How Do I Meet a Blind Man?

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Reader’s Question

When I was walking down my university’s hallway to get to my classroom, I saw this guy sitting in another class. He was wearing black glasses, sitting alone in the middle of the third row and I knew he was blind. At first I had ‘butterflies’ but then I forgot about him, until I saw him again. This time we were studying in the same room.

I walked straight to his table and sat right beside him. I’ve heard that sightless people have this unbelievable sensation which makes them able to observe using their heart. Thus, when I looked at him straight for two minutes, he raised his head and looked right back at me. He was smiling; he had this angel smile on his face and that innocent look which captivated me. I rapidly turned and wondered if he was not blind but I saw his white stick, the one that blind people use to help themselves for walking, so obviously he was blind!

Now I am asking myself: if he wasn’t blind, would I have this crush on him? What if I want him just because I know that he can’t see me so he won’t judge me? Now I’m asking myself why all my questions are suspicions. Is it because I’m confused? Or is it because I am used to facing only harmful feelings? The only answer that I don’t have a doubt about is that I really, really want to be friends with him. I admit it: I want to be a part of his life because he’s blind!

But I have good reasons. I just want, for once, to meet someone who is completely different, someone who has his own vision of the world, someone who is pure and doesn’t care for the usual things like beauty, sex, money, dating, cars, big house, expensive clothes, a new hair cut or a stupid football game. My sixth sense is telling me that he can’t see what we observe but only he can see what we don’t observe! We only see the noticeable and the shallow stuff but his eyes are like a magnifying glass and he is able to analyze what comes after or behind the superficial life.

My problem is that he doesn’t know me and he’s always surrounded by his friends. I am not used to talking with people I don’t know. If he were in my class it would be much easier, but he’s not!

Psychologist’s Reply

If the only reason you want to get to know him is because he’s blind, I’m afraid that he might find that offensive. That would be like wanting to know people merely because they’re pretty or tall or Jewish or Norwegian. In those instances, you want to know them because of what they are, not who they are. Most people do not like to be judged only by things over which they have no control. Based on your desire to get away from the superficial, I’m guessing you wouldn’t like for someone to do that to you.

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The problem here is that you seem to be stereotyping this man. Walter Lippman, the first person to introduce the concept said that stereotypes are “the little pictures we carry around inside our head.” Stereotypes are not necessarily bad. In fact, there are positive stereotypes like “Asians are good at math” or “Italians are good cooks” or “Blind people are deep.” However, the problem with stereotypes is that they lump everyone of a certain group together and make assumptions about them. Not all Asians can solve a quadratic equation and not all Italians make food worth eating. Similarly, this man’s blindness doesn’t prevent him from being just as superficial as everyone else. Consequently, if you pursue a relationship with him because of his blindness, you may find yourself disappointed.

However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to be his friend. The best relationships are ones that are founded upon a true connection which occurs based on personality and chemistry. You mentioned that you really liked his smile and that he seems to have a lot of friends. This could indicate that you are physically attracted to him and that he has a great personality. If you do get to know him, you may find that his blindness pales in comparison to his intellect, humor and kindness. At that point, you will know if a friendship or even a romance between the two of you could work because then it would be based on something real.

Most people find it difficult to talk with people they don’t know. It is always awkward at first but the more you do it, the easier it will be. You could start with something as simple as introducing yourself and mentioning things you have in common, like your school or coursework that you share. From there you can start getting to know him by asking him questions and sharing things about yourself as well. A conversation with him may help you decide if he is someone you want to know better or if the chemistry just isn’t there. But you’ll never know if you don’t try.

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