Friday, February 8, 2013

The Season for Loving

Love it, hate it, or don't care either way, Valentine's Day is in less than a week. Advertisements for Hallmark and Zales overwhelm our televisions and fill us with a desire for companionship and nostalgia for the days when class time was spent making and sharing valentines with friends and innocent crushes.

Oh, crushes.

There is something about having a crush that fills one with an almost irrational, though undoubtedly fascinating, sense of hope and lightness that comes with the prospect of finding love. We all get crushes, and it's great. After all, everyone has should have a chance to find love, right?

Unfortunately, there seems to be this perception that it is not normal for the disabled, especially the developmentally disabled, to engage in relationships. It is natural for all people to seek companionship and have sexual desires, so why is there a mental block when it comes to thinking about these basic needs within the disabled community? It's quite common for people with disabilities to form relationships, express their sexuality, and get married, yet many people are uncomfortable with the idea, so it is not talked about as much as it perhaps should be. Were the conversation started, we might find that there is a lot to be learned about love from the disabled community.

Paul and Andrea Annear on their wedding day

In 2006, UK-based periodical, Daily Mail, published a somewhat lengthy but endearing story about the first couple with Downs's Syndrome to get married in the United Kingdom. Paul and Andrea Annear have such a genuine relationship that one can't help but admire. As the article puts it, they “share a love and devotion so raw that it is almost painful to watch. With their simple logic and searing honesty, they enjoy a relationship which perhaps every husband and wife should aspire to.” Yes, they have a disability, but nobody could deny the immense love they have for one another.

"I give him a kiss in the morning when he leaves for work, and I shout after him: 'I love you, Paul.' He says: 'I love you, Andrea,' and I watch him as he walks all the way down the road. I know that some people say we should not have got married, but why not? We love each other very much and we look after each other,” says Andrea. Her husband, Paul, comments that Andrea makes his heart feel full, and he feels like singing and dancing when she is around.

Isn't that how everyone—regardless of ability or disability—is supposed to feel when they're in love?

The internet has become an important tool for people of all abilities who are seeking relationships, but there are some websites dedicated to helping people with disabilities find companions and romance. Sites like Dating4Disabled and DisabledSinglesConnection make it easier for members of the disabled community find love. 

Let me know what you think! Do you have a Valentine this year? What do you think about relationships within the disabled community?


  1. Good for Paul and Andrea! We all do better in life when we have someone who cares for us; it can only help them to succeed. We don't have
    the same reservations about wounded warriers
    who get married so why not let the mentally
    challenged marry?

  2. Great article, Shelley, highlighting something that I don't think a lot of people think about! I think of our very own Sammi and Danny!