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Please Don't 'Ship' Me With Your Other Disabled Friends

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Please don’t “ship” me with your other disabled friends.

Shipping is a term derived from the word relationship and means a desire for two or more people, either real life or fictional (i.e.: in TV, film or literature) to enter into a romantic relationship. I have personally experienced this twice. Someone I know tells me they know someone who also has cerebral palsy, and therefore they think we are automatically a match made in heaven.

While I know the people who attempt “shipping” have good intentions, making such assumptions can come off as rude and unempathetic. They think they are bringing two like-minded people together or giving them someone to relate to, but other than disability, they may have nothing in common. “Shipping” can make people feel a sense of obligation due to not wanting to hurt the feelings of the person who suggested a relationship, or their prospective date. How would you feel if someone tried to match you up on one small common thread and it led you to a series of uncomfortable interactions?

While your intentions may be good, if you think two individuals may form a connection, ease them into it. Have them begin to speak via e-mail or social media instead of automatically jumping in face to face. Doing this will allow the individuals to determine if there is common ground to meet instead of forcing it upon them. Just because someone may have a disability, that does not mean they are unable to form organic relationships. Instead of trying to establish their connections for them, offer pointers for how to strike up a conversation or things that can help create common ground. Treat your friends with disabilities just as you would any other friend, and ask yourself how you would react if the roles were reversed.

Getty image by Wavebreak Media.

Originally published: April 17, 2019
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