Dating the disabled

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Gems from my life I’ll probably never forget: “This is just a today thing, right? We’re real people, not a trophy on your way to the next Women’s March, healthcare protest or Science Rally.

” “I’m tired of putting up with this, you are exhausting.” “I love you, but will you always be like this? You should care about us because it’s a part of being a decent human being.

One of the biggest frustrations I hear able-bodied partners express is that they did what they thought was something considerate and compassionate, only to have their disabled partner respond with bewilderment, sadness or even anger. Do you really think we want to sit life out on the sidelines? In fact, the more you’re willing and able to help us, the more we can do.

A good bit of relationship for everyone, no matter who or where, is to just ask what someone needs instead of assuming you already know. Being disabled doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped fishing or traveling or going out — it just means it’s harder to do those things alone.

That means taking a look at your own internalized ableist behavior.

Nothing is more depressing than falling in love with someone only to hear them utter or defend ableist comments or behavior. When you’re frustrated about work or sad about a personal loss, we’re there for you. When you say you love us back but you also say things like this, how are we supposed to believe you?

Yes, bring up that medical study or new prescription you heard about. You don’t need to prove yourself; you just need to be responsive. Are you going to not reciprocate, shut down, or gloss over our needs and wants?

But also trust that we know what meds, exercise and tests are best for ourselves. Those are deal-breakers and intimacy-killers in any relationship.

And, if we’re physically or mentally are up to it, we’ll be there. It’s not an end-all if we don’t want to see your friend who makes wheelchair jokes or the aunt who squats down to talk to us on eye level like we’re children.Society does a pretty solid job associating disability or illness with death and fear, impressing deep in even the disabled and chronically ill our lack of worth. Such unkind, ill-considered and immature emotional responses shows that maybe you don’t know what love is. 4) Fighting ableism or dating us doesn’t get you cookie. We aren’t inherently more inspirational for being disabled or chronically ill.That’s hard enough to deal with, and we need your help calling out those insecurities or fears — not adding to the problem. If you’re dating us or having sex with us as some sort of weird way to get a notch on your bedpost or socially prove how progressive you are, walk away. We’re inspirational because we’re doctors and writers and lawyers and engineers and programmers and parents and siblings and really good friends.It’s not just in our bars, clubs, entertainment, social media, churches and other public spaces.A quick sweep of dating advice articles shows a pathetic amount of articles with decent, realistic advice about love and sex (shout out to 2013 article “Love in the Time of Chronic Illness,” a candle in the wind and one of the few worth reading).

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