Dating is hard enough, but for a guy that has Tourette’s syndrome – it can be a lot harder.
Damian Friel, a 26-year-old student and mental health nurse from Derry in Northern Ireland, has opened up about what it is like to date as a gay guy with Tourette’s syndrome, ADHD, anxiety and depression.
‘It doesn’t affect my looking for relationships too much. A lot of people will say they don’t really care, or that I seem like a nice person, and they just want to meet me anyway,’ he tells Gay Star News.
‘The worst one was when I showed up for a date in a really public place….I stood there waiting for him for an hour.
Beard’s coming along 😀👍🏼 pic.twitter.com/C0rehlf0ik
— Damian Friel (@DamianFriel) November 10, 2016
‘It turns out then after he met up with one of my other friends, that he saw me. He saw me ticking. He thought I was crazy and walked away.
‘He left me stood there when my anxiety was sky high, proper red having a panic attack. That was the worst experience I’ve ever had. He’s not someone I would even want in my life as a friend, and not someone I would value a friendship with if they’re going to judge someone on a physical disability. I felt like I dodged a bullet!’
You might recognize Friel from his appearance on Channel 4’s First Dates, a show which pairs people up on a blind date and watches them flirt.
And while he’s no longer seeing Kai, it was a ‘fantastic experience for him’.
He said: ‘He didn’t bad an eyelid, he just ignored it and carried on with the date. It just shows for people’s characters’
Long-term relationship is currently on the back burner, as Friel is pushing towards finishing his degree, running a marathon, and co-hosting the MenTalk Health podcast.
But it doesn’t stop him from meeting guys who really like his tic disorder.
‘Something people which I find bizarre, strange and funny is that they kinda fetishize it!’ Friel jokes.
‘They like, they say “that’s really hot”. Really, this is my disability? That’s not hot at all. Even thought it’s something I’ve accepted, and it’s not something that I find I would use to try and entice people.
‘I don’t know, probably, if I ended up dating someone who fetishized Tourette’s, I’d feel a bit uncomfortable. I’m not sure if I’d be into that.’
Be sure to check back in with Gay Star Support for more videos with Damian Friel. You can follow him on Twitter.