The Toll Social Distancing takes on Relationships

How is your relationship managing through this period of social distancing due to COVID-19? How are you handling it? Feel free to post your comments below.

This strange period of time can be hard for people in long distance relationships, or even relationships where you don’t live with your partner(s) and see them often. People, now a days, are utilizing technology (Zoom, social media and phone calls) rather than spending time together face to face. Using technology is certainly better than having no contact at all. However, we may still miss physical connection when we rely on technology. We not only miss sexual intimacy, but also the intimacy of cuddling, or even simply hugging a platonic friend. I have seen a meme going around stating “I will never again take a hug for granted” and I feel that very deeply right now.

Social isolation can take a different type of toll on relationships when you live with your partner(s). I will share the toll it has been taking on my relationship and how my partner and I are handling it. I hope it is useful for some of you.

My partner and I are both home all the time now. Having a disability, I am used to being home during the day. My partner is not. He is used to working a lot of overtime. So while he is enjoying this much needed rest, he is also struggling with boredom.

As a couple, we are not used to being home together all day long. I admit, there are times we can get on each other’s nerves. This doesn’t mean we don’t love each other. I wouldn’t want to ever live without him, but still, being together all day long, every day, is quite an adjustment.

Here is a small example. My partner loves watching tv and movies. I like to get the dishes cleaned right after we eat, but he doesn’t like me running the water while he is watching one of his shows. So, I have to be mindful of that. I try to wash the dishes when he gets up to do something else.

Then of course, there is the matter of who controls the remote to the tv. Typically, he does. Because he works so much, I usually watch my shows while he is at work. That of course, hasn’t been the case in the last couple of weeks.

Now these are small examples, but if we allowed our feelings to fester, they could turn into bigger resentments. To avoid that, I told my partner how I was feeling. He told me how he was feeling. Communication is key in any relationship. We communicate and we make adjustments where we need to in order to compromise. He has since given up SOME control of the tv. Lol.

It is important to make time to connect in other ways and that helps. Things like sharing ideas about the future, doing projects around the house, and turning the tv off to talk during dinner. You never know what you might learn about your partner, even when you have been together a long time. We have been discussing the type of house we dream of living in some day.

We also spend some time doing individual projects and that helps our relationship as well. As much as I love him, I do need some alone time and some personal space. I think most couples do. I spend a lot of time in our home office while participating in online meetings and chatting with friends. I crochet and loom-knit. He does woodworking. Of course, when he goes to the garage, it is the perfect time for me to grab that tv remote.

Whatever toll this social distancing has been taking on your relationship, please remember that social distancing won’t last forever. Our communication skills may be more important right now than ever. Whether it is telling your partner about your needs before you get frustrated, telling them about your future dreams, or telling them you miss their touch. Communication may be hard at times, but your relationship is worth it.

Kinky and Bored?

So all major sporting events are being cancelled. Many smaller business/vendors are closing in some areas. If you live in one of these areas, what should you do?

Many are looking for stress relief and are feeling bored isolated at home.

Many are already posting about the potential baby boom we may see, as we are secluding ourselves at home.

At the moment, kink events and munches are also being cancelled. I typically endorse sex positivity (while being safe, of course), and alternative relationship, aka consensual non-monogamy, BDSM play, etc.

Is it safe right now to engage in these activities? At a time where we are avoiding hand-shaking? Sex and any BDSM play includes close contact. Most of the time, that’s what we are craving. So if you participate it in right now, I don’t judge you, but if you are looking for some safer alternatives, I provided a list. What other alternatives can you think of?

1. Masturbate.
2. Sex or BDSM play only with primary partner(s) you live with, for the time being.
3. Journaling, write down those sexy fantasies.
4. Organize your toys.
5. Sexting.
6. Take time for negotiating scenes you want to have in the future by phone, Skype or Facetime.
7. Watch or read erotica.
8. Take up a new hobby. Put that energy into something else.
9. Interested in providing service? Learn a new skill. Create a service resume.
10. In an authority-based relationship? Create your household manual or contract.
11. Have a household manual? Review and revise it. My Sir and I will be working on ours this week.
12. New to Kink? Write out your hard and soft limits. Everyone has them.

