A DISCUSSION ON DATING WITH PHYSICAL DIFFERENCES AND DISABILITIES

#ShortFilmSingleSeries // A DISCUSSION ON DATING WITH PHYSICAL DIFFERENCES + DISABILITIES: Special Q&A with Sarah Herron the Founder of SheLift and the person I can thank for introducing me to a whole community of amazing people! You may recognize Sarah from The Bachelor! We’re so happy she has found someone great!

MEET Sarah Herron + Dylan H. Brown!
They’ve been together for 2 years!

Q: How did you two meet?
A: I originally hired Dylan as the director to document my inaugural SheLift retreat in Aspen Colorado. We met 2 weeks prior, to ski Aspen Highlands Bowl together so I could brief him on the upcoming experience of filming 7 young women with physical differences learning how to ski for the first time.

Q: What did your first conversation about your physical difference look like?
A: Fortunately, it came as a business briefing over the phone. I was looking for a director and had several director calls leading up to the retreat. So when I had to explain my “difference” to Dylan, I felt confident and in power. Rather than discussing my difference with Dylan in a romantic sense, opening myself up to vulnerability, scrutiny and personal judgement – it was strictly business. From my perspective, I was a female entrepreneur who had nothing to hide. I had come into my story, was fully self-accepting of my difference – it was an incredibly empowering position to be in. Naturally, he fell in love immediately… or so I like to tell people

Q: How do you think your physical difference has influenced your relationship?
Dylan and I have had many conversations about how my physical difference has influenced our relationship – and at the core of our relationship, it’s really what brought us together. We both love recreation, we both love storytelling and we both love expanding our perspectives. I met Dylan when I was helping other young women with physical differences learn to ski. I was confident in talking about my difference from an objective standpoint, and wanted to inspire others to embrace the way they talk about their differences, too. I think Dylan was attracted to the fact that I was so self accepting of my difference and didn’t want to let it hold me back from doing the things I love.

But once we started dating, the intricacies of my difference affected our relationship on a deeper level. Dylan is a recreation enthusiast and for his entire life, he has surrounded himself with friends and partners who were equally as capable of doing the activities he loves. When we started dating, Dylan admitted to me that he never pictured himself dating someone that might not be an able-bodied athlete like he was used to; a girl that could, rock climb, rappel, cannoneer, etc like the rest. Well I showed him! I think Dylan liked the challenge of helping me conquering physical barriers – it was like a new creative brief for him in an arena he’d already mastered. I think it also helped him realize that our athletic ability isn’t what defines us as people. Once Dylan learned that I could do most activities with him, that was enough for him! He doesn’t need to me to be a mega Athleta, or keep up with his level – he just wants to know we can show up to enjoy something together – regardless of how it looks. What I love about Dylan is that he has always taken initiative to help me find ways of trying new things and pushing my limits. He doesn’t coddle me or treat me differently, yet he has a keen sense of compassion to guide me in a supportive way.

Q: What’s your favorite quality about your partner? Explain!
A: My favorite quality about Dylan is that he’s a student – just like me. He’s my mentor, best friend and support system, but he’s also learning as he goes along. He has a rather rugged, strong exterior, but on the inside, I know Dylan is tender and considerate. For as much as he enjoys pushing me out of my comfort zone, I absolutely love observing him in those moments, too. When we leave our comfort zones – in love, relationships, activities and hobbies – we see who we are in the most vulnerable, human way. I find it so refreshing to see that quality in a partner – especially the outwardly tough guys

By Ashley Eakin
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