By Eva Sweeney
What do you do if you see a hot person with a disability out and about or on one of your dating apps and you want to ask them out? Because there is not a lot of visibility or information about people with disabilities, able-bodied people often don’t know what to do or how to act around us.
I am here to help! I am a queer sex educator who is also disabled, I have cerebral palsy which for me means I use a wheelchair and I am non-verbal so I communicate by spelling out what I want to say on a letter board. Needless to say, I have had a lot of experience dating in a able-bodied world.
So here are some tips for asking out that disabled cutie in your life and navigating dating and sex!
Note: Obviously all people with disabilities are different so these tips will not apply to everyone but they are a good place to start.
Let Them tell you about their Disability.
They probably have a nice compact explanation. We as people with disabilities have to explain our disability multiple times a day so we have an easy way to explain it to you most of the time.
But….Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions!
Questions, if they are framed in a respectful manner, are great! It shows that person you are genuinely interested in getting to know them completely. If you do ask a question that is too personal they will tell you and you should respect their boundaries.
Plan Your Date with Accessibility in Mind
There is nothing sexier to me than when my date says they have called ahead about access without me even asking. Even if you don’t know your new cuties access needs, ask them how you could make the date as easy and comfortable as possible.
Trust and Believe them.
Not all disabilities are visible! People can have chronic pain, fatigue, depression, etc. and “look fine”. So if your date tells you they have an invisible disability, believe them! Also, people with disabilities often have energy issues so if your date cancels at the last minute because of energy issues, don’t take it personally. However, if they have a habit canceling or ghosting, it may nothing to do their disability.
Your Date Might Bring a Personal Assistant.
It might be weird at first to have to go on a date and your date has another person helping them. Your date should tell you before you go out as to not surprise you. Their assistant lets you get to know them without you having to worry about learning how to help them. People often can let their aide take a walk when you want more alone time. Also as you get to know them, if you are both comfortable with it and have communicated about it, the aide can take even longer walks and you may even help them.
Communicate, But Don’t Medicalize
When it gets down to getting down, have a conversation about what works for them (and you) in bed and what doesn’t. This conversation should not be super medicalized. It should be fun like flirting or even foreplay. If it is appropriate you might want to feel your date’s body before getting into bed so you have a better idea of how their body works.
Practice Transferring to Bed Before You Get Started
It also might be good to practice transferring your date to bed before having sex with them. Trust, it sucks to be almost dropped when you are in the mood. This obviously does not apply to every person with a disability, but for those who need transfers, it is a good idea to practice.
Be Cautious About Helping Too Much
There should be a line between partner and personal assistant. That does not mean you can’t help but maintain the romance too. If you are feeling like you are helping too much, you need to talk about it. Also, your partner might not always want you to help either, so respect that and don’t think it is because they don’t like you.
Communicate, Communicate, and Communicate!
I can not stress that enough. Good sex and relationships are built and maintained through communication. Talk about what’s working and what’s not! Laugh about the things that don’t work. Talk about what you need.
Lastly, Be Creative!
Relationships with people with disabilities might not look like a “typical” relationship, but that often makes it fun! You might experience things you have never experienced before! Just have fun, and communicate!
Hopefully, these tips help you ask out that disabled cutie in your life. Good luck and have fun!
Eva Sweeney is a 35-year-old genderqueer disabled female who works primarily as a sex educator and freelance writer. Her topics include disabilities and sex, gender, and queer culture. She is a Pleasure Professional with O.school and is also the creator of the documentary, Respect: The Joy of Aides. She has been doing Sex and Disability workshops for 15 years and started doing this work because she found a huge lack of good sex positive information for people with disabilities. Eva wrote the book Queers on Wheels and has traveled the country giving workshops about Sex and Disability. She is also available for private consultations.