Social Media Sounds Off In Response To Dr. Phil Episode About Interabled Relationships
Dr. Phil caused controversy due to an episode of the Doctor Phil Show. It took me some time to articulate my thoughts regarding the episode. At the beginning of the episode, Dr. Phil took a poll from the audience and asked them, “How many people would swipe right on a dating site a person that used a wheelchair?” The results were around 50 percent. He then followed up with the question, “If you did swipe right, how many people would continue with the relationship, if they needed caregiving?” The results then dropped to 20 percent.
Dr. Phil then introduced an interabled couple who were having relationship issues. Bailey is a quadriplegic, and he needs a fair amount of support. Harley, his girlfriend became his full-time caretaker. After some time he started to become emotionally abusive. Dr. Phil’s assessment: he told the boyfriend that if his partner remained his caregiver, she would not be his girlfriend. His words: “It won’t work, 100 out of 100 times this won’t work.” A bit later he affirmed: “She can be your lover or she can be your caretaker but she can’t be both.”
Social media erupted in response to this definitive statement. Interabled couple, Shane Burcaw and Hannah Aylward, who was approached by The Dr. Phil Show to be on the episode, took to their YouTube channel Squirmy and Grubs, to explain why they decided not to be part of the episode. Take a look at their channel, and also the vlog entitled, “Why we turned down Dr. Phil”. The hashtag #100outof100 was started, and people in interabled relationships have posted on Instagram and Twitter from around the world.
One hundred times out of hundred, there is love, challenges, and hardships in any relationship regardless of ability.
Dr. Phil is taking on a subject matter that he clearly knows nothing about. Passing judgment on an entire community of people in romantic relationships is ableist, prejudiced, and close-minded. He painted a picture that people with disabilities are burdens, and cannot be an equally valuable part of a relationship. He did not seem to understand that you can have physical challenges and still positively contribute to a partnership. He could not seem to comprehend that you can be disabled and be someone’s soulmate, even if one of the partners is able-bodied. He was not able to see that in the end, love is love, period.
The truly damaging message Dr. Phil sent by airing this episode, especially having no background with it was that you do not want to get into a relationship with a person with a disability because it will not work out. Instead of giving the couple the tools to help them succeed such as the importance of communication, counseling, and/ or support groups, Dr. Phil fails to realize is that every couple regardless of ability is going to face hardships and struggles throughout their relationship.
I ask you to think about this if one day you where are your significant other/spouse needed caregiving, does that mean your relationship would inevitably disintegrate? Most people do not enter into a relationship on a conditional basis, regardless of status. It is important to have an equal give and take within a relationship/partnership. There are so many scenarios and examples I could give, but the truth of the matter is that every person in a relationship is different.
What I would ask is to get to know a person based on who they are and their quality is rather than perceived limitations. Chances are a person with a disability has learned countless ways to adapt in order to succeed in accomplishing tasks, and making things work. It is important to have open communication, and not to assume things, or let things fester. That will only make things worse in the long run.
“Talking to people is important to me as someone who has Cerebral Palsy. I know what it’s like to have people not talking to me because they are scared they would ask the wrong question, but I would rather have an honest dialogue as long as it comes from an honest place.” ~ Zach Anner
Featured Photo by Pixabay via Pexels.