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Emily Yates

Love Lounge Top Tips – Managing frustration

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability

With a new, or even an existing, partner, it can take some time to find a sexual ‘niche’ – where you both feel like you really fit and are giving and receiving pleasure in a way that suits you best.  Of course, for those of us with impairments, finding that groove and really feeling comfortable and confident in bed can sometimes feel like it’s taking even longer. Managing the frustration of this can turn out to be one of the best things you’ll ever learn in a relationship, because when frustration takes over, we often fail to communicate effectively at all.

Tip 1: Voice sooner rather than later.

If something isn’t feeling right sexually or romantically to you, whether it’s to do with your partner’s kissing technique, or their ability to get you off, it’s best to voice things sooner rather than later (bottling up feelings and frustrations so often only ends in negativity).  By voicing something, you don’t need to be unkind or start an argument; you might start by trying to guide your partner in a more effective way, or showing them exactly how you like to be touched by showing them yourself and asking them to watch. In fact, guiding and educating a lover can be a really sexy and fulfilling thing to do, and perhaps we need to stop viewing it as such a bad thing when a significant other doesn’t please us in the way we expect immediately.

Tip 2: Be open to education yourself.

As keen as you might be to school your partner in pleasure, be prepared to be educated yourself, and remember to keep asking if what you’re doing suits your significant other and what they’re into.  We often forget, as we get comfortable in relationships, that our preferences, fetishes and interests can change when it comes to sex.  A sex life that’s full of communication, understanding and an ability to be open and honest will always be a good one.

Tip 3:  Still frustrated? Shake it up!

If you’re still struggling to find a common love language between the two of you in the bedroom, why not mix things up, lose your inhibitions and try something totally new? If dressing up and role playing often makes you cringe, why not reset your sexual meter and just have a go? Failing to communicate and deliver sexually is often all in the mind rather than the body, and you or your partner might be lacking confidence, be stuck in a rut or have had a particularly stressful few months – and these are all things that stepping out of your comfort zone together, in a safe and strong manner with no judgement attached, can help with.

Sex is supposed to be fun and enjoyable and, although a bit of frustration can be healthy and leave you wanting more, it shouldn’t be making you want to leave.  We hope these tips help and, should you have any questions or concerns, please do get in touch with us.

 

Love Lounge Top Tips – Moving in

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability

Picture the scene… the honeymoon period may technically be over in your relationship, but everything is still going swimmingly.  You’ve got through those awkward first dates and cringeworthy double-texting, and you still love being around each other.  You’ve met their relatives, they’ve met yours, and there’s even been the odd item of clothing or toothbrush left at each other’s places.  You decide it’s about time to have that first serious conversation – should you move in together?

Tip 1: Avoid assumptions and expectations

No doubt all of us have done this at some stage – got really excited and passionate about the possibility of something happening, only to be bitterly disappointed when someone doesn’t feel exactly the same way.  It’s no different with this conversation; try your best (where possible!) to start the conversation without judgement, assumption or expectations. Then you’re not setting yourself up for disappointment, your partner doesn’t feel a pressure to agree with your way of thinking and you can rest assured that you are getting their honest opinion on the matter.  If that opinion is the same as yours, perfect! If not, calmly ask them to explain how they’re feeling and work through the difference together in a positive and progressive way.

Tip 2: Accessible planning!

If you do agree to take the leap and move in together, fantastic! If one or both of you has a physical or sensory impairment, this may well be where the need for planning kicks in. Will you require a step free home, a larger bathroom to cater for personal aids, or even a dedicated space and garden for your guide dog to lounge and play? Often, it’s not just about the home itself, either; many disabled people would prefer to live near accessible bus stops or train stations, and nearby supermarkets or pharmacies can be particularly helpful if there is ever an emergency.  Once you do start planning, don’t be shy in asking for support with moving.  Call or email your local estate agents and see if they have any suitable properties to match your criteria, put your name on waiting lists with housing associations (many of whom have specific accessible housing available) and ask friends and family to help, too! This stage of moving in together can be stressful (and might even put a bit of strain on your relationship every now and again!) But the result is more than worth it.

Tip 3:  Enjoy all the good bits.

