Love and loving relationships: what they mean for people with learning disabilities.

Michelle McCarthy, Rachel Forrester-Jones, Claire Bates, K.M. Skillman, N Elson

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review


Introduction: Adult social care rarely prioritises or actively facilitates loving relationships for people with intellectual disabilities. The aim of the research project was to give adults with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to speak about what support they wanted to form and maintain intimate relationships.

Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with 40 men andwomen with intellectual disabilities in England. Just over half were, orhad, been in a relationship and the rest were single. Of those who weresingle, five people had never had an adult relationship, despite wantingone. A thematic analysis was conducted on the data.

Results: The adults with intellectual disabilities were generally very able to articulate what love and loving relationships meant to them. They had insight into what the main barriers were for them in meeting partners (lack of social opportunities, lack of support from staff) and had ideas for how they could be overcome. The lack of consistency in support availableto adults with intellectual disabilities was striking.

Implications: All those involved in the lives of people withintellectual disabilities need to be aware that adult loving relationships arelife enhancing for individuals concerned. It follows that to ignore this sideof life is neither appropriate nor fair.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)863-863
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2019
EventInternational Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IASSID) World Congress, Glasgow, UK 6-9 Aug 2019: IASSID Future4All - Scottish Event Campus (SEC) Glasgow, Glasgow, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Aug 20199 Aug 2019


  • Sexuality,
  • Relationships
  • Love and loving
  • Sexual rights


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