by Priscilla McKinley
EDITOR’S NOTE: Priscilla McKinley is a Board Member of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa. She is also the President of the Old Capitol Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa.
10. Dating a sighted person means having a sighted guide when some idiot smashes into you and breaks your cane on your way to class; Dating a blind person means having a spare cane when some idiot smashes into you and breaks your cane on your way to class.
9. Dating a sighted person means having someone keep you from kissing a nose instead of the lips; Dating a blind person means not caring if you give or get a kiss on the nose instead of the lips.
8. Dating a sighted person means being able to take drives in the country on weekends; Dating a blind person means being able to have private NFB conventions on weekends.
7. Dating a sighted person means having someone to blame when you run into each other in the hall; Dating a blind person means it's no one's fault when you run into each other in the hall.
6. Dating a sighted person means having someone to describe what's going on during the silent moments of a movie; Dating a blind person means having time to get popcorn or go to the bathroom during the silent moments of a movie.
5. Dating a sighted person means knowing who's going to drive on your next date; Dating a blind person means knowing you're going to take the bus on your next date.
4. Dating a sighted person means having someone to tell you if your socks match; Dating a blind person means having someone else remember if you cut your tag out of your orange or purple shirt.
3. Dating a sighted person means someone telling you when you have a piece of broccoli stuck between your two front teeth; Dating a blind person means no one noticing when you have a piece of broccoli stuck between your two front teeth.
2. Dating a sighted person means being able to ask questions like, "What's the expiration date on this milk?" and "Does this look infected?" ; Dating a blind person means being able to ask questions like, "What's the Braille symbol for S-I-O-N?" and "Does this feel swollen?"
Okay. Okay. Hold on. I'm not going to give you the number one advantage for dating sighted and blind persons, at least not until you hear me out. And don't cheat by fast forwarding your tape player to the next beep tone and then rewinding a few seconds, for I have some important things to say here. Really!
As students, many of you have dated, are dating, or at least would like to date. Some of you may have pondered the questions about whether or not to date a sighted or a blind person, as I have in the past. Sometimes I thought it would be easier to date a blind person, someone who could understand the challenges blind people face on a daily basis. Other times, I thought it would be easier to date a sighted person, someone who could alleviate some of the challenges that go along with blindness. But then when in a relationship with a sighted person, I would start questioning why I was with this person and why he was with me. Is he with me because he likes to play the protector? Is he with me because he has low self esteem and doesn't think he can get a sighted person? Am I with him because it's nice to have someone to drive me places when I'm in a hurry or read the paper when Newsline® breaks down? Am I with this person because I am afraid to be alone?
When in a relationship with a blind person, I found myself asking similar types of questions. Do we have anything in common besides our blindness? Am I in this relationship because I don't think a sighted person could accept my blindness? If I stay in this relationship, how are we going to manage as a blind couple?
There are many reasons why people enter into relationships with others, and we as blind students are just as likely to enter into relationships for the wrong reasons. However, we can make this less likely by possessing self-confidence and good blindness skills. For example, I won't be as likely to get into a relationship of dependency on a sighted person if I have access to readers, have good Braille and cane travel skills, and know the city bus schedule like the back of my hand. Likewise, I won't be as likely to enter into a relationship of safety with a blind person if I have the self-confidence to be blind on my own.
In other words, as in any relationship, you have to be happy with yourself before you can make another person happy. The better your blindness skills, the less your blindness becomes an issue in any relationship. Both sighted and blind persons will respect you more if you have self-confidence and good blindness skills. And isn't that what Doctor Jernigan, Doctor Maurer, and our other mentors from the National Federation of the Blind have been telling us for years?
"It is respectable to be blind. It is respectable to be blind. It is respectable to be blind." If you keep telling yourself this, you will start to believe it. If you believe it, you will start to live it, which will positively affect your relationships with both the sighted and the blind.
It is important for all of us as blind individuals to analyze our relationships. I'm not saying you should get out a microscope and examine each and every move you and your partner make, but you should ask yourself the following questions:
1. Would you still be interested in this person if the status of his/her sight changed? In other words, if dating a sighted person, would you still be interested if he/she went blind? Or, if dating a blind person, would you be interested if he/she got his/her sight back?
2. Would you still want to be with this person if all of a sudden you could see?
If you are currently in a relationship and answered "no" to either of the above questions, you might want to get out that microscope and take a closer look, for you might be in the relationship for the wrong reasons.
If you answered "yes" to both of the questions, then you have made it to the number one advantage for dating a sighted or a blind person, which is the same for both.
1. Dating this person, sighted or blind, means being with the one you love (or at least the one you like a heck of a lot). And isn't that what really matters?
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