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Mik Scarlet

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
a trendy bar with the 'relax' printed on the window

Love Lounge – First date as a disabled woman

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Mik Scarlet, The Love Lounge | No Comments

Mik and Emily,

I became a wheelchair user a couple of years ago. I’ve dated quite a lot before, but I’m going on my first one as a disabled woman in a couple of weeks. Do you have any tips?

Thanks,

Amy X

 


 

Hi Amy!

Thanks for writing into us. First of all, arghhhh! Best of luck with your date! Half the battle is won if you’re already a seasoned dater and will be able to control those pre-date nerves a bit! My main bit of advice for you is to encourage you to maybe take a bit more of a lead than you perhaps usually would in planning the date. As a wheelchair user, you’ll need to consider the accessibility of wherever you end up going (so a tiny little bar on a cobbled street with a couple of steps up to the front door probably wouldn’t be the best option!) and also think about how to get there.

Public transport can be super stressful, especially if you want to be on time! If I fancy a drink on the date, I always treat myself and get a taxi to prevent any mishaps! Apart from that, nothing should really change in the way you play the dating game – although I can almost guarantee the height of the guys you date won’t be quite as important anymore 😉

People working together for a better future

How do I connect with other Disabled people in Turkey?

By | Lifestyle, Mik Scarlet, The Love Lounge | No Comments

Hello,

First of all forgive me for my poor English. My name is Gokhan and I’m 31 years old. I’m living in Turkey. As you can imagine the life for disabled people is not easy here. And of course the sexual activities we have no chance to do anything and We have no chance to meet any professional workers here.. But also I can’t meet with any girlfriend and no chance to dating valintine

I’ve got scoliosis and my body is curve. So Every time When I look at the mirror , I’m starting to ask my self.. Why ??  And start to cry.. My body is not sexy I’m very ugly :(( I know maybe you can’t do anything to me from there… But only I want to write my thoughts to you :((( I am feeling so lonely at my country. Any disabled person is free about dating and sexual activities. There is no chance to even talk about these topics in Turkey.. I even can’t touch and contact any disabled person for sharing ideas and feelinga about sexuality and dating…

There is very public force to hide these feelings and realities in my country.. I even haven’t got any chance to hold a girl’s hands.. I haven’t been loved by any girl.. I am a romantic and emotional.. Forgive me for my poor English… I am very sorry…

Thank you so much for your kind heart…  DEAR SIR GOD BLESS YOU 🙁 Please don’t leave me alone

Very kind regards

 

Dear Gokham,

Thank you for contacting the Love Lounge. Your letter touched my heart. I too have a Scoliosis, and know what it is like to look in the mirror and hate what you see. However I did learn that whatever you see when you look at your reflection, it’s not always what others see. I battled with confidence when I was young, and was sure I would never find a partner but I also thought that it is better to try and fail than never try. With this approach I soon found that while there are many people who are not interested in being with a disabled person, there are also many who are. I should say I am now married to a wonderful woman who is my soul mate.

My advice would be find something you love to do. I loved music and taught myself to play piano and sing. Whatever you love; art, sport, culture, engineering,design, or music like me, whatever fires your interest go and pursue it. Love every minute that you spend focusing on it. This will make you happier and give you a focus for your passion. Make sure you go out and pursue your pass time, mixing with people. You will then meet people who share your interest. This mutual shared interest will mean you make friends that you have loads in common with. I found that this opens people’s eyes to the real you, thus they get to know you. Which in turn can lead to them not seeing the person you see in the mirror. I met my wife when playing in a band together, so you can see I know this approach can work!

Now I have to consider the cultural issues you face. I know that disabled people in Turkey face terrible issues which I can’t begin to imagine. I found that campaigning for equality and better treatment for disabled people gave me a huge outlet, a real confidence boost and allowed me to meet some amazing people. This might be something that you could pursue, campaigning to make Turkish society better for disabled people. I searched online and found a group called Alternative Camp (http://www.alternativecamp.org/), who work with disabled people to help them build independent lives, and provide all manner of activities to try too. I know they are based in Istanbul, but if you can’t get there contact them to see if they can help you. They will also help you discover if there are other disabled people near you, so you can support each other.