Once you’ve found the perfect place and moved in, it’s time to get on with all the more enjoyable parts of the process.  If you’re a Pinterest or Instagram fan, there’s nothing quite like searching for the perfect paint colour or most kooky furniture, and we’re sure we don’t need to even mention the joy of being able to have sex whenever you want, and wherever you want it..! Don’t forget to congratulate yourselves on taking the next step in your relationship, and we’re sure our invite to the house warming will be in the post soon 😉

 

Love Lounge Top Tips – Feeling Broody?

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Lifestyle, The Love Lounge

For many people, becoming a parent and having children someday is absolute #lifegoals, but it would be difficult for anyone to dispute that it is a BIG decision, not least for those of us who are disabled.  If you’re feeling broody, that’s not to say that it’s not possible to be a brilliant disabled mum or dad, but there might possibly be a few extra things to consider on your journey to becoming one.  If you see kids in your future, but don’t quite know where to start, this one is for you.

Tip 1: Have the conversation

First things first, if you are currently with a partner, do they feel the same way about having children? As scary as it may seem, having the conversation and knowing that you are both on the same wavelength, or have similar timelines in mind when it comes to parenting, can be really helpful and productive for both of you.  And it’s totally fine if you’re not ready, or the person you’re with isn’t, as long as you are both honest with each other and never make promises that you don’t have an intention of keeping.

Tip 2: Plan as well as you can

Let’s face it, parenting takes a lot of planning, and this is most definitely the case for us disabled people.  If you are a wheelchair user, you might want to think about how you are going to get your baby, a pram and your chair in the car, if your energy levels can get considerably low, it might be worth considering whether or not you will express milk and bottle feed your baby at night time, so your partner and you can share feeding responsibilities.  Find certain positions difficult and painful? You might want to make sure this information goes into your birth plan.  These are just a few examples, and there are plenty of things to think about, but just remember, whatever works for you is the best and correct decision, regardless of what anyone else around you is doing or suggesting.  There is never a perfect time to have a baby, but it is possible to plan and make it the best time for you.

Tip 3:  Hack your way through parenting life

When the baby does arrive, enjoy parenthood! It might be worth becoming a bit of a parenting engineer, too, and hacking your way through the first few months.  Perhaps picking your son or daughter out of their cot becomes tiring and tough, and you might find a way that’s much easier on your body by creating a side door on the cot, for example.  Maybe body slings will work much better for you than a bulky pram, or perhaps you’ll come up with an innovative way to be alerted to your baby’s cries at night if you are hard of hearing.  Whatever ends up working for you and your child, please share the information with the communities around you, on or offline.  There is sadly still a taboo and fear around disabled parenting, with many people being desperate to be a mum or dad, but worrying quite how they will manage or whether they will be good enough.  Knowledge is power, as they say, and let’s remember that sharing a hacking success might empower someone else to take the beautiful leap to becoming a disabled parent.

 

Myth busters – Tinnitus

By | Disability, Emily Yates

Can you hear ringing, buzzing, hissing or even a whistling sound when others can’t? You may have tinnitus, a widely misunderstood (and very common) condition that affects around 20%, or 1 in 5, of us. Tinnitus can affect you regardless of your age and experience, and several factors can cause it, including exposure to loud sounds, hearing loss due to aging and even problems with circulation.  Tinnitus can be inconvenient to some and extremely painful and even scary to others, but there are things that can be done to manage, and even improve it in some circumstances.  Below are some of the most common myths relating to tinnitus – but don’t take our word for it; it’s vital that you book in to see an audiologist or health professional as soon as possible and get checked out.  Not only can they properly diagnose your symptoms as tinnitus, they can also give you hints, tips and methods to handle it on a regular basis.

It’s never helpful when myths around certain medical conditions mask the facts.  We hope this myth busting guide on tinnitus will give you the knowledge and confidence to live your life to its greatest potential, regardless of what obstacles may appear along the way.

 

Myth 1: Your Tinnitus Will Only Get Worse

False! Don’t believe it! Symptoms of tinnitus can swap and change, just like our moods or routine can.  What you don’t often hear is that tinnitus symptoms can actually improve over time (and that can largely be down to those who have the condition learning how their body reacts to it, and changing certain routines or activities to mitigate as many negative variables as possible).  If you feel that your tinnitus is changing or worsening at any point, do go and get checked out by a professional.  Stress at work, tiredness and even too much earwax build-up can all be factors!

