Thursday, 25 July 2013

ALS and Dating

As a single man with ALS, especially one in a wheelchair, it is almost impossible to get a date or start a relationship especially once a woman hears those three letters. I am tired of the rejection; I understand the rejection. Think about it. Who wants to start something with a man in decline, a man with such difficult challenges ahead of him? Who would be willing to enter a relationship where the rewards are all so short term and so limited? Most women my age are still in career mode while I am in retirement mode. Most women my age don't have the time, freedom or resources to do the kind of travel and go on the kinds of adventures I want to go on. It is just too much to ask of a woman.

It gets complicated when you take the wheelchair into consideration. This mechanical monster is scary; most women don't know what to do or how to deal with it. The wheelchair is as much a blockade as the man who inhabits it. Approaching a man in a wheelchair carries all kinds of risks, from the fear of making mistakes to questions about ability and physical limitations. Then add in the ALS part and it is an almost impassable barrier.

Most women start with simple self-interest. They don’t want to be a care nurse; it's a lot of extra work in their life that they don't need. They don’t want to enter into a relationship where they might have to help with personal care, mobility, showering or bathing. It is a huge responsibility, building a relationship with someone with limitations, especially with a short timeline. It is a burden and turn-off.

This kind of reaction is completely understandable. It is hard for them to see that I get along just fine without them and when the time comes I will have professional care in place. It is hard for them to see that I already take care of my personal hygiene and will be capable for some time to come. In other words, unlike "healthy" men, I come with a care plan already in place.

They must wonder about sex too. Let's face it, someone with no legs must be bad in bed, only able to lie there and not move the lower half of his body. As time progresses it will only get worse, right? Well there are some challenges for me physically but if you ask any of the women I know, they will assure you that everything that needs to work is fully functional. I may not be a young stud but I am as enthusiastic as anyone else when it comes to sex, perhaps moreso. Yet that is hard to see, and even harder to talk about, when you see someone online or in a public place.

In the end, I understand the real question. What will happen if I fall in love with this guy and he dies? It will hurt too much. For a woman in my age group, her time for recovery after I die is just too short. Starting anew when you are 60 is a hell of a lot tougher than you think. So why bother starting something when you know for sure that you will have to start all over again in a few years?

It's a tough thing to realize, that I am quite simply a bad relationship investment for most women. I understand completely why they aren't interested. They want a whole, functional man who will live into their golden years with them, care for them in their old age, love them forever. Unfortunately what most people don't realize is something I am far too acquainted with. Life happens and death happens. No matter who you choose, one of you will die before the other. Life is a crap shoot; you may meet Mr. Perfect and he could get hit by a truck or die from pancreatic cancer shortly thereafter.

The only difference between me and anyone else is that my timeline is visible. You cannot dream of wandering into the sunset with me by your side. My reality is there for all to see. Why would anyone want to date a certainty when they could date a dream?


  1. A wheelchair wouldn't put me off. Nor would someone with a shorter life expentancy. Love doesn't look at the physical. Don't underestimate all women!

    Who would want to date their dream? That's the fun of having a "dream"'s not attainable. My dream guy was Hoss Cartwright from Bonanza - Dan Blocker! Now that was one hunka hunka burning love! Never got him but I still have my dream!

  2. Hi Denise

    Sufficient to say that I have seen a lot of rejection lately. It may not be all women; perhaps it is just the ones I've met so far. And it may not be ALS; perhaps it's just me.


  3. I've noticed on some ALS forums, that many women of men with ALS, find themselves in the caregiver role, rather than a wife role. (I didn't see girlfriend role mentioned). And of course, the men sounded absolutely sexually frustrated because of their need, and the women just made themselves too tired by caregiving. In the forum, it was interesting that nobody brought up the point that you did, where you get people to do the caregiving part, and that leaves you and your partner, time to actually have a relationship-- where yes, they will probably need to do things to help, but not at the same level a caregiver would do.

    I can't fantom the sexual frustration that must ensue, especially when one is single. We all have sexual needs and desires and urges and a need to release stress.

    I don't know if being an RN automatically makes me feel more understanding of this desire, because I have worked with people with multiple different limits of physical function, including ALS. Perhaps there needs to be more intervention from the health team, to educate partners, wives, girlfriends-- so that instead of getting caregiver burnout, they spend the majority of their time fostering and nurturing their relationship.

    I've thought about this issue a lot, because I know how important simply human touch is and how healing it can be. And how we all have a desire to be loved. I also have a suspicion that Dr's brush this topic under the rug, when maybe it needs to be brought out into the sunlight.

    I just recently met a man with ALS on a dating site. And although it's at the very very early beginning stages, I can tell you that if he's the man I'm looking for, then ALS isn't going to stop me from loving him!