My Tinder date’s hand deformity

How should I address it when I meet her in person? I don’t want to be a jerk!

Why not speak to her about it now, says our elder. It’s way easier than waiting until you do meet up.

Dear EWC

We matched on Tinder while she was on a business trip in my state, but lives far away. We share a lot of ideals and get along so far. She appears to have a severe hand deformity on one or both of her hands and I’m not sure how that makes me feel. If we were to get to the point where we, say, meet in person, I’m not sure how to react or if I’m comfortable with that. It seems like she can function well enough. I don’t want to be rude and stare or ask about it, but I feel I wouldn’t be able to help myself. I’m not trying to be shallow. It is just… unsettling, and I don’t know how I would feel about it. I don’t want to be a jerk and lead her on just because of my discomfort for something she probably has accepted by now, but she is really cool and smart. So I guess my question is this; what is it like regularly being around those kinds of deformities and how do you cope so as not to be a jerk?

Folk replies

I understand your discomfort. You haven’t actually met this woman in person yet, and you’re not sure how you’re going to react to her deformity when you do. You like her and think she’s smart and cool but are afraid that maybe you’ll stare at her hands when you meet her and embarrass both yourself and her. For what it’s worth, I think both your fear of being rude and your not knowing how you are going to feel when you meet her are pretty normal. But the good news is: your friend has most likely been living with her deformity all her life, so she’s probably used to this reaction. I think therefore that the best way for you to get over your awkwardness about this situation is to simply and neutrally ask her what’s up with her hand. Let’s face it: Your friend’s deformity is a highly visible one. You’ve already noticed it, so why keep on pretending that you haven’t? Bringing it up now will be a lot easier than trying to pretend you never noticed her hand if and when you two eventually do decide to get together.

I don’t know how severe your friend’s deformity is, but you seem to think that she manages pretty well with it. If you are right about this, you will very likely be able to adjust to it quickly. The first time you take her hand may be a little weird. But after a few times, it won’t seem weird at all. And before long, you will barely notice — or care about it. A deformed hand after all does not affect the humanity, intelligence, or personality of the person attached to it. But you already know this.

It sounds like at some level, you are worried that your friend’s hand might be a dealbreaker for you and that despite the fact that you and she share many ideals, you might not be able to accept her ‘as is’. How you feel, of course, is how you feel. The truth is: To one degree or another we all feel discomfited at the sight of physical deformities. We can’t help the reactions that well up in us — but we can help how we respond to these feelings. How we act on our feelings is, after all, a choice governed by our intellect. In other words, it’s up to you to decide if despite the issue with her hand, you are interested in at least trying to pursue a relationship with this woman with whom you share so much in common and who you think is so smart and cool. If you feel that this is something you want to do, then I suggest that you go for it and see what happens. Her hand may wind up being way less of an issue than you think. But if you don’t think you could ever be with a woman who has a deformity, then it might be best to end things with her now. It would be cruel for you to lead her on and let her think that there may be a future for you the two of you if you already know in your heart that this is not a possibility.

I hope this helps. I am always here if you’d like to talk more about this. Please try to write back if you can to let me know what you decide to do. I will be thinking of you.

Letter #: 448733
Category: Dating/Relationship


  1. I’m really interested to hear if you went on the date? I have a deformed hand from birth and I’m always curious to hear what other people really think. There’s no right or wrong answer. I hate my hand so don’t expect anyone else to accept it. In romantic relationships we can’t help what we find attractive and what turns us off. I’m extremely good at hiding it to the point of boyfriends I’ve slept with not noticing (including a plastic surgeon!) however I do worry about deceiving people.

  2. Hi, I’m so interested as well. I also have hand deformity. Most of my dates have decided not to pursue a relationship with me.

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