Personal Relationships and People with Physical Disabilities
Everyone needs to have loving, caring relationships with others - people need people! It's all part of being human. The will within each of us to achieve that goal should never be underestimated. Yet relationships can bring both joy and fulfillment and sadness and loneliness - that is part of living for all of us. Too often, however, this aspect of living is ignored - not considered important or discussed - especially if you happen to have a physical disability. In personal relationships, people with physical disabilities have the same desires and aspirations, hopes and fears, dreams and fantasies, worries and hang-ups as everyone else. The success of achieving one's ideal depends upon an individual's personality, attitude, resolve and opportunity. The difference for some people with disabilities is the degree of disability which may limit opportunities, because of perceived unattractiveness, lack of physical strength, hearing or Visual Impairment , and other problems they feel.
People with physical disabilities have usually experienced the same sort of stimuli - in press, films, TV etc. - about relationships as their non-disabled peers. The desire to be accepted and successful is important to most of us. To love and to be loved is the most natural thing in the world.
Many people have difficulty in finding and attracting partners. Some have no skill but just fall into relationships through social pressures to get coupled up. People with physical disabilities rarely have such luck, and may blame their disabilities for their emotional solitude but this blame becomes defeatist. It is true that people with very severe disabilities may have additional difficulties, but not everyone. Finding a partner and maintaining a relationship - sexual or otherwise - is a highly individual matter. Some people find it easy forming great relationships, of all kinds, especially when they are extrovert, have charisma, or are blessed with deep seated self confidence.
One of the first things is really getting to know and like yourself. You need to know your strengths and weaknesses; you need to be able to adopt a positive approach to living and other people. Despite everyone and everything making you believe in the ideal of beauty, wholeness - and perfection as being the only acceptable way of successful relationships - outside appearances are not everything. It's the "you" inside that counts and if you adopt a positive approach to others - the chances are that other people will be more positive and responsive to you. You will be seen more for what you are - with all your qualities, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, fads and fancies - a unique individual.
Even today, people are often ignorant about issues of relationships, sexuality and disability. People with physical disabilities may not have had the same opportunities of learning about themselves or others because of restricted social contact (mobility and access problems are probably the main reasons). Others may have a total fear of rejection, having been rejected so much as a child or teenager. Others are paralysed by shyness having been bullied at school. For some, it is because they choose to limit their contact. So - come to accept yourself and understand your difficulties. Get knowledge - use TV, books, papers and talk to others. Knowing ourselves gives us confidence and opens opportunities for being more positive when meeting other people.
However your disability affects your body - whether it makes you disfigured, you have loss of function of parts of the body, may not be of standard shape or size, but will probably still have normally developed and functioning sexual organs. This should be celebrated and not be an embarrassment!
Some people feel more comfortable in a relationship with someone else with a disability, and these days it is often the easiest choice. People with physical disabilities who want to establish relationships with non disabled people might examine their motives to ensure this is not just for status - which alone does not bring happiness. Homosexual males are often too obsessed with looks and youth to ever find a partner. But this is all up to individual choice.
Some people are concerned when non-disabled people want to establish relationships with people with disabilities. "Isn't there something wrong with them too?" Not so - again, it's individual choice. People choose friends and lovers for many reasons - some of which are not easily identifiable or understandable. Obviously, if you are inexperienced, have low self esteem and walk (or wheel) around like a victim, you will attract predators hoping to sponge off you. If anyone asks you to stop speaking to your family and friends, this is a sure sign that they are up to no good. Keep them at arms length.
Both partners should benefit from the relationship; it is about giving and receiving; it is about quality not quantity; it is about complementing each other, coping with all life's ups and downs and enjoying the wonderful things in life, including love, tenderness and passion.
These days of "equality" who does what, and how, is far less important than mutual enjoyment Changing roles and positions and/or using artificial aids, may be appropriate for some people. More importantly, talk to your partner. Tell them what you like, and what you don't like, and a more satisfactory sex life is likely to be the result. There are many ways to give and receive pleasure, other than by penetrative intercourse.
While you have no partner, be sure to enjoy yourself. Masturbation , using fantasies, sexy literature or films, is an essential way to relieve tensions. There is nothing wrong, wicked or harmful about Masturbation - indeed it is a very natural way to explore our pleasures and stay in touch with our bodies. Similarly, visiting a sex worker is a sensible measure when you feel deprived of human contact or sexually frustrated. This is not illegal, but avoid street workers or red light districts where crime is prominent and you may get ripped off.
At the same time, make the most of yourself so that you are attractive to others. Immaculate grooming and a smile are essential. If you can be positive in your approach to others, the chances are they won't be off-hand with you. Be assertive if they refuse to take you seriously. Give them a saucy smile if they refuse to accept you as sexual. Making friends becomes easier with practice. Rejections don't matter. Love will become more likely once you accept yourself and relax.
If you are seeking friends and partners, why not join Outsiders? Outsiders welcomes people with physical and social disabilities and is a community of people determined to enjoy life. Outsiders accepts anybody aged 16 and over, gay or straight, never discriminate against disability and it is half price for the unemployed. Check the Contact us page for details of contacting the club.
If you've got problems, you are not alone; a solution exists - find out. It is up to you!
Any questions on personal issues like these can be asked on our Sex and Disability Helpline:
Post: Tuppy Owens, BCM Box Lovely, London WC1N 3XX
Email: Email Helpline
Phone: 07770 884 985 : The Helpline is open weekdays 11am to 7pm