Category

The Love Lounge

Online Dating when disabled - a womans hands hold a mobile phone whilst cartoon hearts and words fly out from the screen

Online Dating when Disabled: Is it worth it?

By | The Love Lounge

Online dating when disabled. This is a very hot topic that we receive lots of questions about at the Love Lounge. We invited Ted Shiress, one of our sexperts, to share his thoughts, personal experience and advice.  Ted, who writes from a straight guy’s perspective, offers these pearls of wisdom.

Finding Love

I met my partner on a dating website. In the five or so years before that, I changed from thinking of myself as a complete romantic write-off to someone who knows what they’re doing. My experiences of it arguably buck the trend of most things I read by disabled daters. But the reality is for online dating to work, you’ve got to put some effort in! My practical tips and honest advice are shared below.

Introductions are Everything

Hi. How r u?

Hey. How’s it going?

Hello. What’s up?

Are you still reading? I hope so. Still, I can’t blame those who have clicked away. I have (at least on a non-ironic level) made no effort to arouse and sustain your interest. So it’s totally understandable if you’ve been distracted and turned to the flashiest thing on your screen. 

Introductions are everything. So get creative. Send imaginative messages, but also make sure that your profile sells you well.

Everyone’s Superficial!

“Everyone’s superficial!” I hear you cry. Well yes, there are lots of people who are superficial on dating sites. Why are you wasting your time with them? Ultimately, if your entire message is solely saying “Hi. how r u?” they probably think you’re superficial too! That’s probably the same message they got from other guys who were panting like a dog in heat at a flash of cleavage. Not the epitome of feeling wanted!

In my experience the average woman on a dating site isn’t short of messages. So, she’ll have little desire to give a seemingly unimaginative message any attention. Here, you have two options:

1) Only message matches you can see genuine common ground with

2) Or maybe slightly overplay the potential connection to spark a rapport 

Admittedly, the second is slightly shady, but sometimes potential takes time and exploration!

 

Perfecting Your Profile

I see people focus purely on their disability when writing their dating profile. I’m going to be harsh but honest here. If someone has little to no prior experience of disability, they might be thrown off-kilter. So, write interestingly and positively to counter that. Write about your interests: the places you’ve visited, books you’ve read, and music you love. Pull the reader in and get them hooked on what you have to say, rather than the equipment you might use to navigate the world. That’s perhaps a more intimate chat for later on.

Choose Your Dating Site Carefully

OK Cupid was my personal favourite dating site, and where I met my partner. This was because it gave me the most opportunity to go into detail and put myself across well. Honestly? It took a nudge from her housemate (Thanks Chrissie!) to get her to reply to my first message, but it worked!  In fact, it’s not a bad idea to ask friends to help you write your profile. Together, you might create the perfect dating pitch.

OK Cupid also had a good matching system, based on values rather than interests. An endless bank of questions you could answer gradually built up a kind of moral profile of who you were. It then matched you in % to potential partners. Obviously, it was a vague estimate but I often found the matches in the 90%s the most easy to talk to. I think my partner Astrid rocked in at 95% – see, my dear, stats don’t lie!

Is it Worth it?

So contrary to a lot of opinions, I say yes, online dating when disabled is worth it! Just don’t take it personally when you don’t get a reply. Your message is probably one of fifty!

Follow us on twitter @ETUKUndressing and on Instagram @UndressingDisability. #UndressingDisability #LoveLoungeUK

More articles about online dating as a disabled person:

Online Dating As A Disabled Person

Rejection, dating and disclosing disability

How safe is sexting? written in black capital letters with a stress level sign below

How safe is sexting?

By | Sex & disability, The Love Lounge

The Question

Hi Love Lounge. How safe is sexting? My boyfriend and I got together 3 months ago and enjoy an active sex life. We met at the gym and got talking as we both have lost a limb, him to cancer, me to a car accident.

Funny how people come into your life at the right moment. I had recently split up with my ex and was feeling a bit down about myself and he is the pick me up I needed. We are both on the same page when it comes to sex and had been getting it on a lot prior to lockdown.
Now both living separately we’ve started having phone sex, using the video apps to get down and dirty. My boyfriend asked me to send him some saucy photos to keep and look at whenever he likes.  I’m feeling hesitant to do that. He doesn’t understand why and it’s caused an argument. I am wary of photos of me in the buff being stored somewhere and now he’s quizzing me on trust and making me feel bad. But I worry. How safe is sexting? I feel it’s a bit early in our relationship for him to have these pics. The video sex is different as we are both together in the moment and afterwards its gone.
Is it safe to send images to other people? Am I being a prude?