Whatever you do, stay safe and wash your hands!

I am excited to get my wheelchair!

Today is #NationalWheelchairDay. I have recently talked with my doctor at my local Spina Bifida clinic and I asked for a wheelchair evaluation. This will be my first. I started gradually using crutches in high school, after much resistance. As an adult, I have resisted the idea of using a wheelchair for a long time. What has that resistance caused me? It caused me more knee pain, more back pain, and a very limited social life over the past few years.

At age 44, I am excited and looking forward to getting a wheelchair. I am hoping to get a power chair or scooter as I do not have the arm strength for a manual chair. I am looking forward to being able to do things again. The only thing that’s been holding me up from going to my evaluation has been insurance issues. But starting today, March 1st, I am getting new insurance, so I can schedule the appointment.

I have a list of things I want to do once I get my power chair. I am looking forward to being able to go shopping in the mall, go to museums and the zoo, and go sightseeing outside. These are outings I haven’t been able to do for years and I miss them. Ooh, and I will be able to travel again! Most of my social outings today revolve around eating out or going to the movies. I miss being active.

I am also looking forward to getting involved with events in my area like Pride and Disability Pride, and walk/roll fundraisers for the first time. I can’t wait to be active in my communities.

Some may see using a wheelchair as “giving up”, and to be honest, I used to think that way. Today, I am seeing how much I will gain from using a wheelchair. It is not only going to give me my life back, but it will give me an even better life with new experiences to look forward to.

Setting Boundaries on Social Media

I have learned I need to set boundaries on social media. This may come off as rude, but it is to keep myself safe and to keep my attention focused on my work. These are my own thoughts. I am interested in hearing other opinions and thoughts in the comments, but I will not participate in any debates.

I have never used Social Media for dating purposes. In the past, I have used dating apps specifically for that purpose. I use social media to make new friends and nowadays, I use it to network for my business.

I also work on my own business at home during the day and sometimes in the evening. This work often involves creating posts for social media; most often Facebook, but Twitter and Instagram too. So though, I am often seen online, I am also busy working.

Before I had my business, I really only added friends that I knew in real life (IRL) Since starting my business though, I have added many people I don’t know IRL, particularly, if they are either a part of the sex educator community or the disability community.

I have noticed when I add new friends, I get a lot of generic “Hi” or “How are you” private messages. I’d like to think some of them are well-meaning texts from folx just trying to be friendly. Unfortunately, there have been too many times where I have answered these texts and then it quickly becomes someone flirting and/or asking me inappropriate questions. I typically do not respond to these. I have two reasons. First, to protect myself from someone being inappropriate. Second, to protect my time and stay focused on my work.

I wish there were a way to warn folx that just because I add you as a Facebook friend doesn’t mean I want to chat with you in messenger. I don’t have the time and honestly, I don’t have the interest, when 95% of the time, it is someone trying to flirt with me. I am not looking for a hookup on social media.

Even worse, some people will continue messaging me when they don’t get a response from me. When I see this behavior, I will delete them as a friend. That is a red flag for me. If they become belligerent because they expect a response back, they will be blocked.

On the other hand, there are new folx I add that I genuinely want to connect to. I have many friends on social media that I have never met IRL. We follow each other’s lives by following each other’s posts and getting to know one another slowly over time. This is how I prefer to get to know people.

Please understand, my health and my work is my priority. I am an introvert so I have limited spoons to be online and limited spoons to socialize. I prefer socializing in person to online.

To my new friends on any social media platform, I would love to connect and get to know you over time. If you have a direct question or comment, please feel free to message me. Be aware, I am much more likely to respond to something direct than something generic. If you message me with “Hi” or “How are you”, I am sorry but you won’t hear back from me unless I know you or we have some connection.

