With the rise of the movement for self-advocacy of people with disabilities, we are witnessing the claim of self-realization in the sphere of marriage as well. Concurrent with social and global actions, we are witnessing a variety of grassroots revolutions in the direct encounter of the people themselves. Building relationships is complicated and sometimes filled with obstacles. The path to love of the other demands self-acceptance and self-love – and this is even more true and complex when it comes to people with disabilities.Building self-worth and identity are the product of a person’s ability to believe in the environment and in themselves, to experience autonomy and successes in life and to exist in environments that encourage creativity and strengthen the individual in all these areas. People who are born with disabilities are usually perceived as needing others to accompany and support them throughout the cycle of their lives. In many cases, they are “over-protected” by caregivers from early childhood. This is particularly true of people with cognitive disabilities and complex physical disabilities. In cases of people with physical disabilities, the experience of living with their disabilities is liable to be even more intense. Research has shown that the difficulty of meeting the social expectations of the ideal of beauty presents a heavy emotional burden – particularly for women. People who cope with cognitive disabilities experience stigma on the part of the environment, which often develops into a self-stigma. In such cases, people assimilate the label attributed to them and label themselves. People on the autistic spectrum desire intimate relationships but in most cases cope with difficulties in communication, failure to understand social codes and difficulties coping with sensual aspects in intimate situations. Many parents of children with disabilities are ambivalent toward the possibility that their son or daughter will cultivate a relationship or become a parent.Intimate relationships between people with disabilities is also a social issue. Article 23 of the UN International Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was ratified by the State of Israel, deals with “respect, home, and the family.” The article states: “Effective and appropriate measures must be taken to eliminate discrimination against persons with disabilities in all matters relating to marriage, family, parenthood, and relationships on an equal basis with others.” The article also describes the right to parenthood. The declaration is most important yet insufficient as it lacks practice aimed to establishing an identity of competence.A participant at a seminar, who uses a wheelchair, said she was determined to meet a person “who can walk on both legs.” When asked about the basis for her statement, she explained, “I deserve more.” This remark implies that she wished to marry a person whom she perceived as having greater value than she has.It is for this and other reasons that The Trump Institute at Beit Issie Shapiro has conducted a training course for the past 10 years for persons with disabilities entitled “Intimate Relationships and Partnerships.” The objective of the course is to instill positive self-value and identity of capability, which constitute an important condition for the ability to cultivate intimate relationships. Courses and training programs offered by organizations in the field of disability can enable people with disabilities to undergo a process of contemplation, encourage increased autonomy and personal growth, and acquire interpersonal and partnering skills. The basic assumption is that a person with a disability who has positive self-value will develop intimate relationships based on a sense of entitlement rather than feelings of compassion.The issue of self-worth, identity and self-acceptance as a means to develop intimate relationship should be adopted by society. Humanist psychologist Erich Fromm stated, “Love is not a feeling, it is an art.” It is therefore important that people with disabilities experience familial, educational, social and service-providing environments that emphasize their strengths rather than their disabilities. These environments should encourage them to recognize their strengths and incorporate them into the focal point of their identity, to initiate interpersonal meetings as people who are capable of giving rather than recipients, and to increase autonomy and choice in their lives. It is the obligation of parents, educators and service providers to be committed to the issues of identity and self-value of persons with disabilities and to equip them with tools to enhance a personal and inter-personal positive dialogue.The writer is academic director of Beit Issie Shapiro.