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Dating and relationship issues


The subject of dating and relationships for women with disabilities is one of those areas for which we have many more questions than answers, more suggested tendencies than demonstrated patterns of variables. If research pursuits reflect social values, it makes sense that a society that has long ignored or disdained the gender role of women with disabilities has invested little effort in understanding their potential for love, partnership and motherhood.

Faced with an intolerable information void, women with disabilities have been increasingly forthright in reporting our relationship experiences our goals, our joy, and our solitariness. The generosity of those who tell their stories has helped all of us women with disabilities to become more visible as women. There remain, however, too many unknowns. Women with disabilities want facts to guide our efforts—efforts cautiously and thriftily expended by necessity. More than ever, we feel entitled to better research studies that address our dreams.

Some of our most urgently asked questions concern relationships. What makes a woman with a disability attractive to a partner? How do you navigate the obstacles from attraction to commitment? How have some women with disabilities managed to be more successful than others in relationships? What are the relationship experiences of lesbians with disabilities? What factors determine the viability of “mixed” partnerships involving individuals with and without disabilities, and how do such persons surmount the obstacles of prejudice and frustration? What factors lead to and enhance intimacy between partners with disabilities? These are the questions of women with a growing sense of entitlement to being heard and to being adequately understood. Women with disabilities are becoming as determined to find answers as we have always been determined to find love.

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Gill, C.J. Dating and relationship issues. Sex Disabil 14, 183–190 (1996).

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Key Words

  • relationship
  • women
  • disability