 

Myth 2: If You Have Tinnitus, You Will Lose Your Hearing

Plain and simple: tinnitus does not cause hearing loss. This misconception is one that is banded around a lot, and it really isn’t helpful to many people living with the condition.  Instead, it’s useful to think of tinnitus as a symptom, or effect, of another issue, like prolonged noise exposure, for example.  That’s not to say that tinnitus can’t create some negative outcomes; it can. Tinnitus can make it difficult to concentrate on a task that really requires your attention, and even get to sleep at times.  And what can tiredness, stress and anxiety do? Yep, you guessed it! Make your tinnitus worse (sorry to be the bearer of bad news…)

If you have tinnitus and are having trouble sleeping, it might be worth making a mental note of the food and drink you consume before bed that might not help this.  Too much caffeine, cheese or chocolate, whilst not being medically proven to worsen tinnitus, can sometimes affect your sleeping pattern, so these things might be best avoided when you are going through a particularly stressful time or feeling especially tired.  Don’t do anything too drastic immediately though if you are a committed coffee drinker; a study by Deafness Research UK revealed that suddenly cutting caffeine can actually worsen symptoms.

 

Myth 3: Tinnitus Is A ‘Lost Cause’

We often hear of people being told that there is nothing that can be done to help manage or improve their tinnitus, and they simply have to get on with it, regardless of how many issues it is causing.  Whilst it is true that a cure for tinnitus doesn’t yet exist, it equally isn’t a totally lost cause.  First things first, go and see a professional to discuss exactly how your tinnitus affects you and how it has changed over time, and then have an online browse of a couple of options that might just help you out. For example, noise machines have been created to ensure that you are listening to pleasant, gentle sounds like rain drops or waterfalls instead of your own tinnitus as you fall asleep (and they might even help you in falling asleep faster!) If a noise machine works for you, you might also consider wearing a tinnitus masker.  This sits in a similar way to a hearing aid, and ensures that those welcome sounds can become portable, wherever you are and whatever you may be doing.  Some people also find keeping a food diary helpful.  Some food and drink has been known to aggravate tinnitus, so perhaps keep one for yourself in order to manage yours.  Last but not least, don’t underestimate the emotional impact that a condition like tinnitus can have: meditation may help you in navigating any stress or anxiety caused by your tinnitus – give it a try, and good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

Love Lounge Top Tips – Taking the next step

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability

Whether we’re going on a first date, sleeping together for the first time, proposing, getting married or having children, we can often feel a distinct amount of pressure when it comes to taking the next big steps in our relationships, and the amount of pressure is definitely no less for disabled people! Whether you’ve got to plan ahead for an accessible date, discuss painless sexual positions with your partner, or think about the practicalities of becoming a disabled parent, there’s undoubtedly plenty to consider! Here are our top tips for taking those next steps – good luck, and enjoy!

Tip 1: Ensure you are comfortable

This first tip might sound a little obvious, but peer pressure and societal pressure play a big part in the direction that many of us take our relationships in, and the speed in which we develop them.  Whatever you do, don’t take a leap into commitment because that’s what all your friends are doing, because you’re at the age where you ‘should’ be doing these things, or because a family member has told you to hold on to the non-disabled ‘saint’ your partner is often viewed as.  There is no right or wrong way to move through a relationship, and certainly no right or wrong time to do it.  As long as you feel utterly comfortable and confident in your decisions, you will know that you are doing the right thing for you.

Tip 2: Research your Support Network

If you still live in the same town as your supportive parents and long-term friends, that’s brilliant; you might have all the support network you need.  But, for a lot of disabled people wanting to live independently or have children, a bit of extra support has got to be found, especially if you live somewhere different to where you grew up. If you think you might require personal care when living alone, or the help of a nanny or child minder when you take the next step of having children, make sure you do your research and are happy with the choices you find.  There is no shame at all in asking for help, especially when that help is going to ensure your own safety and care!

Tip 3:  Don’t get so caught up in planning that you don’t enjoy the ride.

As disabled people, most of us are real planners.  Let’s face it, we’ve had to be from a young age, and everything from driving to going on holiday and getting work has taken extended time and effort.  When it comes to making big decisions in your relationship, though, make sure that you save some time to enjoy yourself, too! Planning an accessible wedding or an amazingly romantic weekend away is great, but is it really any fun if you spend all your time worrying rather than marvelling in the next step that you and your partner have taken together? Remember, all the best journeys are ones that you can look back on with love for every single step.

