It’s fair to say that there’s an element of care in all relationships (or there should be!) But, for many disabled people, the amount of care received from friends, parents and lovers is often a little more than would be expected in a relationship between non-disabled people. Whether it involves something as simple as standing to barricade a toilet cubicle door when a wheelchair using friend just ‘needs to go’ and an accessible loo isn’t available, or something a little more intimate like helping a lover to clean themselves and their surroundings up when their stoma bag bursts during sex, that care element is undeniable.
In many ways, this kindness and care that is required should be celebrated; it can build incredibly strong, intimate bonds, especially in a romantic relationship, when teamwork means so much more than just being able to put up a tent together at your local campsite! But it can be equally frustrating for both parties when things go wrong, or conditions worsen, and pressure, dependency and expectations rise.
So, what to do if you are concerned that your new, or deteriorating condition is affecting the amount of care you require, and perhaps the way your partner sees you, as a sexual being as well as one that requires support?
One of the biggest mistakes we make in our relationships, be they platonic or otherwise, is keeping our worries strictly internal and failing to discuss them. Talk to your partner about your concerns and discuss the solutions together. It might be that you need to think about bringing some external help in, so that you can concentrate on building on the passionate parts of your relationship, rather than the practical. Maybe it’s just reassurance that you need – along with someone to show you how sexy you still are, and always have been to them. But, sadly, we aren’t mind readers, and we are unable to solve problems for our loved ones that we never realised existed. Talking, however difficult it may seem, is always the answer.
One great thing about us human beings? We are pretty versatile, adaptable and resilient creatures! Our impairments differ, adapt, worsen and improve, too, and it’s vital that we learn how to grow with them, rather than get overwhelmed by them. If, for example, you now have a stoma bag and didn’t before, maybe its time to invest in some crotchless knickers that keep your bag in place whilst not deterring from the fun. Need a hoist and feeling pretty rubbish about it? It can always be made into a sex swing… thank us later 😉
Regardless of what you’re going through, you’re still gorgeous. Don’t forget that!
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.