You Should Date A Blind Person, Because…

While some are busy advising us to date sighted people, others are equally busy insisting we date within the blind community. These people are influenced in part by a belief that sighted people are either inferior or superior, and that it’s best for us to stick to our own kind. They think you should date a blind person, because…

A blind person will understand you.

It’s always comforting to have people in your life who “get” you. I’m fortunate to have friends to rant to about inaccessible software and the exorbitant cost of braille displays. It’s hugely cathartic to have heart-to-hearts with other blind people who know where I’m coming from when I talk about the demoralizing aspects of blindness. But…
I have blind friends for that. I can join support groups and forums. Understanding of this sort is not difficult to find, thanks to the internet. I do not need to have a relationship with a blind person to experience this catharsis. While I was romantically involved with a blind man, I found that our blindness had little to do with our success as a couple. Our deep emotional connection was not dependent on our mutual understanding of what it’s like to be blind. It was convenient to be able to complain to him about something and have him understand me on a gut level, but I can go elsewhere for that connection, so it’s not his chief selling point, nor is it mine. Now that I’m with a man who has functional vision, I don’t feel the lack. We’re humans, and sighted people can understand us pretty well.

A blind person will accept you.

It’s certainly true that there’s a lot of prejudice out there. I recently discussed the sighted population’s tendency to reduce us to a fringe group, entirely unsuitable for romantic involvement. So, yes, it’s accurate to say that not all sighted people will accept us as we are. The fear of disability is alive and well.
Not every sighted person is this way, however. In fact, I’d say many sighted people are not this way, especially once they’ve met a few of us and realized we’re pretty normal. While I wouldn’t go so far as to disclose my blindness on a dating profile (opinions vary widely on this point), I know that being blind is not a recipe for a lonely life. It may take sighted partners time to do so, but many of them will eventually accept us.

A blind person will have more in common with you.

This idea usually comes from blind people who have been quite sheltered and have not ventured beyond the blind community enough to feel comfortable on the “outside.” They have somehow confused mutual understanding with general human compatibility, and do not necessarily know what it’s like to have things in common with someone who isn’t exactly like them. Most of my friends were and are sighted, though my network of blind friends and acquaintances has grown considerably in the past few years. While there were situations where they did not understand me, we generally get along like a house on fire because we enjoy the same activities and share some of the same views. A friend and I may not be able to hold long conversations about screen readers, but we can ramble on about various hobbies we both enjoy. One of my oldest and closest friends and I bonded because we were both introverted and both adored books. Another of my oldest friends was introduced to me through a mutual love of musicals. My blind partner and I bonded over a love of literature, a thirst for knowledge, and the same idea of what is absolutely hilarious. My current partner and I enjoy shared values, adventurous spirits, similar senses of humour, and mutual respect for each other and for the wider world. Most of the conversations that take place in my life are not about blindness-specific thoughts. They’re about animals, and books, and music, and education, and human relationships.

A blind person will let you be yourself.

If you’re lucky, any partner you choose will let you be yourself. It’s sort of the point of finding someone to spend your whole life with. You may as well throw your lot in with someone who won’t expect you to live a lie just to please them. The blindness-specific argument usually goes like this: blind people are abnormal by default; blind people cannot control their odd behaviours; blind mates will tolerate this; sighted mates will not. Ergo, blind people should stick to their own kind, so they don’t have to live under constant stress.
Okay, so sometimes being around a sighted person makes me nervous, because I feel scrutinized even when they’re looking the other way. I start to agonize over the way I’m accomplishing various tasks, like cooking, for example, in case I’m being eccentric about it. I now know that this pressure is compounded by choosing a sighted mate, because I want to remain attractive to him. If you’re choosing responsibly, though, you’ll try to find someone who will let you get on with life, and allow you to abandon the quest to appear as normal as possible at all times. Ideally, you’d choose a mate who won’t cringe with embarrassment every time you bring out the cane.
Then we come to the other part of this argument—that blind people are always abnormal and can’t do anything about it. Blindisms, like rocking and hand-flapping, can be difficult impulses to suppress. I was about twelve before I was able to stop eye-pressing altogether. It does take some dedication, for some blind people, anyway. Subscribing to the belief that we can’t rein ourselves in and that we shouldn’t even try is disempowering and blatantly false. I’m not saying that deviating from normative behavior in any way is automatically wrong, but if you want to be part of the larger world, you’re going to have to fit in to at least a small extent. It’s how life works, and sighted people with peculiar habits need to cultivate the same self-control. Dating a blind person so you won’t have to be too normal is a harmful lifestyle choice.

The moral of the story is this: date people because you like and are compatible with them, and not because they have or don’t have a disability. Get it? Got it? Good.


5 thoughts on “You Should Date A Blind Person, Because…

  1. Hi Meagan, again, another really great post! I said this in my comment on your last post but i’ll say it again I will date somebody regardless of whether they are blind or sighted more so sighted as there are very few blind people in the town I live as blind people tend to be of a larger number in the cities than in the country. it’s strange I broached the subject of dating to my friend who goes bike riding with me on a regular basis. the thing that made me stop short was the words take care of you which if I date someone it’s not just to take care of me but we are to get along well, have a good relationship and just be ourselves might’ve been the inicial thought but I know I’ve probably got to learn a thing or two not just about relationships but getting the hang of doing some chores etc I know there are some chores I can do just fine and others I’m going to have to learn to do. provided of course I’m not going to get up on the roof as hights are a real killer for me.

  2. I first of all would love to say, I read this article and yes I would say it was well said for both sighted and blind people. I have been involved with a blind person for about a year and me being sighted was bit of a challenge at first. First time i was leading my beloved and and we stopped for stop light that would allow us to cross the street. When the light changed I did grab for their hand even though I knew better not to. I felt awkward but they did not say anything.We moved on and past that, its been great being together since. I can also say intimacy is so much better don’t know if its because of their vision or lack of but it feels more sensual. We all have differences but if we don’t learn how to deal with them then what good is friendship or relationships. I do have a quick question and maybe this only bothers me because I am sighted and I can hear their voice over for their phone or computer. should I actually put my phone on accessibility voice so there is no dought on their part of what i may being doing if I am on my phone at a given time. I do work a lot with emails and texting clients and I sometime feel odd I am on the phone and wonder if they are thinking the worst? Other wise our relationship seems to be going strong over a year. So blindness is not a big deal for us

    • Thanks so much for your comment, and welcome to the blog! I love meeting new readers.
      As for your question, I’d say that while my perspective is just one person’s, and is by no means universal, there is no expectation that you should turn on screen readers just so your blind partner can follow what you’re up to. Healthy relationships should have a certain amount of trust baked in, and anyway: that would probably be hugely annoying and inconvenient for you, especially when you’re trying to get work done. There may also be confidentiality concerns if your partner can hear what clients are saying, for instance. So keep doing what you’re doing; it sounds like it’s working for you.

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