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How Do You Break Up With a Disabled Boyfriend?

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How do you gently and kindly break up with a man who has a disability? The same way you break up with someone who is able-bodied! These tips are inspired by a reader whose boyfriend is in a wheelchair. She loves him, but their relationship isn’t good for her.

“I am in a relationship with a disabled person,” says Marta on How to Emotionally Detach From Someone You Care About. “He is wheelchair-bound and I am fit and active. Because of his disability, I give in to most of his demands. I am always buying him presents and expressing my love every day. He never expresses appreciation and only express his love when he wants sex. Our relationship is one-sided. The problem is, I love him to bits but the relationship is not good for me. I feel upset and lonesome.”

She says she is giving in to her boyfriend’s demands because he has a disability. If he wasn’t in a wheelchair, she would treat him differently. The same thing happens in all types of relationships with all sorts of disabilities: the able-bodied person can fall into the trap of making special concessions and ignoring healthy boundaries because she feels sorry for her boyfriend. His disability changes how she sees him, for better or worse.

And, her boyfriend’s disability is keeping her trapped in an unhealthy relationship. No, wait, I take that back! The fact that Marta’s boyfriend is in a wheelchair isn’t what’s keeping her stuck in a relationship that isn’t good for her. She is allowing her thoughts and guilt about his disability to control her behavior. 

Marta is keeping herself trapped in a relationship that isn’t good for her. Her boyfriend is just being himself. Perhaps he’s taking advantage of her guilt and compassion, or using her for affection and companionship. 

3 Thoughts on Breaking Up With a Boyfriend Who Has a Disability

Marta goes on to say:

“My [disabled boyfriend] gets more income than I do, and he has never given me as much as a sweet. I am always the one to spend money on our relationship. I need to step away, but feel I need to detach my feelings first. This will give me courage to break up with him. But I want to be gentle because my boyfriend is disabled and I don’t want him to feel too rejected. Can you give any tips on how to do this with too much pain? I still love him, but I just don’t know how to break up with man who has a disability.”

My first thought is that she doesn’t need tips on how to break up with a disabled man. She just needs help breaking up with someone she loves. Are you in the same boat? Read How to Break Up With Someone You Love But Can’t Be With.

And here are a few more ideas, specially related to breaking up with a boyfriend with a disability:

1. Notice if you’re letting your boyfriend’s disability control your behavior

Do you feel sorry for your boyfriend because he is disabled? Maybe you feel guilty for being fit and active, or sad because of his own views about his body. Maybe you feel important and special because you’re in a relationship with someone with a disability; it feeds your ego and increases your self-esteem. Maybe you feel needed and kind…and breaking up with your boyfriend will ruin your own self-image.

If you let your boyfriend take advantage of you because of his disability, you’re harming both him and yourself. You’re letting him get away with unhealthy, inappropriate, ultimately self-harming behavior. You’re allowing your disabled boyfriend to walk all over you because you pity him. You feel sorry for him, and that’s not a good foundation for a healthy love relationship with a man — whether or not he has a disability!

2. Expect the breakup to hurt

Breaking up hurts. It doesn’t matter if a man is disabled or able-bodied, blind or sighted, running or wheelchair-bound. Rejection is painful. Losing someone you love is sad — whether you’re forced apart by life’s circumstances or getting away from an abusive husband after decades of marriage.

If you want to end your relationship with a disabled boyfriend, break up with him the way you would an able-bodied boyfriend. Be honest, kind, and authentic. Tell him the truth about how you feel and why you’re breaking up with him. Allow your boyfriend to feel his feelings. He may be angry, hurt, rejected, frustrated, depressed or even crushed. You can’t control or change how your boyfriend responds to the break up. All you can do is be as truthful, kind and compassionate as you can. 

3. Know that you may always feel attached to your boyfriend

Marta is letting her feelings control her behavior. She wants to not feel attached to her boyfriend first, and then break up with him. The problem is that she won’t stop loving him — whether or not they’re together. She will always love him at some level, to some extent. This means she’ll be waiting forever for her feelings to change. Or, she’ll end up breaking up with her boyfriend out of frustration, bitterness or resentment.

How to Break Up With a Boyfriend Who Has a Disability
Breaking Up With a Disabled Boyfriend

Note that this has nothing to do with her boyfriend having a disability. Marta is standing in her own way. She is allowing her boyfriend’s disability to control her happiness, her relationship with him, and her future. If her boyfriend is taking advantage of her, she is teaching him how to do it by letting him continue.

If she was honest with her boyfriend, perhaps a breakup isn’t even necessary. She and her boyfriend might need to work on their relationship just like any couple has to. Her boyfriend’s disability is part of who he is. It affects his life and relationships, but it’s a mistake to give his disability the power to control other people’s behavior and choices.

What do you think? If you’re a “disabled boyfriend” or in a relationship with someone with a disability, please comment! I don’t have a disability and am not speaking from experience. I’m just sharing my ideas — some of which I learned from writing articles like Gifts for Quadriplegics, Paraplegics and People in Wheelchairs.

If you’re in a similar situation — your boyfriend has a disability and you feel bad about breaking up with him — read How to End a Toxic Love Affair Before it Ruins You.

In peace and passion,

Laurie

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