Love Lounge Top Tips – Learning to Trust

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability

Love Lounge Top Tips – Learning to Trust

Learning to trust can be tough in any relationship, but if you’re disabled and have been hurt before, or are unsure about how a new partner will take to you, your impairment and any additional requirements or care needs you may have, it can be even trickier.  For some top tips on trust that we hope will help you to welcome loved ones with open arms once more, read on.

Tip 1: Don’t tarnish everyone with the same brush.

Whether you’ve had an unfaithful partner, have struggled with open communication in the past, or are even having a hard time removing previous nasty comments about you and your impairment from your mind, please remember not to expect that same negative behaviour from everyone else.  You don’t deserve it, and some people really do know how to treat others right.  We promise.  Learning to trust again is not easy, but reassuring yourself regularly that not everyone behaves badly is a good first step.

Tip 2: Be honest about your past.

We can often make the dangerous mistake of expecting our lovers to be mind readers when it comes to our past relationships and hurt feelings.  Unfortunately, they aren’t (but how great it would be if they were!) If you are finding it tough to trust, and are getting anxious when your partner goes out, or are finding yourself itching to check their phone, please do sit them down and explain how you’re feeling and what you’ve experienced previously. Any loving significant other with nothing to hide will do all they can to put your mind at ease.  But, its then up to you to do your part and give them the benefit of the doubt until they give you a reason not to trust them, which will hopefully be never.

Tip 3:  Check in with each other regularly.

Trust, especially in relationships, can be very much like grief.  Over time, it gets easier, but certain things happen when you least expect them to that can trigger those difficult feelings all over again.  When we get those triggers out of nowhere, it can be so easy to shrink up within ourselves emotionally. We don’t want to call our partners out unnecessarily, or give them any reason to think that we are being unreasonable.  Next time this happens, take the step to resist the need to hide and bottle up feelings, and let your lover know how you’re feeling.  The more we talk about these things, the more normalised and easy to work through they become.  And relationships with openness, honesty, and care, no matter how difficult and testing they will be, have the best chance of survival.

Wishing you the very best of luck on your trusting journey.  You deserve happiness that is simple, care-free and long lasting.

Myth Busters – disabled people don’t, won’t and can’t have sex

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Lifestyle, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability

Disabled people don’t, won’t and can’t have sex

How often do you see disabled people ‘getting it on’ on tv, in films or even in porn? No, we don’t see it often either.  Society seems to think that disabled people don’t, won’t and can’t have sex, and that’s a myth that we are here to dispel.  Want to join us, whilst raising a bit of awareness and education along the way? Keep reading!

Myth 1: Penetration

Sadly, we appear to have the (very incorrect) opinion as a society that sex isn’t ‘real’ if it doesn’t involve penetration, and therefore disabled people that can’t have intercourse aren’t sexual people.  This is wrong on every level, and whilst penetration isn’t possible for everyone, it really isn’t all that sex is about.  The possibility to be sensual and sexual exists for absolutely everyone, and many people that struggle with penetration put other skills they might have to very good use…! Perhaps, if we changed our view of penetration, we would also be able to educate ourselves on the complexities and intricacies of pleasure, in all its forms.

Myth 2: A lack of desire

Another common myth when it comes to disability and sex is that disabled people don’t have the same sexual desires as non-disabled people – something else that is desperately untrue! Whilst it is correct that sex can be a little more difficult for some of us (and take a little more time, effort and planning, sadly meaning that one night stands aren’t always on the table for all of us) the desire to have sex and be considered sexy still exists for lots of disabled people.  So, the next time you see an attractive, single disabled person giving you smouldering eye contact, don’t talk yourself out of it by thinking they won’t be interested!

Myth 3: Attraction

This third and final myth is arguably the biggest one, and the toughest to dispel.  It is so unfortunate that disabled people are portrayed so negatively by the media in many ways, and we are almost told not to find disabled people attractive.  Many of our colleagues, friends and partners are disabled and, let us tell you, they are all smart, funny, sexy and drop dead gorgeous in their own ways.  Don’t ever allow the world we live in to prescribe what is attractive and what isn’t.  Sure, a night with a disabled lover may require a little more thought, but it will most certainly be memorable.

So, to set the record straight.  When it comes to disability and sex…

We do, we will, and we can!

