I interviewed 16 women with mild to moderate learning disabilities who were members of Stars in the Sky, a pioneering dating agency that you might recognise from the Channel 4’s Undateables. The social networks that many people take for granted are often restricted for people with learning disabilities and they find it hard to engage or access social activities where they can meet people and possibly form relationships.
The challenge, however, is getting the right support. But there should be a balance between protecting people from abuse and enabling them to get into relationships, otherwise people are denied their right to do so.
As Georgia, one participant in a 2014 study, said: I think I do need a bit of support … And that so yeah, gives me a bit of confidence to speak, and see if I can meet the right one, and could say to them, ‘well what d’you think about this … To prevent abuse, people with learning disabilities should have access to sex and relationships education, and caregivers should be prepared to discuss issues on sex and relationships openly in a proactive, rather than reactive, way.
This would equip people with the knowledge they need to enjoy relationships in a safe way.
But specialised dating agencies can help to provide the support they need to meet new people and find romance.
People with learning disabilities, like everyone else, have a need for affectionate and intimate relationships.
Totally FREE for Women (and for men under conditions), Femdom Dating is run by Femdom lifestyle people like you and me.It also featured in The Undateables, and it is clearly evident from the series that support can enable people with learning disabilities to form relationships.And success is not only measured by a successful date but by the confidence that individuals gain by going on a date, too.Not only do these beliefs hold people with learning disabilities back from relationships, they also infringe on their human right to privacy and a family life, as outlined in Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998.My research explores the views and experiences of women with learning disabilities on sexual relationships and as part of my Ph D I gave them a platform to talk openly about this taboo subject. look how long I will be in my 50s and then 60s and I am thinking I don’t want to be in the same situation … I want somebody to settle down and spend the rest of my life with.Hopefully, if we get these things right, people with learning disabilities will be able to enjoy forming relationships in a safe environment, and fulfil their need to love and be loved.At Soulful Encounters' disabled dating and community Web site, disabled individuals find real support, compassion, and friendship through our disabled community and disabled dating Web site.Yet many people with learning disabilities don’t get to have this type of relationship because of a lack of social and practical support, and society’s negative and stereotypical attitudes.Although attitudes are changing, it is evident that some caregivers still hold these negative perceptions, which include the belief that people with learning disabilities are asexual or “childlike”.Chido Ndadzungira does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.The Open University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation UK.