I am a single, mid 30’s guy who is part of a decent sized social group
Another person from this group that I don’t know that well, Laura, approached me at a get-together and said she has a friend she wanted to set me up with. I'm not opposed to being set up, but Laura and I don't really know each other well and I'm not so socially outgoing that going out with just anyone is especially appealing.
I said I wasn’t really sure, trying to politely decline. Laura says she was told I've been set up before, and her friend is great etc.
I was doing the whole “eh I don't know…” thing, trying to not be too brusque with a flat “no” and hoping she’ll pick up on the obvious lack of interest and stop putting me in this uncomfortable situation.
Instead, Laura says she at least wants to tell me about her friend (Kim, 30’s), and starts giving a quick rundown of her attributes & interests, which were all indoor activities. Seeing a legitimate out, I tell Laura that Kim sounds nice but I’m really more of an outdoorsy person and would prefer that in a potential partner.
For a little background, I have a piece of land and I foster rescue animals. This is dogs and cats mostly, but I'll take in fowl and even the occasional horse, sheep, goat, etc. I mention all of this because that is my ultimate life goal, to work in foster and rescue as much as I can, though it isn't my regular paying job.
Additionally, I am a very outdoorsy person. I camp, mountain climb, scuba dive, etc. Even on days when foster care doesn't keep me busy, I spend as many daylight hours as I can outside, doing this or that.
I point out this lack of shared interests and Laura responds that maybe Kim just needs to be given the chance to learn if she’s an outdoor person and I could show her that side of things.
At this point I probably should have just firmly said no, but Laura’s argument struck me as odd, so I said that I think someone Kim’s age has a pretty good idea of if they are an outdoorsy person or not. Laura then kind of hesitantly says no because Kim is in a wheelchair.
I tell Laura that I’m sure Kim is great, but if I was to find someone, it would have to be someone who is interested and able to be a part of the life I am living and trying to build, and it doesn’t sound like Kim fits that.
Laura said that I’m a horrible person for not even considering meeting Kim because she's in a wheelchair and I responded by saying I wasn’t particularly interested in meeting before I learned that fact. Laura called me some choice words and left.
The incident has made its way around my social circle and when asked, I have said that while I was not especially interested in being set up with Kim in the first place, her being in a wheelchair did cement that inclination. This isn't because I think she’s a bad person, but our lives and interests are not compatible.
Ultimately I have the support of my close friends, but I’ve also had several people tell me I’m an ableist POS and such.
Edits from OP:
I do understand that folks in wheelchairs can do quite a bit with certain accommodations outdoors. However a lot of the things I have in mind involve mountain climbing, rock climbing, backpack campaign, etc.
These are things that inherently aren't really accessible to folks in a wheelchair, and ultimately I really am only interested in finding someone who would like to do at least some of these activities with me.
I have multiple goals in life that include hiking the Appalachian trail, the Pacific coast trail, and climbing a few different Mountain ranges. There's a few others in there as well, but none of that is really feasible for someone who is in a wheelchair and honestly I want a partner who wants and is able to join me in at least some of those things.
Is it really ableist to want to be able to share things I'm passionate about with someone?
'if I was to find someone, it sod have to be someone who is interested and able to be part of the life I am living and trying to build...her being in a wheelchair did cement that inclination.'
That right there is the ableism, and yes it makes you an AH.
YTA. If you had just said no, I would have said no problem. No means no, after all. But once you started haggling over which attributes she should or shouldn't have, you became the asshole.
I don’t think you’re the AH but I also don’t think you know enough about adaptive recreation to make this generalization. There’s a ton of people who do these sorts of activities and use wheelchairs. You weren’t interested from the jump but if you keep making these sorts of arguments to support yourself, I can see why people might think you’re ableist.
NTA, as a wheelchair user, being outdoors can be hard in a wheelchair, unless you buy the really expensive kind that lets you go off road. Anyway, you said way before you were told she's a wheelchair user you are an outdoors person, she's indoors.
Doesn't mean you are saying no because of the wheelchair but you enjoy different things in life and that's fine. I wouldn't be happy if people were saying on my behalf it's because they are in a wheelchair not because we don't share the same hobbies!