Look at Me: Why Looking Past Disability Is Toxic for Relationships


By Beth Hopkins

If there's one thing people love to do, it's dream of their perfect mate. We might not all admit to it, but we've all done it, repeatedly. I've passed many an hour at a slumber party (and, in more recent years, over a cup of coffee) doing just that. And it's good to dream. Dreaming gives us faith and hope for things to get better. It helps us set our expectations higher than we might have otherwise. But for people with disabilities, there is one area, when it comes to dreaming, where we need to raise the bar.

Invariably, when I'm at a Girls' Night with friends, the Perfect Mate topic comes up, followed by the list of ideal qualities: poet, rock star, Democrat, Republican, Anarchist, Ph.D, MD, and so on. I remember once, when it was my turn. I gazed wistfully into space and said, "And I just know that he'll be someone who can look past my disability." Everyone murmured and sighed in agreement, and I was immensely proud of myself for being so profound.

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