I would work on the confidence and finding the joy in life, then try to find love. I know it will be tough, but you may find that while you are falling in love with life, love might find you. Please stay in touch and all of us here at the Love Lounge will give you support and help.

I wish you all the best, and I’m always here to help if I can.

Mik

“Three years married and frustrated since my accident…”

By | Lifestyle, Mik Scarlet, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability | No Comments

Hey Mik,
I just discovered your videos on youtube. I’m 29, female, been C5 tetraplegic for five years now since my accident, three years married and getting quite frustrated cause I still haven’t been able to reach orgasm after the accident. I love my husband and he loves me, but sex still leaves me just relaxed at most. We’ve tried different positions, I’ve tried “thinking myself to it”, but it won’t
help. I still have some minor feeling down there, but it’s like having sex while in a rubber suit really, so the sensations are nearly nonexistent.

I’ve almost lost hope, but after seeing your videos I’d really like to ask more about the techniques you use. I refuse to believe that I’ll never be able to come again.
Any ideas, suggestions or videos you could suggest?
Looking forward to your answer,
Freya.

Hi Freya, 
I suppose this is the unspoken part of spinal injury. We see stuff in the media about trying to get us to walk again, and hear stories of people not coping with their new life with SI but that is always put down to some other reason than sex and sexuality. But we know different eh? However much you miss walking, or dancing or kicking a football it’s sex that really cuts to the core. For most people with SI there is some change in function when it comes to sex, whether it’s dealing with pain or loosing sensation or function or both. This is why I have spent so much of my career in the media highlighting the topic, but usually on with a broader “disabled people have sex, get over it” manner. Then when I hit 30 I felt I was finally in a place to “come out” about how my SI impacted on my sexual function and how I had developed methods to cope with this. During my time in the media I had met a few disabled people who my technique had helped and I thought I should tell the world.
Now Freya, you’ve seen the videos I have online, including the one about “thinking yourself to orgasm”. However it doesn’t seem to be working. Can I ask have you and your partner tried it together? Have you tried getting your partner to help you with the first part of the thinking bit, the creating a head orgasm? I know that most of my advice seems to be aimed at people who are not in relationships, but that is because many of the people who ask for help are in that position. If you have a partner I have found the whole thing is easier. Make it a joint game. Another idea is to really let you fantasies run riot. If you have some sensation but it is  “like having sex while in a rubber suit” this is even better. I too experience fluctuating sensation so understand how it feels, but it’s then that the concept of head or tantric sex really helps. So why not chat with your partner and spend a few nights (or full days if you have time and the inclination) experimenting with anything that turns you on? You have to be the centre of it all, and you must guide what happens and how it’s done. Mostly as everything must be to get you there… You’re the important one for the moment.
More than that, don’t panic over this. I know that the awful worry of never getting back that part of your life can actually stop you getting there. It might be that you have lost the old orgasm that you once knew but that is not to say there isn’t a new one, a better one, just waiting to be discovered. I do know that any man deep down loves the idea of being the one who gives the woman he loves back her ability to orgasm, however she gets there, so trust me your husband will be a eager participant in whatever you get up to. But don’t feel less. Less sexy, less sexual, less of a woman. Don’t buy into those non-disabled tropes. We might not work like we used to, but we can work better. Remember that, and see what happens. It might not happen quickly, and it might not be exactly as you expected. But it will.
Lastly I must point out that these “thinking” orgasms aren’t like the old groin led ones. They are weird at first. I also understand they are different for everybody, so if I described mine to you it probably won’t help. Another thing to consider is that while I lost sensation for a while, it slowly came back. 5 years feels like a life time but it isn’t. I’ve had 35 years this April, yet stuff is still returning now. Not that I am giving you a false hope, but in my experience when the doctors say “that’s your lot” about what does and doesn’t work, take it with a pinch of salt. Biology is a weird master, so go with it. I will say that the more I had sex, the more I found my feeling worked. Tough life eh?
So, I hope this helps a bit? Basically try stuff, see what works for you. Who knows it might even be a rubber suit? If it is I know some great designers. One of the leading stars of the rubber world is herself disabled too! But whatever floats your boat, try it. Try it once, twice and keep trying stuff and see what happens. It might not give you back your non-disabled sexuality but I am sure it will give you something new… and better!
 Hope this helps? Maybe drop us a line and I’ll see if I can help more if not.
Good luck and have fun!
Mik

