We’re exploring #love in many forms with first-hand accounts from the frontlines of dating, marriage, intimacy and friendship, all with people living—and loving—with disabilities or challenges like long-distance romance.
Does it seem more difficult to find love if you have a disability? Many of our interviewees said that, at first, yes. (Of course, when is it ever easy, right?) But they all agreed that once people talk and get past questions or concerns, love is love—sometimes it’s messy but mostly it’s marvelous. And these stories show it.
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And how it manifested for him. As time went on, my feelings started to grow for him and started really caring about him deeply. But I still had my concerns: What would people think about my disabled partner? What would my family say? What if people stare at us when we’re out on a date? How can I support him when he needs me?
when it came to dating a disabled man that I was worried about – it was other people’s reactions to my choice that really worried me. In some ways, those concerns were warranted because many people don’t understand what it means to date a disabled man, they don’t have real conversations about it, and they end up making very wrong assumptions about my partner and me.
We were following each other during that time, then one day tweets turned into GChat conversations, and GChat turned into Skype dates. When I moved back to DC last summer, we took it offline and soon after started dating. He was even cuter in person, funny, smart, intriguing, and he happened to be disabled.
Finances are a point of contention in most relationships. Are you able to work full time? Are you on a fixed income from disability? While money isn’t the end all be all in life it is needed to pay bills and provide for the future. Are you and your partner on the same page about future goals? Do you wants a large house and family? Are you able to support this plan financially? Having dreams is awesome but financial planning needs to be realistic and based on what is available to you now. Your chances of winning the lottery are quite slim.
Family planning is an important conversation to have regarding your future and a disability. Are you physically able to get pregnant naturally? Will you have the resources or insurance coverage for medical intervention if needed? Surrogacy and IVF are very expensive and if children are something that is essential to your happiness then you need to think about how this will be achieved.
Are you wondering how having a disability will affect your ability to have a long term relationship? There are some aspects that will change but it doesn’t change the love that you and your partner share. The best way to tackle these obstacles is head on with an open line of communication from day one.
People often hold the misguided notion that disabled people can’t, don’t or won’t have sex. There is a stigma that unfortunately is often internalised by disabled people who often suffer with self esteem problems as a result.
Issues around sexuality and sexual frustration are frequently raised by disabled people who feel that they have less opportunity and ability to explore their sexuality than others.
Having a disability can be a very isolating experience. As well as physical barriers, there is still a huge amount of prejudice towards disability amongst the general public.
In fact, teenage-me thought that if I could snag myself a non-disabled boyfriend, that meant I’d made it. I’d win the battle to just be “a normal person” like everyone else. I’d blend seamlessly into the crowd and wheel off into the sunset with my perfectly-proportioned prince.
and I began to deconstruct my own ableist prejudices. I realised that a huge part of my reluctance to have a relationship with someone else with a disability stemmed from the fact that I was still viewing disability as my own personal deficiency. Once I realised that may of the issues in my life stem from society and the environment, everything changed. Realising that disabled people are not wrong for the world we live in, but that the world is simply not yet right for us, was enormously liberating.
When I was younger, I vowed that I would never have a relationship with another disabled person. Certainly until I was about 17, I was kind of “in the closet” about disability. I knew I had one – heck, I got my first motorised wheelchair when I was 2½ – but I did my very best not to acknowledge it. I didn’t hang out with other disabled people (ew!) and I would certainly have never entertained the prospect of a relationship with one.
The work I am engaged in is the work of building transformative justice responses to child sexual abuse with the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective (The BATJC). We are a local collective and we are not a nonprofit because we believe that it will not allow us to take the kinds of political risks necessary for transformative justice and community accountability (TJ/CA). No one is paid and we work to get everything for as free as we can. We are not “volunteers,” but rather we understand this as part of our life’s work.
I am interested in our internal work. The work with each other inside of our movements, inside of our organizations and groups, inside of our relationships. The way that our analysis by itself is not enough, because what good is it if we can run great campaigns if we all end up hating each other in the process? If it means that leaders who used to be friends now don’t work together to the detriment of our movements? What good is our amazing analysis of TJ/CA if our intervention to violence tears apart our community, and then we need an accountability process for our accountability process?
Remarks from the closing plenary, “Revolutionary Organizing Across Time and Space,” at the INCITE! Color of Violence 4 Conference, March 26-29, 2015, Chicago, Illinois.
As a pre-teen, I watched a deaf couple my parents knew end their marriage of 20-plus years. They had three children and it was devastating to see their family being ripped apart. I am sure there were many reasons why the marriage failed, but it became apparent that because of their disability they had in many ways isolated themselves from others. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a major cause in their failed relationship and it became something I thought about when I imagined a future spouse.
I know there are many happy couples out there where both spouses have disabilities, such as TLC’s The Little Couple, but there are some valid reasons why a relationship between two disabled people doesn’t always make sense.
Although Annae Jones’ life may sound ordinary, it is far from it. This married, mother of two was born missing both her arms. She uses her feet to do pretty much everything from baking, driving around her kids and writing. Annae has a Communications …