Dating with NVLD (and its comorbidities) has been difficult for me. I’ve had many failed relationships, and though I’ve had these failures, I still believe someone is out there for me. This is a letter to my future partner about me and my NVLD and how I should be treated.
Dear Future Partner,
I have now told you that I’ve had something called non-verbal learning disorder, or NVLD for short. After your confused looks, I explained to you what it is and what it involves. It’s a lot to absorb and I am sure you haven’t been able to fully grasp it, but here are some things you should know about how NVLD affects me and how it may affect us:
I get overwhelmed very easily in social situations. Between the crowds, the sensory overload, and my NVLD making it hard to process everyone’s body language and intentions, I will either meltdown or completely shut down. When I tell you that I need to leave, it’s not something that should be taken lightly. If you find me hiding in the host’s bathroom during a party, don’t be alarmed. Come check in on me and make sure that I’m doing alright. Give me a hug and make me laugh.
I need you to know can be messy and disorganized. I forget to do seemingly simple tasks, such as close a cupboard or put a dish in the sink. Though it has improved a lot since I was a kid, my NVLD still impacts my executive functioning. In addition, housework fatigues me because of the coordination issues that I experience from NVLD. What seems easy to everyone else, takes three times as much energy for me.
I also need you to be patient with me. I make a lot of mistakes. I misread situations. I get insecure and doubt that you still want to be with me. I may ask a lot of questions, and I need you not to get annoyed with me. I need you to clearly and openly communicate with me. I need you to tell me when I misread something, and that you still want to be with me. I’m a verbal communicator because of my NVLD and take full advantage of it. It’ll help both of us in the long run.
I need you not to pressure me. I’ve lived long enough with NVLD to know what I feel comfortable doing and what I feel that I cannot do. It may make me seem stubborn, but I am doing it to protect myself and to feel secure in a world that was not built for my brain. Don’t tease me because my visual-spatial delays make it impossible for me to ride an escalator. Don’t show resentment over the fact that I cannot drive yet. Be kind about it and try to be empathetic.
Above all, I need you to realize that I’m a person. I am more than my disorders. I am beautiful and capable and strong. I have a great sense of humor and I’ve done things in this life that many can only dream of. I have a career and my own place, and I’m letting you share my world. I have my own feelings and desires, and though I don’t always know how to express them properly, they are still valid. I need you to love me for who I am and care about me as a person; not my disabilities.
Thank you for being such a great influence in my life. Thank you for being there for me, even when it may be difficult. Thank you for sticking by me, even though you couldn’t have imagined dating someone with a disorder like NVLD. You’re the best.
Julia is a 20-something paralegal and disability rights advocate in Buffalo, NY with her black cat, Marcello. She has NVLD but has not let it define her life. Her sense of humor and ability to get right back up when she falls has allowed her to be a successful adult. I am a Project Social Ambassador for The NVLD Project.Share your own story