Couple who can't smile because of rare neurological condition are getting married after bonding online
Alex Barker from the UK, and Erin Smith from the US, met each other on a site for people who suffer from Moebius Syndrome, a condition that causes paralysis of the cranial nerves
A couple with a rare neurological disorder called Moebius Syndrome, that doesn't allow them to smile or change their facial expressions, have fallen in love with each other and are going to get married soon. Alex Barker from Coventry, UK, and Erin Smith from North Carolina, US, met online in a site for people who suffer from the same condition that causes the paralysis of cranial nerves. The condition is reported to affect fewer than 1,000 people around the world. The couple got engaged after going out on just four dates.
The 38-year-old Erin told Metro: "At first, I would never have thought that I would ever fall in love with someone that was born with the same thing I was. But I mean it's not just the Moebius, we have a lot of other things in common too. It is so nice to have someone that understands me for me. I love his British accent. It makes me melt. It does, it just gives me chills."
The condition is also said to affect the couples' speech and the two of them have reportedly found creative ways to express their emotions to each other. The 45-year-old Alex said: "I can tell when Erin is happy because she always puts her head on one side and goes 'ooh', and I think although we can't show facial expression, we know each other's mannerisms, so when we're upset or when we're frustrated or whatever, there is a lot of nonverbal communication that goes on."
Erin added: "I think the eyes tell a lot too, not just Alex, but my family and friends have always said that they can look in my eyes and I smile with my eyes, they know I am happy." Alex said that he was bullied extensively when he was young and had not been able to find a girlfriend. The man also called his condition a "relationship killer".
Alex said that he struggles to form relationships with new people who often mistakenly identify his condition for being rude. He said that strangers often wonder why he never returns their smiles and has to explain: "Because I actually can't… I actually can't do it."
The couple has since consulted with doctors and been reassured by them that any children they might have in the future will not necessarily have the same condition. For now, however, the two of them are just happy being with each other.
Alex said: "Just having Erin's hand in my hand, just means the world. It means we don't have to show any facial expression. And I know when Erin is looking at me that there is a smile inside somewhere."
Their relationship lasted for more than three years after they started talking online and they eventually planned to meet each other at the US National Conference for Moebius Syndrome in July 2016. Alex flew to North Carolina before the conference so that he could meet Erin and her family in November 2015. He then surprised her again when he flew out to meet her in February 2016. They went to the conference together in July 2016, and Alex romantically proposed to Erin at the Santa Monica Pier. It is still unclear where they will spend their married life together.
Alex and Erin are set to feature on 'Body Bizarre' on November 17 at 10 pm on TLC UK.