Would you be bold enough to wear a ring that tells the world you’re single and looking for love?
For people who are unfamiliar with the concept, the ‘Pear Ring’ website describes it as ‘the opposite of an engagement ring’ and it’s intended to alert strangers to the fact that the wearer is single and expressly looking for love. There’s a green one for straight single people and a purple one for anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+.
I first heard about it after seeing it as an Instagram ad a few months ago.
Initially, my instinct was that it felt gimmicky and like a cheap marketing strategy – so I wasn’t about to jump on the bandwagon (back in my day, all you needed was a Tamagotchi to tell the world you were single!)
On the other hand, the prospect of cutting out all the ignorance I’ve often faced online as a disabled person seemed appealing.
My dating history has been traumatic and rather dehumanising at times.
In the past, I have found many people using and abusing the anonymity of the internet to ask intrusive questions about my disability like, ‘Can you walk?’ or ‘Can you have sex?’ Others have called me ‘brave’ or even mocked me, saying how they would never date someone in a wheelchair.
I get a lot of men ruling me out because they view disability as a burden or undesirable – many people still feed into the stereotypical narrative that disabled people are sexless beings or unattractive.
As a result, I’ve often struggled with declaring my disability outright in online forums.
I seldom put a full picture of myself online in my wheelchair. Rather, I opt for a headshot. This is with the hope that people won’t immediately dismiss me due to their own unconscious bias or ignorance.
This method, however, has often left me feeling hollow inside. Masking my true identity only perpetuates feelings of not being good enough that stem from my already inflated internalised ableism, which is a common byproduct of living in a disabling world.
I know I shouldn’t have to hide a part of my identity to feel validated by the opposite sex, but this is easier said than done.
After trying online dating for some time during my twenties, I made a promise to myself to stop because, for every nice and normal interaction, there were 10 awful ones. Each message chipping away at my self-worth.
Since then, when I’ve met people, it’s been organically, which – as anyone who is single knows – is not the easiest way to find a mate.
Could wearing a glorified ‘single and ready to mingle’ ring be a way to combat this for anyone like me who has faced prejudice?
Still, the idea of wearing a ring to signal my interests didn’t seem like a great alternative – until I was invited to talk about it on Sunday Morning Live BBC One last month.
While discussing with a producer, I changed my mind about it being a bit gimmicky. This is because I realised it could be a way to empower disabled people to take dating by the horns, as online can be so hard for people like me.
So I made that point on air.
Remarkably, after my appearance, I received a few messages on Facebook from people with the same condition as me who said they are already wearing one or will be buying one.
Knowing that other disabled people have been keen to seek alternative and more comfortable forms of dating only strengthened – in my mind – why we need to start looking at different ways of interacting that are more inclusive.
It got me thinking: Online dating has so many barriers for the disabled community. From inaccessible apps (some online dating forums don’t even have an option for my petite stature when filling out a profile), a lack of policing ableist abuse and non-inclusive representation in their advertising.
But this form of discrimination runs much deeper, of course. It’s a systemic issue that says disability is not worthy of love or valued by society. This can make meeting someone in real life equally as hard as online.
Could wearing a glorified ‘single and ready to mingle’ ring be a way to combat this for anyone like me who has faced prejudice? This feels safer because you know that anyone who approaches you because of the ring is interested and clearly not afraid to also put themselves out there.
Dating should always feel safe and, if wearing a ring is your safety net, I say go for it.
As for me, I’m the sort of person who will randomly talk to strangers and I love a genuine one-on-one connection in real life. I’d also say I’m a pretty good judge of character, which is something that is easier in person.
After my TV appearance, I took a ring home with me. Unfortunately, it was way too big and kept falling off.
My cat, Lola, took a shine to it though and began flicking it and carrying it like a little bug. It has now gone into the toy graveyard under the sofa with the rest of the cat toys.
I haven’t retrieved it, but who knows.
Unfortunately, I have yet to see anyone wear the ring in public, but – in all honesty – if it became a thing, I would definitely get involved. I truly hope I see more people embracing this ring and having the courage to have more human connections.
If I saw someone – irrespective of gender – wearing a ring like this, I would absolutely start a conversation with them. I’d love to hang out with them, even if it’s not in a romantic sense.
I find confidence sexy and what’s more sexy than someone who doesn’t care what others think by putting themselves out there and trying to get what they want?
Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing [email protected].
Share your views in the comments below.
Source: Read Full Article