By Alicia Carver
Finding love in this day in age can be a challenge, to say the least. So many people looking, so few truly special matches.
We live in a world of convenience and nearly everything we do in this digital age is done from our cell phones.
Convenient for most.
How does that convenience translate to dating after losing limbs?
Amputation and Body Image
I’ve had bilateral below-knee amputations (first my right leg, then the left), and was single for both of them.
As amputees, we go through stages of grief. Once we lose our limb, we have to learn to walk using a prosthesis (without falling over!) and try to conquer our new life with the tools that will help us live in a way that makes us happy and feel like a productive member of society again.
Not to mention dealing with body image issues. New amputees go through many of the same thoughts and feelings we all did when we were going through puberty.
This was a challenge for me. I had two years in between my amputations so, in a sense, I went through this stage twice. After working to overcome those feelings, dating was something that I wanted to try again.
Rebuilding Self-Esteem After Losing Limbs
I know that I have been blessed with a very strong support system in my family and friends, but I really struggled with feeling comfortable in my own skin as an amputee in front of a man. I had many thoughts of doubts that I had to work through. Dating can be hard enough with legs and I really questioned if I would even find a man that would find me attractive.
I had to work on my self-confidence and self-acceptance before I felt I was ready to go on dates. My preferred way of meeting men is by using dating apps to help me to find and connect with men. I am very open with my limb loss so I include in my dating profiles that I’m an amputee and include full-length photos showing me wearing my prosthetic legs.
In my experience, I’ve found it easier to be upfront about my amputations, as it helps me weed through some of the people that I should not invest my time in. Amputation does not define me, it’s just a part of my life’s journey, but some people only see my prosthetic legs.
Putting myself out there on dating apps and started to get responses, amputations and all. This alone was a great way to help me rebuild my self-esteem.
Dating as an Amputee: The Three Categories of Men
Dating in the modern world has definitely led me to some interesting people, and they typically fit into a few categories.
The first one is the “Man of Many Questions.” These guys genuinely just want to learn more about limb loss, as they may not know any other amputees. I don’t mind answering questions about my amputation as long as it is done in a respectful manner and not the sole focus of the conversation. Sometimes it’s like playing a game of twenty questions but they don’t stop at just twenty.
Then there are some men that are just hyper-focused and can’t take their attention off of my prosthetic legs. In their mind my prosthetic legs have a bright red light flashing on them seeking their attention. They can make me feel very uncomfortable and wanting to exit the date as fast as I can. Sometimes I send the SOS text to my best friend to call and give me the classic fake emergency excuse. I swiftly block all further communication.
Finally, there are men that see me as a normal person that just happens to take her legs off when going to bed at night. They make you feel at ease and that you are a human being and not just part robot.
We all get through dating at our own pace, I hope you know that you are a beautiful human no matter what your amputation level is and that you deserve love too.