12/13/11

Blind or Sighted, Love is Love!

Blindness not factor in relationships


Deja.jpg
Whenever I am doing any kind of presentation on blindness, the most common and most popular questions I get asked are about dating and relationships. I think this subject is a popular one for a lot of reasons. First, people are just fascinated with love and relationships. Look at what’s in the media now. Kim Kardashian, Demi and Ashton, politicians and their relationship fiascos. It’s a popular topic.
Second, there are a lot of misconceptions about blind people when it comes to dating and relationships. Some think blind people only date and marry other blind people. Some don’t understand how we court each other and some don’t understand how we do the most basic (and important) things like kiss. I know it sounds super odd, but you would be surprised how many times I’ve been asked how I kiss.

You will soon discover blind people dating, either each other or a person who’s sighted, is really not very interesting. Wait, don’t stop reading. I promise I’ll try to make it interesting! Dating/courting, weddings, marriages, children, they all work for us the same as they work for everybody. Some dates are horrible, some are fantastic. Some marriages work, some don’t. Many have children, some do not. It’s always important to remember that blindness is a characteristic and only a characteristic.

The most common question I get asked is if blind people only date and marry other blind people. Of course the answer to this is no. I don’t have the statistics on this, but I imagine it’s probably pretty even. Just like any other relationship, it depends on correct timing, similar personal interests and personalities that mesh and physical attraction, whether the person is blind or sighted.

I have been asked, on several occasions, how that last one works. Physical attraction is just as important to a blind person as anyone else. You have to have a physical connection of some kind with your significant other. It works the same no matter what, there is either a connection or not.

I personally have dated blind and sighted guys. I happen to have recently married a sighted guy. However, the situations of dating a sighted guy versus a blind guy really do play out the same. It was interesting, in all of my relationships, how quickly we adapted to each other. It’s less traumatic than you might think for a sighted man to date/marry a blind woman. You figure out how to go places via taxi, car, walking, with friends, etc. It’s a pretty seamless process for the most part. There are small changes like any relationship, but it’s surprisingly uneventful for most.

Now I’m not saying there are not glitches that come up. Like any relationship you have to work some things out. When my husband and I first started dating, we were walking to a local restaurant. I was walking along using my cane on the sidewalk, on the side closest to the road. As we walked he kept stepping to my side of the sidewalk forcing me to move in. I was, at first, quietly irritated. My first thought was, “What a jerk. He thinks I can’t walk along the road?” After a few moments of my pure stubbornness I told him to, “Stop it! I’m perfectly capable of walking safely.” He paused and proceeded to tell me that his mama taught him that a true gentleman always walks closest to the street when walking with a lady. I felt pretty embarrassed at the whole situation and realized I didn’t have to prove my independence all the time; I needed to let him be a gentleman. It was a small glitch, but one we always talk about.

I often get asked by people who just met me if my husband is blind or sighted. I have always wondered why this question is so important to people. Maybe it’s just curiosity. But remember, blind people have the same mental checklist when it comes to dating. We have the same inner gauge of chemistry, we know if it’s right or it’s not, we have horrible break-ups and happy endings. The bottom line is, blindness is not much of a factor in the dating process. While little adaptions may take place, ultimately all the important stuff (not related to blindness) play the most important part in finding love.

Deja M. Powell is programs manager at the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University and a 2008 alumna of the Louisiana Center for the Blind in Ruston. She writes a monthly column for the Daily Leader.

5 comments:

Unknown said...

Love your story! I have a similar one. (For those who don't know, I am also blind and am currently engaged to a sighted man.) When Jon and I first started dating, he would always open doors for me... car doors specifically annoied me. I remember coming home and complaining to my mom "Gosh, what a jerk! He doesn't think I know how to open a door or can walk myself to my own front door!" Boy did I feel stupid when my mom and sister both laughed and told me he was just being a gentleman. I don't know if I could get Jon to open a door for me now, almost two years later, if I tried. Lol! (just kidding)

Unknown said...

Love your story! I have a similar one. (For those who don't know, I am also blind and am currently engaged to a sighted man.) When Jon and I first started dating, he would always open doors for me... car doors specifically annoied me. I remember coming home and complaining to my mom "Gosh, what a jerk! He doesn't think I know how to open a door or can walk myself to my own front door!" Boy did I feel stupid when my mom and sister both laughed and told me he was just being a gentleman. I don't know if I could get Jon to open a door for me now, almost two years later, if I tried. Lol! (just kidding)

Unknown said...

Love your story! I have a similar one. (For those who don't know, I am also blind and am currently engaged to a sighted man.) When Jon and I first started dating, he would always open doors for me... car doors specifically annoied me. I remember coming home and complaining to my mom "Gosh, what a jerk! He doesn't think I know how to open a door or can walk myself to my own front door!" Boy did I feel stupid when my mom and sister both laughed and told me he was just being a gentleman. I don't know if I could get Jon to open a door for me now, almost two years later, if I tried. Lol! (just kidding)

Becky said...

Great post. I am surprised how often I got asked this question. You say it so well. Like any relationship there are some adjustments but the blindness really is not a big deal.

Catherine said...

Your walking story gave me a chuckle. I always have my cane with me, but I never use it when walking with my significant other (who is sighted), because we enjoy yet another excuse to go hand in hand or with arms around each other's waste.