Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Friend in a Wheelchair Gives Me the Creeps”

In our social group we have a friend, Joe, who has a severe mobility impairment. He has no intellectual issues but needs help doing even the most basic tasks such as eating, drinking, toileting, showering, etc. Joe uses a very technologically-complex wheelchair to aid in his mobility. I’ve invited him over to my house often and he really appreciates it as most people don’t want to deal with the “trouble.” It’s not much trouble — I just make sure there’s a path cleared for the chair, straws for his drinks, and help him get out of his chair for a bit if he’s there for a long period of time.

There is one problem, though — he’s got this habit of asking me to help him with personal needs. I honestly wouldn’t mind the asking (even though I would say no) if it wasn’t done so creeper-ish. He’ll say: “What I really need is someone to help me shower. I mean, in theory even a friend could help me — it’s not that difficult.” When I tried to explain one time why that was not something I was interested in, he stopped and said he didn’t mean me. But, still, I should not have to explain to friends why I do not want to help them shower.

Joe makes other requests that make me uncomfortable. For example, one time at my house he asked me to hold the tissue while he blew his nose (yes he is THAT impaired mobility-wise). He said: “I’m asking this because I know you’re a mom and can handle it.” Well, yes, I am a mom, but that doesn’t mean I want to wipe my friends’ asses and noses. Plus, what Joe doesn’t know is that I have a massive mucous aversion. It’s my thing. I hate it. It’s instant gag-inducing for me. But on this occasion I sucked it up and thought of pretty little trees and helped him blow his nose because hey I can suck it up once to help someone who can’t even blow his own damned nose.

Adding to the complexity, I have a special needs son myself who has severe autism. My son’s father and I chose to place him in a residence (we see him regularly) when he was young because we watched his paternal grandparents work themselves into early graves caring for their severely autistic daughter (my son’s aunt). They had no lives, no family, and it wasn’t good for the sister either. We wanted to be our son’s parents, not his therapists or caregivers, so we made this choice. And so I worry that perhaps I’m more sensitive to being asked to do stuff like help a friend on the toilet or shower, and I hear about how others are being all helpful, and worry I’m being the jerk here if I don’t help out the same way.

But it’s just… the subtle comments here and there are getting creepy. Like once he mentioned how another female friend helped him on the toilet and told him he had a nice ass, which I didn’t care to hear about. And when we were talking about how Joe is finally moving into his own assisted living apartment, out of the nursing home that’s really geared more toward people with intellectual impairments, he said one of his friends told him it was great that he was moving because he could finally get laid. That may be, but I’m just not someone who likes talking about sex with men I’m not married to… especially men I feel are hitting on me and trying to get me to help them take a shower.

I’m starting to feel like Joe’s a manipulative little creep and not this perfectly nice guy with mobility issues I originally thought. I’m not really close enough to the other girls in our social circle to ask them if he gives them creeper vibes too (I am also afraid they’ll think I’m an asshole for picking on poor, disabled Joe), but it’s beginning to feel gross and coercive and manipulative. How do you suggest I handle this? — Not Into Helping My Friends Shower

The guy gives you the creeps. You feel grossed-out and manipulated. You also feel guilty not only because Joe is disabled and can’t blow his own nose or wipe his own ass, but because you have a son whose special needs you can’t fully meet on your own. I’m sure that alone is a bit of a mind-fuck, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re projecting guilt you might feel over your son’s situation — not that you SHOULD feel guilt, but as a mother, I could understand if you did — onto Joe. Caring for Joe isn’t the same as caring for your son or your other children. Joe is not your responsibility. Blowing his nose and wiping his butt and giving him a shower is NOT your responsibility, and if doing any of those things — even just holding a tissue to his nose while he blows — makes you uncomfortable, then don’t do them. And don’t put yourself in situations where you will be asked to do them.

Perhaps avoiding situations where you may be asked to help Joe do things you are uncomfortable doing means avoiding Joe completely. Maybe it means limiting your interactions with him to group events and activities instead of one-on-one time in your (or his) home. Maybe it means sitting down with him and telling him that you are uncomfortable discussing personal topics with him, like your sex lives and how he showers or goes to the bathroom. And if you aren’t even comfortable broaching that conversation with him, maybe Joe should be downgraded to a casual acquaintance — someone with whom you share some mutual friends, but not necessarily a close one-on-one relationship.

Distancing yourself from someone who gives you the creeps doesn’t make you a jerk. But staying friends with someone you find manipulative out of guilt or a sense of obligation IS kind of jerky. It doesn’t do you any good and it doesn’t do Joe any good. And being a friend to someone with special needs won’t make you feel any better about your role as a parent. It won’t erase whatever guilt you might feel as a mother. You have to tackle that on your own; you have to exclusively reconcile whatever feelings you have about your autistic son and the choices you’ve made in caring for him. Of course, you can’t completely compartmentalize those feelings and they will inform your parenting and lifestyle choices. But be careful about letting the feelings you have regarding your son inform the kinds of friendships you make, especially in terms of friendships that ask of you more than you’re willing to or comfortable giving.

***************

You can follow me on Facebook here and sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

186 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Sunshine Brite June 10, 2013, 9:09 am

    Don’t invite him over as often. Clearly it’s more trouble than you imply at the beginning of the letter. It sounds like Joe needs a staff which would likely be provided at his facility but not for community outings.

    That’s just part of it though. Set your boundaries the way you see fit. You don’t need to ask around for permission to do that, just know what is best for you.

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    • avatar

      Sunshine Brite June 10, 2013, 9:28 am

      But it also doesn’t sound like you like him very much so also look at if you’re only spending time with him out of pity.

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      • avatar

        LW June 10, 2013, 12:43 pm

        Not at all! He’s fun to be around and we share many common interests. He has a good personality and we (other not so impaired people in our group) really don’t see things like clearing paths and providing straws to be a big deal. That isn’t the problem. The problem is when he’s asking us to help him with showering and toileting and other hygeine needs, in a way that is pointedly implying whoever he is asking should say yes or offer help. And further research has shown some of the other reasons I’m uncomfortable is a) he’s primarily only asking me. Others have been asked, but not near as often as me and b) he never, ever asks the men in our group. Despite that based on sheer strength, they’d be far more suited and capable of this work.

        It has occured to me when speaking to another friend (who doesn’t know him as well, but knows of him) that he has also been severely under socialized, and perhaps doesn’t realize this is uncomfortable for people when he asks.

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      • avatar

        oldie June 10, 2013, 2:37 pm

        From your full description “he’s fun to be around” seems far from truthful. You find him awkward to be around. Most people do not find it fun to be around other people whom they find creepy, especially when the creep is directed at them. You are not going to solve this situation until you admit to your real feelings, in their entirety.

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      • avatar

        LW June 10, 2013, 10:43 pm

        In this context, I am speaking of things that Make Me Uncomfortable About Joe. So I’m going to focus on those things. The sole problems are precisely as decribed. Most of our conversations, as in 75%+, are about stuff we share in common (cinema, music, politics, travel). Please stop assuming I’m just not comfortable with him. Yes, his shower requests make me uncomfortable. This does not negate that 75% of the time we’re discussing cooking and Shakespeare!

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      • avatar

        Sunshine Brite June 10, 2013, 3:14 pm

        Eek, I’d understand better if he asked the men too. It doesn’t sound like your group necessarily works in caregiving so it doesn’t sound like a natural jump to ask for a hand with hygiene. People do get used to getting help from whoever’s around, but this sounds like he’s being choosy. I’d try talking to him about it next time he asks.

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  • avatar

    Savannah June 10, 2013, 9:17 am

    I agree with WWS, but I’m also curious about who was going to help Joe blow his nose if the LW said no?

    Over the past 3 years my family has hosted a dear friend who had early onset Alzheimer’s for sunday dinners. Over the years it became more and more labor intensive to hold these dinners with her, as she could no longer see and then was having trouble feeding herself. We adapted to her condition as things got worse, sometimes it was scary or even annoying and sometimes it was great but it was all done out of love. We also knew what inviting her over meant and what type of care we would have to give her if she came over. I would hate for Joe to read this letter (even if he is a creep, he seems pretty vulnerable per his physical limitations) and see that the people he trusts around him are in fact doing things for him with disgust and out of some twisted guilt.

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    • avatar

      LW June 10, 2013, 12:46 pm

      About the nose blowing thing… there were several other adults there, including two men who were fathers, yet I got asked because “I know you can handle it since you’re a mom.” If it had been just myself and my husband, who I obviously know very well, I would have made my husband do it. But there were some other people there I did not know so well and I don’t like looking like a baby in public so I sucked it up and dealt with it. But in examining that situation, I realized that what bothered me was the whole bit about asking me to do stuff since I am a mom. He never asks the men in our group. (He will ask other women, even ones without kids).

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      • avatar

        zombeyonce June 10, 2013, 1:50 pm

        The more you talk about him, the creepier he sounds. I imagine that if he were fully mobile, he’d be one of those misogynistic guys that talk down to women in bars. Heck, maybe he does that, too.

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      • katie

        katie June 10, 2013, 1:59 pm

        first off- ” I don’t like looking like a baby in public” that is YOUR ISSUE. YOU have an issue with saying no to things, and so you cannot blame this particular situation and your discomfort on your friend. if you didnt want to do it, you should have said no.

        secondly- why is his “your a mom” answer not good enough for you? because honestly id think the same thing. your a mom, youve given birth, which is like the messiest/grossiest thing that humans experience, you have potentially breastfed, equally messy, you have potentially taken care of a toddler, who are the messiest things on the planet, ect- so i would think along the same lines. you need something potentially gross done? ask the mom, because they more then likely have to the most gross experience. i dont get why that is offensive either.

        and to the point that he only asks women- first off, why do none of the men volunteer to help with these things? boom, problem solved. you are also ignoring your own points about him being socially isolated and probably only cared for by women- OF COURSE he only asks the women for help, he has likely been conditioned to do that.

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      • avatar

        6napkinburger June 10, 2013, 2:06 pm

        Whenever anything needs to be done in my group of friends that is kind of gross, we all point to the gynocologist. I’m sure she still thinks things are gross and would probably rather not deal with the giant hairball in the drain, or whatever, but we nominate her because she’s used to gross things. I would also ask the mom.

        But I understand that if this is just one of those situations that the creepiness can’t be explained but is real,then I understand that it may be a (seemingly legitimate) pretense.

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      • avatar

        LW June 10, 2013, 10:45 pm

        OMG honestly this is just so fucking offensive! Yes I am a mom, and I don’t REALLY want to wipe my kid’s nose and ass either but guess what that is part of being a mom! AND A DAD. So why the FUCK is he only asking the WOMEN in the room, be they mothers or not, and totally ignoring the dads?! I’m willing to do gross things for my family BECAUSE THEY ARE FAMILY. I am in no way interested in other people’s gross things. WTF!

