Monthly Archives

March 2019

I want to start dating. When should I disclose my disability?

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Mik Scarlet, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability | No Comments

I am pleased to have seen your website through my Open University website and module I am doing.

My name is Naomi I am a 39 year old disabled woman, from three years ago so all new, I have come to a point in my life where I don’t know how to date, when to disclose my disability but also an illness without a prognosis.  I thought about dating other disabled people without sounding rude, but wouldn’t even know how, what I would put on a dating site as in disclosure,  sorry so many questions,  I think I’m excited about finding your website.
Naomi

Hi Naomi,

Lovely to hear from you, and thanks so much for writing in to us.  In terms of disclosure, it is of course totally up to you when you decide to disclose your disability, but if you feel confident in doing so, mentioning it in a dating site bio might be a good start. I’m not sure if your impairment is visible from your email, but I’m a wheelchair user and have previously added a photo of myself using my chair in my profile, and also mentioned that I play wheelchair basketball – that often does the trick in terms of disclosure!
When it comes to dating other disabled people, asking open, honest practical questions has always helped me.  Without sounding too crude, it’s of course important to find someone that has similar interests/preferences (just as you would want in a non-disabled partner) but who you will also be able to be compatible with practically – with everything from whether that person is able to drive (if that’s important to you) to intimacy. There are specialist sites for disabled people wanting to date other disabled people – just google ‘disabled dating in my area’.  Also have a look at a site called Meet Up – there’s great groups that you can join whether you’re into partying, book clubs, arts and crafts or having a coffee and a natter! I’m a big fan of the meet up site as it can often be a very ‘natural’ way to find someone you’re attracted to, by doing something you both love.

Would love to chat to you more Naomi, and hoping this is a good start 🙂

All best wishes,

Emily

Is it worth it? How can I stop feeling so ugly and alone? – Love Lounge

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Mik Scarlet, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability | No Comments

Hello:

My name is Sarah.  I’ve already been in contact with Mik Scarlet and he referred me to this page.

I have been made to feel unattractive/ugly from quite a young age, and was subjected regularly to sexual abuse from the age of 4. Needless to say I grew up with a very warped view of physical intimacy and a feeling of being undeserving of being in a relationship. My marriage ended due to violence on his part, which stemmed from our lack of communication and my inhibitions on a sexual level stemming back to my childhood and the associations with molestation and abuse. This element led to the end of my next long term relationship which started shortly after my marriage ended.

I was a carer for 9 years and I am now in my mid 50’s. I know it is never too late for love but part of the reason I have given up looking is because of the issue raised by Dr Phil which led me to contact Mik – the fact that as I age my care needs will either outstrip my partner, or I will end up trying to care for my partner when I am no longer physically able to do so-and social services will separate us, leaving me alone and vulnerable at a late stage in life.

So with all that said, is it worth it? I still consider that people would perceive me as  ugly, because I recently saw a comedienne who looked exactly like myself giving an interview representing women who are “proud to be ugly”, thus confirming that I am doomed to be perceived that way by society’s gauge of attractiveness! Leaving my disabilities out of the equation of course, relationships always start with physical attraction, before you go deeper…

Your thoughts/advice would be most appreciated.

Many thanks

Sarah

 

Hi Sarah, many thanks for writing in to us and being so honest and open with a difficult topic.

The first thing I’ll say is… Dr Phil has a lot to answer for! I’m a wheelchair user and needing a bit of extra physical help/care/support is absolutely part of my package when it comes to relationships.  The men I’ve been in relationships with have had to ‘step up’ on a practical level, whether that’s meant lifting my wheelchair into the car for me, or helping with cooking, cleaning and even helping me to wash and dress on my more difficult days.  Do I think they value me any less as a lover? Absolutely not.  In fact, I’d argue that practical intimacy often makes sexual intimacy even stronger! It also upsets me that people tend to never see what us disabled people do for our partners, too.  Since meeting me, my boyfriend has travelled to 4 continents, left a job he hated and started one he loves, moved house and made some amazing new friends.  He’s done these things for himself, of course, but emotional support and encouragement from me has definitely played a part.  What I’m trying to say is don’t ever underestimate what you can provide in a relationship – physical care and support is but one part of many, many successful partnerships.
On the topic of attractiveness, it sounds cliche but everyone possesses so much beauty in their own way.  I know many people who aren’t conventionally ‘pretty’, but their fierce fashion sense, brilliant humour or passion for what they do make them incredibly striking and attractive. I was watching ‘Queer Eye’ this weekend, and something brilliant was said: ‘You’ve done all you can if you present yourself to the world in the best way possible every day’.  We think we will be happy with ourselves once we’ve lose weight, got a boob job or have enough money for expensive make up and jewellery, but if we do the best we can with the body and resources we’ve got at this moment, there’s a quiet confidence in that that I believe with radiate from us into further attractiveness.
Keep fighting the good fight and believing that trying again is worth it.  Having the confidence to open up and write to us already says a lot about the honest and passionate person you are.
Hoping this helps, and please do get in touch if we can help further in any way.
Thanks,
Emily x

