LIVING
06/25/2018 12:45 EDT

People Who Have A Partner With A Disability Show Love In Unique Ways

Because physical intimacy isn't always possible.

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Sometimes you have to come up with unique ways to show love if your partner has a disability.

Disabilities activist Imani Barbarin, who has cerebral palsy, knows this all too well, which is why she took to Twitter to ask other people with disabilities to share how their partner's loving actions differ "from the way abled people show love."

Barbarin shared her tweet with the hashtag #YouCanLoveMeButYouCantHoldMyHand, as cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects muscle movement and motor skills.

The callout quickly received hundreds of responses that revealed the unique and diverse ways partners show care and affection. (Get your tissues ready!).

One Twitter user revealed that they are immunocompromised, meaning they have an impaired immune system. Since they are "constantly fighting infection," they do not have physical intimacy with their partner and have come up with their own "love language" instead.

It is possible for people who are immunocompromised to have sex, however they are more susceptible to infection and get sick more often, Very Well Health reports.

Along a similar vein, another Twitter user revealed that not receiving pressure from her partner to have sex is actually what she considers to be the greatest act of love.

"Endo" is endometriosis — a painful disorder where tissue that lines the uterus starts to grow outside the uterus and becomes trapped. In a subsequent tweet, the user added that her partner's patience with her condition has been "tremendously helpful for both my physical and mental health."

Other users noted that love is in the little things, such as a simple phrase that makes them feel supported or the act of picking out their outfit so they can go out and "have a bit of a life."

One user, who has rheumatoid arthritis, even shared that a former boyfriend invented salsa moves so that she could dance with him without putting too much pressure on her knees.

But not all disabilities are physical or visible. People with mental disabilities also joined the conversation, revealing that they consider their partners' understanding and forgiveness a beautiful show of love.

While these beautiful acts of love are inspiring, one user with a disability noted that it's not always easy to find a partner who can accept your condition.

"I don't have a partner because they can't get passed my disability and hurt me even more when I have a bad flare up and it ends," they wrote on Twitter. "Genuinely wondering where are you people finding [loving disability friendly] partners?"

In response, Barbarin, who created the thread, revealed she feels the same way, but that this Twitter conversation gives her hope.

The disability stigma is one reason it's difficult for people with disabilities to form relationships, as others often make assumptions about their conditions instead of trying to understand them.

Holland Bloorview, a Toronto kids' rehabilitation hospital, created a campaign called "Dear Everybody" last year to address this issue.

"We live with our disabilities every day. You might think that's the biggest problem but it isn't," the open letter from the hospital's patients begins. "The biggest problem is the world that's full of stigma around living with a disability."

A 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD) found that 13.7 per cent of Canadians live with a disability. That equals to about 3.8 million working-age people.

According to the survey, more women than men report having a disability and that prevalence increases with age. Additionally, those in the younger age group (15 to 24) tend to have mental and psychological disabilities, while those in the older age group (45 to 64) tend to have greater physical disabilities.

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