If you’re a parent, a family member, or even a professional, you should be doing a happy dance about this headline. 🙂

Last night I had the honor of presenting How to Support Healthy Dating and Relationships, geared mainly towards family members looking for information and guidance to support adult children in creating success in dating and relationships.

I wanted to do a happy dance when I received the call asking if I could do this. Why? Because I felt a BIG SHIFT begin to happen.

It’s a far cry from when I began my career, accompanying a young woman with a disability to the ER to have a rape kit done and watched her screamed in horror as it was performed. She had been groomed by a much older man who she was familiar with. When they were guaranteed to be alone, he lured her to the basement and raped her.

The true heartbreak was she thought the violation meant they were boyfriend and girlfriend.

All this because no one had ever talked to her about dating and relationships. It was assumed her disability precluded this possibility for her. Ah, but when the heart longs for something, it will look for it even in the unhealthiest of ways.

The tide is changing. Families of people with disabilities are seeing that living a full, wholehearted life includes finding love and companionship. Sure, it will definitely be more challenging and probably take longer, but with the loving support of family, successful dating and healthy relationships is so POSSIBLE.

If this is a new topic for you to consider for your loved one, take a breath, relax, and give yourself time to learn so that you can effectively lend support and guidance.

Let’s begin with WHY. As a family member in particular, why do you want successful dating and healthy relationships for your loved one:

  • To love and be loved
  • Companionship
  • A FULL life
  • To know they are not alone

The core principles I use to help promote successful dating and healthy relationships are:

  • Self-esteem – feeling positive about oneself lays the foundation for happy, nurturing relationships
  • Increasing confidence – so that one can risk initiating, engaging, and developing skills to build relationships
  • Creating healthy boundaries  – promotes affirmation and value of people while maintaining the integrity of the relationship
  • Promoting healthy relationships – recognizing that relationships, once developed, take ongoing work in communication, problem solving, and decision making

In coming posts, there will be deeper dives into what all this looks like for people with disabilities and the unique dynamics disability brings to dating and relationships.

For now, take that breath, relax, and just consider what these four principles might look like for your loved one or someone you support. And join me LIVE at 3:30pm (ET) today (yes, different day this week) to chat about this.