“What can I try to do to help my pain in the bedroom and make sure my partner stays happy?”

By | Lifestyle, Mik Scarlet, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability | No Comments
“My chronic pain has never been properly diagnosed and i the last few years I have been unable to work because of it. My partner and I have been together for over ten years and had a really strong intimate relationship… until recently. I’ve been unable to enjoy any touch because of my pain recently and I find it hard to get in positions. My partner is understanding but I don’t want him to get frustrated as we are still young people in our early thirties. What can I try to do to help my pain in the bedroom and make sure my partner stays happy?” – Tina, Milton Keynes
Oh boy Tina, do I know how you feel. I also have had chronic pain for most of my adult life (I wrote about it on the Huffington Post recently) and also know how much it can prevent you from feeling sexy, or allow you to enjoy being touched. I can’t tell you any magic bullet, but I would advise you try Mindfulness. My GP sent me to a therapist who trained me in the Mindfulness technique specifically designed to help with chronic pain and it has changed my life. It gives you the ability to cope much better and puts you in charge of the pain.
Before I found the technique, I used to try to build up to sex slowly and this way I found I could get in the mood far easier. Another method might be role play. If you are really in the mood as you are living out a fantasy, pain is much easier to ignore. You might think that you have to do more to make it work, but I would advised you to ask your partner to take charge more, try stuff out and always keep checking that you are OK. That way as you get more intimate, he’s exploring you while you’re in control and both of you feel conformable. That in itself can be a bit of fantasy eh? Pain is a bugger to live with, but trust me you can find a way through and nothing gets rid of pain like a really nice orgasm. Sure not for long, but if you keep them coming then it’s the best pain medication ever. – Mik

“I’m worried I won’t look as smooth rolling around on the dancefloor!”

By | Lifestyle, Mik Scarlet, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability | No Comments

“I was involved in an accident and after a long road of recovery I am now adjusting to life as a wheelchair user. So far, mostly, so good but I do have some worries about the practicalities of my new piece of kit​!

Before the accident I loved nothing more than hitting bars and meeting new people. I’m worried I won’t look as smooth rolling around on the dancefloor!” – Tim, Crawley

Hi Tim. To be honest I found myself looking far cooler once I started dancing in a wheelchair than I ever did on wheels. I have been known to take over a dance floor with my moves, and once even podium danced as a massive rave. I can see no reason why you couldn’t either. That’s not to say that getting back out once you start using a chairs is a bed of roses.
There are always the annoying issues of access, especially the thorny issue of accessible loos when you have had a few, but once you start hitting the nightlife you will find those local haunts that are OK and this becomes a regular. I found that going to a pub or club a lot gave you a chance to explain to the management how they could improve their access even more too.
If I’m honest, I had similar worries when I started my life on wheels, way back in the 1980s, but I soon found the call of a good time out weighed any fears I had. I also discovered that if you “accidentally” clip the foot of someone you fancy with your front caster you have a perfect in, and the offer of a drink to say sorry is rarely refused. Don’t crush their foot as this will never work, but a gentle nudge never failed me. Get out there and see what happens.
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