Will Storr tells us how he approaches dating apps, and how he got on at a recent first date.
Dating can be scary. As someone who stammers, just the thought of asking someone out is enough to petrify me. So the invention of dating apps has been a godsend. Although, they do bring with them their own challenges.
On dating apps it’s easy to hide behind a persona, so when it comes to going on an actual date I still have the fear of revealing my true self. However, from my experience, usually it’s much better in real life than it is in my head. I want to share my latest experience and show, for anyone in a similar situation, that it isn’t always bad.
I recently matched with a girl on Hinge. We started chatting and after a couple of days I asked for her number. All was going well so I asked if she wanted to go on a date. It’s inevitable at this stage that it becomes very apparent to me that she isn’t aware that I have a stammer. I’m always unsure whether or not to mention it on my profile so I didn’t do it — I don’t want it to define me but I also think that it is helpful to put it out in the open before we do meet. I’ve found that if I don’t, I subconsciously try to hide it and it not only makes it worse, it also means I don’t say what I want to say and don’t show my true personality.
If someone doesn’t want to date me because of my stammer, then that’s fine, but if they are that shallow then they don’t deserve to date me anyway.
So, after we agreed on a date I was trying to figure out how to slide it into the conversation before then. The perfect opportunity presented itself when I was going to my monthly stammering support group. I mentioned to her that I was going and that I have a stammer, and she didn’t seem bothered at all. She was interested in the group but didn’t really ask about my stammer.
The first date
The first date came and I was nervous, but because I’d already told her I stammered, it took some of the pressure off. I stammered plenty, but it still went well and we agreed on another date. And the topic of my speech didn’t come up until the second date.
On that second date, she asked all the normal questions: “have you always stammered?”, “is it nerves?”, “what causes it?” and I gave all the normal responses: I don’t really remember stammering as a kid but according to my parents I did, it got more severe around the age of 12. It’s nothing to do with nerves, sometimes nerves can make it worse but sometimes it can have the opposite effect. And it’s neurological not psychological, there’s a fundamental difference in how our brains work. But I also told her how I often use my stammer to my advantage; in job interviews I use it as something to help me stand out from other candidates, and I once used it to escape being fined for not having a ticket on a train.
We’ve now had our fourth date and things are still going well. I don’t think having a stammer should ever affect my ability to date. If someone doesn’t want to date me because of my stammer, then that’s fine, but if they are that shallow then they don’t deserve to date me anyway.