Our Answer

Communication

Firstly, it’s brilliant that you’ve been honest about how you feel about sexting. The fact that it’s caused a row is not necessarily a bad thing, especially at the beginning of a relationship. Setting boundaries and communicating about why these exist, and what they mean to you is important. It’s how we learn to respect one another, appreciate each other’s values and show consideration.

So how safe is sexting?

Good question! Sexting is very popular amongst consenting adults. For me, it comes back to one main factor: personal identification.

Even if you don’t post photos that show your face, your body may be identified by:

  • tattoos or birth marks
  • where you live – (posing in front of your fantastic wallpaper)
  • the data stored within an image

Reducing Risk

I’d recommend you read this article on 7 Crucial Tips to Safe Sexting . It provides information on how to remove the data from any images you choose to send. Remember that screenshots can still be taken from video calls too, so be careful there – especially if your face is in shot.

This article provides advice on How To Sext Safely.  It suggests which sites may be safer and the risks of using an app like Instagram which links to your identity.

Trust

Of course you should wholeheartedly trust anyone you send a nude to, that goes without saying. Try having an open discussion about your worries. Raise the points around the safety of sexting and what your boyfriend might do with the images (no need to argue!). Set some boundaries that you are comfortable with.

Don’t feel pressured

If he doesn’t understand or try to calm your worries by reassuring you, maybe he isn’t the guy you should be sending sexy photos to. Don’t feel under pressure to do anything you don’t want to do. Someone who respects you won’t put you in that position.

Hope this helps, and sending all best wishes,

Emily x

Have you got a question about sex and disability or intimate relationships? Write to us and our sexperts will help. Keep up to date with all our Love Lounge questions by following us on social media. On twitter we’re @ETUKUndressing and on Instagram @UndressingDisability.  #UndressingDisability

Boring, routine sex - a woman in her 40s wearing a bra and jeans looks in a mirror, which is placed on top of a chest of drawers, applying make-up

Boring, Routine Sex

By | Sex & disability, The Love Lounge

The Question

Dear Love Lounge,
I am a visually impaired woman in her 40’s and my question is about boring, routine sex. My husband of 15 years has always been a very sensual and a loving lover but lately any bedroom action has become routine like. I can’t even spice it up by fantasising in my head.  And talking to my fella about it only makes it worse. He gets really moody and implies I’m criticising him when I suggest we shake things up.

My friends and I discuss our sex lives and I don’t know if it’s an age thing, or a long term relationship thing but I know I’m not alone in needing more in the bedroom than I’m currently getting. Any tips for approaching this topic in a way that won’t bruise my husband’s ego would be ace, thanks.

Our Answer

Hello.  Boring, routine sex, as you put it, is not unusual for many couples. Especially if you’ve been together a while or have had a change in the circumstances of your relationship recently.

Communication is key

Communication of some kind is the only real answer here. Maybe you could change your approach to discussing this with your husband who is feeling defensive?

Instead of talking about boring, routine sex perhaps take it back to basics and ask him about what he likes in bed?

When we’ve been with someone for a while, it’s easy to think we know everything about them, including their fantasies and desires . As with anything in life, our tastes can change, and he might have felt unable to express this change to you. A more open, honest and positive chat might just do the trick.

What do you want out of your sex life?

If talking it through doesn’t go to plan then it’s time for Plan B. Ask yourself. What do I want from our sex life? Figure that out then make a move with something new such as:

Taking the initiative and spicing things up in a way that makes you feel sexy and in control might be the wake up call your husband needs to respond in the way you want and be more inventive in general.

Give it a go, hope this helps!

Emily x

Got a question about relationships, disabled dating or sex and intimacy? Write to us and our sexperts will offer free advice.

Keep up to date with all our Love Lounge questions by following us on social media. On twitter we’re @ETUKUndressing and on Instagram @UndressingDisability.  #UndressingDisability

Doggy with CP - the word SEX written in orange paint on a white background with a hand

Doggy Style with CP

By | Sex & disability, The Love Lounge

Our Question

Hello,

I am male, I have Cerebral Palsy spastic quadriplegia, I am a full time wheelchair user. I have been married for nearly 8 years to an able bodied woman and we have a great sex life. My question is about doing it doggy style with CP.