How can I find love and stop feeling so lonely – Love Lounge Q&A

By | Disability, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability | No Comments

Hi Mik and Emily

This is a particularly difficult email to write.  Basically I am a single,  divorced 42-year-old bloke living with Friedreich’s Ataxia – a progressive, genetic disease of the nervous system.
I am lucky enough to have plenty of good friends and I get a lot out of these relationships.  However, I do find myself suffering from loneliness and feel lost when dealing with issues of sexuality and intimacy?
I am not interested in simply calling an escort as I want to build a special friendship based around respect and trust.
I have quite a busy social life and I have recently led a disability campaign in Wales.  This has increased my profile but simply turned me into the most popular lonely person I know.
I think my confidence needs working on and I really enjoyed watching Mik’s recent YouTube video about Dr Phil.  I am not sure which way to turn and was hoping for some advice from your good selves.
Look forward to speaking soon
Nick
Hi Nick,
Many thanks for writing into us with such honesty.  We will certainly do our best to help!
The first thing that popped into my head when I read your email is whether you can use the resources around you to your advantage. It’s wonderful that you have such a supportive network of friends. If you don’t already, can you go to events or on trips with these friends to places that will increase your chances of finding someone in a romantic sense? Have you heard of the site MeetUp? I suggest this to a lot of people because it’s a great way of finding out about what’s going on in your area.  Let’s say that you enjoy cooking, for example, there’s bound to be a MeetUp group in your area that focuses on cooking, or trying out new local restaurants every week.  It’s a great way of meeting people weekly, building up friendships based on similar interests and, who knows, maybe it could lead to romance?!
Have you tried online dating, or are you interested in trying it at all? If mindlessly swiping on Tinder isn’t your thing, how about a site focused on communication and similar interests, like eHarmony? I’m a wheelchair user and met my boyfriend on Tinder, and many of my friend now have very successful relationships from online dating!
You say that you’ve had a busy time recently (and the campaign sounds brilliant!) Don’t forget to take some time for yourself, too.  We often radiate a bit more confidence when we feel good about ourselves, so don’t feel guilty about buying a new outfit that you feel great in, or going and treating yourself to a spa day, if that’s what you’re into!
Hoping this helps Nick, and good luck!
Emily

Online dating – a love/hate relationship

By | Disability, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability | No Comments

Online Dating – A love/hate relationship

Tinder, POF, eHarmony, Bumble and God knows whatever else, online dating is EVERYWHERE.  Meeting people in cities seems increasingly impossible unless you’re looking on your phone, going up to someone and introducing yourself seems almost alien, and does anyone really fancy you unless they’ve ‘super liked’ you?! Regardless of what we think about online dating, it’s here to stay.  Here are our top tips on navigating the world of swiping, sexy selfies and aubergine emojis…

Tip 1: Think about Disclosure

If you’re online dating as a disabled person, one thing is often on your mind more than anything else: disclosing your impairment. When, where and how you choose to do it (and whether you choose to disclose at all) is totally up to you, but before you start online dating, it might be a good idea to think about what suits you best. Disclosure doesn’t mean shouting from the rooftops, either.  Mentioning that you play wheelchair basketball, or suggesting that you go somewhere with a little bit more light than a basement nightclub are all statements that could lead to fuller disclosure.  Whether you are proud of your impairment or still taking the steps to come to terms with it, knowing how to have conversations around it in a way that makes you feel most comfortable is never a bad thing.

