LD Network

Learning Disability Relationship Tips

People who have learning disabilities are often prone to relationship difficulties. Many of them are generally unlucky in their relationships with the same and the opposite gender. Sometimes, they feel less of themselves, while in other cases, they do not know how to keep up with relationships. This article aims to reveal how they can improve their relationships.

Table of Contents

How They Can Befriend Others

Making friends is the first step to having a good relationship with them. Befriending people is not as difficult as it is being imagined. The following guidelines can help to get in friendships.

Smiling In a Friendly Manner

Offering a smile to people in a friendly manner helps to kickstart friendships. As much as the smile can be an excellent start to the relationship, it also helps to boost their confidence. They do not need to pass a comment or have any conversation. All they need to do is smile. Even if they do not receive a smile back, it is not a problem. They can move on or look in another direction.


After the day’s activity, they should reflect on what they can recall about the people they smiled at. They can ask themselves these questions:

  • What their names were
  • The outfits those people were putting on

Routines like these will help them feel confident and comfortable. If the smile therapy yields positive results, they can move to the next stage.

Greeting People They See

Now that smiling has induced some confidence level, they can greet their peers. They do not need to say more than a hello. They however can, if they feel comfortable about stretching beyond some greeting. After the day’s activity, they need to reflect on the people they greeted. They need to recall the kinds of reactions they received, people that greeted them back, etc. They should note that poor responses should not weigh them down. They should take their minds off it.

Beginning a Dialogue

When they are comfortable saying hello and exchanging pleasantries with people around them, they can make conversations of a few words. They need to be consistent with the dialogue technique and practice it every day with new and old people.

Asking Questions in a Polite Manner

Asking questions politely is an art. It is very vital in maintaining a solid relationship. They can politely ask people about themselves. By doing so, they can learn about these people and build common interests to establish their friendship.

They need to understand that allowing people to talk about themselves makes them feel valued and respected. Also, they do not feel any pressure because they do not have to worry about maintaining the conversation. As time goes on, they will gain confidence and interact better with people.

Can They Engage In Sexual Relationships?

People with learning disabilities still have some functions similar to normal humans. They, like everyone else, have sexual feelings and have the right to be in sexual relationships. They also experience happiness, love, care, and more freedom in their sexual relationships.

Problems They Face In Their Relationships

Many individuals with learning disabilities often express the priority they place on their relationships. However, less than 4% of people with a learning disability are married and live with their spouses.

Many individuals with learning disabilities have desires to be in sexual relationships. However, they encounter many hindrances that prevent them from being in their desired relationships. Some of these difficulties include the following:

  • They find it challenging to meet new people, and they are often socially isolated.
  • They do not have proper information on relationships and sex.
  • They do not get the privacy they need to learn and familiarise themselves with their sexuality.
  • They are often restricted by factors like their choices, family situations, and other living conditions that surround them. As a result of these factors, their intimate or sexual relationships are seen as risks rather than their rights.

Making the Most of Relationships

Family and Friends

Family, friends, and even support workers can help people with learning disabilities grow and maintain their relationships. These support parties can assist them in attending social occasions to meet new people and build new relationships.

Some reports prove that support parties are very instrumental in helping them maintain intimate relationships and find suitable partners.

Although, there are reports that some support parties find their roles limiting. This is because of inadequate guidance on things they can do and things they are not allowed to do regarding sustaining and promoting sexuality.

Anxieties heighten this limitation condition between setting up positive relationships and aiming to save the people with learning disabilities from being neglected or taken advantage of.

Relationships and Sex Education (RSE)

People with disabilities need a lot of information and assistance to identify and appreciate their sexuality. They also need to be taught how to maintain good relationships. The problem is that many learning disability centres and schemes do not offer this knowledge.

Sometimes, when they give the knowledge, they do not provide it entirely or enough for the people with a learning disability to use. This, in turn, affects and prevents them from experiencing healthy and fruitful relationships. It puts them at a high risk of adverse sexual experiences, acquiring infections, or untimely pregnancies.

In essence, relationship and sex education must be rendered appropriately, completely, and understandably. Studies have shown that visual education works better than verbal classes when educating people with learning disabilities about sexuality.