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Perkins School for the Blind

There are few greater thrills than meeting someone amazing for the first time. So much happens in those first few moments.

Maybe it's their eyes and the way they sparkle in the light. Maybe it's their smile and how it makes the corners of their eyes crinkle in just the right way. Maybe. All you know is that with just one look, something is a little bit different. Just as Ed Sheeran says, everything has changed.

‌A woman looks into a man's eyes. Image via iStock.‌


For people who see, so much of what is felt in those first few moments comes from the way a person looks. But what if we couldn't see them? Would we still feel the same way about them after a first meeting?

It's a real question and one that people who are blind or have low vision get asked a lot. To get a better understanding, we asked a few individuals what they wish sighted people knew about dating them.

1. They may not be able to see you, but first impressions still matter.

"The concept of a first impression in a meeting for us is not quite similar to [what] you are familiar with," says Florian Beijers, a 24-year-old computer science student from the Netherlands. "You can see the style of their clothes, the way they look ... [but] we don’t get these details. There is, of course, someone’s smell, someone’s voice, but they don’t always tell the same story as what you would be seeing ... it takes us a bit longer to actually form an opinion on someone."

Still, if you didn’t make an effort to dress up for the date, if you are uncomfortable, or even if you're uninterested in the date, it is going to show.

"I don’t have to see their facial reactions to tell if they want to get out of there, if they are bored," says Tanja Milojevic, 27, who works in the library at Perkins School for the Blind. "I am also interested in how they look to a point ... [so] when I meet somebody, I give them a hug. The hug shows me what they look like in a sense, and that helps form my impression of them," she adds.

‌Two women hug at a coffee shop. Image via iStock.‌

2. Scent is important.

There's a lot of unseen stuff that folks notice that shapes their attraction to someone new. Smells — the ones we cultivate or the ones we don't even realize we have — are a big part of that.

"Body odor is a big one," says Milojevic. "If they smell like sweat and beer and they didn’t brush their teeth — I am not going to be interested."

3. Sound is too.

Like scent, the sound of a potential partner can go a long way to affecting how attracted a person will be to them. It's more than the timbre of a voice; it's everything from the sound of their breathing to their chewing to what their shoes sound like when they walk. Word choices and volume are key, too.

"Their voice is important to me," Milojevic says. "I pay attention to their conversation skills, but also what their voice sounds like."

‌A couple holds hands over a candlelit dinner. Image via iStock.‌

She continues, noting, "You can definitely tell when you meet somebody whether they put a lot of emotion and emphasis into their voice. I personally like that because I can learn a lot about them as a person [and] I know how they are reacting ... if they put a lot more passion into their voice, it’s easier to read them."

4. Spontaneity is fun, but dating is often easier for blind people when they can plan ahead.

Until Elon Musk and Google replace all cars with perfectly self-driving ones, getting around wide distances will continue to be a bit of a challenge for blind and low vision folks. Many people, blind and sighted, rely on public transportation and the schedules that come with it. Having the time to plan travel in advance is important.

5. Don't write off activities like going to movies or the theater. There are apps and tools for that.

‌A woman leans on her date's shoulder in the movie theater. Image via iStock.‌

Going to the movies or a play are time-honored dating activities. Those don't have to be off-limits because you're dating someone with a visual impairment. Lots of movie theaters are equipped with audio descriptions so that moviegoers can fill in the gaps for scenes without dialogue or narration.

And if you aren’t sure if it’s something a blind or low-vision friend would enjoy — just ask. "Better to not assume, better just to ask," Milojevic says.

6. Open communication is key to any relationship — and asking questions is OK.

Every relationship will eventually fall apart if the people in it don't trust each other enough to talk honestly. So talking and asking questions on a date is one of the best ways to get over any awkwardness.

"If you are unsure about something, just ask — we don’t bite," Beijers says. "People start walking on eggshells when they are around someone with a disability; that is something that you shouldn’t do."

"Asking questions is actually a wonderful way to get conversations going and putting yourself at ease," notes Milojevic. "We don’t get offended easily, for the most part, and sometimes just asking 'Is there something that I should avoid bringing up that might offend you' is helpful and will put them at ease because usually [we] will say no."

‌A man and a woman talk over coffee. Image via iStock.‌

Beijers adds, "When you start a relationship with someone that can see and you cannot yourself, at some point, these things are going to come to light anyway, so you might as well start out knowing what you are comfortable talking about, what you feel comfortable discussing, and what you don’t feel comfortable talking about — this is going to help you grow closer."

Beijers has been with his girlfriend, who is sighted, for more than two years. They met at a friend’s party, and he said they grew close because they had open communication from the beginning. "[If] both parties try not to be awkward with each other, I think you come a lot further and have this chemistry that will grow a lot faster," he says.

