February is regarded as the month of love and friendship. The expectation is that on Valentine's Day, lovers gift each other and express affection to one another. Marketing goes full blown with offers for two, never mind the offers are designed to make men fork out more money yet love should be a two way thing. While it is not a written rule, it is a widely held belief that its the man who surprises the lady with flowers and confectionery. (Sweets and chocolates). That's why it's a social construct.
The social construct around love and disability is a difficult one. The society through movies books and other mass media tools that shape public opinion emphasise on tall dark and handsome physique for men and an hour glass figure for women. Woe unto you if you don't meet the criteria. You are deemed unattractive unless of course your finances and character come to your defense. But human beings don't walk around with scanning machines so inner beauty takes time to be seen.
When you have a disability, you have to constantly fight the perceptions made about disability by the systems of mass influence. The systems of mass influence include religion, media, and the education system. Religion for example classifies people with disabilities as needy. People who need liberation. Thus when people with disabilities try to get into a relationship, more so romantic relationships, people engage them from an unequal footing of someone who needs help rather than someone seeking a mutually beneficial connection. As a result, people who do not understand people with disabilities and they emotional needs when it comes to disability 'play nice' to avoid heartbreaking people with disabilities. Of course, playing nice won't last long and it's disheartening when people with disabilities find out the truth. They end up thinking they are not enough and worthy of love if disability Is the cause of the heartbreak and end of the relationship.
The education system makes matters worse by stressing on perfection. It is also fast paced so if someone is slow in speech, people move on. They do not wait to listen to what you have to say. The cliché of beauty and brains may not apply when you have a disability, especially when the education system treats disability as something that should be avoided rather than embraced. The avoidance is seen when disability is seen as weakness rather than just a trait which can be utilised for the benefit of all. To illustrate this point, take the case of the famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. His severe disability inadvertently gave him time to work on his research about space with support from his employer and it was what put Cambridge University on the map on matters the galaxy. In the process, Stephen Hawking found love twice.
The media only accentuates the stereotypes held about disability and dating in the society. Why would someone call a dating program for people with disabilities The Undatables? It's because society deems people with disabilities not worth the time and effort in dating at first, much to their surprise when people take their time to understand that people with disabilities are as okay as everybody else except for a few physical emotional mental and social limitations.
The stereotypes imposed by society on dating and intimacy should be done away with as they are unattainable, unnecessary in addition to being retrogressive in this day and age. All in all, people with disabilities should live with their confidence held high and know that character remains when beauty fades away. Good work inside makes what's outside more beautiful. Over to you ladies and gentlemen.