Tip 2: Bucket Lists and Fetishists

We all have preferences, things that excite us and things that we simply just want to try when it comes to sex.  As a disabled person who is online dating, you will, without doubt, come across people who want to sleep with you because they are an admirer of your impairment and also people who want to get you in the sack so they can add a nice, big, fat tick to their sexual bucket list.  If you’re cool with this, and want to try some new experiences yourself, who the hell are we to stop you! Having an awareness and educating yourself around these issues is highly recommended, though.  Have a little google of disability devoteeism, and always beware of someone who goes straight onto their group WhatsApp after a shag to announce the news!

Tip 3:  Teach where possible

Dating, both on and offline, is supposed to be fun (and flipping sexy, too!) Whilst we don’t want to ruin that fun for you, remember that you may well be the first disabled person your new interest has ever spoken to, nevermind dated! They may well say the wrong thing at the wrong time, ask awkward questions and not quite know what to do with themselves at the best of times.  If you like them and they have the best of intentions, there is nothing wrong with taking the time out to educate them around disability, the requirements you have and how best they could help you if and when you need it. Sharing is caring, as they say!

Good luck in that crazy, complicated but ever so fun world of online dating.  Should you ever have any questions or concerns, we are here to help.

Meet Joy, our new blogger

By | Disability, My story | No Comments

Joy and her daughter.I’ve always heard that being a parent is the hardest job in the world. But I also heard that it is the most rewarding.

Now that I am a parent myself I can honestly say that what I had heard was so true.

My name is Joy and I am a single, sexy, mother of one. I also happen to have a severe visual impairment which basically means I am totally blind in my right eye and have a very small amount of vision in my left eye, with the help of sone very thick and flowery  glasses.

Having a visual Impairment also means I can’t see hot guys walking past me on the street which is really annoying but hey, I guess there are worse things going on in the world!

When I was first asked to do a blog about parenting I didn’t want it to feel like a lesson on how to be a “good parent” because let’s face it only our children can make that decision when they grow up.

So what I want to do is simply share my journey and hopefully reduce negative stereotypes of parents with disabilities and give an insight into the difficulties most parents face, but also give some kind of reassurance to other blind and partially sighted woman who may not have experienced motherhood yet.

I’m going to talk about the aspects of parenthood that have had the biggest impact on me and I’m going to start from the very beginning. Everything from My pregnancy and labour, the fear of becoming a mother, the support I have had, travelling with a baby and a cane, keeping up with a toddler, and my thoughts on the future.

Currently, my daughter Janelle is 3 years old and she loves singing, dancing, Peppa Pig, writing on my walls, stealing my lipsticks and pretending to be a police officer!

She is the single most important thing in my life and despite all of her tantrums and sulking when I don’t give her chocolate, she is the only light in my life.

Statement on the new CQC guidelines on relationships and sexuality

By | Business, Disability, Sex & disability, Undressing Disability | No Comments

We greatly support the new guidelines that have been released by the Care Quality Commission on Relationships and Sexuality in adult social care services.  This is a brilliant step in ensuring that both service users and care staff are receiving the support, help and advice needed in managing sexual needs and desires.

This guidance has been released to support all disabled people who require care services.  When an impairment is acquired, through ageing or injury, sex and relationships are the focus of many questions that a newly disabled person may have.  It is often vastly important to them that they feel able to maintain existing sexual relationships, or confident and comfortable enough to find new ones.  The conversation around sex and relationships can often be even more difficult for those who have always been disabled; some have never been regarded as sexual beings and have instead been communicated with in a child-like manner, with their sexual needs and desires being overlooked or completely dismissed.  A different body that works in a less conventional way can still be sensual and sexual, and intimate desires are still very much a part of disabled peoples’ lives.

Talking about these things and supporting service users with their sexual needs can understandably be seen as a daunting and scary prospect for many care managers and members of staff, with several ‘grey’ areas surrounding this issue in terms of consent and assisting pleasure.  It is vital that staff have a way of checking that what they are advocating is correct, and have clear boundaries to adhere to in order to ensure the safety and comfort of both parties in question.  Providing disability and sexuality training that is easily accessed, with knowledgeable and approachable trainers with lived experience, should be an obligatory step in this process.

Through the Undressing Disability campaign, Enhance the UK has been petitioning for inclusive sex education and delivering frank, open and honest talks and workshops on disability and sex to organisations and educational establishments all over the country.  The Care Quality Commission’s acknowledgement of the need for everyone to be able to express themselves sexually, regardless of impairment, is a much-needed step in the right direction in this arena, and the start of a conversation that desperately needs to continue and progress.

