Is there a subject which more difficult to broach when you are disabled than sex?
It’s undeniable that when it comes to disability there’s a huge taboo around sex and relationships – but this doesn’t stem from disabled people themselves! In fact, many disabled people are crying out for more open discussions around dating sex and relationships when you have a disability.
Just like everyone else, people with disabilities want to find love and intimacy – but the difficult truth is that, in a world where everything is geared towards the able-bodied, it can be harder for disabled people to find what they are looking for.
So just in time for Valentine’s day, Naidex has put together out top tips for sex and dating with a disability.
1. Own your worth
Whether you are able-bodied or not, knowing you are valuable and worthy of a great relationship is so important when you’re looking to start dating.
But did you know how many disabled people undervalue what they can bring to a relationship? Many people struggle with thoughts that, to be worthy of a relationship, they need to somehow “compensate” for their disability. This often translates into feelings that because of their disability they need to work harder, sacrifice more, or simply bring more to the relationship.
But here’s the thing: a relationship will only ever work when both parties view themselves equally. Whoever you are, and whatever disability you have, you are enough. And that’s it.
We all know it – but sometimes it’s easy to believe the lie (especially at the end of another disastrous tinder date!). So if you’re getting out on the dating scene, keep owning your worth.
2. Prepare to get hurt
Being hurt is, sadly, a fact of dating – whether you’re disabled or not. But there are some extra challenges people with disabilities might face. When Marie Claire covered sex, relationships and disability, they discovered often disabled people felt they had been "stood up" or "ghosted" when their disability had become apparent.
The important thing to remember if this your experience: this is your prospective date’s issue, not yours.
3. Put yourself out there anyway
Truth time: a lot of the time, dating sucks. But if you’re serious about meeting someone just keep reminding yourself that you only have to find the right person once!
And there are plenty of success stories about dating and disability out there! If you’re feeling down, turn to google and you’ll find plenty of stories that prove that true love exists for everyone, disability or not.
4. Ask for help
Found someone you like and ready to get down? Depending on your disability you might have some questions that weren’t covered by the sex ed teacher in school. Don’t feel embarrassed or shy to broach the subject with other people with a similar disability to yours found worked! As ever, the internet is your friend!
Although finding resources on sex with a disability is still more difficult than generic resources on safe sex, there is still help out there! Here are some of our favourite resources:
It’s easy to look at sex and relationships in films and feel like maybe your experience isn’t living up to that – but these depictions aren’t real.
Culturally, there seems to be an understanding that sex should be spontaneous, and involve a certain level of mind reading. In reality, most people don’t have sex this way. There is (and should be!) a lot more talking – and when disability is involved this will be especially true!
Be prepared to talk to your partner A LOT about what feels good and what doesn’t – because otherwise there’s a high chance they just won’t know. It may also be slightly more difficult to have spontaneous sex when you have a disability (at least the first time!) Don’t be worried about opening a discussion on logistics beforehand.
Got any of your own tips on sex and relationships with a disability? Want to share your own dating stories or simply break down some misconceptions about disability and sex? This Valentine’s day (Thursday 14th February) we will be hosting a #NaidexChat on twitter which will discuss all things love and disability. We can’t wait to hear from you!