Love Lounge Top Tips – Losing your virginity as a disabled person

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability

If you’re reading this, the time may well have come to lose the big V (isn’t it a bit off-putting that we dramatise it so much in society?!) You might have discussed having sex for the first time with your new beau, or just decided that tonight might be your night! However you want it to go down, and whoever you’re about to have sex with, we hope that these hints and tips might give you some peace of mind, or even quiet confidence, when it comes to getting it on for the first time.

Tip 1: Losing your virginity can be a whirlwind of emotions…or not!

Nerves and anxiety, pain, pleasure, giddiness, sadness or… nothing at all.  Having sex for the first time (or even just the anticipation of it beforehand) can induce a series of emotions.  You might feel every single one that we’ve listed above, or you might think that the whole thing was a bit over-rated.  Whether you feel everything at once or nothing at all, that’s more than okay, as long as you feel comfortable with having sex all the way through (and, remember, if you don’t, you can ask your partner to stop at any time; consent can change!)  If, as a disabled person, you’re particularly worried about muscles seizing up, certain positions hurting or being difficult to get into, or what your partner might think of your catheter or the aids you use, feel free to stop proceedings and discuss your concerns with them – that’s so much better than bottling the fear up and wishing that you’d said something earlier when you’re half way through an awkward romp! Sex can be amazing, but first time sex shouldn’t be rushed.

Tip 2: Make sure you’re being treated right

This may sound obvious, but make sure that the person you’re going to have sex with for the first time is at least going to stick around for a cuddle afterwards.  Whilst you might not remember losing your virginity as a particularly earth-shattering experience (unless you’re really lucky!) you’ll never forget the person you lost it to, so make sure they are worth that memory and are going to treat you well throughout. For us disabled people, this can be even more important, especially if you might need help getting back into your wheelchair, or getting dressed afterwards, for example.  Whilst we don’t agree that you should need to be in love with the first person you sleep with, you should care enough about each other to ensure you’re both going to have fun, be able to communicate openly and honestly, and know that whatever happens between you two, stays between you two.

Tip 3:  If at first you don’t succeed…

However much you plan it or fantasise about it, sex doesn’t always happen exactly when we want it to, or the way we want it to.  It might be too painful for you or your partner, muscles might tense up and spasm from the stress of it all, or it might just turn into a hilarious fumble rather than a passionate shag.  Learn to laugh it off, and try again.  Foreplay can be just as good (if not better) than intercourse so as long as you’re enjoying yourselves and each other, what does it matter?

Be safe, have fun and don’t take any of it too seriously.

Love Lounge Top Tips – Penetration isn’t everything

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability

For those of us who are disabled, penetration isn’t always possible, comfortable or even desired… but it also isn’t everything.  Whilst penetrative sex is seen as the be all and end all by mainstream society, we are here to tell you that there are ways to be sensual and sexual without it and, trust us, they can be just as pleasurable, too! If you worry about how to satisfy, or be satisfied, without conventional intercourse, please read on.

Tip 1: Conquer foreplay

Want to please without penetration? Learn how to conquer foreplay.  Let’s be honest, it’s how many of us get off best anyway! Learn how your partner responds to touching and oral sex, does their body tense or quiver at certain movements, and want can you do to make them ask for more? If you feel unsure of how to best navigate their body and pleasure points, ask them to feedback to you on what feels good and really gets them going; you’ll be a pro in no time!

Tip 2: Communication is sexy

Sometimes, it’s not what we do that gets our partners off, but what we say. If that’s the case for the person you’re getting under the covers with, make sure to vocalise during those intimate moments.  You might let them know what you love about their body, what about them turns you on, or how good you feel when you’re with them. So whether you’re giving specific details of what you’d like them to do to you, or describing at length what you’d like to do to them, communication really can be sexy, and penetration doesn’t have to be involved once!

Tip 3:  Fantasise to the finish line

Discussing fantasies (or thinking of them yourself during solo play or sex) can be another great way of pleasuring yourself, penetration-free. If they are fantasies that you are comfortable sharing with your partner, sexy conversations around them can also be a great way of getting to know each other and your likes and dislikes in a more intimate way.  Who knows, they might even be fantasies you decide to act on later, too!

Penetration will always be a big player in the sexual dictionary, but it really isn’t everything. We hope this article has given you a little more confidence, and even a few hints and tips to take back to the bedroom…

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
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