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      • katie

        katie June 11, 2013, 9:14 am

        seriously, you cant understand why a socially AND sexually deprived person doesnt understand that and just *maybe* hasnt been taught properly period, not to mention not getting a good dose of feminism in his life, that mothers and fathers both do the work? seriously?

        you are unbelievable. you expect this guy to be a perfect human, understand all your boundaries and YOUR personal likes/dislikes without you communicating them, and you sit here and explain all his flaws to us (his parents sucked, his mobility issues, sexual issues, socialization issues), then turn around and are *offended* by what he says? my point is that it is UNDERSTANDABLE that he goes to the women. i get that, why dont you get that? why cant you put 2 and 2 together that the sum of his life has come to the behavior he exhibits now? why dont you open your eyes a little and not look at him through the lens you look at everyone else through- because you cant. you cannot hold this guy up to any “normal” social standards. he was not taught the same things you were, he was not brought up the same way you were, he was not brought up correctly period. he is sad and confused and lonely and hates his life. and you are just mean. mean and not willing to see anything outside of the box.

        i dont get it. i dont understand how you can call this guy your friend. you are a terrible friend. i hope you cut him out of your life for HIS sake.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay June 10, 2013, 2:17 pm

        I had a friend who had similar mobility problems, and often his brother was out with our group, but if not, he would get help from the other guys. Besides the fact that he was uncomfortable with choosing a woman, it was much easier and safer for him and the helper choosing someone who was often larger and stronger. My mother works in a hospital and back when she used to help people use the bathroom, it was really hard on her body trying to help men move around.

        I can see why someone might see a mom or a woman and think they’ll be a more willing helper, but it’s not a complete no-brainer.

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      • FireStar

        FireStar June 10, 2013, 2:31 pm

        Wouldn’t a dad of a toddler come with those same recommendations? Plus potentially more upper body strength? The mother isn’t ‘dealing with’ the messiness of childbirth…she’s busy just giving birth…the father is the one witnessing all of that if he is in the room and the poor nurse does the clean up. I think it is a cop out to only ask the women…because the LW says he asks non-moms too.

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      • katieosaurus

        katieosaurus June 10, 2013, 3:56 pm

        I think it’s probably different doing it for your kid and doing it for a friend. Because its your child and you kind of HAVE to, its part of what you signed on for, you know? You chose to bring your child into the world an it’s your responsibility to do the gross stuff. It’s one thing to clean up after your kid and another for your friend, because you don’t necessarily sign on for it with your friend. I just don’t think because “she’s a mom” she should automatically be volunteered for gross stuff. I’m a new mom, and I clean up poop and baby puke all day long. It still grosses me out and half the time I want to barf lol. I wouldn’t want someone to assume I would do it just because I do it for my kid

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        SpaceySteph June 10, 2013, 3:07 pm

        Maybe he just feels weird being touched by men, the same way you feel weird touching a man who isn’t your husband.
        I’m not saying you have to, but I still don’t think his behavior is creepy. And if you do think its crossing a line its your responsibility to tell him. His reaction (either apologizing and never doing it again, or continuing to do it/trying to deflect the blame) will tell you whether he’s a creeper.

        That said, it sounds like he might be sexist. Thinking women are naturally more nurturing or “because you’re a mom” without also using “because you’re a dad” are subscribing to traditional gender roles that don’t seem fit you personally. If it were my friend, I would probably get all feministy about it, because that shit pisses me off.

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      • avatar

        LW June 10, 2013, 10:48 pm

        THIS yes. And honestly, I don’t think he MEANS it. I think he’s just super under socialized. And we also, I admit, have a rather extremely feministy group due to our social circumstances (and no we’re generally not caregivers). And I think it would be a huge massive favour to teach him this but gah I so I don’t want to do it. I just don’t want to deal. I will though. Just give me a while. Will update you guys in some months…

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    • avatar

      zombeyonce June 10, 2013, 1:48 pm

      I understand being sensitive to others’ needs, but someone with this limited mobility should really have a caregiver. I know a man that sounds about the same level as Joe (very severe mobility issues, wheelchair, needs assistance showering and the like) and he has a caregiver with him at all times.

      Yes, I realize this must be expensive but there is aid available for people that need it to this degree. Maybe LW could do some research into these programs and suggest them to Joe, but I can’t imagine that he hasn’t looked into this. If he has, either it’s too expensive or he just really is a creepy jerk and enjoys being able to talk to his friends about the quality of his ass and having someone to do help him would take away his excuse to act this way.

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      • avatar

        6napkinburger June 10, 2013, 2:07 pm

        He lives in a full service assisted living facility. He was venturing out for a couple of hours to be among close friends. He probably was happy to get a short break from caregivers.

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  • avatar

    Liquid Luck June 10, 2013, 9:38 am

    I agree with Wendy for the most part. But I do want to say that if you ever invite Joe to your home or spend time with him alone (your letter wasn’t quite clear on whether or not that’s the case), then I think you are implicitly agreeing to help him do things he can’t by himself (like blowing his nose or helping him to the bathroom). So if you don’t want to do those things, make sure you only invite him over when you know that someone else present WILL be comfortable doing those things. But it sounds like you should just let this friendship fade. Don’t invite him to your home unless it’s really a large gathering and cut back on your outside-the-house visits to once every few months, and then if you still don’t enjoy them, cut him out completely. It doesn’t make you a bad person to not want to spend time with an adult you don’t care for. It sounds like he uses his disability to get away with making statements that make you uncomfortable, and that isn’t okay. There’s also a difference between helping your own child bathe and use the bathroom and doing the same for an adult you aren’t that close two, disability or not, and you should feel free to say that to him if he uses the “you’re a mother” guilt-trip ever again.

    I also hope that you don’t feel any guilt over your son’s living arrangement. Getting proper care is what’s best for your son, and it sounds like you made the right decision for you, your son, and your other children. If you do have any guilt or lingering doubt, you may want to see a therapist who specializes in helping parents of children with special needs.

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    • avatar

      LW June 10, 2013, 12:51 pm

      Thanks! I don’t see him one on one in either my home or his, because I’m just not comfortable with where the conversations go sometimes. I know he’s lonely and all but the ever so subtle hints here and there just lead me to believe in my gut that social outings are the only way to interact positively with him. I think his severe under socialization is a huge contributing factor here. He moved into a new apartment and was freaking out totally on day four because no one had come to visit yet after the initial move in date. It took me a bit to realize he didn’t understand people don’t just generally drop in on people all the time, and it’s totally normal to go several weeks not having people over. I do enjoy the things we discuss and such, and I totally agree we shouldn’t invite him over if there’s a problem doing things he needs help with (and that’s what bothers me, there are plenty of other people in these situations he could be asking, but it’s ALWAYS on me he’s fixating).

      I don’t feel guilt about my son too often, I just wish it could have been different.

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      • avatar

        cdobbs June 10, 2013, 1:45 pm

        who is taking care of him in his home? can’t that person (if there is one) come out with him and do those things for him? and if he is living on his own than doesn’t that mean he can do some stuff for himself?

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      • avatar

        oldie June 10, 2013, 2:41 pm

        That person likely is responsible for caring for multiple people and can’t leave them to devote 100% of time to Joe.

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      • avatar

        cdobbs June 10, 2013, 3:01 pm

        i was thinking that after i made my post, but he must be able to manage somewhat on his own if he is not receiving 100% care?

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      • avatar

        LW June 10, 2013, 10:50 pm

        Yeah he lives in a building where there are aides there by push of button, but they don’t venture outdoors. Think like how an NYC doorman is there to open your door… at YOUR builing… not your buddy’s.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle June 10, 2013, 9:47 am

    I’m in agreement with Wendy that this whole situation is absolutely tied in with the LW’s feelings about her son…I mean, I could see that even her inviting Joe over the house was somewhat based on guilt? (No one else is inviting him, right? Since he makes mention of how they don’t want to deal with the trouble? So she’s going a bit above & beyond, based on the status quo of their friend circle, which indicates her actions are at least partially motivated by guilt.)

    Anyway, LW, it doesn’t matter if you have no confirmation from other women that Joe is a creep. If you feel uncomfortable, you don’t have to keep being in social situations with him alone. Even if you simply feel unequipped to handle his requests—regardless of whether or not he’s being pervy—you’re still under no obligation to host him at your house. It should be easy enough to just stop inviting him, or invite him only with other people in tow.

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    • avatar

      LW June 10, 2013, 12:56 pm

      There are a couple people who have invited him over besides me, but he seems to have some idea that people are always out wildly socializing with one another, not realizing that no, we might see one another at work or church or a meeting or whatever and talk a bit but no we’re not all going over to one another’s houses all the time and such. Honestly though, I think before the last year or two he never really had friends who invited him (and truly, it’s not a big huge deal outside of the blowing the nose thing, which isn’t really a huge deal).

      A lot of the shower requests come on FB chat, or on the phone. I’m trying to work out a script with another friend on how to explain that honestly it’s really not appropriate for him to be asking women in our social group to help him shower. Keep in mind he never asks the men. This is why I’m getting creeped by it. And I’m not sure he even realizes he’s being sexist like this or that this makes it come off pervy as he’s just always had female carers I believe.

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      • Cassie

        Cassie B June 10, 2013, 5:34 pm

        Why can’t you just say that to him? Just say, “Hey, I don’t know if you realized you’re doing this, but you tend to make these requests only to women. It would be one thing if we were your caregivers who just happened to be women, but we’re not; we’re your friends. I don’t think you mean it that way, but it makes me and a few of your other female friends uncomfortable to be asked to help you do these things (i.e. shower, toileting). Perhaps it would be better to ask some of the men in our group. Sorry, but I’m just not comfortable doing those things.”

        Just tell him no in a firm way. Don’t feel you have to sugar coat things beyond basic politeness just because he’s got mobility issues. He’s a person, and he’s got full mental capabilities. He should know or learn quickly what is and what is not appropriate in a social circle among friends.

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      • avatar

        LW June 10, 2013, 10:52 pm

        I agree. I’m just being a baby about doing so. I need to do it with another friend there. I spoke about it with a social worker friend of mine who has dealt with this shit before and he’s coming with me to help Joe grocery shop Thursday, so we’ll talk to him and I’ll update you guys after I promise!

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  • avatar

    SuzyQ June 10, 2013, 9:49 am

    Setting aside the creepiness for a second…. it seems like Joe may need more day to day care than he is getting. Showering and using the toilet should be covered by a daily caregiver. It’s possible that he doesn’t have the resources to outsource this care. That would be very sad, if he’s forced to impose on friends when he should have better home care. But he needs to hire a caregiver to do this for him.

    As to the creepiness, someone needs to tell him that his behavior is inappropriate. Everyone has wants/desires, but to try and manipulate your platonic friends into it is pathetic. He needs to find a better outlet.

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    • avatar

      Liquid Luck June 10, 2013, 10:48 am

      I completely agree about Joe needing a caregiver. Since he is fully functioning when it comes to his intellect, I do believe that it’s his responsibility to ensure that his basic needs are met, and begging off on friends when the need arises is unacceptable and puts people in an awkward position. Asking someone to help him blow his nose, fine, I get that (I even understand an occasional accident that might catch him by surprise), but regularly asking his friends to wipe his ass and help him shower cross the line. He’s mentally capable of arranging professional help for these things, and he should absolutely do so.

      If the LW wants to help, she can do a bit of research and find phone numbers for a few assisted care nurses in their area (this should take about five minutes of Googling) and give them to him with the suggestion that he look into hiring someone now that he’s moving out of a full-care facility. He may even qualify for special programs or financial help from the government or in order to do so.

