Is it wrong for my sister-in-law to date a retarded man?
August 11, 2009 6:45 AM Subscribe
My sister-in-law has started dating a mildly retarded man. This strikes me as very, very wrong. Am I a bigot, or is this a well-founded concern?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (58 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
She's nearly 30, and has been coddled by her parents to a degree that has stunted her growth, emotionally and developmentally. She still lives with her parents, doesn't drive, leaves the house only for her job (full-time, caring for the elderly with Alzheimer's in a retirement facility), and I suspect she's chronically depressed. My wife and I are working on her (teaching her to develop life goals, encourage her to make friends, encouraging her to seek therapy, and so in), but FWIW, she's got a college degree, she's actually pretty outgoing, and is a regular churchgoer. Fundamentally, there's nothing wrong with her that couldn't be cured with a year of living on her own and a couple of years of therapy.
This guy lives in a group home. He works at a minimum wage job at the age of 30. I'd be surprised if he had a high school degree. He's not capable of driving. You might not know he was retarded in a conversation of a minute or two, but much longer than that and it becomes clear that something is wrong with him. His two best friends have Down's syndrome; their first date involved hanging out with them (after which he immediately started referring to her as "my girlfriend"). He's perfectly nice, apparently harmless, and she thinks he's sweet.
I find this horrifying for multiple reasons, but to get to the crux of my question, this seems exploitative and utterly inappropriate. If she were dating somebody with paralysis, blindness, or deafness, I can't see why I'd have any problem with it. But to date (with marriage her single-minded goal) a retarded man is in a totally different realm, for ethical and societal reasons that I can't quite put my finger on. Should I just get over it, or is this fundamentally wrong for her to do?