Illustration of a rose

R is for Romance #EndTheAwkward

Light some candles and chill a bottle of fizz – it’s time for some romance. In this post, Emily Yates writes a love letter to her partner of three years Rob Hughes. The loved-up couple met on a trip to southern Africa with the Journey of a Lifetime Trust

R is for Romance is part of Scope’s A to Z of sex and disability.

They say laughter is the best medicine. For me, you’ve proved that to be true. Sometimes we only have to look at each other to burst out in giggles. From when we first met on that boat and I was invited to put my dangling legs on yours for comfort, watching seals and southern African sun, you’ve always made me grin.

Writing this alone is making me chuckle, recollecting all the times I’ve probably done your head in but you’ve been patient… refusing to go to sleep until you’ve warmed up my freezing cold feet with yours every night is definitely high on the list. Sorry, no amount of socks, duvets or heating will ever do the trick quite as well.

Emily and Rob_edit

I’m so proud of who we are when we are together. How you’ve always dealt with my wheelchair so well – chucking me around Brazilian beaches and rushing through the streets of Morocco so we don’t have to buy one more bloody trinket that we’ll never look at again. There’s a ‘get on with it’ attitude that I adore.

So many people I know would be embarrassed to watch me crawling up a flight of stairs in public, would do all they could to wrap me up and save me the indecency. To you, it’s a challenge. A personal one for me and one for society. The quiet ‘go on, babe, keep going’ always spurs me on when you know I’m struggling.

That Moroccan train journey will never fade in my mind. How you somehow managed to get all the bags on and find me a seat on the busiest train we’d ever set our eyes on, whilst giving my wheelchair to the elderly lady who just couldn’t stand anymore, and putting your arm out to steady her whenever she needed it. The beautiful ring she gave me as thanks for making the four-hour journey easier for her will always be a huge symbol of how caring you are. No praise needed, you just want to help others.

“You’re their laughter medicine as well as mine”

There’s nothing better than just knowing that someone will be there for you if you need them. Something as simple as getting in and out of the bath is fine most of the time, but hard work on a bad day. The fact that you ask whether I need a hand every single time just makes it so much easier. Usually, I’ll say ‘no thanks’, but the pressure is off for whenever the answer might be ‘yes’.

I see the way people look at us. Often it’s like you’re the greatest man in the world for having a disabled girlfriend, sometimes with a strange pity. But honestly? Most of the time they see us whizzing around the supermarket, hand in hand and just generally being silly, and they smile too. Sometimes, you’re their laughter medicine as well as mine.

Oh, and you’re the best leg shaver out there.

Emily Yates is a 24-year-old accessibility consultant, travel writer and presenter. Next month she’s launching her own business, My Purple Compass, creating and selling mobility and intimacy aids so that everyone can feel stylish and sexy.

If you’re in the mood for more romance, read this moving love letter published by US-based site The Mighty:

A love letter to my neurotypical husband, from your autistic wife

Before you, I knew in my marrow that I would never be suited for a conventional love relationship. How could a woman who exists mostly in her own inner world, so tightly controlled, ever share a life with another person — until “death do us part,” no less? Every attempt I’d ever made at normal had failed miserably. I am too complicated, too particular, too cerebral.

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R for Romance is part of Scope’s A to Z of sex and disability. Read the rest of the A to Z.