My name is Marina, and I’m currently 21 years old. I was born with bilateral lower extremity abnormalities. I had a bilateral above-knee amputation when I was fourteen months old. Ever since then, I have been wearing prosthetic legs.
My physical disability has impacted me in all aspects of my life, but it has also taught me resilience, motivation, and perseverance. In fact, my disability has pushed me to thrive in the academic, professional, and social aspects of my life.
One thing that limb loss has affected is my dating life. Although I’ve never been in a relationship, I have many experiences and I’m happy to share my story of what it’s like dating as a female amputee.
Self-Esteem and confidence are essential
Growing up, I was much more self-conscious about my disability in social environments. In fact, elementary and middle school were extremely difficult for me. I would get made fun of, stared at, and pointed at constantly – but that’s because kids don’t know any better.
Due to all of the attention I was getting, this caused me to have a low self-esteem, especially when it came to talking to boys. I used to think that no boy was ever going to like me since I was called “weird.” In high school, kids became mature about it. Nobody made fun of me; however, I wasn’t really flirted with much. All of my friends around me were dating, except for me. Instead, guys were asking me to hook them up with my friends. I was always called the “sweetest friend” or the “sister.”
When I started college, things definitely changed. Being an amputee stopped defining me in the dating world, and it didn’t seem to bother guys. As a result, I’ve gained more self-esteem and more confidence, and now I could say that I experience the dating world similar to those who are not disabled.
To be honest though, I still sometimes have self-doubts. For example, I sometimes think that the reason I’ve never been in a relationship is because I have a disability. I don’t think these self-doubts will ever fully go away, but I’ve learned that confidence makes a big difference.
There are definitely people out there who make subconscious judgments or have internal thoughts regarding amputees. This is something that’s impossible to control.
However, having self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-acceptance can go a long way. I believe that it can truly change the perspective of people that you get to know or go on dates with. I’ve been told by several friends and some acquaintances that they “forgot” about my disability. I’ve even been told by some guys that they didn’t notice!
Being comfortable and open about yourself as an amputee can possibly help the other person feel more comfortable, too.
Tell or not to tell?
I personally prefer to inform men about my disability and how I became an amputee, prior to the first date. I tell them because I’m now very comfortable with who I am.
I start out by telling them that I’m an amputee – sometimes people assume that I hurt my legs, that I’m wearing leg braces, that I have issues with walking in general, etc. Then, I tell them how I became an amputee. I think it’s important for amputees to realize that people are genuinely curious, and that some people care to know how your amputation has played a role in your daily life.
I feel that if people can see my disability, they should know the story behind it. I know that if the roles were reversed, I would want to know the story. I even mention that they are more than welcome to ask me any questions they have. Some men shy away from asking, thinking that they’ll offend me. Others ask away. It really depends on the individual. However, one thing I’ve noticed is that every individual responds with acceptance.
I’m also open when I need assistance. This consists of simple things, such as asking my date to hold my hand while walking on uneven surfaces, to sit down because I’m tired of walking, etc. I don’t expect the other person to automatically know, and I think that it’s important to acknowledge that.
I know that some amputees may not be comfortable with being asked personal questions regarding their disability. However, this goes hand-in-hand with self-acceptance. I believe that if you accept yourself, it should be okay when someone asks you questions in order to know more about you.
People I’ve Encountered
In the past, I’ve heard that some amputees encounter “weirdos” – or strange people who have a fetish for limb loss. Fortunately, I haven’t experienced that.
Every person is different, and we can’t make a generalization regarding how people view amputees when it comes to dating. Sometimes you’ll encounter people who won’t even look twice. Other times, you’ll encounter people who won’t stop staring. And then there are those who won’t shy away – they may approach you and address your disability straight on, ask questions, or compliment you regarding your resilience. It all really depends.
Would You Date Another Amputee?
I’ve been asked several times if I would date another amputee. To be completely honest, I don’t know what it would be like. I’m open to it, but I wouldn’t say that it’s my preference. I didn’t grow up with any amputees and I barely know any personally, so I feel like it would be a very different experience.
On the other hand, other amputees may prefer this. Some amputees may want to date someone just like them, because they’ll feel that that person truly understands their situation.
My Perspective Regarding Relationships and Marriage
Being an amputee, I feel that relationships and marriage shouldn’t only consist of love and care; they should also consist of perseverance, empathy, and understanding.
When I don’t have my prosthetic legs on, I’m much shorter. Although I am extremely independent, I get some assistance around the house. For example, my mom and sister help me with getting objects that are out of reach for me, carrying heavy things, and cleaning. In addition, I get assistance with walking on uneven surfaces and when I’m out of energy.
Also, when I’m getting fitted for new prostheses, it’s an excruciating process. I have constant prosthetic appointments and physical therapy appointments. My family and close friends are my support system throughout this process. This means that whoever I am with has to be patient and willing to help me, as well as be my major source of support.
Other issues I consider when it comes to marriage are pregnancy and children. Pregnancy may be different being an amputee. It might be more challenging with typical “motherly duties,” such as chasing after the kids or being able to carry them and walk around the house.
The future man I am with has to be very supportive, selfless, and compassionate. I’ve been told before that the advantage I have is that I’ll be sure that whoever wants to be with me will truly love me for me. However, the disadvantage is that it’ll be more difficult for me to find this.
Even though some amputees may struggle with confidence or self-acceptance, they should never lower their standards. They should remember that the most important aspect of any relationship or marriage is unconditional love – someone will be in love with us for who we are, despite our physical differences!