Due to my disability I find certain positions difficult. I am eager to push my boundaries though. At present my wife will either go on top or we have sex on the side. I would however like to try doggy style or sex on top as I am keen to have more control.

I do struggle to get on my knees but can do it. It is then trying to stay stable and thrust.

I wondered if you could offer any advice?

Cheers, M

Our Answer

Hello mate,

Firstly, I highly commend you in continuing to be adventurous and push boundaries, it’s the way to success in everything (not just sex, but yes, obviously sex included!). So, doggy style with CP. Speaking as someone with Cerebral Palsy myself I always underestimate just how hard it is to crawl on a mattress, the indent I make creates the perfect hole to fall into!
Have you tried experimenting with different surfaces? Perhaps something firm enough that you don’t indent but soft enough that you both feel comfortable? Maybe some kind of mat? Or perhaps you could incorporate a grab-rail for some extra thrust and stability?
I’m sure a subtly worded email to the council about difficulties you have moving in bed (maybe don’t add ‘while getting my leg over’!) could get you one installed. That would give you both stability and something to help you thrust.
Have a look at liberator.com – they provide sex furniture (wedges etc) that might enable you both to try different positioning with a bit of support. Whilst these are pretty pricey, they might inspire you to get some foam yourself and have a go!
Just a few ideas, hope it helps!
Ted

Follow us on Instagram @UndressingDisability and on twitter @ETUKUndressing. Learn more about sex and disability by purchasing our ‘Undressing Disability’ ebook priced at £5.99 All proceeds go to support our charity.

Sex when you have a stoma - a woman with long reddish hair sits on a bed holding a white duvet up and across her body

Sex when you have a stoma

By | Sex & disability, The Love Lounge

The Question

Hey Love Lounge team,
My question is about having sex when you have a stoma. I’m 19 and at college. I’ve got a big group of friends and a busy social life but I’ve yet to have a sexual experience. I have a stoma which I’m grateful for as it means I can live a normal life and eat and drink whatever I want. But my inexperience with sex means I’m just not sure how it would work for me in a practical sense. I do get chatted up in the pub but anything beyond flirting I close down straight away. I feel panicked about intimacy, but I know I need to get over that. My closest friends know my situation and try to be supportive but as their bodies are different to mine they can’t really help. Have you got any advice?

Our Answer

Hi there, and thanks so much for writing in to us at the Love Lounge.
The good news is, we have just the person for you! Our good friend and colleague, Hannah Witton, has a stoma and talks a lot about sex and disability.  Hannah’s a fantastic YouTuber and her videos are always fun and educational.
In the video below she talks all about having sex when you have a stoma.

Her tips include:

  • emptying your stoma bag before sex
  • using stoma bags you can fold up during sex
  • and even wearing crotchless underwear to keep the stoma bag in place

So, have a watch and see if this helps you at all.

You’re only 19 – please don’t feel pressured to be doing everything your friends are doing. Only take the sexual steps that feel comfortable and right to you. And also please don’t let worrying about sex when you have a stoma make you feel any less sexy or worthy of attention and intimacy. I know lots of people who wish their partners would wear something lacy and sexy in the bedroom so, there might be that to thank your bag for in the long run!!
Good luck, and sending you all best wishes,
Em x
Follow us on Instagram @UndressingDisability and on twitter @ETUKUndressing. Learn more about sex and disability by purchasing our ‘Undressing Disability’ ebook priced at £5.99 All proceeds go to support our charity.
Rejection dating and disclosing disability - a black and white image with a hand hiding a persons face indicating STOP!

Rejection, dating and disclosing disability

By | Sex & disability, The Love Lounge

Love Lounge Question

Rejection, dating and disclosing disability.

Hello,

I have Cerebral Palsy and I’m 30 years old. I’ve been online dating on and off for the last 10 years after I broke up with my first girlfriend. I haven’t ever had any success. I have met a few people on dating sites but ultimately I feel I’ve been used for sex as as after we get it on, there’s no more contact.

After a couple of years break from dating site I decided to give it another go.

I’m happy with the direction that my life is going, I’m learning to drive, I’m at college and I’m hoping to have a job in the near future.

