7 wheelchair racers in the middle of a race

Disability Resources & Educational Services

Attraction and Disability

So what happens if I am attracted to someone with a disability?

"Will people think I’m weird?"

"Will the person I’m attracted to think I’m weird?"

"Am I weird?"

You may be someone who was instructed as a child that it’s rude to ask someone about their disability, that it is impolite to stare at someone who appears to have a disability or lived in a small town with limited experiences of people with assumed disabilities. Maybe you are someone who believed that having a relationship or dating someone with a disability is “just too much work.”

Maybe you are a person who was taught that people with disabilities are people to be pitied or are inspirational. Or maybe you are person with a disability who was taught that people without a disability are more attractive, and would be a better partner than someone with a disability.

Maybe you’re even someone who is or was in a relationship with someone who you thought maybe had something going on that they were afraid of, ashamed of, or somehow seemed to get in the way of your relationship.

Hopefully, no matter who you are, you can go ahead finding the person attractive.  You are your own best judge of your own thoughts and feelings, and you can ask yourself some questions to investigate your motives:

  1. Do I find this person attractive and/or intriguing?
  2. Do I want to use this person for an experience just so I can say I did this?
  3. Am I more interested in this person’s disability rather than who they are as a person?
  4. Do I have any biases towards people with disabilities that are affecting my willingness to be attracted to someone with a disability?

Sometimes people with disabilities are told, “oh no, I could never see you like that,” when they ask someone without a disability on a date.  Although this may be prevalent in other relationships, this appears to be particularly damaging to people with disabilities as they may be consistently given messages they are not part of the social construct of beauty, attraction, desire, intimacy, partnernships and parenthood.  In people with nonvisible disabilities, they may be told consistently they are “crazy” or “must be good in bed” and are given consistent messages they are not worth of stable relationships. 

If you’re attracted to someone with any kind of disability and have asked yourself about your intentions to ask someone out (which is a great idea in ANY context!), go ahead and ask the person out!  You don’t need to know everything about them or their disability before you ask them out, remember, you want to date them, not conduct a science experiment on them!  Ask questions if you wish to, but allow the person to disclose and explain in the natural and sometimes naturally bumpy way of getting to know someone, rather than an inquisition of symptoms, medical history and treatment.  Know that if you know or have dated someone with a disability, people differ drastically from each other based on the intersection of all their identities and experiences and are very different from each other.  Communication, in whatever manner is most beneficial, is one of the most important  pieces of a successful relationship.  Communication starts when you sidestep your apprehension or worries, and although what’s best for each of you to highlight your interactions. 

So if you see someone cute-go for it (and then tell us about it!!!))