Blind dates: To declare or not to declare, that is the question

Modern dating offers a wide range of challenges for the visually impaired

Peter Gorey: “Let’s face it, trying to meet that special someone these days is quite a tall order.” Photograph: iStock

Peter Gorey: “Let’s face it, trying to meet that special someone these days is quite a tall order.” Photograph: iStock

 

Have you ever walked down a street littered with land mines or swam in a pool full of sharks? Probably not. So welcome to the world of online dating. A wondrous world full of profiles and photos. Some real, some enhanced, some a little dubious.

Let’s face it, trying to meet that special someone these days is quite a tall order. Throw an impairment into the equation and all of a sudden the Empire State Building looms large into view. You’re standing right beside it. You get word of a possible special someone on the top floor. However all the lifts are out of order. Time to start climbing.

Step 1: The profile
To declare or not to declare, that is the question. If Shakespeare was still knocking around no doubt he would have some wise words to offer the vision impaired online dater as to whether or not to be upfront about their impairment. After all this is the man who brought us Romeo and Juliet, arguably the greatest love story ever told. (Now how did that one end again?)

I can proudly say that I have swung both ways, in a manner of speaking, on the declaration issue. Initially I decided not to declare my vision impairment on my profile, choosing instead to drop the news delicately into one of my messages whenever I was fortunate enough to make online contact with some budding Juliet.

I recently decided to update my photo, my previous photo with a portrait of Samuel Beckett in the background just wasn’t cutting it. Sorry Sam

I have since decided to take the bull by the white cane and declare. It does open the door to instant judgment and dismissal, as I do believe there is a certain fear of disability and impairment out there, a fear of the unknown. However, it saves on awkward explanations and sympathy from someone I’ve never met.

Step 2: The photo
There are different options available here: Current, not so current, available on request and just not going there. The latter option is the short route to nowhere. Available on request is off putting. A younger version of one’s self seems to be a popular choice – Quelle surprise. I recently decided to update my photo, going for a simple selfie in my apartment. My previous photo, with a portrait of Samuel Beckett in the background, just wasn’t cutting it. Sorry Sam.

Step 3: The messaging game
And what a game it is. Sending many messages, getting very occasional replies, some of which lead to the promised land of a date, others to an abrupt end, without explanation. Recently I exchanged many nice messages with a very pleasant-sounding individual. All was going well until I made the mistake of daring to suggest we actually meet in person. End of messaging. No explanation. On another similar occasion there was an explanation for the breakdown in communication . Juliet had come across another Romeo. It seems there is more than one Romeo out there. Drat.

Peter Gorey: “I recently decided to update my photo, going for a simple selfie in my apartment”
Peter Gorey: “I recently decided to update my photo, going for a simple selfie in my apartment”

Of course there are times when the messaging thing goes very well. Sometimes too well. One time having made it to the promised land of the date after two weeks of very positive exchanges I was greeted with a very warm hug come meeting time on the big day. An hour or so later the temperature had dropped considerably. No second date.

The trouble is that messaging and meeting are as closely related to each other as chalk and cheese, Tom and Jerry, even Gerry and Ian.

Step 4: The Date
Having somehow successfully negotiated the first three hurdles, I have on occasion made it to the final fence: The Date. The finishing line is in sight, I can hear the fanfare.

Maybe I should have been an electrician. It seems I score high on the lovely guy barometer but not so high on the romantic sparkometer

Alas, as many a second placed Grand National horse might whisper in your ear, it’s a long run home from the last. In my experience my limited eyesight is not a major factor on these occasions, leaving aside the occasional individual who grips my arm with absolute terror for fear that I might tumble down some stairs.

The date is where the whole chemistry/ romantic spark equation comes sharply into focus. It’s a two way street and the sparks have to be travelling back and forth, which is easier said than done. Maybe I should have been an electrician. It seems I score high on the lovely guy barometer but not so high on the romantic sparkometer.

And so I remain optimistically in search of my Juliet. I know she’s out there somewhere, waiting patiently for me.

Let’s hope she doesn’t have to wait too much longer!

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