Recently, Dr. Phil had a struggling couple appear on his show. The young man, who is a C-5-C-6 quadriplegic, and his girlfriend appeared on the show because the girlfriend was feeling burnt out from taking care of him. She was acting like he was a burden to be around, and claimed that their relationship was exhausting. Dr. Phil responded that, “100 out of 100 relationships that involve a caregiver will fail”. People in a relationship are supposed to care about each other regardless of disability. Caring for someone takes on different forms, not just assisting someone with his or her activities of daily living. People need different forms of care and support.
Dr. Phil asked the young woman “Of all of the people you could choose, why would you choose somebody in a wheelchair?” As someone who uses a wheelchair, I was appalled. By asking this question, Dr. Phil implied that those in wheelchairs are undeserving of a loving, committed relationship. People in wheelchairs are people first. We are not defined by how we get around. We still can pursue romantic relationships and have families if we choose to. Sure, the relationship might require a little extra ingenuity, and extra work, but all relationships, regardless of disability, require work. A person in a wheelchair can support someone emotionally and still have a strong bond with their partner, even if they need some help to go about their daily lives. People in wheelchairs can still be wonderful romantic partners. As long as both people in the relationship feel loved, supported, and safe… who cares whether one or both of them are in wheelchairs? Even those who are able bodied, still need help every so often.
Relationships are a give and take; you have to work together. Love is love regardless of ability. Give people like us a chance, and you just might find the right person for you.