Orienting a New Partner to Your Disability
Give the low down. Really take time to dialogue about your medical condition and physical limitations. Your partner needs to not only know what feels good but what doesn’t and why. You may choose to invite him or her to a doctor’s appointment to talk about your current status or the progression of your disability. This way you can begin to engage in sex that is satisfying to both partners without the partner being constantly concerned that they are hurting you.
Focus on what you can do. Everyone needs to learn about their new partner’s body. Don’t make it all about the person who has the disability. Engage in an exchange of information that levels the playing field between you both. Being positive about giving and receiving pleasure will be of benefit to you both. You can create a satisfying and fulfilling sex life no matter what your physical limitations may be.
Everyone has baggage. Everyone has challenges they have to deal with in relationships, whether it’s depression, past abuse or simply not being into certain behaviors and positions, there should always be a sense of negotiation. Establishing good communication early in the relationship will help you build a stronger foundation as a couple. It can also help you prepare to deal with bigger, more sensitive topics as your relationship matures.Sex isn’t only about orgasm. Don’t let the big O define your sexuality. Many people with spinal cord injuries are not able to orgasm in the traditional sense of the word. Focus on physical connection and affection. Taking time to make out and enjoy all the physical benefits of sex is especially important. After all, we don’t have sex just to have sex. It also fulfills our need for emotional intimacy and can help you feel stronger as a couple.
Still be safe. Oftentimes safety goes out the window when dealing with a disability. It may be the last thing on your mind when a new relationship begins. But even if your intention is to be monogamous, it’s still a good idea to be safe by using a barrier method or condom. Yes, even disabled people get STDs. I suggest getting regularly tested for HIV and infectious hepatitis if you are engaging with multiple partners as well. Living in a state of denial doesn’t make it so.
Be open to exploring new sensations. It might be trying a new sex toy or tweaking a sex position. There are products out there designed especially to help you achieve the sex positions you desire in comfort. A little bit of patience and a lot of communication will go a long way as you open yourself up to new ideas about sex. Maybe it’s learning to incorporate some adult videos into your lovemaking sessions. Whatever you choose to experience may prove to be surprisingly rewarding.
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Dr. Kat is the resident sexologist at Adam & Eve and also runs a private practice and media consulting business. She has a Doctorate from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. Her professional affiliations include AASECT, SSSS, and the American Board of Sexologists. She also has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and completed a postgraduate degree in Marriage, Family and Addictions Recovery Therapy.
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