Me, myself and I

What have you decided to do for Valentines Day this year? How are you planning to show your love for your significant other at the time of year where we are meant to appreciate the person who has decided to give themselves to you?

Will you be going out for a romantic meal? Perhaps a nice stroll afterwards under the moonlight and stars? Maybe even a flight if you’ve had the forward planning to take an umbrella along on what is shaping to be another windy winter’s night?

That sounds lovely doesn’t it? Or does the thought of relaxing and sitting in the warmth at home sound a better option? I’ve felt like I’ve wanted to have a partner in recent years but for the first time in a long time, Valentines Day hasn’t got me down in 2014 and I think I’ve figured out the reason why.

Skye Dean, pictured with her severely autistic son, Ralphie, believes The Undateables is dangerous for the subject of disability dating. Is this a common opinion? Credit - Skye Dean.

Skye Dean, pictured with her severely autistic son, Ralphie, believes The Undateables is dangerous for the subject of disability dating. Is this a common opinion?
Credit – Skye Dean.

Being single is something I can live with and by finding out today how personality can sometimes be worth more than looks in a relationship, I’ve had an injection of confidence in the finding love stakes!

I’ve never had a valentine or have never been asked if I will be somebody else’s valentine but I don’t think I’ll stay in this situation forever.

Even though I may say so myself, I’m not a bad looking man and I think there is something going on upstairs too. I also feel every person in life can find someone who is right for them, regardless of colour, creed or disability, and social projects like Channel 4’s The Undateables are great ways of showing this.

The Undateables is a programme I love. Having had a chance to find out more about the reasons behind it after speaking to Sarah Spencer, a producer of the programme, I realised it is something made to challenge the perceptions of disabled people and dating.

Rather than show case studies as undateable people, I believe they play on stereotypical views and actually show how they are dateable.

This isn’t a view shared by everybody though as Skye Dean, a viewer of the show who has contacted me through the My Autistic Life Twitter account, feels putting the spotlight on disabled people is something that leaves them open to ridicule.

Where I feel it gives hope, she says: “If you want to show awareness and also equality, why would you not do a show about people dating which would obviously include people of all abilities, gender, sexual orientation etc?

“Why single a show out just for people that are different and draw often unwanted attention for many to ridicule and laugh at? That’s what I would like but I don’t think in society we are there yet and maybe I feel particularly sensitive to it given my situation with my son (Ralphie, who lives with severe autism), and my brother who has Aspergers.”

Dean’s thoughts make me realise how difficult it can be for disability to be addressed. Is the thought of a disabled person finding love a taboo subject, and does disability even matter when it comes to love?

For me, I feel falling for somebody is something that happens. It is a connection that is struck up, a special friendship that takes root without any planning or preparation.

Going back to The Undateables, this is something felt too by Flame Introductions as an introductions agency who appear on the programme.

Responsible for bringing a number of couples together over the last three years that The Undateables has appeared on British television screens, including Mary and Jet from the third series which ended on Thursday 30th January 2014, they want to help people to find love who may struggle to help themselves.

Offering a helping hand is what they do and even though I don’t think I need help myself, I’m glad they have a part to play in supporting others as I think love is one of the strongest and most comforting emotions going.

Having approached Christine Trigg, the CEO of Flame Introductions, to find out why they wanted to show what they do in front of the television cameras, she says: “We decided to become part of The Undateables as we firmly believe we can extend our skills as a matchmaking service for people with mild disabilities.

“We believe everybody should be given a chance to find love. There should be no barriers and we are proving there are no barriers. We are experiencing a high success rate with this division of our company.

“We realise it is difficult for disabled people to find love. This can be due to lack of mobility and obviously a lack of opportunities to meet new people, so this is why we feel honoured to offer our service. It can be challenging to find an able-bodied partner for a mildly disabled person but on many occasions, not unattainable.”

These thoughts make me realise confidence and self-esteem is all you need to find love. Looks are one thing but charm and charisma never fade, and they could be the parts of you that make for long-lasting relationships in the future.

I’m single but I’m happy, and I think I have a lot to give. You do too so if you’re feeling lonely or upset, you have no reason to at all!

Happy Valentines Day 🙂 x

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