Spotlight On: Dezarae and LaDerrick

How long have you two been a couple?
BOTH: 4 years

How and when did you both first meet?
DEZARAE: LaDerrick was working at a Wendy’s. I stopped in to eat one day, and he approached me when eating my burger :). We exchanged numbers and went on a date that night and have been dating ever since.

What did you like about the other person? What attracted you to them?
DEZARAE: I was attracted to his boldness and upfront approach. Our first date was spent talking for hours and we had good chemistry. His looks played a big part in it too :). I like that he is strong willed, has good morals, and good character.
LADERRICK: I thought she was gorgeous, and, the first time I laid eyes on her, I knew I had to get her name. I like her faith and strength because I’ve seen her go through so many situations that most people would just give up on… but not her.

What do you like best about having a partner or being in a relationship?
LADERRICK: Having somebody that cares about you and wants nothing but the absolute best for you, and somebody that you can plan goals with.
DEZARAE: Having somebody that is always around. Having a man’s point of view on things, and his security and strength. Somebody that likes/loves you enough to stick around willingly is awesome.

What do you like the least about having a partner or being in a relationship?
DEZARAE: Arguments, disagreements… we were raised very differently and bump heads sometimes on all kinds of things.
LADERRICK: Nagging… she tends to do that a lot. Boundaries suck too. We both agree that having to express our emotions sometimes gets annoying when we don’t want to talk to each other.

Dezarae- what is your disability?
DEZARAE: I am a part of the VIP club… blind/visually impaired, and I have physical limitations due to an autoimmune condition called Devic’s.

How does Dezarae’s disability affect your relationship?
LADERRICK: Sometimes I have to remind myself that she can’t see as well, and I have to be her second pair of eyes. Also, I have to be okay with the uncertainty of her condition, that it may change for the worse or we may have to be in the hospital for periods of time. I have to be comfortable with that, and seeing her sick sometimes and taking care of her. I have to remember her body is fragile and that I have to pick up the slack sometimes.

LaDerrick- Had you ever thought about dating a person with a disability?  Did you have any apprehensions about dating a person with a disability?
LADERRICK: Well, when we first started dating, she didn’t have any disabilities and was very healthy. But no, I had never thought of dating someone with a disability. Yes, I didn’t know if I could handle all of it, or if I was strong enough.

LaDerrick- after Dez got her disabilities, what were your thoughts about now dating someone with multiple disabilities?
LADERRICK: I thought it wasn’t fair. I didn’t understand why she had to go through this, and I was afraid when I first seen her in the hospital hooked up to machines… I was mad, sad, hurt, confused, just about any emotion you can express is how I felt.

What is your favorite thing to do to spend time together?
DEZARAE: He reads books while I listen, bible study, and foot rubs :)

What is one challenge that you have faced in your relationship and how did you work through it?
BOTH: We lived together in the beginning of our relationship and decided it’d be best to live separately and that was really hard. We had to communicate a lot and find healthy things to do to fix our relationship.

How do you, as a couple, work through conflicts?
BOTH: We pray, and our faith is a big part of our relationship, but also communicate, communicate, communicate. We have to talk through everything so we can get through whatever it is we’re dealing with.

What are your future plans as a couple?
LADERRICK: Get married and start a family :)

What advice do you have for youth with disabilities who are out there right now dating and trying to find their partner?
DEZARAE: If you’re dating, don’t be so quick to give up. Relationships require work and lots of communication. Don’t settle for just anything or anyone, and know your worth. If you’re single, make sure you are confident in yourself and really ready to commit to the responsibility of someone else’s heart. It’s a big deal and not to be taken lightly. But it’s so beautiful and precious to be in love. If it isn’t, then it’s not the right one. And it’s perfectly okay to be single and learn to love yourself unconditionally!

What advice do you have for having a successful relationship?
DEZARAE: Take the time to really get to know the person you’re in a relationship with: likes and dislikes and, whatever they don’t like, don’t do that, because you want to make that person happy. Most importantly, never stop loving who you once fell in love with, even if something about them changes. I’ve realized life is not only unfair sometimes, but uncertain. It’s not what you go through, it’s how you get through it.