know each other.
Feeling Safe in the Relationship
Feelings of safety involve knowing that one is not expected to do something that one is not ready or prepared to do.
It means saying "no" or taking "no" for an answer without pouting, begging or coercing. It means enough trust exists between two people that saying "no" is okay.
It also means that you and your partner keep private things about your relationship private. Neither one of you "kiss and tell" nor make up stories to others about your dates.
Safety also involves being honest with your partner. Have courage to tell the truth about issues in your relationship. Avoid "not telling the truth because you don't want to hurt his/her feelings."
What if Something Embarrassing Happens on the Date?
It is possible that something unexpected could happen while you are on a date. Since your injury, you have may have had bladder or bowel accidents. You may also have had unexpected gas. These may never happen during your dating, but if they do, you should be prepared on how you would like to handle them.
While passing gas on a date can be embarrassing (whether in a chair or not), you can simply say, "excuse me." You may choose to mention that this may happen sometime as a result of you injury. Avoid making a big deal out of it.
Bowel or bladder accident...
Granted, having an accident can be embarrassing, it is important to handle it in a matter-of-fact manor. Do not make a big deal out if it. Tell the other person, " I have had a small accident and will need to go the bathroom for a moment."
Keep in Mind...
Remember that not all dates will become lasting romantic relationships.
Before you were injured, some dates were fun and some dates were duds. Some first dates turned into second dates and others did not. Someone may have rejected you. In fact, everyone experiences rejection at some time in their life.
If you always get rejected, it may be helpful to look at why.
Do not be too quick to blame your injury. There are many factors that determine if a relationship will work.