After constantly being bullied for years, Marna Michele found the man of her dreams on Tinder, someone who loved her for who she was.
Sometimes you have to go through a lot of bad dates in order to find the right person, and sometimes it can feel like the right person will never make their way to you.
But this woman and her journey to the altar give hope to daters everywhere.
Learning to Cope With the Bullies
Marna Michele was born with arthrogryposis, a condition that affects the development of the joints. She had surgery the day she was born in order to help it, and numerous others followed. From the ages of five to 13, she had to use leg braces to walk, reports The Sun. Eventually, the strain that walking put on her body was too much, and she wound up using a wheelchair.
As a teen, Michele grew used to bullying. The bullies upset her, but she didn’t let anyone else define her. “In junior high, I was called a cripple for the first time in my life, and I was heartbroken over it. I cried for days, and I finally thought to myself, ‘Why am I crying?’” she recalled.
Still, it was hard. Especially when she tried to date.
“Dating in my younger years was tough; I found that when I was in high school, the boys just couldn’t look past my disability,” she explained. “It was disappointing, but I always knew who the best choice for me [was] because of that fact; I deserve someone who will love me for who I am, disability included.”
Entering the Dating Pool
As an adult, Michele hoped things would get better. But when she joined Tinder to try and find someone to spend time with, things got worse. As it turned out, some bullies just feel more empowered when they have a screen to hide behind.
“I was on Tinder for about six months; very often, I would get inappropriate questions, or I would even get told I was not worth loving because of my disability,” she said.
Michele stuck with it though, and six months into her Tinder experience, she and a man named Robert matched. Right away, their interactions were different. Instead of asking her about her disability like all the men before, he got to know her for who she was.
“Our interaction was very different than anyone else I spoke with through Tinder. Usually, a day into the conversation, the person on the other end would always ask me about my wheelchair and disability,” she revealed.
Going on That First Date
Two weeks after meeting Michele, Robert asked her to go on an actual date. She was so blindsided because the wheelchair conversation still hadn’t come up. At first, she canceled the date; then, following a conversation with her sister, she messaged Robert to ensure he knew she was in a wheelchair. He had a surprising response.
“He replied with, ‘Yeah, it’s on your profile, I don’t care, that doesn’t matter,’” she explained. “I felt so silly for bringing it up, but I was so used to every other guy mentioning it; that was when I knew he was special.”
The date began at a bar, where they talked for hours. Then they went for dinner, and he walked Michele back to her car. There, Robert asked Michele on a second date.
“There are very mean people in the world. But I stuck to it and found Robert. The kindest man I’ve ever met,” Michele continued. “He never once has made me feel incapable or less than. He is supportive and non-judgmental. He constantly makes me feel beautiful and confident.”
From there, the couple moved in together, and eventually, Robert got down on one knee. Two years ago, they got married, and they haven’t looked back since.
Michele is happy, confident, and loving her life. Still, she remembers how much it hurt when kids called her “crippled” and how alone she felt. So a few years ago, she decided to take back the power of the word by starting a website called Crippled Is Beautiful. There, she shares stories of people with disabilities and raises awareness.
“I stay positive for myself and for my fellow ‘cripples.’ I will not allow this cruel world to tear me down, and I hope my positivity can be contagious,” she told The Sun. “You would think [by now] there would be less ableism and more accessibility, but that’s just not the case. My disability is not a curse; it is a challenge I conquer every day.”
On her website, Michele shares the same message.
“If the word CRIPPLED has ever been used against you in a hurtful/harmful way just remember that YOU are beautiful,” she writes. “YOU are worth it. YOU matter. YOU can create your own happiness.”
Finding Love From Within
This beautiful story doesn’t just give hope to anyone going through a tough time dating or who may be wondering when their love life will turn around. It’s also a powerful message about loving yourself first and knowing your worth.
There are so many negative messages out there, and it can be hard to tune them out.
But by ignoring those voices and making your inner, positive voice louder, you can conquer all. If ignoring bullies and walking away doesn’t work, seek help. There are many resources out there for those who are dealing with bullying.
And for those who think words don’t matter, think again. Everyone deserves love and respect, no matter what we look like on the outside.