7. Don't diminish the relationship between a blind person and their guide dog.

‌A seeing-eye dog. Image via iStock.‌

For a relationship between a person and their service animal to work, they both need to trust each other implicitly. Potential partners need to be comfortable with always having a third (four-legged) wheel around and not distracting the service animal from their important daily duties.

"If they don’t like dogs or they are allergic, I don’t pursue it because it is not going to work out," says Milojevic.

8. They don't need a savior or a servant.

Having a partner who is helpful can be wonderful but not when it comes at the expense of being self-reliant.

In an interview with Tab's View, blind dater Abby described her experiences with an ex-boyfriend who used her condition as an excuse to do everything for her.

"I would ask him to not pick me up  somewhere, because I have a guide dog; I wanted to walk on the pretty days," she said. "He would pick me up anyway, and it just drove me crazy after a while, I would tell him, 'Hey! You can just meet me at home,' or something like that. He sometimes would be okay with it, but it got to a point where he would use my visual impairment to his advantage."

Milojevic also had a particularly bad — and creepy — date with a man who enjoying "helping" just a little too much.

"The person was very interested in the whole process of helping me out, even if I didn’t really need the help, and they liked the fact that traveling around an unfamiliar area, I was depending on them," she recalls. "It was more like they liked having the whole 'dependent/co-dependent thing' going on at that moment, and I don’t know. I didn’t like that. It kind of freaked me out."

"I am capable of doing things myself," she explains. "I don’t want the person to feel like they have to do everything. If I am in a relationship, I want to feel like I’m equal."

9. Blind people date using a lot of the same tools and apps you do — though nothing beats meeting in person.

There are a few specialized dating apps and websites for people who are blind or have low vision, but most don’t offer the same wide pool of potential dates. As a result, more and more people use the same dating websites and apps that everyone uses — or at least the ones that are accessible to screen-readers.

Milojevic says she used to have an online dating profile but that it isn’t her favorite way to meet people. "I had a few experiences on there where it just didn’t go anywhere," she says.

Also, not all parts of dating websites were accessible. "There was a lot on there, a lot of advertisements. And it would freeze up my page, so I got frustrated with it." She prefers meeting people at events or on websites like Meetup, where she can get to know someone face-to-face.

10. Relationships matter because we're people and we matter.

‌A couple walks holding hands by the riverbank. Image via iStock.‌

It's a fact: Not everyone one in the world will seem attractive to everyone else. But all of us, regardless of who we are and what we like, deserve the chance to find love and happiness. Whether you are sighted, blind, or in between, remembering our basic shared humanity is essential.

There are few greater thrills than meeting someone amazing for the first time. So much happens in those first few moments.

Maybe it's their eyes and the way they sparkle in the light. Maybe it's their smile and how it makes the corners of their eyes crinkle in just the right way. Maybe. All you know is that with just one look, something is a little bit different. Just as Ed Sheeran says, everything has changed.

‌A woman looks into a man's eyes. Image via iStock.‌

For people who see, so much of what is felt in those first few moments comes from the way a person looks. But what if we couldn't see them? Would we still feel the same way about them after a first meeting?

It's a real question and one that people who are blind or have low vision get asked a lot. To get a better understanding, we asked a few individuals what they wish sighted people knew about dating them.

1. They may not be able to see you, but first impressions still matter.

"The concept of a first impression in a meeting for us is not quite similar to [what] you are familiar with," says Florian Beijers, a 24-year-old computer science student from the Netherlands. "You can see the style of their clothes, the way they look ... [but] we don’t get these details. There is, of course, someone’s smell, someone’s voice, but they don’t always tell the same story as what you would be seeing ... it takes us a bit longer to actually form an opinion on someone."

Still, if you didn’t make an effort to dress up for the date, if you are uncomfortable, or even if you're uninterested in the date, it is going to show.

"I don’t have to see their facial reactions to tell if they want to get out of there, if they are bored," says Tanja Milojevic, 27, who works in the library at Perkins School for the Blind. "I am also interested in how they look to a point ... [so] when I meet somebody, I give them a hug. The hug shows me what they look like in a sense, and that helps form my impression of them," she adds.

‌Two women hug at a coffee shop. Image via iStock.‌

2. Scent is important.

There's a lot of unseen stuff that folks notice that shapes their attraction to someone new. Smells — the ones we cultivate or the ones we don't even realize we have — are a big part of that.

"Body odor is a big one," says Milojevic. "If they smell like sweat and beer and they didn’t brush their teeth — I am not going to be interested."

3. Sound is too.

Like scent, the sound of a potential partner can go a long way to affecting how attracted a person will be to them. It's more than the timbre of a voice; it's everything from the sound of their breathing to their chewing to what their shoes sound like when they walk. Word choices and volume are key, too.

"Their voice is important to me," Milojevic says. "I pay attention to their conversation skills, but also what their voice sounds like."

