Disability and Dating
Dating is hard. Meeting new people, trying to find common topics to talk about, letting someone get to know the real you… Now imagine all of that with the added pressure of the social stigma that surrounds dating with a disability.
In a recent interview carried out by the BBC, couples spoke about negative reactions that are directed towards them. The common denominator between all the couples is the negative comments they receive on social media. From strangers assuming the abled of the two is a carer; to others assuming that they are together because the disabled person is rich. This highlights just how misinformed people are surrounding the topic of disability and dating.
Our society believes that disabled people aren’t worthy partners. That they need everything done for them, so they can’t possibly offer anything to another person. Of course, this is not the case and just like any other relationship, each person does things for the other, offering both physical and emotional support.
All relationships have their frustrations. Rob and Lorna have been together for 11 years and when Lorna was diagnosed with ME they both had to make adjustments to their lives. The challenges they have faced together have only brought them closer, says Lorna. Our society fails to see that disabled people have the same spectrum of emotions as any other person and more needs to be done to change the way people think.
Do we have the media to blame for making disability seem undesirable? A 2014 survey suggests that while 50% of Brits wouldn’t rule out dating someone with a disability, 44% of British people would completely rule out having sex with someone disabled, which is an alarmingly high percentage.
Shane, who uses a wheelchair, met his girlfriend Hannah online and while she had never met someone who uses a wheelchair before, this did not stop her from entering into a relationship with Shane.
Charlie, who has Cerebral Palsy, says his girlfriend Gina asked a lot of questions when they first started seeing each other, but she’s never been fazed by his disability. When others assume it was difficult for Gina to want to move the relationship forward due to the pressure of caring for Charlie, she is quick to tell them that that is not the case.
All relationships have ups and downs and the majority of couples find that one party is better equipped than the other in certain areas. This is the same whether a person is abled or disabled. Having a disability, does not make it impossible to date and it’s important that our society understands that.