So here we are. We've spoken about realizing that someone you're interested in has a disability, and meeting that person despite any hesitations. What happens next?
Well, as with any dating situation, anything is possible; maybe there is no chemistry, perhaps you two click and become friends, maybe there's some sexual chemistry, or maybe, the two of you have a genuine romantic interest in one another and you go all in.
To be completely transparent, this is the area that I have the least personal experience with, and unlike the last two blogs, I have not asked for the input of others. This blog is merely going to be me giving you the most balanced perspective I can, based on the insight that I have.
Read as: opinions may vary. And with that, we move on.
So. You met an individual, you have taken to them more than you ever expected, and now you are genuinely invested, and want to see if you can make something work for the foreseeable future. In other words, you're all in.
What does that look like from a big picture-perspective?
The answer is, who knows?
As with any relationship, there is no textbook for success; it's not a mathematical equation in which 1+1 = success. Every relationship has different variables that make it what it is for the people involved.
That said, when it comes to the disability element, I believe there are elements to be mindful of.
My biggest fear when/if I am ever in a relationship, is having my boyfriend take on the role of primary caretaker. I am going to tread carefully, as this is a complex dynamic. I am in no way saying that people in relationships should not do whatever they can to help their loved one in any way they can; you should. However, when dealing with day-to-day care, I believe it is essential to have outside help for the majority of things the person with a disability may need help with.
Love can be a fragile thing, and fatigue is real. I believe it's essential to do everything within one's power to protect, and manifest the love you have in your relationship. That means focusing on the two of you, not the needs of one.
I am not saying that the non-disabled person should never assist with physical needs.
Using myself as an example: Please open my bottle of Fiji; I can do it, but it's way harder than it should be, and I don't care to struggle. Also, future boyfriend,/husband/ my person, please know that you will always be cutting my pizza, because I will not eat pizza with my hands. I just won't. Deal with it.
Along the same lines, let's talk about individual activities. Let's say that you're dating someone in a wheelchair, but you love to scale Mount Kilimanjaro. — You should do that. — I completely disagree with the notion that someone cannot, or should not do something because it is not something accessible to both of you. Fuck that. Live your life. True love is compassionate, and your partner should get joy from your happiness, even if they aren't a direct participant.
What I'm about to say next is going to sound contradictory, but go with me. Let's say there is an "emergency" situation — like having to use the restroom unexpectedly or needing help moving from one place to another for whatever reason. Be prepared to do those things on occasion. It's not going to be romantic, it is not always going to be pleasant, but that is the reality of the situation you have chosen to be involved in. There will be different needs that arise occasionally.
To sum this up, find a balance, and always have an honest dialogue if you feel that balance shifting because that is the only thing that will give you the chance of success together.
On the flip side, let's say that the roses in the garden have wilted, and one, or both of you, feel you are no longer getting what you need from this relationship. Don't be afraid to let go.
I have heard that there is some guilt that comes along with "leaving" someone who is disabled, because there has been exposure to a side of life, and a struggle you may have never seen, and in an attempt to not add to the difficulties, people stay in because they feel trapped.
Don't. Disabled people can be assholes too; there's nothing wrong with moving on if you are no longer feeling fulfilled. Relationships are about two individuals who come together to make each other better, without losing their sense of individuality; keep that in mind.
Communication is key.
Honesty is a must.
And the fear of the unknown is okay; because true love can overcome fear.