As a Disabled Latina, I’ve been on my fair share of dates. More so since getting out of a serious relationship. Since jumping back into the dating world, I’ve noticed some mistakes people make when it comes to dating myself and my peers who have a disability and are part of the Latinx community. So if you’re going on a date with a Disabled Latina, but you’re a little nervous because society has played you to think Disabled Latinas don’t exist, or that the date won’t be good because they’re “different”, well let me put your mind at ease. And hopefully, show you the light by giving you the do’s and don’ts of dating a Disabled Latina.
I guarantee after reading this, you’ll be going on some of the best dates of your life…because Disabled Latinas are pretty dang amazing.
1. Don’t Ask “What’s Wrong With You?”
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Often times, when I go on a date with someone, it doesn’t take long to find out that I am the first disabled person they’ve dated. It’s never something that’s big deal for me… that is until The Question comes up. So I’m here to tell you, f the love of Dios, don’t ask “So what’s wrong with you?” Not only can it be hurtful, but it also lets me know you see my disability as something that’s bad. A lot of disabled people view their disability positivity and something that we love. If you ask what’s wrong with us on a date, it just lets us know that your only focus is on our disability and not us. It also puts us in an awkward position if we’re not comfortable yet telling you about it.
2. Do Leave It Up To Us To Talk About It
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It’s not that myself or fellow Disabled Latinas are against you being curious about our disability. It’s an important part of our identity and one we’d like you to learn more about if we begin dating. But instead of pushing questions on us, leave it open for us to disclose when we feel ready. Focus on the date, get to know us, make us laugh. The more we see you’re getting to know us for us, the more we’ll feel comfortable talking about our disability with you. Trust me, we’ll do it on our own time because it’s important for the relationship. We just wanna know you’ll let us go at our own pace.
3. Don’t Make Us Feel Bad If We Can’t Dance At La Fiesta
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We all love a backyard family kick back. While you’d love to dance, sometimes we have to sit out of dancing because either our chronic pain is at an all-time high, or the dance floor isn’t accessible for our mobility aid etc. The last thing we want is to feel guilty when we can’t participate by hearing “Are you even Latina if you can’t dance?” “It’s in your blood, you should be dancing!” I know that seems impossible to believe that people actually say that, but trust, I hear it at almost every party I go to when I can’t dance…especially from my date! Sometimes our disability will get in the way, and that means we can’t participate in the classic Latino pastime. Just because we can’t dance doesn’t mean we don’t love and appreciate our culture, it just means right now we can’t do it. So please, try to avoid those statements.
Do ask If we’re up for dancing though!
Now just because we might not be able to dance the day of the party doesn’t mean you can’t ask. It all depends on how you ask, a simple “Hey, you up for some dancing?” will go a long way. Honestly, the question lets us know you’re interested while also letting us still feel included but not forced. It gives us the option to assess our bodies and decided if we can or not verses just being told “how come you don’t wanna dance?” or “you should be dancing!”. It makes the whole situation guilt free when we have to decline. We love going to the parties with you and being with you, and if we can, we’ll let you know we’re ready to get down!
5. Don’t Touch Our Mobility Aids Without Permission
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Dating a Disabled Latina means that you may also have something very important to them joining you, their mobility aid. It can be a cane, wheelchair, crutch and many other things. The one thing to remember is to not touch their aid unless they give you permission. You may want to help push their wheelchair while you two go for stroll, or you may want to grab their cane for them when you leave a restaurant, but don’t. Aids can be very expensive and often times they can break when handled in the wrong way. A lot of Disabled people generally don’t need help if they are using their aid and while the intention is nice it can lead to frustration. When I use my cane, I have full control over it and how it helps my legs. When a date has grabbed it from me or for me, it throws off a routine and can put me in danger of falling. You don’t have to be afraid of our aids or even helping but simply ask if you can help or wait and let us ask you for help and we’ll let you know how to.
While we may not want you to touch our aids, that doesn’t mean you can’t show affection by holding our hands. When I first started using my cane, I was terrified that my partner wouldn’t hold my hand while we were out. It sounds silly but we’re never shown in media of Disabled Latinx using aids while doing cute date things. Not only is holding hands just adorable but mira it also lets us know you’re not focused on our aid. Honestly, that’s a huge turn on. You’re cute, my cane and I are cute, so let’s hold hands and be cute together.
