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In 2004, after years of brushing up against the harsh realities of the dating scene, Leftwich founded No Longer Lonely, a dating site that caters to the mentally ill.
"I thought to myself, 'There should be something like this out there,' and I was surprised to find there wasn't," says Leftwich.
Even in our post-Americans With Disabilities Act society, notes Watson, failing to mention that you're confined to a wheelchair or dealing with another type of handicap might bring a first date to an abrupt end after a courtesy "I'm sorry" drink.
The stigma of mental illness People with physical disabilities aren't the only ones who face stigma while dating.
"But I probably knew everybody in my community and nobody I knew wanted to date me or vice versa.
Lynn lived 60 miles away, but we made it work." By pushing a "friends first" concept, which has been emulated in the communal blog and forum features of Prescription 4 Love, No Longer Lonely, and other illness-specific sites, Date Able members can get up to speed on the dating world in a familiar environment without the prying eyes of the Web.
People with mental health problems, from chronic depression to schizophrenia, have also benefited from specialized sites.
Jim Leftwich, 39, a college librarian from White Plains, New York, has lived with schizoaffective disorder, a condition that combines features of schizophrenia and mood disorders (such as depression), since 1992.For that fee, members get a more personalized experience, as Date Able is more akin to an old-school matchmaking service.The organization has been responsible for almost 1,000 marriages, according to Watson."And let's face it, depending on what [the illness] is, it could very well make you uncompetitive in the larger dating pool." Health.com: 28 days to a healthier relationship Fortunately, there are a number of alternatives.A new breed of dating sites has emerged to play cupid for people with chronic diseases and disabilities.As one of its first members, he should know: He met his wife, Lynn, at a Date Able Valentine's Day party in 1988.