created at: 2013-02-26At the launch party for The Debrief earlier this month, we offered an anonymous questions box. Here’s one of the questions we received, just in time for us to honor the end of Jewish Disability Awareness Month.

Question: Can you still find someone desirable if you don’t work because of a disability?

Short answer: Yes!

Long answer: As you go about finding and connecting with people you find desirable, here are some things to consider:

What’s great about you?
When you’re out looking for someone desirable, keep in mind all the desirable aspects of who you are. You might find yourself frustrated when people ask casually, “What do you do?” Consider responding to these initial inquiries by giving some positive information about you. Describe how you occupy your time, or what your interests are. Maybe it’s your favorite podcast or a book or article you read recently. Maybe it’s a park in your neighborhood that you like or a skill that you have, no matter how often you do or don’t use that skill. Maybe you tell great stories or have a great sense of humor. That’s for you to decide—what are your best qualities? Leading with your best qualities will not only make you attractive to someone else, but it will make you feel more centered in yourself, more confident, and more worthy of getting what you want.

What do you want?
You say you want to find someone “desirable.” Do you know what that means to you? How do you see that person fitting into your life? What do you hope he or she brings to the table? How do you want him or her to respond to you, treat you and connect with you? Once you figure out that you are indeed worthy of getting what you want, you then have the sometimes-terrifying task of figuring out what you want. The paradox here is that you should be specific yet flexible. You could also ask yourself questions about what kind of relationship you want—you may find many people “desirable,” but you may desire them in different ways for different kinds of connections. Maybe you want to start by finding someone fun with whom you want to hang out or go on dates. Maybe what you really, really want right now is some sexual chemistry. Or maybe you’ve considered a lot of alternatives and are pretty set on dating seriously and finding a committed partnership. It’s for you to decide what kinds of connections you’re open to and with which kinds of people you want to connect.

What will you share about your situation, and when?
The fact that you don’t work because of a disability may feel like a potential deal-breaker, but to so many people, it’s not. In addition, there still might be many other reasons a person wouldn’t want to date you. That goes for everyone else, too! And there are a lot of people out there whom you wouldn’t want to date either. So how do you decide when to tell someone? So many people out there struggle with questions of disclosure. Don’t expect everything to be really clear in the first conversation about it, whether you decide to share on the 10th date or before the first. Figure out the most important things you want this person to understand about you. Figure out how comfortable you are letting them ask questions—and remember that you have the right to “pass” at any point if they ask a question that feels bad or uncomfortable. (For example, you could say, “Actually, I’d rather tell you more about X right now, rather than Y.” Or, “That question is a little uncomfortable for me. Let’s skip it for now.”) Start and end the conversation with some clear takeaway messages of your own so you know that you’re communicating what’s important to you. You might try rehearsing this conversation beforehand with a friend or someone else you trust.

I don’t know much about your specific situation, and I don’t know how you feel about not working because of a disability. Please feel free to post a comment or send an email with any follow-up questions, comments or concerns!