6. Don’t Assume Our Accessibility Needs
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I’ve had dates that for the most part know about my disability, and have been very considerate. But sometimes they’ve crossed the line by assuming my needs and make a huge deal about it. I make it pretty clear to people I’m with that I’m okay with stairs, I prefer elevators but stairs aren’t an issue for me as long as I can hold a rail. I also make it clear (as most disabled people do) that I will let a person know if I can’t do something. This issue starts when a date begins to bombard me with statements when we’re out and we see stairs like “Oh there’s stairs, but we don’t have to go up it. I’ll find the elevator, I don’t want you to get tired or hurt your legs. Let’s be safe with the elevator.” Man, at least let me decide if my legs are up to it. Don’t just assume you know my needs and how my legs are before I even do.
7. Do Ask About Our Accessibility Needs
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This one might be a little confusing since I just said “don’t assume our needs”. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ask about them and learn. Disability is fluid and sometimes we need a certain accommodation one day, and the next day we don’t. Some days I can jump, skip, climb without my cane. Other days I need my cane to just walk to the store down the street. Accessibility needs change for a lot of Disabled Latinx daily. It’s really nice when a person I’m dating acknowledges that and before we get our day started every time we hang out, they ask “Hey, what should we avoid today?” Letting us decide what’s best for our body.
8. Don’t Ask “Can You Even Have Sex?”
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I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard this from dates. DO NOT ASK THIS QUESTION NO MATTER HOW CURIOUS YOU ARE. Plain and simple, it’s rude. Sure, on a date you are thinking about sleeping with us because hello, we’re attractive. But for some reason dates think because we’re disabled they can just boldly ask invasive personal questions about our bodies as if we owe you an explanation. You wouldn’t ask a non-disabled person that, would you?
For a lot of people including myself, when I go on a date I’m also thinking about sex. So it’s not a bad thing entirely if you’re wondering what sex will be like with me or another Disabled Latina, but asking straight out like in number 9 is again rude. This curiosity and confusion is from our sex education letting us down in this country but especially when it comes to sex ed for Queer and Disabled people. There are better ways to communicate you’re interested and let us let you know if we’re up to it (consent people). But just know some disabled people love to have sex and some aren’t interested either because of their disability or because sex just isn’t their thing. Just communicate and have an actual open and respectful conversation with us.
9. Do Help If You Can When We Ask
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While myself and others don’t want or expect you to be our caregiver, there will be times we might ask for help. And generally, it’s not anything major, just a “Can I use you for support while we stand here?” or even a trip to the ER. My last relationship, the ER was our place. We would go and basically just having him there as support was enough for me. Majority time when we ask you for help, it’s for something simple like grabbing something or just being present and supportive.
10. Don’t Speak Over Us
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If you’ve been dating a Disabled Latina for a while you might become a little protective of them. And while that’s “cute”, it can also lead you to speak over us. There have been dates who know my disability pretty well that have done this when they’ve brought me to a party or lunch with their friends. If a person at the party/lunch says something insensitive or suggests to do something I can’t physically do it, my dates suddenly advocate for me and essentially outs my disability in order to “fix” the situation. You mean well, but generally, myself and Disabled Latinas can speak up for ourselves. We’ve grown up with this kind of thing, so we know how to handle it, tu sabes? If we need backup, we’ll let you know.
11. Do Support Our Disability Pride
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It’s no surprise us Latinas are proud AF about our Latinidad, but for Disabled Latinas, we get double pride. We are filled with pride and love for our culture and most of the time, our disability. Disability culture is rich and filled with diversity and for Disabled Latinas, it’s just as important as our Latinx Culture. Nothing is as big as a turn on when a date actively supports our Disabled Identity. That can be in taking us to accessible places, sharing our activism online if we create it or just hearing us out when we need to vent or celebrate a win in our community. Having a date or partner that is so open and accepting of our identity is such a refreshing thing.
12. Don’t Bottle Up Your Confusion About Disability
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This entire article has been a lot of information and can be confusing. You may feel like you need to completely understand everything the first time it’s said or that you have to make sure you remember every little detail about us. You may keep these feelings bottled up and you may end up resenting a wonderful relationship. Por favor, don’t bottle this up. If there’s one thing Disabled Latinas are pretty good at, it’s communicating. We know this information is a lot to take in, but remember it’s not just about you accommodating us, we will be there for you too. You bottling up your feelings and confusion about our disability doesn’t help anyone, let us be there for you too.
13. Do Know, You Have Nothing To Be Scared Of
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At the end of the day, relationships can be fun but also difficult to navigate. Sometimes you may not have all the right answers and sometimes we may not know the right way to explain our disability. But on a date or in a relationship, dating us is work but it’s worth it. We all deserve great dates that don’t make us feel bad about who we are as a person. So take some of these points into consideration and remember, all Disabled Latinas are different and want different things. Just don’t let our disability scare you into missing out on us, we’re amazing!