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    • avatar

      LW June 10, 2013, 2:23 pm

      He does have caregivers. The problem is he’s given showers on certain scheduled days (and sponge baths on other days) and he feels he needs more, and he doesn’t have a lot of money see, so this is how the requests came up. A friend of mine pointed out that one of the other reasons my son’s father and I placed him was because his sister (as in my son’s aunt) had become extremely entitled and demanding. This is often a side effect of when parents dedicate their entire existence to being solely their child’s caregiver to that kind of extent. Joe displays this on a lesser level. Like it’s a HUGE deal to him that they offer two shower days and he has to pick either morning or afternoon. To me, I’m like, well, you need this service, so you need to work with the people who provide it. Normally when he goes out he wears diapers (this is his choice and he’s fine with that). He needs help with #2 though, since obviously he prefers to not soil himself! Well, the service in his residence is willing to come and place him on the toilet, and then come back 30 minutes later to take care of things. He is offended by this and wants them there exactly the moment he needs to go, and to stay until he is done, and then they can leave. But that’s not realistic and is far too time consuming for the kind of residence he is in. So to me you need to make compromises. You can’t have everything you want Right Now. This is give and take. One time he just blew up and said he needed a 24/7 live in aid at his beckon call at all times, but couldn’t afford it so what he really needed was a girlfriend. I kind of blinked but didn’t point out that um, no, that’s not what a girlfriend is for… this is where we started noticing he’s really socially underdeveloped.

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      • avatar

        Scooze June 10, 2013, 4:00 pm

        He’s definutely in a tough spot with his disability but you’re right – his social ineptitude isn’t helping. And its not your job to fix it for him.

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      • katie

        katie June 10, 2013, 6:34 pm

        ok, but really- you cant sympathize with this issue? you dont see the absolute shittyness of this? you dont understand why he really could be so desperate and hate his life so much that he would beg his friends?

        i mean, would you like to be placed on a toilet for 30 minutes to defecate and be taken off after the timer goes off? that is incredible- i cant even believe they do it that way. that is incredibly dehumanizing, and sad, and embarrassing, and so many other things i just cant even imagine what it would feel like to live that way.

        i would blow up probably everyday and want 24/7 care.

        im not saying that you have to fix his problems- you shouldnt. but you need to start thinking about this from a different perspective… this is a very sad situation. he is probably not coming onto you, he honestly probably doesnt even know how! he isnt creepy, he is sad and alone and 100% dependent on people who it sounds like provide pretty shitty care. you need to give this guy some slack and understand *why* he feels the need to ask you these things, and then be prepared with a response. but my god, he is not creepy. that is not creepy behavior. its sad, it is really just incredibly sad.

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      • avatar

        LW June 10, 2013, 10:55 pm

        I actually do completely sympathize. I have met his parents and totally get exactly how and why this has happened. My problem is I don’t know how to explain to him without sounding like a complete uncaring asshole that a) he needs to stop asking women friends only for showering help b) it creeps people out and c) we still totally dig playing cribbage with him until the wee hours and d) you want a beer? and come out all high fives in the end. Because he’s so, so, so busted socially right now thanks to a multitude of totally not mobility related issues.

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  • katie

    katie June 10, 2013, 9:53 am

    i think that your guilt over you son is making you think that he “needs” your help with things. because other then the nose blowing thing, i wonder what else he has actually asked you for- you seem to be projecting all his conversations about his disability (which is probably his way of coping- talking about stuff makes it easier to deal with, and a lot of times people joke about their own issues to make them not a big deal) to be about you. why are they about you? why cant you just have a conversation with him? you have a son with disabilities, he probably thinks he can confide in you and maybe find some guidance and/or support. i highly doubt when he talks he literally is saying these things with *just you* in mind.

    so why dont you try to reframe your thought process around him? because i wonder if you could remove your own guilt and/or issues from your friendship with him, you guys could have mostly normal friendship.

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    • avatar

      lemongrass June 10, 2013, 10:57 am

      I feel the same way. I didn’t read anything that screamed creepy to me. A few of the things he said she could have easily handled with “Whoa, TMI.” I don’t think he is hitting on her or trying to get her to help him shower. We, as people, are selfish in the way that we think everything revolves around us. It’s human nature and we look to include ourselves in whatever the convo/interest is. It’s like when you are watching a movie and you can so relate to the character in it. Doesn’t mean the movie was about you. I had this same thing happen last week when I was telling a friend that I’m ready to leave E with a babysitter but I just need to find someone to do it. She says “um, I don’t really know babies but I guess I could do it.” I was actually thinking of someone else and told her so.

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark June 10, 2013, 12:40 pm

        To me it all read as gallow’s humor from him… The crack about his “nice ass” especially… Honestly? Most of the responses here — even Wendy’s 🙁 — reveal shadows of the often hidden disgust most secretly feel towards the physically challenged. Just because somebody creeps you out — doesn’t make that person a creep…

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      • avatar

        Liquid Luck June 10, 2013, 12:50 pm

        The thing is, it doesn’t really matter if he’s actually creepy or if the LW is overreacting a bit. Either way, she feels uncomfortable around this guy, and she has every right to limit her time spent around people who creep her out, whether it’s rational or not. She doesn’t need to justify WHY she feels the way she does, as long as her actions aren’t infringing on any one else’s rights. If they don’t share a sense of humor, she has no obligation to learn to tolerate his anymore that she has the right to insist he change the way he speaks. I don’t see it as ableism because it sounds like she would be grossed out about anyone talking about their bathroom habits, not just this particular guy who happens to be in a wheelchair.

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark June 10, 2013, 12:55 pm

        It’s fine NOT to like someone. But to falsely portray that person as “a creep” to justify your own actions is beyond fucked up. Especially somebody who has more than enough on his plate already…

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      • avatar

        Liquid Luck June 10, 2013, 1:10 pm

        You have no idea whether or not this guy is actually creepy, yet you’re assuming the worst of the LW and the best of this guy. That’s also a judgment based on his disability (you’re giving him the benefit of the doubt because he “has more than enough on his plate already”), yet for some reason that’s ok to you. Shocking.

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      • avatar

        bcamber June 10, 2013, 2:23 pm

        shocking indeed…

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark June 10, 2013, 5:22 pm

        I;m not giving him the benefit of the doubt — I just think her evidence against him was beyond fucking weak. Big difference. Huge. But most of you clearly can’t see that.

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      • avatar

        Savannah June 10, 2013, 1:06 pm

        I would think about this differently, you’re also making assumptions about disabled people. By assuming that disabled have ‘too much on their plate already’ that they can’t be creepy or mean to be sexual towards a women/man is to assume that they are disabled and cannot be seen as sexual beings. This school of thought is super old and hurts everyone involved. Disabled people have agency too and sometimes it can inappropriately acted out- just like everyone else.

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      • avatar

        Liquid Luck June 10, 2013, 1:12 pm

        I didn’t see this before my last post, but I agree completely. Especially in cases like this where the disability is physical and all the person’s mental facilities are intact.

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark June 10, 2013, 1:16 pm

        If he WAS legitimately creepy — she’d have better examples… The burden of proof is on the LW. And she fails here…

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay June 10, 2013, 1:56 pm

        That’s not necessarily true. Maybe the examples made sense to her. As someone who works as an editor, I can tell you that even professional writers often think they are making sense when they don’t. Sure, our advice will change depending on her examples, but you can’t say that it’s a fact he’s not a creeper unless her examples are better.

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      • FireStar

        FireStar June 10, 2013, 2:20 pm

        I’d be creeped out if a friend of mine asked me to wipe his ass or help him shower. I might not think he is hitting on me but that is sufficiently creepy and inappropriate for me. Clearly Joe has help to do these things when he is not visiting friends – so he needs to make arrangements with those same people when he has a social engagement and not rely on his friends assuming that role for him. That is just insane. He either has zero social skills in which case someone has to tell him point blank or he knows exactly what he is doing – and shame on him if it is the latter.

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark June 10, 2013, 2:21 pm

        You must work with some pretty shitty professional writers…

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay June 10, 2013, 4:12 pm

        You said it, not me. 😉

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      • avatar

        bcamber June 10, 2013, 2:23 pm

        And a lot of the time when you have creepy feelings about someone, it’s not hard and fast examples, it’s just an overall feeling.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark June 10, 2013, 5:24 pm

        Trust me. I know ALL about that. Many good people had “creepy” feelings about homosexuals for years and years. Before that it was blacks… Fuck those feelings. 99.99999 percent of the time, peoples feelings about such things are fucking bullshit.

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      • avatar

        Liquid Luck June 10, 2013, 4:27 pm

        Jesus, Mark, “innocent until proven guilty” does not apply on DW. This isn’t a court room, nobody’s on trial, and we aren’t looking to lock anyone up. People do not need irrefutable proof that someone is “creepy” in order to distance themselves from him or her. It’s not unreasonable to limit contact with someone who makes you uncomfortable. She isn’t having him tarred and feathered, she just wants a little bit of breathing room from his intrusive requests.

        I know logic that isn’t based in sexism is hard for you, but try to remember this: Autonomy is about being allowed to choose who you interact with, how you interact with them, and how you allow them to treat you. She is within her rights to choose how or if she allows this guy (and any other person she comes across) to interact with her, even if she does base her choice on something as intangible and unproveable as the “creepy” factor.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark June 10, 2013, 5:20 pm

        All I’m saying is that you’d think somebody with a kid of her own that is bound to make plenty or people uncomfortable. You’d think she’s have… I dunno. More compassion. Frankly though, that seems to be lacking around here in general. We get it. Many of you wish the physically challenged would hide themselves away… This has been a very revealing day here on Dear Wendy…

        Hers is an ugly letter and the fact that so many of you embrace it is a very ugly fact… Talk about fucking shallow…

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      • Dear Wendy

        Wendy June 10, 2013, 5:31 pm

        Mark, you may think you know what it’s like to be marginalized, but I promise you have no idea what it’s like to be a woman and feel creeped out by a man — disabled or not! — making sexual advances or being sexually inappropriate.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark June 10, 2013, 5:44 pm

        Oh please… NEWSFLASH: I’d had inappropriate advances made on me by a friend’s father — no less! — when I was all of 18 years old… You know what? He didn’t ask me to wipe his nose. He wasn’t at all coy about it. Instead, he freaking grabbed me and shoved his tongue down my throat when we were left alone for a minute…

        Sorry, but the evidence here is scant at best. Just because some women have been victimized — doesn’t mean that EVERY guy is just waiting in the wings to do so…

        PS — How did I deal with the creep in question? I simply smacked him across the face and threatened to tell his wife and son if he ever pulled that shit again… Surprise, surprise. He didn’t.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Wendy June 10, 2013, 6:22 pm

        Yeah, that must be rough being a 6’4″ man and having to deal with unwanted advances once in your life.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark June 10, 2013, 6:53 pm

        Actually, as a scared confused 18 year old — who had never kissed ANYBODY — and who was beyond terrified of being gay — it didn’t exactly paint a very rosey picture of what lied ahead.

        Honestly, I think that probably fucked with my head in ways I’ve only recently realized.

        But thanks for your support, Wendy. I’m glad my borderline sexual assault was no biggie to you because I was all of 6’2 at the time and a toothpick. Nevermind that the father in question outweighed me by at least fifty pounds… Your above statement could very well be THE most fucked up thing you’ve ever posted.

        Good to know. I guess any women who is NOT a tiny little thing should just be able to fight her attackers off, eh?

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      • avatar

        Liquid Luck June 10, 2013, 7:59 pm

        And as usual:

        The point
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        Mark

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      • Cassie

        Cassie B June 10, 2013, 5:49 pm

        Word.