To begin with I pretty much had a repeat experience in that I would message people, get a reply and start getting to know them. But I felt like I was lying as I hadn’t disclosed my disability in my profile. I always knew at some point I’d have to tell them how I am.
Now I am close to giving up. I’ve decided to avoid disappointment to be up front and honest,  changing my dating profile to reveal my disability, the way I want it to be. Nobody is interested. I will message someone, they’ll check my profile and not respond. Or I’ll talk to someone as before, they’ll check my profile and I’m ghosted.

I feel worthless.  Like no matter how much I have in common with someone they will never see me as someone to settle down with because of my disability.

I believe I’m a good person but that seems to matter very little. Any advice would be much appreciated. I need the help.

Our Answer

Reading your letter really resonated with me and, I’m sure, many other disabled people that have tried to use dating apps.
The familiar quandary of whether you are upfront on the profile about your disability, knowing that those who message you are obviously okay with it. Or do you hide it and let someone get to know your personality and then tell them, hoping they’ve liked you enough to give it a go?  It’s hugely risky and can be so damaging for ones self-esteem. No one can know the correct way, it’s a gamble – but do what feels best for you in order to protect yourself emotionally.

It sounds like it’s difficult for you to look at these dating scenarios objectively, without putting the emphasis on your disability being the issue.

Hearing you say that many times it feels you have been used for sex, I would say this is commonplace, regardless of ones abilities.  It might not be what you wanted but the reason for it doesn’t have to be because you’re disabled. It’s about re-framing your perception so that if such events occur, they don’t ruin your self esteem.
It sounds like you’re in a really good place in your life at the moment – hence you wanting to date again – with your driving and college. So perhaps when you’re left feeling ‘worthless’, remember to focus on what you have achieved.

Don’t let the negative feelings of dating suppress your achievements.  When you’re oozing confidence about yourself, this will spill out into the way you relate with others. Which leads me to another point…

It might be nice for your profile to show a fun side of your personality. Perhaps a funny comment regarding your disability, should you choose to disclose it.  Maybe be jokey or be flirty with it – “you never know until you try” type thing. If you sound comfortable and accepting of yourself, then hopefully the receiver will feel more at ease too.
Unfortunately, people are anxious about dating people with disabilities- it’s unknown territory for many.  I wonder whether choosing a photo which shows your disability may help to allow someone to see what your situation is. The imagination can lead people to think the wrong thing!

Again, only do what you feel comfortable doing.

If you give people a way out/excuse by saying ‘I know it will put people off’ then it may end up being a self fulfilling prophecy. Don’t give them the option to think that as they then might think they should be staying clear!
Again, it’s a true statement that if they’re not willing to accept you then they’re not right for you – and I understand it’s coming from a place of hurt and self protection.  I wonder whether you need to mention it at all, as the right people will come through whether you iterate this point or not.
You’re a good looking young man and obviously have focus, determination and goals to achieve.  I wish you luck with the dating and completely understand how disheartening it can be.  Remember your value.
** Pulling a positive from this Covid-19 situation – you won’t be going on dates anytime soon, so it gives you plenty of time to write and build up some good relationships with people, allowing them to get to know the real you.
Hope this helps, and sending all best wishes
Zoe
Follow us on Instagram @UndressingDisability and on twitter @ETUKUndressing. Learn more about sex and disability by purchasing our ‘Undressing Disability’ ebook priced at £5.99 All proceeds go to support our charity.
Mum, I'm an adult! - a young man stands outside a block of high rise flats. He is wearing a striped tshirt and navy jacket. His arm is across his face in frustration

Mum, I’m an adult! Sex and Disability

By | Sex & disability, The Love Lounge

Mum I’m and adult!

The Question

Dear Love Lounge,
My Mum has very strong views and believes that sex is something that can only happen within marriage. I’m 25 and think about sex a lot. Like 99% of the time. I can’t access porn as Mum has blocked those channels on our internet. I can’t have my girlfriend stay over because of her house rules, and I can’t afford to move out. Mum disapproves of me staying at my girlfriends house, her parents are cool with it as long as I’m not there all the time. Fair enough, it’s not a big house.
I had an accident when I was 12 which meant for a few years I relied heavily on both my parents whilst I got my health and mobility back.  The cause of the majority of our shouting matches is down to Mum treating me like a child. I still have some issues with movement on my right side but it doesn’t stop me having a love life, a job or living my life. When I say ‘Mum, I’m an adult!’ she says she ‘only wants whats best for me’ but I feel suffocated, and a mixture of frustration and guilt. My parents separated last year and don’t get along so my father prefers to stay out of it.  Can you help? It’s really getting me down.

