I want someone to love me for who I am
Research has shown that only 3% of people with a learning disability live as a couple, compared to 70% of the general adult population*.
In this honest and open blog, our Involvement Assistant, Beth, tells of her search for love and the challenges she faces.
"The trouble is, I don't have a boyfriend and I've never had one. The men I do like are either gay, married or live far away.
I think having a learning disability makes it harder to meet people because people are scared of whether they will understand the disability. It can be difficult to know where to go to meet people. Some people with a learning disability are very isolated and find it hard to meet friends and to be part of their community.
Many of the people Brandon supports feed back that the charity needs to do more to support people to have relationships and help them find opportunities to meet people.
It's hard to find someone who will understand my learning disability. Other people have encouraged me to go on a blind date or use online dating, but I want to meet them myself, not get set up.
My friends have had boyfriends. I sometimes get jealous when they talk about men. I think 'shut up, let's talk about something else.'
When I see people holding hands in the street, or at weddings, I feel sad and think 'I wish I had a fella'.
I live on my own and it would be nice to have someone there for me when I come home from work, to cuddle or talk about my day with.
Lots of people meet their partners at work, but only 6% of people with a learning disability have a job.
It can be difficult to know what people want, and if their intentions are good and they don't want to take advantage of me.
My thoughts about going on a date is half and half. On the one hand it sounds scary, but it does also sound exciting.
I don't want someone who is after sex. School was the first time I heard about sex, it sounded horrible.
It could be, maybe, exciting and fun if you're with the right person.
My ideal boyfriend would be caring, sensitive and understanding – and I would like them to be a romantic. Someone who enjoys my company, has some of the same interests as me and the same sense of humour - and is a good cook.
I don't want someone who smokes or drinks or doesn't understand me and my disability.
I want someone to love me for who I am."
Beth's blog highlights some of the challenges people we support have told us they face when developing relationships. They've also told us that we need to get better at supporting them to overcome these challenges.
People we support have worked with us and played a vital role in shaping new guidance and training that will help our staff give great support in this area. It's an essential step forward in enabling those we support to live free and reach for their dreams.
We'll be talking more about this and sharing the thoughts of the people we support very soon.
*Emerson, E., Malam, S., Davies, I. and Spencer, K. (2005) Adults with Learning Disabilities in England 2003/4