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      • Cassie

        Cassie B June 10, 2013, 5:49 pm

        That was for Wendy’s comment.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay June 10, 2013, 5:47 pm

        I’m sorry if we don’t take advice on being compassionate from someone who berates everyone who writes in. If that were actually something that was important to you, then you wouldn’t look for the worst in every single person who asks for advice or comments.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark June 10, 2013, 5:53 pm

        The people I take to task really need to be. Honestly, the posts here about this letter have kind of freaked me out. Are most of you REALLY that bitchy and shallow? Seriously? Yikes.

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      • avatar

        bcamber June 10, 2013, 6:32 pm

        we all know that if the LW had been a man and the friend had been a woman, BGM’s response would probably have been different.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark June 11, 2013, 1:17 am

        Oh, please. Grow the fuck up, would you? This place bores me. I think I may take a bit of a breather…

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      • Cassie

        Cassie B June 10, 2013, 6:02 pm

        After reading more of the LW’s updates on here, I am not sure if this guy is being “creepy” or if it’s more she’s just uncomfortable with what he’s asking. Either way, she doesn’t have to justify to him (or us, or anyone) why she would rather he not make these requests of her,and why she would rather not do those things for him. And she has the right to tell him this.

        Yes, to be in situations where you would have to ask these things of other people is humiliating and difficult. However, if ‘Joe’ isn’t trying to be a creeper (and he wants friends), he’s going to need to learn quickly a more socially acceptable way to ask people and to take the hint when others aren’t willing to help.

        I’ve worked a lot with people with severe disabilities (both intellectual and mobility), and because my comfort level, I would probably be fine with helping him when we were out with friends and he needed to use the restroom. I would probably not be fine with going over to his place to give him an extra shower, and I’d let him know that. But the LW is not comfortable with those things, and that’s her right. The question of whether he’s truly being creepy or she’s just interpreting it that way is a moot point.

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      • avatar

        Liquid Luck June 10, 2013, 7:56 pm

        It would be nice if you formed a coherent argument once in a while instead of resorting to ridiculous assumptions about how terrible we are. Not wanting to be around someone who makes you uncomfortable =/= wishing the physically challenged would hide themselves away. Pretty sure if that was the case, I wouldn’t have spent years volunteering to give strangers with mobility issues sponge baths.

        And while I acknowledge that gay men have their own set of issues to deal with, they are not the same as (nor are they easier or more difficult to deal with than) what woman deal with from a lot of men who feel it’s perfectly ok to say inappropriate bordering on downright terrifying things. The last man I ignored “creepy” vibes from (because, surprisingly, I hadn’t seen any actions to “prove” that he was a threat), violently attacked me. Is that likely to happen with every man who gives off a weird vibe? Absolutely not. Would I rather err on the side of caution than go through something that horrible again? Absolutely.

        And while I don’t think that this particular man in this particular LW’s situation is dangerous, your comments are much broader than this situation. You’re flat out telling people that it’s not ok to cut someone out of your life for an intuitive feeling without any proof of possible future danger, which is not ok.

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      • avatar

        LW June 10, 2013, 10:58 pm

        The ironic part of this is I have a physical disability myself that seriously impedes several aspects of my life… just not to Joe’s extent! 😉 I know BGM means well. He’s always trying to be the devil’s advocate to find a good side, and in an odd way, to stick up for the underdog.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay June 10, 2013, 12:45 pm

        I didn’t think he was asking her to help with a shower at first, but if he’s this impaired, he must have professional help at home with things like using the bathroom and showering and eating, right? I mean, if he doesn’t already have help taking showers, I doubt that he could take them at all…

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    • avatar

      Lucy June 10, 2013, 11:19 am

      THIS. I didn’t hear anything creepy in any of what the LW recounted. It sounds to me like she’s projecting motivations and intentions onto him that aren’t really supported by the evidence. It sounds like he,s trying to deal with his situation with a bit of humour and frankness, which IMO is actually pretty admirable.

      That said, she shouldn’t hang out with him if it makes her uncomfortable, even if her reasons for being uncomfortable are spurious. The guy deserves better than a friend who’s hiding her disgust and pity from him.

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    • KKZ

      KKZ June 10, 2013, 11:28 am

      I had a similar thought – I don’t see immediately why the LW would assume Joe has ulterior motives when he talks about these aspects of his life.

      BUT we are not there for this, so I also don’t want to say she’s reading too much into it – sometimes ‘creeper vibes’ can’t be explained or justified. From what the LW says about getting confirmation from friends, it seems there’s something more subtle that’s triggering her creepdar – like, he’s not being really forward and crude, but maybe dropping hints or using particular words/tones that make her shudder. I just wonder if the LW’s perception that Joe is hitting on her is affecting how she hears his comments, or if his comments are making her believe he’s hitting on her.

      In one light, asking a person with a severe disability to not speak of the difficulties they experience with said disability is an act of silencing an uncomfortable truth. On the other hand, even without the creep factor OR the disability, I can totally understand why the LW wouldn’t particularly want to hear about Joe’s potty, shower and sex issues – those are highly personal topics that not everyone is comfortable discussing openly.

      I would suggest becoming a master of Changing the Subject – very briefly acknowledge the shudder-inducing comment, then move on to something less unappetizing. His response to this may even reveal whether he truly has creepy intentions or if he’s just talking about the reality of his life. If he keeps trying to redirect back to uncomfortable topics, that might be a yellow flag. But if he just goes wherever the conversation goes, then maybe the creep assessment is misplaced.

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    • avatar

      LW June 10, 2013, 2:30 pm

      It’s the way he whines about it. “What I really need is someone to come and give me a shower… but I can’t afford such things.” (Eyore voice intended. Also he has the Eyore look down pat, and does this when he says these things). “I just wish I had a friend who was willing to come give me a shower.” “LW, I really want to go on this retreat with X Group but if I go, I’ll need someone to help me shower. Do you know who I could ask, or would you be willing to help me?” And it’s just INCREDIBLY obvious he’s asking me. “I wish just like, one or two days a week, I had a good friend who was willing to come help me, place me on the toilet, and wait for me and then I could you know use the washroom when I want to. That’s what I really need, just one good friend, just one or two days a week” (insert big huge dramatic sigh).

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl June 10, 2013, 2:35 pm

        Why don’t you stop talking to him? Stop messaging/e-mailing/texting etc and when in group settings sit on the other side of the room. (FWIW based on what you’re writing I would be totally sketched out too.)

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      • avatar

        LW June 10, 2013, 3:04 pm

        The thing is, because he’s so socially underdeveloped, I feel he needs to be told this stuff. I was thinking about it with another friend of mine who doesn’t really know him but worked as a health care aide, and how we learn to not beg like that, that it’s creepy and coercive, when we’re teens (hopefully younger) because of our social experiences… but he never got a chance to have those, due to family situations. I just need to find the right words on how to explain this. The bit about how he’s never asking anyone but WOMEN to do these things has to be some sort of lead in I think…

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl June 10, 2013, 3:09 pm

        I honestly don’t think it’s your place. It sucks he didn’t learn these things as a kid, but I mean you’re going to look like a huge bitch.

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      • avatar

        LW June 10, 2013, 11:00 pm

        You just hit my entire problem, right there.
        But then I think “in whose eyes exactly?” Because none of our friends would care. The more I think about it, the more I know them, no, none of them would be pissy for me sharing this. His family? So don’t give a fuck. Him? Hey man I’m just sharing info you need to know. So now I’m working on finding the right script.

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      • avatar

        melancholia July 15, 2013, 5:40 pm

        You seem to be sharing this info with everyone BUT your friend, Joe… maybe you should have a direct conversation with him instead of battling it out online with a group of strangers to try and “prove” your points. And, by the way, you do sound like a huge bitch. Not because you feel uncomfortable, but because you continually skirt around the issue and talk so rudely about your friend behind his back. Do you not have a compassionate bone in your body?

        “It’s SO obvious he is asking me”, “it’s the way he whines about it…” “i just wish I had a friend who would help me shower”…

        Does none of this hit a spot in your brain (or icy heart) and make you feel like maybe he is just reaching out to someone he considers to be his friend? Maybe he is just trying to talk to someone and he’s just talking and needs someone to listen to him. Ever think of that? Did you ever think that, maybe, just maybe he isn’t hitting on you but he considers you friendly enough to actually reach out, be vulnerable and ASK for help??

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle June 10, 2013, 3:10 pm

        yeah, at this point (after reading all of your clarifications, which thanks! We love when LWs jump in with stuff, haha), I don’t know whether to suggest you talk to him, or just find him a woman with a caregiving fetish (they’re out there).

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      • avatar

        LW June 10, 2013, 11:01 pm

        So wrong but I swear to god I actually thought of this. Not ME doing it but hooking him up with someone into that.

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      • FireStar

        FireStar June 10, 2013, 3:12 pm

        Don’t overthink it. “Joe – you need to make arrangement to have a caregiver come out with you on social engagements to help you with the things you need help with. Asking the girls all the time isn’t on. I get that maybe you just don’t realize it – but it makes people uncomfortable because we want to help you but the things you are asking are just too intimate. I don’t know if the guys would be cooler with you asking them. But it might be odd for them too. You can ask them…or do you need help finding a caregiver who charges hourly for those types of services? I could make some calls for you.”

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      • avatar

        LW June 10, 2013, 11:02 pm

        THIS IS AWESOME perfect thank you this is exactly the kind of language I was looking for! Awesome this gives me a base to run from, thanks so much!

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay June 10, 2013, 4:20 pm

        Maybe you could just be completely honest, without pretense. Tell him that when he only asks women to do really intimate tasks for him, it could seem like he’s wanting more out of it than just the help. If he is this socially underdeveloped, then you may have to be blunt with him.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark June 10, 2013, 5:52 pm

        Yikes… This bitchy comment doesn’t exactly do you any favors, LW. Seriously. Get over yourself. He clearly DOESN’T have a caregiver like everybody assumed. He sounds very desperate. Clearly, he must be if he is reaching out to the likes of you…

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      • avatar

        LW June 10, 2013, 11:03 pm

        What are you talking about? He does too have caregivers. Your comment seems super out of context in relation to what you’re replying to. He has caregivers. He’s just whiny needy and entitled, like most humans are, including me! from time to time.

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      • Cassie

        Cassie B June 10, 2013, 6:21 pm

        Don’t let yourself be pressured if you’re not comfortable doing these things. You may need to be more blunt about it with asserting yourself and saying no. I don’t know whether he’s being creepy with these requests or if it’s more he’s in a desperate circumstance and feels embarrassed to ask men for some reason (there’s a hefty amount of interpretation I’m doing here). But, he needs to make these requests of someone who is willing to help him with these things and he needs to accept it if people in this social group are not. What he’s asking for is preferences, not needs, since you say he already has provisions for people helping him with toileting and showering where he lives.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom June 10, 2013, 10:16 am

    Maybe the reason the others in the friend group find Joe to be too much “trouble” is because he is inappropriate and makes everyone uncomfortable.

