There’s honestly so much to say about relationships specifically within the context of disability. Right now I’d like to focus in on the term “interabled.” Yes, that’s actually a term people use. I’ve come across it many times on social media, particularly both Twitter and Instagram. What does it mean? Well, interabled is used to refer to a couple where one person in the relationship is disabled and the other is non-disabled. As someone who’s disabled and currently dating a non-disabled man, I’m personally not a fan of using “interabled” to refer to our relationship. Here’s why.
The term is awfully cringeworthy, forced and almost made up. An invention of sorts conceived to make others, namely non-disabled people, feel better. Well, it doesn’t make me feel better at all. Interabled runs in the same family as the phrases “handi-capabale,” “differently abled” or “different-ability.” ….Really? Why use this weird, gross euphemistic language? You can just say disabled. It’s not a bad word. You can read more about that right here. Language matters and the terms you use matter. It matters a lot.
Interabled is so unnecessary. Why do we have to stick a label on everything, compartmentalize everything, even something universal like love? Love is love no matter what, comes in any shape, color, form or size. Love doesn’t and shouldn’t discriminate. Everyone deserves love. We already know that, right? So this is not to dismiss the fact that one person in the relationship is disabled and the other not. We likely already know, especially if you’ve shared the information without necessarily labeling it. Think about it, as disabled people we’re already labeled enough by the medical community and even other people around us who have nothing to do with medicine. We’re labeled with a diagnosis, condition, and nastily insulted at times. So really there’s no need to give everything a title. For example, my boyfriend and I are not an interabled couple. We’re just a couple. Arguably just like any other couple who’ve found each other, fallen in love and worked on their relationship.
Now, this is also not to say that our story isn’t unique. Of course it’s unique, special, etc. We already know it is. The fact that I’m disabled and he isn’t should have little or no significance on our story’s uniqueness or how and why it’s special. I’m gonna spare everyone reading this and not spell all that out. Just not gonna do it. There’s a time and place for that. We both believe in our relationship and that’s what matters, not what everyone else thinks or how they perceive it to be. Besides, relationships are sacred, that is, between the two people who’re in it. That’s it. It’s not the couple plus everyone else in the universe, who of course all have their own opinions and biases. No thank you.
There are plenty of non-disabled men out there who’re dating or are married to disabled women. Just like there are non-disabled women with disabled men. There are disabled women together with non-disabled women, and non-disabled men dating disabled men. There’s also disabled men dating disabled women, disabled women dating disabled women, disabled men dating disabled men. There are trans and nonbinary disabled people in relationships, too. You get my point. All kinds of love going on. Love is love. Love doesn’t and shouldn’t discriminate. Period. Just like I say here.
I’d like to point out that this post is not trying to put down those in relationships who do use the term interabled. If they choose to use it, that’s up to them and their call. It’s likely people see and interpret terms like that in different ways. Maybe they think using/saying interabled will empower them, like disabled does for me. Just speculation, I can’t say for sure. Can’t speak for those couples. I would just personally never use it to refer to my own relationship. It’s honestly one of the worst words I’ve ever heard, and I’m a writer for crying out loud.