Explaining fetishes and fantasies – Love Lounge

By | Disability, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability | No Comments

Some of us will have most definitely been there: enjoying a perfectly nice shag on an evening, but thinking how much better it would be if our partner did this, said that, looked at us in a certain way, focused on a particular body part a bit more, dressed up in that outfit that makes us melt… We all have fetishes and fantasies that we’d love to have fulfilled, however simple or dark they may seem to us (and, of course, disabled people are no different!). But communicating our likes and dislikes and asking for them to be incorporated into our sex lives can be tricky for even the most confident lovers amongst us. If you’d like some hints and tips on how best to explain your fetishes and fantasies, read on!

Tip 1: The type of person often reflects the type of approach
I’m very fortunate to have a partner who loves to please me, but he can also get a little flustered and go into ‘thinking’ mode if I blurt out something he didn’t expect in the heat of the moment. What are you like, what’s your partner like, and how might they respond to your preferences and desires? It goes without saying that anyone that closes their mind off immediately and refuses any kind of involvement or interest may potentially not be the best sexual match for you, but it’s important to think about the type of person you’re with and bring up fetishes and fantasies in a way that you think they’ll best digest (cos, let’s face it, you’re looking for a positive response!) If you’re the kind of couple that debriefs after sex, maybe mention that, next time, it’d be amazingggg if they added a certain thing into their repertoire, if you’re both impulsive, shout what you want from the rooftops mid-session if you want! Whatever way ends up working for you, tailoring your approach for comfort, honesty and open mindedness from you both is a great step in the right direction.

Tip 2: Is it a ‘must have’, or an added bonus?
Is what you’re into an exciting addition to your sex life, or do you find it difficult to get turned on without it? Be honest with your partner about how important your fetishes, preferences and fantasies are to you, and how often you’d like them to feature in your sex life. And if you don’t know, that’s fine too, as long as you explain this. Being as transparent as possible with your partner will undoubtedly lead to better things for you both in the long run.

Tip 3: Patience and encouragement goes a long way
It can be tempting, when you’ve told a partner about what you like, to expect things to develop quickly, or to experience those fetishes or fantasies every time you get intimate. It’s important for us all to remember that it takes time for others to get comfortable with things that seem obvious to us, and patience and encouragement will be huge factors in your sexual journey together, whichever amazing direction that takes you both in.

Hopefully this article has given you a little more confidence in expressing your desires, whatever they may be. Here’s to great sex for us all, all of the time. We deserve it 😉

Why all young people should have disability awareness training delivered by disabled people

By | Disability | No Comments

Last week my fellow trainer Zoe and I had the pleasure of spending the day at Sir William Borlase Grammar School delivering workshops as part of their Year 7 Disability awareness day.   We frequently deliver workshops for schools but one of the things that really stood out about the day was the number of questions the young people wanted to ask.   They took part in some games and activities but we ended up not doing everything that we had planned simply because once the questions started, they just didn’t stop. We were delighted.   After the session on the slow drive around the M25 I had plenty of time to reflect on the day.

I have lost count the number of times a child has stared at me when I have been out with friends and using British Sign Language. When this happens usually a parent pulls them away and tells them it’s rude to stare before I have chance to say anything.  Children are curious about the world in which they live and particularly when they see something new.  I have been asked by children numerous times what’s that thing behind my ear (my cochlear implant).   The difficulty arises when children are not encouraged to ask questions and find out about disability (in a positive and appropriate way) and instead are told it’s rude.  The child often sees the embarrassment that their parent displays and remember it.  This feeds into the ‘fear factor’ that as a charity we speak about; where people are awkward around disabled people because they worry about saying or doing the wrong thing.

Having the opportunity to meet disabled people enables children and young people the chance to see that we are just like everyone else and that there is no need to feel awkward around us.  Giving them the opportunity to ask questions in a safe and appropriate environment demystifies disability and can only help to remove that fear factor.

Children and young people are the next generation.  If we can reduce that fear factor, then this in turn will help to reduce the barriers that disabled people face in terms of attitude and communication.  Remember that we will only be an inclusive and accessible society once attitudes are changed.  The more children that have workshops and positive interactions with disabled people the quicker this will happen.

I would like to say well done to Sir William Borlase Grammar school for valuing diversity and inclusion and for arranging such a great day!

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