When Love Means the Little Things (Valentine’s Day Specials)

Joshua has severe vision loss due to congenital glaucoma. He shares his views on relationships, misconceptions about dating a person with disabilities, as well as his treasured moments with his [...]

In this final instalment of the Valentine’s Day Specials, we ask one of our youths, Joshua Tseng, about his views on relationships, as well as his treasured moments with his other half. 23-year-old Joshua has severe vision loss due to congenital glaucoma.

My name is Joshua Tseng. My girlfriend and I have been together since May 2018, and we’ve been through a lot over the past 2.5 years. 

One thing that we are always clear about is to talk our issues out because if we both care about our relationship, we’ll do whatever it takes to set things right and make things work – even if we have to talk till 4 in the morning. Because of this, she’s someone I trust enough to be vulnerable with, and I in turn act as her pillar of support. 

I’m not a man of great means, but I do want to make her feel special. That’s why for her birthday present last year, I bought a set of copper wires for a few dollars and tried to put my amateur wire sculpturing skills to make a pendant for her.  

The pendant that Joshua painstakingly made for his girlfriend, despite his visual impairment

Though it might sound cliché, I do believe sometimes the best gifts aren’t the ones that come out of great expense, but are the ones that we put our effort, heart and soul into to make something unique. 

Misconception about dating a PWD

I feel like the most common misconception about dating when it comes to people with disabilities (PWD) is the perception of how fair the relationship is. My girlfriend has gotten comments from peers calling her “courageous” for dating me, or telling her, “I can’t imagine what you must go through in your relationship!” I feel that these comments reflect the idea people have that dating a person with a disability somehow means the relationship will involve a disproportionate level of sacrifice, since I couldn’t possibly contribute to the relationship as much as she can. In my opinion, a relationship only works if both sides treat each other fairly by investing the same amount of care, attention, and effort as each other – this means that in our relationship, I have to be ready to give her just as much value as she does for me.

This isn’t to say we have never encountered issues because of my lack of sight, or that she hasn’t made any sacrifices. For example, I could never drive her around anywhere (unless we both wanted to die). But we acknowledge this as a limitation and focus on the things I can do to make things even. When we settle down, one thing I could do more of would be housework like cooking and cleaning, while she does other tasks like driving to pick up groceries or picking me up from work. All of this is to say that dating a person with a disability does not mean they automatically are dependent on you for everything and they cannot contribute back. After all, an equitable relationship makes for a happy relationship.

When other people were in relationships and I was not

I’ve never really been envious of my friends who were in relationships when I was not, I mostly thought of it in this way: when my time comes to date the right person, I’ll be dating the right person. It is a matter of patience because at the end of the day, not everyone is willing to or is able to date someone with a disability and that is totally okay. Instead, I focused on the other things I could control, like being clear about what I was looking for in a partner, working on my social skills, and simply going out to meet new people so maybe, some day, I would meet “the one”. I’m grateful that that day did come, and we’ve been together for more than two years now.

Looking for the other half

I am a very deliberate person by nature, and this is also true of me when it comes to romance. I am very specific with what I like in people and wish to have in a relationship. Some traits that are very important to me in a relationship are things like stability, reliability, being understanding, loving, and open to discussing important topics like family, money, and values. A person who can fit what I am looking for, who I like, and who likes me back is the kind of person I would go after and, as it always goes, we’ll see what happens.