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  • FireStar

    Firestar June 10, 2013, 10:19 am

    Invite Joe and a guest in the future. Tell Joe you aren’t comfortable acting as care-giver or mom to anyone outside of your immediate family so you are totally fine if he would like to bring a guest to your party to help him with whatever he needs doing. I disagree that it is the prerogative of the hostess to help in personal matters of her guests – even if disabled. If the guest is incapable of handling those issues on his own then it is incumbent on him to “clear” his requests in advance “I would love to come but unfortunately I need help in the restroom – I hate to impose but are you or your husband willing to help – I completely understand if you aren’t?” or to decline. I would be horrified if someone asked me to help them with their bodily functions and I think the LW is totally right that Joe is taking advantage (I didn’t mean you when I started talking about friends helping me shower even though I ask you things that cross boundaries – Sure you didn’t). Joe needs to get the care he requires…that is his responsibility or that of his family to arrange for that though – it certainly isn’t the responsibility of his friends to pick up the slack.

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    • avatar

      LW June 10, 2013, 2:49 pm

      Complicating matters is his mom is a burnt out martyr who is mean to him verbally and pissed he won’t just stay in the nursing home and shutup. She’s terrified of everything and very controlling so she won’t help advocate for him at all. Her answer is always “this is why you need to be in a nursing home.” But the help he would require really is not a huge deal. He could get by with say 5-10 extra aide hours per week and it would make everyone, including him, more comfortable. I’m trying to find resources for this.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl June 10, 2013, 2:56 pm

        What about Adult Protective Services? I’m not sure the resources they offer but they may be able to get him in touch with people who can help.

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      • FireStar

        FireStar June 10, 2013, 3:06 pm

        That’s very kind of you. Perhaps the nursing home can help with the various resources available.

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      • avatar

        Sunshine Brite June 10, 2013, 3:22 pm

        Sounds like adult foster care would’ve been a better fit. More stimulation than a nursing home but less people. He’d get his people around at his beck and call usually 1-2 staff to 4 people and could still get a high level of care. He’s going to get bored in assisted living.

        PCA hours in my state are available, but impossible to get paid for. Most families can’t get respite care for that 5-10 hrs a week for a person. County services would be able to give some direction, but don’t take it on yourself; it’s a huge process usually.

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  • avatar

    Grilledcheesecalliope June 10, 2013, 10:35 am

    Stop inviting him over so much. If you keep hosting him of course he thinks you’re willing to help him with his personal things. Stop hosting him, and spend less time with him/right near him during group outings.

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl June 10, 2013, 10:36 am

    Sorry, this is a tangent kind of- I had no idea there where “residences” for kids with autism. I need to google it.

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    • avatar

      Sunshine Brite June 10, 2013, 11:04 am

      Of course, some are generally called group homes or whatever the specific license is in each state. I worked in adult homes designed to meet the same needs. They’re reserved for the hardest cases that stretch personal resources too far in MN.

      There’s fewer of them where I’m at so some people tend to care at home with in-home caregivers as they have the trade off of having to drive quite a ways to be close to their family member.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl June 10, 2013, 11:43 am

        I knew about the care facilities for say Alzheimer’s but I guess I never really realized Autism got *that* bad. The diagnosis can cover such a vast range of abilities, it’s kind of fascinating. I did google it and came up with one residential facility in OH that cares for individuals from 8 to 22 with the goal of teaching them life skills and independence. Fascinating.

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      • avatar

        Sunshine Brite June 10, 2013, 12:04 pm

        It’s common for autism to take people’s communication skills away to the point where they can’t talk, become self-injurious, and become compulsive with ritualistic behavior. Often they aren’t limited to one diagnosis in the residence, but try to match people’s functioning levels and balance behaviors and often that goes by diagnosis too. Some will always exhibit development more in line with infants or toddlers than their actual age.

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      • avatar

        LW June 10, 2013, 2:55 pm

        Yeah, that’s the kind my son has. He is unable to speak and managing him is like managing a toddler when it comes to keeping him out of trouble and safe. Except he’s 6′ tall and 165 lbs.

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    • avatar

      Temperance June 10, 2013, 11:43 am

      I think it’s called Devereaux. A friend of mine used to work at their day place.

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  • avatar

    Ladidah June 10, 2013, 10:42 am

    So Joe is a person with a disability, who’s not coming with a caregiver, and who needs a person to support him to do some personal tasks. Here’s the thing. If you are not comfortable with doing that, which is totally your right, just don’t invite him over if he doesn’t have a paid caregiver with him, because otherwise you’re essentially accepting responsibility for that. Also, having Joe as your friend is not some kind of penance or means to excise guilt. He is a person, which means he has all the complexities of any other person but needs more physical help and assistance. Thus, he may be creepy, as a dude without a disability might be. He might also just like bantering about sex and not be intending those conversations to be about you, again as a dude without a disability might be.

    The thing about getting laid after moving into a regular apartment and out of a care home where almost everyone else had an intellectual disability and thus were unsuitable partners for someone who did not does not sound like an invitation to you. But it’s your experience – if you feel that it is, you don’t have to be friends with someone that’s creeping on you.

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  • mylaray

    mylaray June 10, 2013, 10:46 am

    I know this may be the minority, but I honestly think you should say something to Joe. Even though he has no intellectual disabilities, he could just be used to asking friends for help and not really know it’s a problem for some people. If you think about it from his end, he may prefer someone like a friend helping him, rather than an actual caregiver. I’m not saying that’s right. Plus, typically caregivers aren’t going to go with someone to a friend’s house and on social events. That doesn’t mean you should feel guilty for not wanting to help him go to the bathroom and blow his nose. I can totally see why you wouldn’t want to do that, especially after having a son with special needs. But I think it would be better to say something rather than fading out the friendship, unless you don’t really enjoy anything about the friendship.

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    • avatar

      temperance June 10, 2013, 12:53 pm

      This is a good point. My husband’s grandmother only wanted family caregivers when she needed assistance after a surgery. (Whether the family wanted to provide such intimate care was a different story).

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  • avatar

    Guy Friday June 10, 2013, 10:56 am

    Here’s a thought: TALK TO HIM. Tell him the comments bother you. Tell him you’re happy to talk to him and to hang out with him, but he’s got to stop telling you these stories. And also tell him that you’re having trouble with some of his requests like blowing his nose, but that’s on you (because, I’m sorry, but it is, at least the nose-blowing part), and that you can’t help him. Then see how he reacts. He may very well apologize and shut up about these things. And if he doesn’t, then yeah, sure, don’t hang out with him as much. But he’s not a psychic, so don’t expect him to be.

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    • Diablo

      Diablo June 10, 2013, 12:42 pm

      Guy, you’re a lawyer. I wonder about insurance and liability. If she’s helping him and one or both of them get hurt, anything from back strain to a fall and broken bones, is she liable? Would her homeowner’s or tenant’s insurance likely cover it?

      I remember once helping to carry a colleague in a wheelchair up three flights of stairs to a meeting because there was no elevator, and thinking, what if we mess up? What if there is a fire?

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        6napkinburger June 10, 2013, 12:58 pm

        As a lawyer, he won’t answer this question as he doesn’t want to be held liable for the advice given!

        But, without it being legal advice, renters or homeowners insurance will most likely cover it, though that depends on the actual policies. If they cover negligence, then they will most likely cover it; if they don’t, it gets murky.

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        LW June 10, 2013, 11:06 pm

        Hee without giving too much away I live somewhere health care is not an issue… for basics anyway 🙁

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  • Crochet.Ninja

    Michelle.Lea June 10, 2013, 9:56 am

    If you’re married, where is your husband when Joe is over? Can’t he help with some of this as well? if Joe is actually being a creep, he’ll probably stop asking you to do things for him if your husband, instead of you, is helping him to the bathroom.

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      GatorGirl June 10, 2013, 10:05 am

      Awesome idea/response.

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle June 10, 2013, 10:19 am

      But I don’t think she’s married, though?

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      • Dear Wendy

        Wendy June 10, 2013, 10:25 am

        She is married. For brevity, I had to shorten some of her letter, and part of what I edited out stated that she was married and her husband was fine with whatever she decided to do in regards to Joe.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle June 10, 2013, 10:30 am

        Oh, okay. Hmm. Then I do kind of wonder where her husband is when all of this is going on.

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        LW June 10, 2013, 2:38 pm

        With the nose blowing incident he was in the kitchen. Another friend was in the living room with us though and I have a pride thing and didn’t want to look silly in front of someone else by refusing to help. The toileting request was done on the phone and when I was helping him move into his apartment. My husband didn’t help with the move as he was at work. A major shower request was done on FB chat. While my husband is fine with whatever I would choose to do, he is not interested in helping. Like me he feels that this is work that should be done by more of an aide type person.

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        oldie June 10, 2013, 12:17 pm

        Then her husband is not the father of her autistic child? It seems strange that she refers to him as ‘father of my child’ rather than ‘my husband’.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle June 10, 2013, 2:06 pm

        I’m guessing her son’s father is someone else, no? That line is why I was confused, but after Wendy said she ~was~ married, I just assumed it was to someone other than her child’s dad.

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      • avatar

        LW June 10, 2013, 2:39 pm

        Yes he was born from a previous relationship.

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  • avatar

    oldie June 10, 2013, 10:56 am

    Joe is sexually frustrated and hitting on LW. Either he has a big crush on her or is just reaching out indiscriminantly to any females who give him the time of day. Yes, this would be creepy. Coupled with Joe’s physical disability is an extreme social backwardness that comes from missing out on most normal social interactions, such as dating and full interaction in mixed-sex social settings as he matured. Having her husband present isn’t going to solve all the problems, because Joe doesn’t have the social sense to know when he is being extremely awkward and uncomfortable to women. LW probably sees him the most, because other women have received the same behavior and shied away from Joe. We had a wheelchair-bound youngish male adult who attended our church from a local rehab hospital. When we drove him to church, he had no problem hitting on my wife in my presence. I really think he didn’t know any better and subtlety was beyond his social skills. This happened to other women as well. Yes, it was very awkward and we ended up keeping our distance from our Joe.

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      Grilledcheesecalliope June 10, 2013, 11:52 am

      I dont really see all the creepy hitting on. Based on the letter joe. Seems lonely and maybe like he is more comfortable with the LW than she is with him. So he’s talking to her about feelings she doesn’t want to know. If I took every male friend saying that some change in tbeir life might lead to them getting laid more as an invitation for me to sleep with them, I’d be offended all the time.

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        oldie June 10, 2013, 12:09 pm

        That part in isolation can be subject to your interpretation, but the suggestion that she give him a shower really cannot. I think her sense of creepiness is fueled by a recognition that he has feelings for her. She may not be able to clearly illustrate examples of this, but what her intuition is telling her is likely to be true.

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        Liquid Luck June 10, 2013, 1:17 pm

        This. While there are certain actions that will automatically label someone as being “creepy”, it’s often something you can’t quite place your finger on, like a gut feeling or a weird vibe you get from a particular person. Without knowing this guy, I wouldn’t be able to judge whether he actually in being inappropriate or not, but I prefer to give the LW the benefit of the doubt here. If she says she’s getting a bad feeling about this guy, then there’s no good reason to assume that she’s lying or over-reacting.

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        6napkinburger June 10, 2013, 1:18 pm

        But he didn’t, he said that he needed someone to help him, he’d prefer a friend, and when she said no, he said he didn’t mean her and never brought it up again. So maybe he was floating the idea or maybe not, but either way, after she said no, he totally dropped it.

        I agree that there may be other factors at work and he may, in fact, be creeptastic, but the examples DONT illustrate it for me, and i think that it’s worth pointing out that these examples do not demonstrate creepiness or that much objective inappropriateness. Someone who cannot shower by themselves pointing out that they need someone to help them and they prefer friends to paid caregivers (and never mentioning it after being asked not to) is not intrinsically, objectively creepy. Neither is recounting the story that a friend pointed out that he could get laid at the new home.