‌A couple holds hands over a candlelit dinner. Image via iStock.‌

She continues, noting, "You can definitely tell when you meet somebody whether they put a lot of emotion and emphasis into their voice. I personally like that because I can learn a lot about them as a person [and] I know how they are reacting ... if they put a lot more passion into their voice, it’s easier to read them."

4. Spontaneity is fun, but dating is often easier for blind people when they can plan ahead.

Until Elon Musk and Google replace all cars with perfectly self-driving ones, getting around wide distances will continue to be a bit of a challenge for blind and low vision folks. Many people, blind and sighted, rely on public transportation and the schedules that come with it. Having the time to plan travel in advance is important.

5. Don't write off activities like going to movies or the theater. There are apps and tools for that.

‌A woman leans on her date's shoulder in the movie theater. Image via iStock.‌

Going to the movies or a play are time-honored dating activities. Those don't have to be off-limits because you're dating someone with a visual impairment. Lots of movie theaters are equipped with audio descriptions so that moviegoers can fill in the gaps for scenes without dialogue or narration.

And if you aren’t sure if it’s something a blind or low-vision friend would enjoy — just ask. "Better to not assume, better just to ask," Milojevic says.

6. Open communication is key to any relationship — and asking questions is OK.

Every relationship will eventually fall apart if the people in it don't trust each other enough to talk honestly. So talking and asking questions on a date is one of the best ways to get over any awkwardness.

"If you are unsure about something, just ask — we don’t bite," Beijers says. "People start walking on eggshells when they are around someone with a disability; that is something that you shouldn’t do."

"Asking questions is actually a wonderful way to get conversations going and putting yourself at ease," notes Milojevic. "We don’t get offended easily, for the most part, and sometimes just asking 'Is there something that I should avoid bringing up that might offend you' is helpful and will put them at ease because usually [we] will say no."

‌A man and a woman talk over coffee. Image via iStock.‌

Beijers adds, "When you start a relationship with someone that can see and you cannot yourself, at some point, these things are going to come to light anyway, so you might as well start out knowing what you are comfortable talking about, what you feel comfortable discussing, and what you don’t feel comfortable talking about — this is going to help you grow closer."

Beijers has been with his girlfriend, who is sighted, for more than two years. They met at a friend’s party, and he said they grew close because they had open communication from the beginning. "[If] both parties try not to be awkward with each other, I think you come a lot further and have this chemistry that will grow a lot faster," he says.

7. Don't diminish the relationship between a blind person and their guide dog.

‌A seeing-eye dog. Image via iStock.‌

For a relationship between a person and their service animal to work, they both need to trust each other implicitly. Potential partners need to be comfortable with always having a third (four-legged) wheel around and not distracting the service animal from their important daily duties.

"If they don’t like dogs or they are allergic, I don’t pursue it because it is not going to work out," says Milojevic.

8. They don't need a savior or a servant.

Having a partner who is helpful can be wonderful but not when it comes at the expense of being self-reliant.

In an interview with Tab's View, blind dater Abby described her experiences with an ex-boyfriend who used her condition as an excuse to do everything for her.

"I would ask him to not pick me up  somewhere, because I have a guide dog; I wanted to walk on the pretty days," she said. "He would pick me up anyway, and it just drove me crazy after a while, I would tell him, 'Hey! You can just meet me at home,' or something like that. He sometimes would be okay with it, but it got to a point where he would use my visual impairment to his advantage."

Milojevic also had a particularly bad — and creepy — date with a man who enjoying "helping" just a little too much.

"The person was very interested in the whole process of helping me out, even if I didn’t really need the help, and they liked the fact that traveling around an unfamiliar area, I was depending on them," she recalls. "It was more like they liked having the whole 'dependent/co-dependent thing' going on at that moment, and I don’t know. I didn’t like that. It kind of freaked me out."

"I am capable of doing things myself," she explains. "I don’t want the person to feel like they have to do everything. If I am in a relationship, I want to feel like I’m equal."

9. Blind people date using a lot of the same tools and apps you do — though nothing beats meeting in person.

There are a few specialized dating apps and websites for people who are blind or have low vision, but most don’t offer the same wide pool of potential dates. As a result, more and more people use the same dating websites and apps that everyone uses — or at least the ones that are accessible to screen-readers.

Milojevic says she used to have an online dating profile but that it isn’t her favorite way to meet people. "I had a few experiences on there where it just didn’t go anywhere," she says.

Also, not all parts of dating websites were accessible. "There was a lot on there, a lot of advertisements. And it would freeze up my page, so I got frustrated with it." She prefers meeting people at events or on websites like Meetup, where she can get to know someone face-to-face.

10. Relationships matter because we're people and we matter.

‌A couple walks holding hands by the riverbank. Image via iStock.‌

It's a fact: Not everyone one in the world will seem attractive to everyone else. But all of us, regardless of who we are and what we like, deserve the chance to find love and happiness. Whether you are sighted, blind, or in between, remembering our basic shared humanity is essential.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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