The conversation commenced, “Sean, you have had a few girlfriends, and all but one has Down syndrome. Why did you say that to Rachael?”
“Rachael is my friend. I don’t like her like a girlfriend. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.”
Men. Even men with disabilities are clueless. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard men with Down syndrome say they didn’t want a girlfriend with Down syndrome…or even any disability.
Sean was a babe in arms when we attended the book signing of Mitchell Levitz and Jason’s Kingsley’s Count Us In.
Mitchell explained in no uncertain terms that he didn’t want a girlfriend with any disability. The confidence our young men carry is admirable, but to employ those beliefs will leave them sorely lonely in the long run.
I made myself a mental note at that time, that I would set the expectation for Sean that his girlfriends would have some sort of disability. When he discusses his crushes on celebrities I ask, “Does she have a disability?” I want to introduce the reality that there will likely be no romantic relationship with a person without a disability.
Some may think I’m limiting Sean, but to allow him to believe otherwise would be truly limiting his opportunities for the relationship he desires. We are romantically attracted to people who have things in common with us, beliefs, interests and life choices. If a typical girl was romantically interested in Sean I would have to question her psyche and possible ulterior motives.
Sean has apologized to Rachael and they continue to be friends. Thankfully she has forgiven him, and I only hope the rest of the Down syndrome community can forgive him…he thought he was being nice and letting her down easy.
After seeing this scene on TV and another discussion tonight I have reinforced that simply saying, “I like you as a friend,” is the nicer response.