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      • KKZ

        KKZ June 10, 2013, 1:24 pm

        Just to play Devil’s advocate, is there even such a thing as “intrinsically, objectively creepy”? I’m sure there are many behaviors that most people could agree are creepy, but it still seems like a very subjective thing to me – ‘creepy’ is all about how something makes YOU feel. A lot of people find spiders creepy (and yes, I know that’s a different flavor of creepy), not because there’s anything objectively creepy about spiders, but they just feel fearful, uncomfortable or unsettled around them. Others aren’t unsettled by spiders so don’t find them creepy.

        Anyway, I’m not arguing with your point, it’s a good one – there’s a fine line for us commenters to tread between “are you sure he’s being creepy” and outright gaslighting the LW. ‘Objectively creepy’ just seems like an oxymoron to me.

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        6napkinburger June 10, 2013, 1:46 pm

        Fair enough. I think I meant “normatively creepy” which a “reasonable” person with “reasonable” sensibilities would find creepy. You are right.

        Though I want to reiterate — I don’t think LW should just suck it up because his behavior is not “normatively creepy.” If she is uncomfortable, she should absolutely avoid those situations for many reasons, the number one being that her feelings are facts to her, so to her, he is creepy and there is no reason for her to subject herself to feeling like that. And he may very well BE normatively creepy, which we wouldn’t know because we aren’t there. I just think that its on the LW to start avoiding those situations (by not inviting him over) and not on Joe, if he isn’t doing anything normatively wrong and she hasn’t told him he makes her uncomfortable.

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      • katie

        katie June 10, 2013, 1:46 pm

        “Someone who cannot shower by themselves pointing out that they need someone to help them and they prefer friends to paid caregivers (and never mentioning it after being asked not to) is not intrinsically, objectively creepy.”

        exactly. this is a HUGE part of his life, i mean this is his life. its too bad that the LW cant see this and has to just automatically go to thinking he has sexual intentions or whatever, when really he is just speaking plainly about his day to day reality. i mean i dont get it.

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        Ammie June 10, 2013, 10:13 pm

        A lot of our communication consists of the things we say beyond words. Our tone, our expression, and our past behavior can all influence how people read into the individual things we say.

        For example, a piece of information that might shed light on Joe’s intentions is the fact that he’s never asked his male friends for help, but opts to only solicit the help of his female friends.

        Expression and tone, of course, are things that can’t be conveyed in a letter. But I’m not willing to dismiss the LW’s firsthand perceptions of Joe’s intentions, in the absence of firsthand interactions with Joe myself. I’ve known enough men who have perfected the art of being creepy while maintaining plausible deniability about it later that I have no problem believing that they exist in other people’s lives as well.

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        LW June 10, 2013, 11:08 pm

        Wait I didn’t think him saying him moving out = getting laid to mean ME doing the laying. I mean simply honestly I don’t like hearing sex talk like that from men I’m not personally boinking. I don’t talk like that with ANY of my male friends sorry. Just a boundary thing for me.

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      LSMITH82 June 10, 2013, 12:10 pm

      Back in college we had a “Joe” in the outer circle of our friends group. He did have a caregiver, who would accompany him to events, but he usually pushed her away to regain some of his independence. Our Joe was often inappropriate, and was also very uncomfortable to be around. He gave me the creeps, and I sort of sympathize with the letter writer.

      The Joe of my old peer group would choose “favorites” and whether you wanted him around or not, he’d follow you around. My friend and I were two of his favorites,simply because we were courteous and he was “creepy”. We were both hesitant to say anything for fear it would come off as cruel, but he was always “accidentally” saying obvious sexually inappropriate things that grossed us girls out, ( all the stupid guys we were friends with thought he was hilarious). He’d grope people, and when you called him on it, he’d try to make it out like an accident, and make you look like a bad person for picking on the disabled guy.

      Eventually, the friend and I just avoided him, which in hindsight was just as cruel as telling him to his face was, but we tried that and he didn’t listen to us then, either. He turned his attentions elsewhere, and that girl came up to us asking if we thought he was “odd”.

      It’s a very awkward position to be in. People hear the same things, but don’t always quite understand how it makes the person he’s acting that way towards feel, until they are in that position. I also feel like the LW might be projecting her guilt, but this guy could just be that creepy.

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        llclarityll June 10, 2013, 12:19 pm

        I think you did the right thing, though. What else could you have done if you told him what was/wasn’t OK with you and he kept doing it?

        Whether she’s projecting her guilt or not doesn’t change the fact that she’s uncomfortable with what he is saying to her and how he is saying it.

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        LW June 10, 2013, 11:09 pm

        God. thank you so much. Just knowing there was someone out there who gets it (and clearly can explain it better in writing than I can!) is very helpful. Thanks!

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  • avatar

    bowlshaped June 10, 2013, 11:00 am

    I’m mostly a lurker, don’t comment often, but I wanted to chime in. I have a moderate physical disability myself and have known lots of guys like Joe. Society usually treats people with physical disabilities as though they don’t have a gender or a sexual identity. Generally, this is worse the more severe the disability is. As a result, figuring out how to fulfill their gender role is one of the biggest social challenges young adults with disabilities face. In boys and men, behavior can range from piggish to creepy. It’s their way of declaring that they’re men, not just androgynous beings with broken bodies. Since most parents don’t have disabilities, they’re often not sure how to manage their teen’s or young adult’s behavior, and in a lot of cases it does go unchecked. Everyone’s suggestions to help the LW manage the problem were great. However, Joe is likely to move on to whatever woman will tolerate his creepy comments next. The only way to address the root of the problem is to confront him about it, and maybe to help him find other ways to channel his feelings (these don’t have to be sexual).

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      LW June 10, 2013, 11:11 pm

      thank you so so so so incredibly much. I’m trying to look for ways to do that now. I genuinely like Joe most of the time. But this issue needs to stop and I feel compelled to do whatever I can with whatever resources I can to make him aware. And he may well tell me to fuck off and continue, but I have to try! It’s best for him and everyone else.

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  • thewriteway

    thewriteway June 10, 2013, 11:43 am

    I was reading this and thought this was going to be about a guy who I met online that was also in a wheelchair and creeped out a lot of girls, even those who he had never met in person and only knew through the Internet. He just wouldn’t take hints and continued to chase me and publicly posted how in need of a girlfriend he was, or tried to get mine and my friends’ attentions when we talked about wanting boyfriends. (He even once tried to invite himself to see me!) But since I never met him in person and don’t think he is this severely disabled, I don’t think it’s the same person.

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    sophronisba June 10, 2013, 11:53 am

    Is this guy indeed a friend of yours? ‘Cause I don’t know why you would talk (or want to talk) about this with everybody in the world other than the person to whom it pertains?
    If Joe is someone who brings qualities you value, then he’s worth a direct conversation about what’s bugging you and what you can and cannot do. Give him the gift of honesty, kindly.
    If you engage with him out of pity and in general he just grosses you out and his off-color talk is the straw breaking the camel’s back, then gently moving away from this association might be your best option.
    Being the mother of a special needs child does not hold you to a higher standard of what you must be willing to offer others. Cut yourself a break about not wanting to add another care burden to your life.

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      oldie June 10, 2013, 2:34 pm

      Because she is groping for the correct response to him. Because of his physical condition coupled with his extreme lack of social experience, the things she would normally say to a guy who was this inappropriate make her feel guilty to be thinking of saying, if that makes ense.

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        LW June 10, 2013, 11:25 pm

        YES OMG YES FREAKING EXACTLY THIS YES! THANK YOU!

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    Amber June 10, 2013, 11:59 am

    Okay if his mobility is THAT impaired that he can’t even lift his arm to blow his nose, he must have a caretaker. I mean, how would he eat, get in and out of his house, etc? doesn’t make any sense…

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      oldie June 10, 2013, 12:14 pm

      You make a sensible point. How would a responsible institution allow him to visit LW on his own, without first vetting LW to determine she is willing and able to handle whatever comes up during the visit. Multiple visits — he is eventually going to have to blow his nose, pee, take a crap. If LW can’t help with these needs, he is basically unsafe. Plus, how doe she get to her place? Does an attendant or public alternative transit bring him and pick him up or does LW load him and his wheelchair into his vehicle and negotiate his way into her abode? You are correct that a lot is missing here.

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        Sunshine Brite June 10, 2013, 3:27 pm

        Even if they didn’t think she was suitable most places can just document that and encourage him not to go. You can’t force someone to stay on the premises without breaking the law yourself no matter how sucky an idea it is.

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        LW June 10, 2013, 11:26 pm

        Public transit is available for people with special needs. they just have to call and arrange it. He’s a fully functional (mentally) adult and has the rights every adult has, his “institution” has no right to check where he’s going. He’s a grown ass man with the same rights as any other, plus a license to drive a wheelchair.

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    • Lindsay

      Lindsay June 10, 2013, 12:41 pm

      Yeah, I mean, the implication here is that he doesn’t have use of his legs or arms. Does the LW have a ramp at her home as well?

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      • avatar

        LW June 10, 2013, 11:27 pm

        No ramp. When he comes here he brings his manual wheelchair and we deal that way.

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  • avatar

    EricaSwagger June 10, 2013, 11:02 am

    How can this guy venture out in public just hoping someone will be kind enough to help him? I think it’s kind of appalling… It would be one thing if he had someone to care for him all day, assigned by his nursing home or by his physician, or someone that is employed to his care. But to just EXPECT that people will help you? It’s absolutely ridiculous. LW, I wouldn’t stand for it. He needs constant care, and it is hardly your responsibility to provide it.

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      Ladidah June 10, 2013, 11:10 am

      He’s not hoping that anybody will do it as he dares to live with a disability, something that apparently he should not be doing (?) He has a friend who has full knowledge, apparently, of his physical needs, and yet invites him to her house for one-on-one visits. If she’s not up for it, that’s fine. She doesn’t have to be. But it’s his disability, not “bad behaviour.”

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        EricaSwagger June 10, 2013, 11:52 am

        You’re right, the LW shouldn’t invite him over to her home if she is the only person there who is able to care for him during that time. You’re absolutely right about that.

        I’m saying, thought, that he shouldn’t expect this of her, or of anyone. It clearly makes the LW uncomfortable. If he needs care, he should make sure he has someone to give him that care — someone whose job it is or at least someone who knows what he needs and is okay with it upfront. He can’t just expect his friends to do things for him like help him blow his nose and go to the bathroom! He shouldn’t go over to her house knowing full well that he will need help, and just hoping that when he asks her, she will say yes. It’s rude!

        If someone did that to me, I would certainly feel very uncomfortable, yet at the same time, I’d feel guilty for feeling uncomfortable. It’s manipulative behavior, as the LW said in her letter. He’s putting her in that uncomfortable position. If he’s sound of mind, he needs to take steps to ensure someone can care for him, in the event that his friends are unwilling. What if she hadn’t helped him blow his nose? Would he have just let it run all over his face? What if she didn’t help him go to the bathroom? Would he have just gone in his chair in the living room? If he isn’t already in someone’s care, then it’s his responsibility to ensure that he is cared for as needed. Not the LW’s.