Our Answer

Hi there, and thanks so much for writing in to us at the Love Lounge.
This is a really tough situation to be in, and a question we get asked a lot.
The key? Communication, communication, communication.
Whilst it’s so tempting to shout ‘Mum, I’m an adult!’, it sounds like you’re going to have to sit her down and explain how you feel a little.  Ask her if she’d feel the same if you hadn’t had your accident and weren’t disabled.

Is she worried that you’re vulnerable or could hurt yourself in any way?

If this is the case and she is treating you like a child through worry – calmly explain all the differences between when you were 12 and now. She might just need to see and understand from your point of view just how much you’ve changed and become a man.

Come to a compromise

Say that you are old enough to live your life, but you will respect her wishes whilst you are in her house. But this will mean that she will also need to compromise and relax when you stay over at your girlfriend’s place. And perhaps even support you to spend non-sexual time with your girlfriend – taking her on dates or having a baking afternoon in your mum’s kitchen, for example.
It might be that once your mum gets to know your girlfriend a little more instead of panicking about what you’re both doing behind closed doors, she’ll relax her rules a little. It might also be time to have an honest chat with your dad and ask for his support. Maybe you and your girlfriend could spend a bit of time at his place?
We really hope this helps – and good luck with starting a moving home piggy bank! 🙂
Em x
Have you got a question for our Love Lounge sexperts? Write in and we’ll reply privately to your question and then make it anonymous and share here on the website to help others in your situation.
Follow us on Instagram @UndressingDisability and on twitter @ETUKUndressing. Learn more about sex and disability by purchasing our ‘Undressing Disability’ ebook priced at £5.99 All proceeds go to support our charity.

Disability And Intimacy – a musical tale.

By | Disability, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge

Ted joins the Love Lounge team.

Ted recently joined our Love Lounge team and will be answering your questions in his own unique way. With his fair share of relationship ups and downs he’s got plenty of experience of dating as a disabled person. Ted promises to be straight talking and considerate in helping to solve your dating, relationship, and disability and intimacy dilemmas. The following article is about disability and intimacy.

A Musical Tale

I thought I’d start with an analogy for disability and intimacy that I’m pretty sure only I could come up with. You see I’m a rather obsessive fan of the musician Neil Young, to the point my girlfriend refers to him as my boyfriend.  The few willing to indulge me in my musical obsession know there’s one ‘act’ I prefer: Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Yes, that’s right, they are to be referred to as one band. Neil and the three others will refer to themselves as ‘in the band Neil Young & Crazy Horse’. Two have become one – to quote a song I obviously have no time for.

Pure Magic

So I bet you guess I think they’re all wonderful musicians? Well, erm no. Neil just plays guitar in his very unique yet messy style, and the three others are very primitive to say the least. The bass-player seldom manages more than the route note of the chord whilst the drummer has a somewhat restricted range of tempos. And the rhythm guitarist appears to leave the main rhythm to Neil and then copy him when he’s off on a solo. That’s why Bob Dylan once asked Neil why he plays with those “f***in’ idiots”. Having said all that, when Neil gets with these guys it is pure magic. Something just clicks. I always love his guitar playing but it reaches a special grade of awesomeness when he’s with these guys.

Chemistry Counts

And frankly, that is what disability and intimacy is all about. Yeah technique and skill are great things, but when there’s a click and tonnes of chemistry these things seem superfluous. As a disabled person seeking to be intimate, or indeed a non-disabled person seeking to be intimate with a disabled person, you may occasionally ponder how the restricted movement won’t restrict the quality of the sex. However, as I remember every time I listen to my favourite group, if the chemistry is perfect between the two, the end-product will be too!

Can we help?

Got a question for Ted or our Love Lounge non expert sexperts? Get in touch.

Discover more about sex and disability with our free resources or buy our Undressing Disability e-book priced at £5.99. All proceeds go to our charity.

Join us on Instagram and twitter #UndressingDisability #LoveLoungeUK.

Top