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Busting Misconceptions of Relationships and Disability

Will I find love with a learning disability? | 100% yes

Disabled People Deserve Romantic Relationships

Are you looking for Love with a learning disability? It is often assumed that disabled people, people with learning difficulties or autism do not desire romantic and intimate relationships. But this is a myth spread by an ableist society.  It’s important to remember that romantic love is not exclusive to non-disabled people. Many people with disabilities also have the same desire to love and be loved, and have the right to explore and develop romantic relationships.

Zetetick Create a Loving Environment   

At Zetetick, we help empower disabled people, people with autism or learning difficulties to live their life to the fullest. To do this, we source and provide quality housing with great value for money. This creates a space that feels like home along with access to support from care providers.

Unlike residential homes that are often isolated from the rest of the community, Zetetick enables our tenants to be located within the community, where they can take part in local activities and meet new people. Supported living also gives our tenants a lot more freedom compared to staying in regimented residential homes.

Therefore, Zetetick help to create an environment of both support and independence that may allow our tenants to form romantic relationships, should they wish to do so.

Why Does Our Ableist Society Think Disabled People are Unworthy of Love?   

Non-disabled people are sometimes surprised or shocked to see those with disabilities have romantic relationships. This may be a result of the infantilisation of disabled people within the mainstream media who are rarely included within stories of desire, dating or romantic love. This has played a role in how disabled people are often viewed as asexual, child-like, or incapable of having a serious relationship.

D09B763C F8F7 4D80 8C99 48D1EEE1817A love with a learning disability

People with disabilities are also often sadly represented as draining society’s resources. Under austerity, people who are disabled are constantly told that funding health and social care is a burden.

This attitude is also found within discussions of disability and relationships. For example, within a letter in the New York Times, a reader asked whether it is acceptable to dump a romantic partner when she found out he has a chronic illness. Philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah responded by asking whether the reader was ready to commit to life as a “caregiver” and that no one should have to “accept that burden”.

This discussion of disabled people as “burdens” is extremely dehumanising as Naomi Jacobs states in her article on romantic relationships as a disabled person: “When non-disabled people reduce me to nothing more than a potential difficulty for them, when they don’t recognise that a relationship with me can be as fulfilling as any other, I feel unworthy of love. All because I don’t measure up to societal standards of health”.

Naomi instead shows how romantic relationships between disabled and non-disabled people should not be viewed as “burden and hero”, but rather like any other healthy relationship where the couple is a team who support each other.

YouTubers Shane and Hannah Burcaw Celebrate Their ‘Inter-abled’ Marriage 

American YouTubers Shane and Hannah faced online trolls after Hannah shared their wedding photo on Instagram in September 2020. Images went viral on social media as many people were shocked that Hannah, an able-bodied person, would marry Shane, who has spinal muscular atrophy and uses a wheelchair. Comments like “Is he rich or something?” and “Oh my God…this must be photoshopped” demonstrate the harmful misconceptions surrounding disabilities and relationships.

However, their YouTube channel, which has 897K subscribers, helps to bust these misconceptions. Hannah and Shane vlog about their relationship, offering an authentic and light-hearted representation of their ‘inter-abled’ marriage. Their hundreds of YouTube videos span from travelling together to talking about their sexual intimacy.

In one video with StyleLikeU, the couple speak out against the “ableist BS” they face. Hannah says, “we definitely get a lot of comments from straight men thinking it’s not fair that I’m with Shane” and that “I couldn’t possibly be satisfied”. Shane responds saying “Little do they know…Our intimacy benefits from my disability and our intimacy is not just me enjoying it”.

Their heart-warming and humorous videos demonstrate how people with disabilities can be in happy and healthy relationships, despite what an ableist society might think.

Shane and Hannah Burcaw busting myths about disability and love on Valentine's Day

Society is the Problem, not Disabilities

While people with disabilities deserve romantic love, ableism within society does add obstacles that can make romantic relationships harder.

Firstly, there are economic obstacles. As the British government only gives a shockingly low amount of £62.27 per week for family carers to give full-time support to another person, this may put a strain on relationships.

People with disabilities also sadly face a risk of abuse when it comes to romantic relationships. While relationship abuse affects both people with disabilities and non-disabled people, people with disabilities are three times more likely to experience violence and sexual abuse. Unfortunately, the abuse of disabled people is rife in our society, which you can read more about in our recent article here.

Valentine's Day Love Hearts

Useful resources

If you have a disability, or know someone who does, and are looking for advice and information about dating with disabilities this Valentine’s day, check out these useful resources:

  • Mencap offers some great advice on dating with a learning disability. They have curated a list of resources that provide information on relationships, the body, safe sex, parenting and abuse.
  • Autism Speaks gives some useful dating tips for autistic teenagers and adults.
  • Keisha Greaves has written an honest and inspiring article on her experience of dating with muscular dystrophy.




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