Disability & relationships

Going into a relationship with someone with a disability is hard for the person with the disability and the person without. Going into a relationship not knowing you have a disability and then finding out you have one is massively difficult, particularly for the person with the disability.

Both scenarios are difficult, but it’s the not knowing beforehand that makes it even more difficult for the person with the disability, because they must come to terms with not knowing, getting to know for the first time, but must also get to understand its implications on knowing and that can throw a life into complete turmoil, literally. It would be like getting to know yourself for the first time, or like being reborn.

Knowing earlier pre-relationship helps that person with a disability deal with their disability on their own, before making a commitment. In my disability, I am governed by my neurological and sensory issues and that impacts on another person’s life.

A person with a disability will always be affected by what they deal with. If the relationship started and the other person was aware of their partner’s disability, at least the non-disabled person will have known what they were going into. There is no precedent on how to deal with a relationship where one person is dealing with a disability and the other isn’t, but we need to continue to be sensitive to that person’s needs.

All relationships need tolerance, patience, empathy and understanding, but couple that with dealing with a disability and a double dose helping of those is what’s required. Do we realistically equate what someone with a disability emotionally deals with daily and do we equate for ourselves how much we must adapt to look after that person?

I’m not sure we ever consciously do. But being better aware of what a person with a disability deals with and the challenges that are presented beforehand will always help. I didn’t have that. The non-disabled partner needs to want to make a commitment and do it gracefully. It’s a selfless sacrifice.

When reality sets in life can be difficult. It’s all in the attitude. We must want to do be a support, regardless of what we give up to do it.


5 Aug, 2015

4 thoughts on “Disability & relationships

  1. All relationships can be difficult regardless if one spouse is disabled or not, but a disability makes it more challenging.

    Even though my CP has never been an issue for my husband, it has its effect on the relationship. It can be difficult for him to understand the emotional distress CP causes me, but he tries to.

    1. I think you’re right Maria, but I can’t help but think that’s part of the problem. I’m not sure anyone really understands the emotional distress of living with a disability, however mild or severe the disability turns out to be.

      Any disability will have an affect on a relationship, but again patience and tolerance has to be part of the equation.

  2. It does seem to be a major issue for people when considering a relationship which I find pretty sad!

    My daughter is a prime example considering she’s 25 and the guys treat her like she has the plague. I hate to imagine what she feels like, because most guys won’t give her the time of day and she’s such a pretty, sweet girl. She told me the other day they were mostly looking for one thing and I just wanted to give her such a big hug.

    She wants to have a normal life like others her age, which can be difficult. I know what it’s like to feel ostracized from the world when people consider you to be different.

    People aren’t very sympathetic or understanding most of the time! They somehow seem to have the impression that people with a disability choose to be that way and can get better if they really want to. I just find that utterly ridiculous and ignorant considering people obviously wouldn’t choose to be this way if they had a choice!

    The world seems to focus more on what people can’t do, which shouldn’t make them less of a human being. I have been stuck in that mindset most of my life which has kept me paralyzed and afraid of the very life that I want to live.

    Now the hard part is to learn to focus more on what I can do and learn to accept that I am only human. If they choose not to want to be a part of my life, that’s their choice and their loss. It aggravates and saddens me, especially in my daughter’s case, where she doesn’t deserve to be treated the way she is sometimes.

    My hope is that she can meet someone who will actually want to be in a relationship with her without making such a big issue over her CP! Relationships can be very complicated as it is, but people don’t seem to want to work at them like they should nowadays.

    1. Thanks Randy. I hope your daughter finds someone who is willing to look past her disability. I couldn’t agree more on the rest of your response. Absolutely!

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