"But you're too pretty to be in a wheelchair" is a comment I often hear. Having a disability is linked to being unattractive, sick or outlandish. It's against expectations when a person in a wheelchair takes care of their appearance. If you can’t comprehend that disabled people are so much more than their disability, your view needs an update. I've had an interview about body image and sexuality a while ago. For more than an hour, I've answered questions about how I experience my own attraction before and after my accident and my dating experience so far. One of the biggest misconceptions is the assumption that women with disabilities can't or don't want to have sex. It's sometimes hard for non-disabled people to think beyond the ideas of (normal) sex or to 'see' the person beyond the disability. At some point the woman who took the interview asked me "Why don't you call an escort?" I told her I didn't have sex for two years and that was her reaction. If I really wanted to have sex just for sex, I could've found it somewhere. But I don't do one night stands and paying for sex never crossed my mind. It's very hard to be this vulnerable, it takes time to trust someone else with my (half) paralyzed body. And not just that, I need to feel comfortable with my own body. That took a lot of time. In a way I still do feel insecure about being paralyzed and what my body looks like now. I think If I find someone who I feel attracted to and who accepts me and my disability It could really make a change.
A few weeks ago a middle aged man asked me "How do you people do it?" to my face. I had to think before understanding directly what he ment because it came out of the blue. Actually it was totally inappropriate in the moment. 'You' people, like I'm part of a different sort of species. Anyway to me it seems these kind of comments are another reason why 'we' as disabled people need to educate others.
I don't feel comfortable writing all about this all but It's necessary to eventually contribute to be breaking the taboo.
I can't speak on behalf of all people with disabilities because every disability, injury, disease and person is different. But I can tell you what my experience is and what I've heard from others. Let's get this out first; Yes, we CAN have sex just like any other human being.
So what is the difference? In my case, the legs. I can't move or feel my legs so the partner should be able to keep that in mind. It makes some positions a little more difficult but a strong man shouldn't have a problem with it. I think the biggest problem is the muscles that are gone. Mentally that has a big effect on my body image. Yes, I agree It look less appealing but I can't move them therefor I can not train them. When you don't use it, you lose it. Unfortunately I can not do anything about it. And that brings along insecurity because a big ass and trained legs are trending and all men seem to want that. Sometimes It feels like I can never live up to meet expectations of men in general. Look at what is posted online, the lyrics in songs, music videos, etc. It's all about sex, what is attractive and what women should look like. No wonder most women are insecure. And when you are disabled it can be harder to feel confident.
I've been single through all of it, the whole experience of learning to live being paralyzed. I've also seen couples where one of them has become paralyzed and then it's a big change for the both of their lives. I don't think either way is easy, being single and then have to start dating is hard and, I guess If your partner becomes disabled It is very hard as well. A lot of relationships fall apart because it's truly a struggle. But for those who manage to stay together no matter what, that's true love. Every human needs love and intimacy.
What's the difference? between my abled body before I had an accident, and now after?
The difference is visible, being paralyzed, not being able to walk or feel below my waist. The atrophy of the muscles. But the challenge is mentally, to accept and learn to feel confident again. The sexual experience changes doesn't have to be that much different. In my case I can still have some sensation even if it's just, let's say 10%. Sex mostly happens in your mind. The thing is, you have to get to know your own body in a different way. Sometimes it feels like a completely different body. Personally I can compare with what I had before and all the changes that happened till what I have left now. Physically and mentally, it takes time. And then there is the input from the outside world. The people around you, influence from the media, everyone seems to be judging while nobody understands. There is not much information about being disabled and having sex. I didn't know anything I had to find out myself.
I don't think any or enough paralyzed actors or actresses in wheelchairs are featured in x rated movies. I did read somewhere that back in the days, once a model in a wheelchair posed in a Playboy magazine. If something like it occurs, it is very exceptional and that one time in 20 years is not enough. Not that I know much about it but I couldn't find a lot when looking for examples online. In fashion magazines more and more disabled woman and men are represented. It's important to see more diversity in all types of media because it has an influence on how we look at our bodies and also sex.
Also on datings apps I get questions like; "You can't have sex right? because you are paralyzed." I need to explain it over and over and that's the only thing guys seem to be curious about. "I don't mind trying a beautiful girl like you". 'Trying'? I've had some very disrespectful comments. "You are perfect for a man who doesn't want sex". Just assuming, not even asking, those are the worst ones. Stop saying things you don't know anything about!
Ofcourse there are some more 'decent' men using dating apps but then is mostly goes like this; "Respect, you look like a strong woman" ..but...? "But I'm not interested in dating you".
Okay then don't say anything at all, I'm not here for that. I want to be taken serious. So why am I still trying? Because I have time, and I need one man to be the difference. One out of a million. A guy, I feel attracted to, who is respectful and interested in me as a person. And who has the ability to see I can be girlfriend material.
Dating apps are more like 'Sex On Demand apps' nowadays. I don't like being on it, but I also don't want to be single much longer. Since I don't go out much, online seems to be the best way option at the moment. Every single person seems to be using it but there is a big difference in what men use it for and what women are looking for. Some of my female abled friends are also struggling with finding a proper date with potential. It's not easy for anyone it seems. The extra dimension of the disability makes it feel like trying finding a date on a dating app is hopeless. But ofcourse I'm not a quiter. Even If 95% of the conversations are about the how, and why I am paralyzed and If I can have sex. Once again It seems like I am very patient.
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