Harley and Bailey, who is a quadriplegic, met on a dating app and fell in love, but three years on Harley is seeking help as the burden of caregiving has put a strain on their relationship.
Falling in love was easy for Harley and Bailey, but his condition as a C5, C6 quadriplegic, means he needs help with everything from eating to bathing and brushing his teeth, as well as medications and at-home medical care.
Keeping their loving relationship is now the challenge, as Harley feels burned out from all her responsibilities and Bailey feels guilt for being a burden, and anger towards his condition.
“The problem that we’re having is the frustration that we both feel because he’s paralyzed, and we both take it out on each other. Bailey feels so much guilt for having to rely on me. Bailey told me that he wants to give up. He wants to be put in a nursing home.”
The couple sought advice from Dr. Phil by coming on his show, and so he began by asking Harley,
“You’re a young, single, attractive female. Out of all the people that you can choose, why choose someone in a wheelchair?”
To which she recalled their initial meeting and attraction to each other, plus the simple fact, she said,
“We make each other happy.”
Describing their situation and set up at home, Bailey added,
“I didn’t want her to be my caretaker. Where we live, we live so far from any kind of caretaker and the ones we have access to, they’re no good.”
The couple then explained that it was because of this lack of available help, they found themselves in this predicament of giving all the at-home care responsibilities to Harley. Dr. Phil’s response was,
“There are a lot of people that can be his caretaker, but there are not a lot of people who can be his girlfriend and his lover. It’s not your job. You’re either going to be his lover or his caretaker. It’s way above your paygrade. You’re not skilled for that either.”
“100 out of 100 relationships that involve caregiving fail.”
Dr. Phil’s controversial reaction to the couple’s situation caused a lot of other inter-abled couples to comment and disagree, many of them sharing that they didn’t have to choose between loving their partner and caring for them. One such couple, Hannah Aylward and Shane Burcaw created a hashtag #100OutOf100 to disprove Dr. Phil’s statement.
Shane and Hannah have a YouTube channel that helps them share how their inter-abled relationship works, with the hope of changing misconceptions and stereotypes about disabled people. Shane said of its purpose,
“Our goal is to normalize disability and relationships like ours.”