Dear Kat: When I meet a guy, we hit it off and I sense he's interested in me, I tell him that I'm missing most of a leg. I see a definite change in his demeanor and his interest seems to evaporate. The loss of a leg did have a life-altering effect on me, but I'm a whole person. I get around fine and do not require anyone's assistance, so I wouldn't be a burden on anyone. I would like for guys to give me and those like me a closer look. They might be surprised by what they find.
Capable in Albuquerque
Dear C.I.A.: I once saw a guy at a bar who was totally hot. It took me a minute to realize he was also what most people would refer to as a little person. It didn't make him any less hot, but it did mean I had no idea how to approach him. I chickened out because I didn't know how to broach the subject. I may have missed out on the best dating experience of my life. Or the worst. Who knows?
Here's the thing: We live in a shallow world. You've apparently hung out with some pretty superficial guys, which is a bummer, but at least you found out before you fell in love, got married or started having children. I once dated a guy for six months before he let me know he couldn't be with someone who was taking antidepressants. His loss. Same goes for the guys that couldn't handle all of you—their loss. They were afraid of getting hurt by something they didn't understand, and that's what you get when you let fear take over your life. You miss out.
So yeah, those guys you mention should have given you a chance, but you can be glad to some extent they didn’t. You deserve better.
But there's another side to that coin. We all have our deal-breakers. You've got deal-breakers, too. Do you date indiscriminately? Maybe you don't even consider fat guys or homeless guys or smokers. I suggest you quit considering people who might have a problem with your leg. Make it one of your definite deal-breakers. Turn the tables.
Yes, they're missing out. But you're not. Real love won't care if you don’t have your leg, your lungs or enough serotonin to regulate your mood. Real love is rare. So yeah, those guys you mention should have given you a chance, but you can be glad to some extent they didn’t. You deserve better.
In re-reading your question, it seems that perhaps you didn't want advice for yourself. You wanted me to dispense advice to those shallow jerks. You know people who don't ask for advice won't listen to it, right?
Ah, well, I'll project onto the universe and see what happens. It may be the case that those guys just have no idea how to cope with some form of perceived disability in a date, just like me in the case of Hot Short Guy at the Bar. So how do you approach someone you find attractive but who has some personality trait or disability or living situation or anything else that you just don't know how to handle?
Depthless folks, listen up: Learn all you can and get over it. For most of the last decade, I was in love with and lived with a guy who was born with a debilitating terminal illness. People thought I was crazy. I wasn't exactly; I was just in love. I researched the hell out of his illness, scared myself to death with the implications and told those implications to go fuck themselves. As with most issues, all a person needs is willpower and education, and the push of intrigue from the wish to fall in love. It was totally worth it for me, and it will be for you, too.
The right guy will not turn away when you tell him about any of your intimate traits, whether it be a missing leg, bipolar disorder, cystic fibrosis or your love for box wine. He'll take it as part of who you are—not the one thing that defines you—and want to learn more. Until then, don't accept the guys who won't accept you. That, my friends, is sound advice for anyone.