Dear Dr Phil,
You recently made a statement that we’d like to counteract.
Your implication that any loving relationship that involves caregiving simply “will not work” is one that we firmly disagree with.
You stated on international television that an able-bodied woman dating a man with a disability “can be his lover or you can be his caregiver, but you can’t be both”.
This implication is not only wrong, it’s also dangerous. Here are some of the many reasons why.
By making this statement you are fuelling stigma surrounding inter-abled relationships and caregiving roles. There is a reason that many carers purposefully do not identify themselves in the workplace, school and elsewhere. It is because they fear the kind of shame and inequality that you are perpetuating.
You are asserting that any relationship involving caregiving is doomed to fail, and thus anyone affected by disability, illness or addiction does not deserve the same quality of relationship that two able-bodied individuals do.
You are cultivating a mindset that people with disabilities should not be pursued because relationships with them will unequivocally “not work”.
By stating that “100 out of 100 times it will not work” you are disregarding every relationship that has survived, strengthened and flourished in the wake of disability, illness, addiction and caregiving.
By stating that two people cannot be in a relationship where one has some form of caring responsibility for the other discounts the millions of people who are doing just this.
You only need to search #100outof100 to be assured of this.
“You’re a young, single, attractive female. Out of all the people that you can choose, why choose someone in a wheelchair?” This kind of statement is not only demeaning, it is shallow and uninformed.
This dialogue shouldn’t be what we’re hearing on television.
Being a carer for a loved one can be challenging, frustrating and tiring. But, as an organisation specialising in caring for the carers, we also know that it’s an extremely rewarding and life-changing experience, and many carers wouldn’t trade it for the world.
By saying that caring for a loved one with a disability is “not your job”, you’re failing to acknowledge the caregivers who aren’t seeking payment, or recognition, or a title. They’re just doing it because they care.