Undateables Are Not Undateable After All

I found a show on Slice that's actually good! It's called 'The Undateables'. Because of the name, I didn't look at it for the longest time. I thought it was yet another mean-spirited reality dating show. But I finally took a peek and it's actually a show from the U.K. that looks at people who have a diverse array of physical and developmental disabilities and are using dating services to help them find companions. I highly recommend taking a look. What's so interesting and great about the show is that everyone on it is treated with the utmost respect. There is no pity or condescension. They are all treated as fully capable adults who just happen to have some particular challenges. There is no game show aspect to it either. The show just follows them and talks to them and their friends, families, and prospective dates as they go about their adventures in the dating scene. After watching a couple episodes, and sadly, there are only four episodes on the site currently, a few things struck me.

First, its remarkable and wonderful that there are dating agencies in the UK specifically for people with developmental disabilities and also dating agencies that have no barriers or problems with accepting clients who have physical and developmental disabilities. I'm sure this is probably the case here but I've never actually looked into it. It's so lovely to watch people who understand that pretty much everyone has a need to connect with other people in emotionally and physically intimate ways and that doesn't change just because you might have some challenges. In some ways the match-making places might just be the perfect place because the ones who actually get to know someone and specifically choose someone can talk with a prospective date about the person's challenges beforehand so they are aware. I would imagine this would take a lot of pressure off. Two of the young men that were profiled have Tourette's syndrome. I would think it might make it easier if you knew that your date was already aware and you didn't have to wonder when to tell or if something was going to happen before you got a chance to tell, or if they are going to up and leave once they find out.

The other thing that really struck me was that the principles of what works well for dating and what makes dating difficult seem to be universal, regardless of whatever abilities or disabilities a person might have. What I saw is that the two main things are confidence and communication and they go together. The people who were confident about who they were, usually felt pretty comfortable talking with anyone, and starting up and carrying on conversations. That put the other person at ease and made the dates go pretty well. One of the men featured has a type of fibromatosis that causes large benign tumors. It has left him severely scarred and disfigured, particularly on the face and head. It took quite some time for the dating agency to find him someone but when they did, the date went quite well. This seemed to be because this guy is sweet and funny and very charming. His date was quite taken with him. Some of the others just did not have the confidence to really immerse themselves in the date and engage with the person and it did not go well. The dates were awkward and short. Where a disability can really get in the way is when it hampers the person's ability to communicate. That makes it very difficult to talk and be social. But there were several people who had communication issues and who had learned some tools to get past it and were doing just fine.

I think watching this can give anyone, disability or not, some ideas about how to be successful in the dating. At first glance it looks like the people on the show couldn't ever find someone because there's something wrong with them. But that's actually not it at all. If they can get past the most difficult part, which is the most difficult part for anyone, just knowing where to go to find someone who might be interested in you that you might also be interested in, the playing field gets leveled pretty quickly. Looks and physical abilities start to dissolve and it comes down to personality and compatibility. I've seen this many times with friends and people I've worked with. One young guy that I met was a perfect example. He used a wheelchair because of a spinal chord injury. He told me that once he got used to how things needed to be 'the chair actually improved my game'. He was a hot guy who was charming, funny and confident. The chair didn't slow him down at all.

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