I am a 30-year-old straight man. I have tended to be a serial monogamist my whole life. I was always in a long-term relationship, until my recent divorce. I have been single for almost a year now, and am determined to make a go of living a single life. I don't want to jump back into something intense and longterm.
The complication is this: I am an amputee. I lost my leg because of an accident when I was a teenager, and it's a part of who I am (ironic as that sounds). It's something I continue to deal with, but I haven't really had to do so in the "dating world" much. I have never been a bar kind of guy, and while I can drink, it just isn't my thing. Dating websites have therefor become my avenue to meet women. I don't list this as one of my qualities online, as I expect that in the online dating world, where women, from the sounds of things, are often inundated with emails from potential suiters, I would be easily dismissed as "damaged goods." In general, I expect that the "ick factor" of learning someone is an amputee can be worse when imagined than when seen, and so I feel like I will have a better chance if I get my foot in the door, so to speak. I generally approach divulging this information when the inevitable question about my limp comes up. This tends to happen on the first or second date, though on the occasional one night stand has happened right before we fall into bed, luckily, without them running screaming.
Am I being dishonest with people, to their and my own detriment? I don't necessarily judge people who would not want to date me because of my leg; there are women I don't find physically attractive, and I get it. I don't want to alienate potential matches because of my disability, but I don't want to mislead interested people either. Perhaps they aren't interested in me, they are only interested in what they think I am when I am wearing my pants, but am I really obligated to show the world my residual limb before I go on a date? The fact is that people who don't know me can't tell I am an amputee when I'm wearing my prosthesis; how, and when should I share this information with people I am interested in?
All Left Feet
My response after the jump...
People sometimes write to me not because they need advice, but because they want to hear me say/see my type "You're doing everything right." I think you're one of those people, ALF. So let's get this out of the way:
You're doing everything right.
Which is not to say that you couldn't do things differently. You could, for instance, disclose your disability on online dating profiles, ALF, but that might...
1. Attract the attentions of DPWs (devotees, pretenders, and wannabes). Like a lot of disabled people, ALF, you may not want to be with someone who fetishizes your disability. That's perfectly understandable. It has to be said, though, that some DPWs are nice people who might make wonderful partners. There are DPWs out there who are capable of seeing you not just as disabled-and-therefore-desirable piece of meat, ALF, but also as human being. Not all disabled people can see DPWs as human beings, however, and many disabled people are quite understandably made uncomfortable by the thought of being with people who fetishize their disabilities. If you're not disclosing to avoid DPWs, that's your right.
2. Cost you first dates with women who might be into you if they got to know you. Yes, yes: this counts as deceit. But it is a permissible form of deceit, ALF, like someone waiting until the second date to disclose that he's HIV+ or a major kinkster. When something works against a person in the dating world due to other people's prejudices and misconceptions, that person—the amputee, the HIV+ person, the major kinkster—can legitimately wait to disclose until after the person they're dating gets a chance to know them. Like an HIV+ guy, you should definitely disclose before you go to bed with someone. And it sounds like that's what you're doing. Good for you.
And here's what I think you should do, ALF: keep going on those first and second dates until you meet a woman with whom you click who...
A. Is attracted to you despite your missing limb.
B. Is attracted you regardless of your missing limb.
C. Is a DPW who can't believe her dumb fucking luck.
But you knew that, right? You describe yourself as a serial monogamist who's already been married once. It sounds like you've had your fair share of romantic successes, ALF, because you're doing everything right. And I think you knew that but you wanted to hear me say it. So I'll say it one more time...
You're doing everything right.