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        6napkinburger June 10, 2013, 1:08 pm

        Um, whoa. This isn’t a guy going into a public space and demanding that people take care of him. It’s a guy leaving his assisted living care facility for a few hours to spend time with a friend. When I’m not sick, I don’t blow my nose that often, and I wouldn’t expect that to come up, but if I was at a friend’s and suddenly needed to, I would ask for a tissue, even though it was technically my responsibiilty to ensure that I was prepared to take care of my own needs. This is basically the same thing because of their previously established relationship. From her description, I didn’t get that he was asking her to bathe him, but was discussing his preferences. Same with the getting laid. I think it is unclear whether or not he expected her to help him go to the bathroom. But depending on your relationship, it is not inappropriate to rely on friends for help for those 4 hours you are with them. Of course he should figure out something in the event that his friends are unwilling, but he has had no reason to think that this friend is unwilling.

        She sounds a little …prudish in her idea of acceptable topics, which is totally cool, but that doesn’t make topics outside of that objectively inappropriate. She doesn’t want to help, which is totally cool, but it doesn’t make his expectation of their friendship based on his previous experiences inappropriate. It just means she not invite him over. I guess she can “discuss” it with him, but I think she’ll come off badly, not because she isn’t willing to bend over backwards for a handicapped guy, but because she may be reading things into his comments that aren’t there and it is always awkward to discuss changing accepted norms.

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        GatorGirl June 10, 2013, 1:22 pm

        What in the world is “prudish” about not wanting to talk sex with a man you’re not married to?

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        6napkinburger June 10, 2013, 1:41 pm

        I think there is something a little prudish about being offended by someone mentioning that a different friend made a comment about an event in their life resulting in them “getting laid.” It’s fine for people to have different levels of comfort but I think that being offended by a male you’re not married to bringing up the topic of sex, or talking about the logistics of being able to engage in sex within a greater context is a little prudish. For example, take a friend mentioning that they are excited to move into their own apartment and not to have roommates anymore because now they’ll be able to have lady-friends over without feeling weird about it. Or that same friend recounting the fact that a different friend high fived the first friend and said “dude, now you’ll totally get laid.” I think being offended in that circumstance or even uncomfortable enough to warrant listing above demonstrates that the LW has a more prudish sensibility than I consider is objectively inappropriate. I didnt fault her for it nor do I think she should deal with it, but I don’t think that offending someone who is more prudish than average automatically makes the behavior creepy or inappropriate — it just makes it a bad fit for friendly conversation.

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        GatorGirl June 10, 2013, 1:55 pm

        I suppose the reason I dislike the statements is because the term “prude” has a very negative connotation. Like a person is close-minded in regards to sex/sexuality. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with being uncomfortable talking sex with someone other than your partner. And, if she has told him before the subject was a no-no, than she has every right to be offended if he continues to bring it up.

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        GatorGirl June 10, 2013, 1:56 pm

        Also, a lot of people do not discuss sex/make sex jokes in public etc etc.

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        6napkinburger June 10, 2013, 2:20 pm

        But they weren’t in public, he was talking in the home of a good friend (or someone he thinks is a good friend). I didn’t mean to have negative connotations, which is why the first time, i put that ellipse in, because I wasn’t quite sure the word. Conservative? that also has negative connotations.

        I guess I generally disagree with the statement “there is absolutely nothing wrong with being uncomfortable talking sex with someone other than your partner.” Like, talking positions, what you like, what you don’t like, what you’ve done, who you’ve done, sure. But “sex” is broad and being unable to talk about it generally with friends– like, discussing that they’ve done a study that shows that people who have sex once a month are more likely to not get breast cancer than those who don’t (they haven’t) — that “shouldn’t” make someone uncomfortable. Discussing that adults have sex, discussing topics that concern sex (rape, pregnancies, STDs) with friends “shouldn’t” be considered to de facto make someone uncomfortable. So I think that people who are not comfortable discussing sex at all with anyone other than their husbands are a little…whatever.

        I can imagine that discussing this guy’s sex life could be a little uncomfortable, but I would think that that is more because of the mechanics and circumstances of it.
        Again, I don’t think that someone mentioning that they will have more…ehem.. privacy in a new living situation make a “reasonable” (as in average, normative) person uncomfortable. If it does make them uncomfortable, that is fine, but that’s not the fault of the speaker. And I think there is only so much asking to avoid topics like that you can do about someone as you clearly have different sensibilities. I think the wiser course of action is to stop inviting them over.

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        GatorGirl June 10, 2013, 2:32 pm

        “he was moving because he could finally get laid” is a completely different conversation than “I read a study that says XYZ”.

        And when I used the term “sex”, I wasn’t meaning anything remotely related to sexuality/intercourse/the news- I meant sex lives or sexually explicit acts.

        We just disagree. It’s fine, just wanted to point out there are people who do not like to discuss sex/sex acts with people who are not the person they are having sex with and that does not make them a “prude”.

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        6napkinburger June 10, 2013, 3:28 pm

        What adjectove would you use? I am really asking because I was at a lost for what the word was.

        Note: I didn’t call anyone a prude, I said that they were … a little pruddish and had somewhat pruddish sensibilities, which I think is very different. I was also open to a little “conservative”. I think “private” doesn’t have the right connotation because I know people who are incredibly private and perfectly happy to talk for hours about sex generally, just not about their own sex lives.

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        GatorGirl June 10, 2013, 3:34 pm

        I don’t know how else you could word it because even though you say “that’s cool” it still seems to me that you mean “prudish” in a negative way. Maybe like “traditional” would work?

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        LW June 10, 2013, 11:20 pm

        I’m really not prude! I was quite the party slut (in a great awesome loved every minute of it way) back in the day! But I’m married now. It’s just a boundary I have where I have bad past experiences and beyond vagueness I don’t wish to discuss sexual things with men I’m not married to when we’re having one on one conversations. I just don’t find it remotely appropriate. I don’t want them viewing me that way frankly. That’s something they need to save for their male friends ya know?

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        bcamber June 10, 2013, 6:38 pm

        Yeah, talking about breast cancer studies and talking about personal experiences of getting laid are two way different things.

        I don’t talk about my sex life with anyone other than the person I’m having sex with. I guess I’m a prude.

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      • katie

        katie June 10, 2013, 1:50 pm

        come on, everyone has their favorite “i got my ass complimented” story. (or is that just me and my friends?)

        and him re-telling a sex joke that his friend told him? i mean these are not weird, out of the ordinary behaviors! he is not going into detail about sex, how he has sex, who he would like to have sex with- he is not “talking about sex” with her. he made a few jokes.

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        GatorGirl June 10, 2013, 1:59 pm

        I don’t have an “ass complimented” story. Other than a person I was dating, I don’t remember ever getting random ass compliments. Perhaps I just don’t hear them? Or I don’t have a nice butt?

        If he’s the only one making the jokes, then yeah it’s weird. We don’t talk about sex or make sex jokes in my friend circles. It’s not a subject that’s talked about. And that is okay.

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      • katie

        katie June 10, 2013, 2:03 pm

        well you have to know that isnt in the norm for people.

        and actually i beg to differ that you “dont talk about sex”- because you do on here all the time. its ok, its not a bad thing or a weird thing, but you *do* talk about sex.

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        GatorGirl June 10, 2013, 2:11 pm

        It might not be the norm in your area of friend circle, but I assure there are plenty of people who refrain from discussing sex.

        Yes, I talk about sex on DW, but I also talk about our cheating incident, periods, and a bunch of other things I do not freely talk about in public with mixed gendered audiences. It is very different to me that the LW says she was IM-ing or Gchatting or what ever and the guy brought up helping her shower, then to talk about sex on an internet forum with mostly same gendered, mostly strangers.

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        SpaceySteph June 10, 2013, 2:13 pm

        I agree that because his behavior is not crossing an obvious line, so he might not know its inappropriate. Among my friends these comments would not be out of place; perhaps Joe has other friends he jokes with like this. Perhaps his only reference frame is that time his little sister left the CW on for a week and he couldn’t the remote so he thinks this is how all the cool kids talk to each other…
        The right thing to do in that scenario (regardless of whether the person on the opposite end is handicapped) is to establish your own boundaries “I’m sorry Joe but I don’t talk about sex with men other than my husband. I hope we can find other topics.”

        Once you’ve drawn the line, if he still crosses it, then that’s creepy. But right now the LW is just expecting her friend to read her mind, find her boundaries, and avoid them.

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        LW June 10, 2013, 11:22 pm

        He is a big huge massive mega fan of pro wrestling.
        And I’m wondering how much of that influences some of his attitudes about women and appropriate conversation.

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        EricaSwagger June 10, 2013, 3:49 pm

        Whaa? Handing someone a tissue is wildly different from physically holding the tissue for them while they blow. You absolutely can not compare the two. Come on.

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        LW June 10, 2013, 11:23 pm

        Yeah the feeling of the piles of snot against my palm as I held it, lemmee tell you I can still feel it. That is totally different than a child, who is like, 1/8 the size of this dude, and therefore producing a much smaller snot quantity ya know?

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        LW June 10, 2013, 11:16 pm

        Yeah to be fair this came out weird in the letter. He doesn’t NORMALLY need toileting help for outings. He usually wears diapers and well, come on, we all know people who only shit at their house right? WELL him too! 😉 However, he has this thing where he’s cranky about how the residence helps with his shitting needs so he’s whining he wants a friend to come over and help him shit exactly as he wants it, because he can’t afford an aide to do this. This btw is total bullshit as we’ve discovered he actually can completely afford an aide to come in 2-3 times per week and help him shit shower and shave, literally. the thing is he really has some fixation that he wishes a friend would do this, sorta like many guys don’t wanna pay a sex worker, they want a girlfriend right? Okay well he sees it this way apparently from what I’ve ascertained trying to (gently, slowly) talk through this (very lightly not even to hard parts yet!) with him today.

        The nose blowing thing was due to him having a cold at that particular outing. Normally, seriously, it’s nothin’ but moving stuff out of the way and having some drinking staws available. Helping him cut food to eat, that sort of thing.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark June 11, 2013, 1:29 am

        EricaSwagger: How DARE he even leave the house and make people look at his physical form?! Good lord, some of you on here today seem to be ANYTHING but nice. Seriously… is it 1950 and are you ALL mean girl wannabes? Compassion has never exactly been my strong suit — but seriously? Many of your comments have simply left me aghast…

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      cdobbs June 10, 2013, 1:52 pm

      Agree 100% with you EricaSwagger!

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      ebstarr June 10, 2013, 4:58 pm

      Wow, yeah, I don’t think this is fair. It’s frankly a lot like saying “women shouldn’t walk alone at night unless they’re prepared to get raped.” In a society where a person’s care is limited by the amount of money he has, he shouldn’t be criticized for daring to live his life and depend, a little bit, on the kindness of strangers. I don’t think it’s about EXPECTING someone to help you. It’s about having some faith in the grace of the human beings around you to voluntarily provide the small yet necessary things that society and capitalism and your own body do not. How can we be so inhumane as to expect him to be completely self-sufficient before he goes among other humans, friends or otherwise? I’m not completely self-sufficient; I don’t know anyone, able-bodied or otherwise, who is.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark June 11, 2013, 1:32 am

        I so, so agree… Frankly, the lack of compassion from most on here today is simply astounding… More than that — it’s shocking.

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      lets_be_honest June 11, 2013, 10:38 am

      Wow. The audacity of this guy thinking his friend would help him! What an asshole!

