How to Date a Girl in a Wheelchair

First, never assume you are dating a handicapped woman. You are going to discover she is a woman, first and foremost. She just happens to be in a wheelchair.

“You decided to date a girl in a wheelchair?” my mother commented. “Hmmm. I wonder what your father is going to say about that.”

Until she asked the question, it never occurred to me that Melissa’s wheelchair would ever enter into the discussion of the girl I had invited to have dinner with my parents.

I met Melissa at an Intro to Statistics college course. I am impossible at number. When the professor in a quiet monotone asked me for something called the Pearson R, my mind went blank and my eyes crossed.

Then this beautiful woman in a wheelchair shoved a paper under my nose and fixed me with a dazzling smile. I swear it was love at first sight.

But, I was on the horns of a dilemma. How do you go about dating someone in a wheelchair?

Tips for Dating Someone in a Wheelchair

Like any avid student, I decided the best way to find out was to do some research. Here are some of the things I discovered about the etiquette of dating a handicapped woman.

Tip #1 Not so Different

First, never assume you are dating a handicapped woman. You are going to discover she is a woman, first and foremost. She just happens to be in a wheelchair.

She is far from disabled. She can do things from that chair that most of us would never dream possible.

So, first, get that chair out of your head. It’s just an accessory. Focus on how much she’s like others you’ve dated not different from them,

I love the line from a friend:

“If I thought that girl needed help, I’d jump right in. But, seriously? She’s not disabled or challenged or handicapped. She’s downright able and handy!”

Tip #2: Don’t Over Help!

That beautiful woman in a wheelchair has probably been propelling her chair expertly for eons. Of course, do the gentlemanly things you’d do for any date like opening doors, offering your hand when she gets out of the car, pulling back a chair so she can roll up to the table.

Treat her like a lady—not a person in a wheelchair.

But don’t push her chair without asking. Don’t manhandle her out of the car and into her wheelchair or out of her chair into the car.

Ask how you can help. Chances are she has transfers down to a science. You’d only be in her way if you tried to help.

If she offers to take her vehicle to accept. She knows how to transfer from it. This may alleviate a lot of awkwardness for both of you.

Tip #3: Think Twice Before You Speak

People in wheelchairs have heard all the supposedly humorous comments:

  • “Must be nice to have a chair while others have to stand in line.”
  • “May I have a ride?”
  • “Do you get speeding tickets with that the thing.”
  • “Don’t drink and drive.”
  • “Lucky for us you get preferred parking.”
  • “Do you know..? He’s in a chair too.”

Pickup lines are almost always lame. Ones aimed at your date’s wheelchair or her disability are crass and insensitive. They are not funny. Think twice and then speak.

Tip #4: Strangers will always Stare. Get used to it.

how do you date a girl in a wheelchair?

Your girlfriend in a wheelchair is accustomed to stares from strangers. It doesn’t mean she likes it. But she has grown to accept the stares. You may be uncomfortable.

People are curious. They are always going to pay attention to you and this girl whom you have decided to date.

Resign yourself to the fact that being stared at in public will become the norm for you. Get used to it or get out of the relationship.

Tip #5: It’s Okay to Ask Questions!

Every relationship needs open communication. This is even more crucial you’re dating someone with a mobility challenge.

It is not just fine. It is imperative to ask questions about dating things like how things are going to work in the bedroom.

Don’t be afraid to ask about how your date ended up in a wheelchair. Even pointless questions should not be avoided.

Your questions may well make the difference between having a rewarding, healthy relationship and one that falters and dies.

Tip #6: It’s Okay to Use Humor

If something irritates you—like others who jump in to help or those who stare. Politeness is important. However, when strangers act rudely, like asking questions that are none of their business, it is okay to have a snappy rejoinder.

It may relieve the tension and ease an awkward moment. Just don’t embarrass your date with your remark.

So, if they ask if you’re able to have children, or they assume you’re the caregiver, reply smoothly and with wit.

Tip #7: Acknowledge that there are some Perks

Dating a person in a wheelchair comes with some unexpected perks for you. You can get front-of-the-line treatment at concerts, planes, trains, and buses.

Parking is a bonus. Your wait at sports events or amusement parks is shorter. Some places even comp companion seats like movies or live theater.

While they are no reason to date a girl in a wheelchair, it is okay to enjoy them.

Final Thoughts…

So, how do you date a girl in a wheelchair? Don’t let the wheelchair be a stumbling block to pursuing someone you are attracted to. See the person, not the chair.

These tips and insights are useful. But, the bottom line is genuine care and respect for each other. You have no control over the chair.

If it reduces the feelings you have for the girl, then do both of you a favor and stop dating a girl in a wheelchair. 

Here is what you should be able to say to her, honestly and sincerely:

“I don’t care about the chair. You’re amazing. I want the whole world to know how lucky I am to be with you.”

Wheelchair Dating Questions :

Is it okay to Date a Disabled Person?

People with disabilities are people first. Of course, it’s okay to date a disabled person. See the person, not the disability.

How do You Hug Someone in a Wheelchair? 

This is a question dear to my heart. Approach from the side, not the front. Footrests get in the way and make frontal hugs awkward for you both. 

How Should You Talk to a Girl in a Wheelchair? 

Talk to her the same way you’d talk to her if she wasn’t in that chair.  See the girl, not the chair.

How should I offer to push (mobility help)?

Of course offer. Don’t just take control of the chair. If she declines your offer, she means, “No!” Respect her decision. Many of us in manual chairs like to control our chairs.

How to Choose the Best Date Location for Her? 

Great question! Choose a spot that is wheelchair accessible and has accessible restrooms. Why not create a list of possibilities and let your date choose or ask for her input?

Writer / Author
Gail Lennon is a published author of children’s picture books and educational materials for teachers. With thirty-five years of teaching experience ranging from kindergarten to adult education, she retired to become a certified editor and ghostwriter. Due to a neuromuscular disorder, Gail has been in a wheelchair for over twenty years. Of necessity and curiosity, she has become somewhat of an expert in hardware and software adaptive innovations for the mobility challenged. Gail writes reviews and blogs about disability technology.
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