Misconceptions About Sex And Relationships With A Disability

Curated by
Whitney Bailey
Content via In The News
In The News
Curated by
Whitney Bailey

There are many misconceptions about people who have disabilities. Many of those misconceptions center around sexuality. Huffington Post shares seven misconceptions about having sex with a physical disability from the perspective of four people with various disabilities.

Two pairs of Feet hanging off bed, sticking out of covers with a wheelchair parked beside bed

“Don’t hesitate to make me feel wanted and desired because of your presumptions about my body.”

No Sexual Desire

The first misconception discussed is that people with disabilities have no desire to have sex or be intimate with another person. Vilissa Thompson, who has osteogenesis imperfecta, says this misconception could not be further from the truth. “From my experience, there’s a misconception that disabled people do not want or desire sex ― that is a lie! We want intimacy in the same regard as anyone else. Why would being disabled nullify that aspect of our human existence? Sex is a right for those who desire it, not a luxury that is to be afforded to only non-disabled people,” she says.

Sex Organs Do Not Work

Tegan Morris, who has muscular dystrophy, has used online dating sites. People’s assumptions and boldness to ask certain questions always seem to amuse her. “It always amuses me what people assume and how bold people will be with asking such things. Would you ask a random person on the street such a question? For the sake of clarity, most people with physical disabilities can experience the same sorts of sensations as the general population,” she says. Tegan continues by stating that not every person’s body reacts the same way. Just like everyone else, you have to find what is comfortable for and pleases your partner.

Sex Usually Hurts

A common misconception is that sex usually hurts a person with a disability. While every disability is different, open communication with your partner is key. “All physical disabilities manifest differently, but at this point in my life, I do not experience pain on a daily basis. So you’re not going to cause pain just by touching me. I want to be (consensually) touched. And if something you do causes pain, I will tell you and politely ask you to modify. Listening is key. But do not hesitate to make me feel wanted and desired because of your presumptions about my body,” says Ryan J. Haddad who has cerebral palsy.

“And most importantly, disability is not a problem. It is not a shortcoming. It is an identity to be proud of. We are not less than our non-disabled peers. We are equal and we have the authority to decide who we do and do not wish to allow into our lives.”

Dating Struggle

Some believe that people with disabilities have problems finding people who are willing to date them. Robin Wilson-Beattie is paralyzed on her right side. She says, “People often have the preconceived notion that people with physical disabilities are not seen as desirable, attractive or ideal partners for others (particularly able-bodied presenting ones).” She gives an example of her physical therapist admiring Robin for finding her husband while having a disability.

Consent Does Not Apply

The disability community has a high prevalence of sexual violence. It’s important to include people with disabilities in conversations about sexual consent. “We have a right to consent to sex and intimacy ― that should not be taken away from us because we are disabled. Consent means respecting when we say ‘no’ and not violating our bodies and trust by dismissing our ‘no’,”  says Vilissa.

Not Interested In Flirting

“The challenge that a lot of people with disabilities face is that we are seen as sweet and innocent and that our lives are assumed to be ‘too complicated’ to include the extra dimension of intimacy,” says Tegan. People with disabilities like to be flirtatious too!

Don’t Have The Right To Reject A Romantic Partner

There is a misconception that once a person with a disability finds someone interested in them, they should not be ‘choosy’ and reject that person if there is no connection. “We know what we want and who we want. If we are not attracted to someone, we are under no obligation to reciprocate their attraction to us. If we are not compatible with someone, we have no reason to enter a relationship that would not work,” says Ryan.

Do you have dating advice for fellow people with disabilities? Share your story with us at AbleThrive.com!

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