      Jesus this has to be one of the top 5 most fucked up things I’ve ever read on here.

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    llclarityll June 10, 2013, 12:16 pm

    I was in a similar situation: I dated this one guy for a few months, and he had a friend who had ALS. I would go with my then-boyfriend to visit “D” in the hospital. He was bedridden, couldn’t move, had a hard time talking. It was bad. But what was really effed up was how my boyfriend was almost trying to pawn me off on D. He kept telling D, in front of me, that he could call me anytime, he could text me, and I’d probably hang out with him alone at the hospital, too. He even told D that I could be his girlfriend for a little while.

    D texted and called and emailed all the time. I know he was lonely, and he didn’t have more than a year left to live. D even asked me to be his girlfriend. It was so messed up. My boyfriend would then make me feel guilty if I said I was uncomfortable with the situation, or that I didn’t want to visit D by myself. Thankfully, I chose to end that relationship, but went to D’s last birthday party before I went. But I had to remove myself from the situation.

    Don’t feel guilty about anything — you are a friend, not a caregiver. As in my situation, I was kind and went out of my way to help — but there is a line, and when you begin to feel uncomfortable, you’ve got to pull back. Blurring the line isn’t good, for you or for him.

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      oldie June 10, 2013, 4:36 pm

      Hate to say this in retrospect, but your ex wasn’t interested in you as a gf, he was looking for someone for his friend. YOu were right to leave. That was definitely CREEPY.

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  • Lindsay

    Lindsay June 10, 2013, 12:39 pm

    This is a hard one. On one hand, I don’t find most of the things the LW mentioned to be creeperish. I mean, yeah, I wouldn’t want to deal with my friend’s bodily functions like that, but if he honestly can’t use the bathroom on his own, you have to assume that he’s going to need help when he’s at your house. On the other, I’ve dealt with a guy before while volunteering at an outpatient clinic who I was convinced was a creeper, and I know how hard it can be to differentiate between someone needing help and taking advantage.

    Of course, the shower thing IS weird because someone with that level of impairment surely has someone who is employed to do those things. Otherwise, I doubt he could survive. Like how does he feed himself or go to the bathroom at home?

    Regardless, you can only be manipulated if you let it happen. If there are certain tasks you don’t feel comfortable doing, then either make sure your husband or a male friend is around to help Joe or don’t have him over. If Joe says things that make you uncomfortable, ask him not to. You can be serious or say something like, “Whoa, I didn’t need to know that!” And if it honestly makes you uncomfortable to be around him, then keep your distance.

    You have to take into consideration that someone with such a severe disability WILL need help with those things, but you don’t have to be someone’s friend solely because they have a disability. I also wouldn’t bring it up with your friends unless you choose to back off from Joe and they ask you why.

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    ele4phant June 10, 2013, 12:40 pm

    Whether or not you want to continue a friendship with Joe, I think you should say something to him about how he makes you uncomfortable. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, maybe he has no idea he makes people uncomfortable because no one has had the guys to criticize someone disabled.

    And if he is a manipulative jerk who gives you grief or guilt you into giving him a pass? Well that should confirm your suspicions and let you cut him out without feeling any guilt.

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    cdobbs June 10, 2013, 12:54 pm

    LW I was in the same situation! a friend of my brothers is physically challenged (not wheelchair bound) and he would act toward me in the exact same way (especially if we were alone in a room together!)….it was even worse if we were out at a bar and he had a few drinks in him….he would “accidently” swing his arm which would somehow always manage to land on my butt or boobs….he said inappropriate things to me constantly when no one was in earshot!….i never said anything because….well i didn’t want to be the person picking on the poor handicap guy….it got so bad I had to cut off all contact….a mutual friend just told me recently that a girl now has him up on sexual assault charges! so don’t feel bad…it may be that your friend is taking advantage of the situation and your kindness….do not feel bad about pulling away if you have to! you owe him nothing

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    ktfran June 10, 2013, 1:30 pm

    This entire post and most of the comments made me really said for people with disabilities. Really sad.

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    • bittergaymark

      bittergaymark June 10, 2013, 5:46 pm

      Seriously… the attitudes here are BEYOND fucked up… Frankly, I’m not all that surprised, sadly.

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      kriskros June 10, 2013, 8:45 pm

      I completely agree… I’m at a loss for words about nearly all of these comments. I actually completely agree with BGM, this is over the top. I’m probably biased though. I’ve worked with people with disabilities for the last 7 years and managed a co-op run by those who were disabled. I feel like most of the commenters could use a lesson in disability studies…

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        LW June 10, 2013, 11:29 pm

        why? because they’re all so terribly nice and decent all the time? LOL.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark June 11, 2013, 1:21 am

        Seriously…. My oh my… you really DO want to come across as a complete and total bitch… Or so it seems. Do you have ANY idea how terrible these posts make you sound? Seriously? We get it. You hate the disabled. They suck. They constantly rain on your parade or something… Good luck with that son of yours… Sheeesh.

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        Liquid Luck June 11, 2013, 9:32 am

        Didn’t you know? Anyone who’s part of any marginalized group can never have a bad personality. The only people that are allowed to be disliked are straight, rich, white men. Everyone else is automatically a wonderful person because of how uncontrollably shitty their circumstances are. There’s no way that a mentally capable adult could possibly ever be held responsible for what he says or does! Obviously the only reason you’re judging this poor, defenseless little creature is because you’re a horrible person who hasn’t been marginalized enough yet to really understand. Gosh, how do you not already know this?

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        kriskros June 12, 2013, 12:01 am

        I think that a person who grew up in a shitty family and has been living their life in a home surrounded by people far below their intellectual level, that has had to be reliant on others for their entire life, should be given a bit of leeway regarding some social behavior that likely has never been addressed in their life. The appropriate reaction here would be to tell this man “John, I can see how you might think that joke is funny, but it’s not the type of thing I like to joke about” or “John, when you make statements like that it can make people uncomfortable. If you need extra assistance you should talk with your (case manager, family, assisted living facility) about how you can get that.” Of course people of all backgrounds can be shitty people, but the examples that this letter writer listed don’t deserve nearly the ire that some of these commenters have dished out. Yes, this man is of normal intelligence, but his social intelligence has been stunted by his circumstances. This man is the result of a system that does not prioritize people with disabilities or expose them to society as a normal part of our culture. It instead chooses to hide them away with others like them (even though in this case, this man is not like the people that he is living with) and be disappointed when they don’t assimilate normally. Now if the LW had said these things to this person and he escalated or started making more extreme inappropriate commentary, then yes, by all means limit contact!

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    Sue Jones June 10, 2013, 1:34 pm

    It has to be tough to be a disabled guy in a wheelchair with NO options for sexual outlet. I mean, if he can’t blow his nose or wipe his ass he obviously can’t even pleasure himself or release sexual tension himself. Perhaps that frustration bleeds out into everyday conversation making him a bit creepish. But you have to set boundaries for yourself. What you are and are not willing to do. Joe is likely like a little kid who will keep on pushing until you set some boundaries. Maybe it means you sit down and have that talk with him. Perhaps you don’t have him over anymore. Perhaps your friendship gets more casual. That is pretty easy to do, to fade out to a distance that feels right to you. I do feel for the guy. We had a disabled man in my acquaintance circle for several years (sadly he died in an accident) and he would hit on the girls – some indulged him because they took pity on him, and some kept their distance. Do what feels right for you, and don’t let yourself be manipulated into doing things that make you uncomfortable. It could be that when your social circle gets together, one of the guys takes in upon himself to be Joe’s caretaker for bodily function stuff. Designated nose blower, butt wiper, whatever…

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    SasLinna June 10, 2013, 1:58 pm

    I think a really basic thing in friendships is to share an understanding of what comfort level you’re at with each other regarding physical contact, but also the intimacy of your talks etc. I could see myself helping a friend on the toilet or wiping their nose, but only someone I was already close to and used to be in physical contact with. To give an example, I shared a bed with a friend on vacation two weeks ago, and that’s something I definitely wouldn’t do with other friends, but with her I was fine. We also talked about the physical aspects of her pregnancy. And once I had used the toilet in our hotel room and it didn’t flush correctly, which was pretty damn embarrassing, but she shrugged it off and with other people I would have been super mortified.
    So I think while the guy’s disability makes the question of physical contact more pressing – because of his needs for assistance – it’s basically an issue of him getting “too close for comfort”, both in what he is trying to ask in physical closeness, as well as in relation to what he wants to discuss with LW. Even if his needs are well-justified, the LW still gets to have her boundaries, too. It’s possible he’s actively creepy, but even if he isn’t, the LW is still justified in saying no to giving him types of assistance that make her uncomfortable. So I think it would be fine for her to say “I realize it would be of help to you if I could do X, but I’m just not comfortable getting so close physically. I hope you understand.” Or with regard to him talking about getting laid “I’m not really comfortable discussing sex.”

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  • AKchic_

    AKchic_ June 10, 2013, 3:28 pm

    Joe is not your responsibility and you ARE projecting your guilt from your son onto him.

    Joe is also manipulative and creepy. He is playing the self-pitying wanker who is angling for pity sex. And because of your good-natured enabling, you’re allowing the comments to continue.

    Joe should have a full-time care-giver. Why he doesn’t if he cannot even blow his own nose is beyond me. Something tells me that he CAN do more than he lets on, and is enjoying the attention and the physical contact.

    Limit contact with this guy to phone/internet missives and group gatherings. He’s a Lech.

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    jakdrake June 11, 2013, 1:41 am

    one thing that I don’t get, LW, where is your husband when this guy come to visit?
    if he always not home, Joe maybe deluding that you are attracted to him, by always inviting him one on one. are your husband know about this? because I think he should… because if this me, if some male asking my wife to bathing him, disabled or not, this guy seriously asking a punch fest (or at this case, no further invitation to this creep).
    If you gonna asking to Joe, what this is all about, I seriously recommend you to record the conversation discreetly. People who is manipulative, will turn your words around and play the victim and people nowdays will stick to the disabled against the healthy one.
    Stop enabling manipulative creep in your life.

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    bekah_travels June 11, 2013, 10:57 pm

    Does this LW want advice or a forum to fight out what she already knows what she wants to do? I have never seen a LW respond more in the comments. It makes me think she won’t listen to any of the advice given, except for what she wanted to hear.

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    melancholia July 15, 2013, 5:18 pm

    Sorry, LW, I do not feel very bad for you at all. Of couse I do feel sympathy for your son and you and your husband’s situation wit him, but for the sake of the actual discussion at hand, I do not feel any symapthy toward you in regard to your “friend”. You don’t even sound like you like this person and maybe he doesn’t know the best way to approach asking people for help, because, you know, he’s probably been looked at like a freak by everyone else. You sound very selfish and childish, to be perfectly honest. Don’t invite the guy over if you’re scared he may ask you for help or may indulge in some conversation with you. Telling you he hopes he gets laid is not a very uncommon thing for friends to mention, and it certainly does not sound like he was ever hitting on you. At least none of your examples seem to highlight that at all.

    Take a hint from Maya Angelou: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude about it.”

    If you don’t like your friend asking for help, you have two options: 1) Don’t invite him over and stop being his friend altogether, because you sound like a shitty friend anyway, and 2) SUCK IT UP and act like a friend who cares. Or only hang out with him in group sessions or social settings where he may feel even less comfortable asking for help from his friends.

    Sorry, but I feel sympathy for your friend. Not you, not at all.

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