Please understand, also, that if I do respond, it will likely not be right away. I may respond to you later in the day, or even a few days later. Give me time to finish what I am doing and get back to you at a more convenient time. If you can be respectful of that, hopefully we can be build a friendship over social media.

On Carpets and Submission

(Note: I came across this old writing today while I was writing in my journal. My Sir and I are currently living together and our relationship has evolved from D/s to M/s over the past four years. This post was written in April 2016 in the beginning of our D/s journey.)

I need to replace the carpet in my living room. I need to decide between laminate flooring and carpet. I can’t afford hard wood floors. I do some research online. I go to the store in person and I make my decision…Laminate. I go home. I can’t sleep. I worry that I can’t afford it. Thoughts running through my mind…What if something major happens with the house? What if the cats ruin the floor? What if? What if?

I wake up determined the next day to get carpet. Back to the store I go. I pick out the carpet. Back home. I still can’t sleep. I am still not satisfied and I’m filled with anxiety. Did I do the right thing? I am wishing I didn’t have to decide.

I see my Sir that night and tell him about my last two days. After a brief discussion, he tells me…” Go with the laminate.” Suddenly, there is a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I go home and I can finally get some sleep.

When I first joined the BDSM lifestyle, I honestly wasn’t looking for anything more than play and kinky sex. I learned quickly that I enjoy submitting physically. I have told my Sir that I need to take things slow when it comes to D/s outside of the bedroom. However, I am now learning the attraction of being fully submissive in every day, practical matters as well.

I like to say that I am a strong, independent woman capable of making such household decisions as whether to get carpet or laminate flooring. On the other hand, it is even better that I don’t have to. It is so nice to be able to let go and trust someone else enough to hand over the decision-making. The peace and serenity that comes over me is incredibly powerful.

It makes me realize that I don’t always have to be the strong one. Maybe letting go and handing over the decision-making to someone I love and trust is the strongest thing that I can do for myself.

It’s Not You, It’s Me.

We probably have all heard this line from someone, or we have used this line with someone else. Whether it is a relationship breakup, or it’s someone telling us they are not interested in us from the start.

It’s the kinder, more polite way to reject someone, right?

Last week, I wrote about being the person being rejected. This week, I want to focus on the even more difficult position…being the one to reject or turn down someone else’s advances. This could be turning down a dinner or coffee date, it could be turning down a sexual advance, or it could be breaking up a relationship. I have had more experience with breaking up relationships than I have with the first two so I will mostly share my thoughts on that. I want to explain my thoughts on how to turn someone down in a mature, respectful manner.

The reason we hear “It’s not you, it’s me” so often is because it is polite and not threatening. It may also be true. I have found the best way to reject someone is to authentic and honest, but still polite. Starting with “I” statements, just like you would in a conflict”. Examples could be:

“I am not looking for a relationship right now.”

“I am interested in someone else and I am focusing my attention on them.”

If it is a sexual advance, you want to be clear on whether you are giving consent, both verbally and in body language. Step back/roll back from the person if need be. Put your arm out if possible to block someone from giving a kiss. Don’t make eye contact, turn your head. All while saying No if they are coming towards you. Verbal consent is important but we must not forget to look at body language. Some people with disabilities are not able to speak so they will show consent/non-consent in another manner, mostly body language. Our words are best to use, if possible, but our body language is also very important.

When you are rejecting someone at the flirting stage, it is easier than when you are breaking up a relationship, of course. You can simply say “I am not interested”. Relationship breakups require more attention and honesty.

First, you have to be aware of your own feelings. For me, there are signs of a problem when I can’t sleep or concentrate on other things. You want to look at the reasons you are staying in the relationship versus leaving. I know I did the right thing, if I feel a sense of relief after breaking off the relationship.

Breaking up with your girlfriend via text or email is not only inconsiderate, but can be viewed as childish and immature. There may times when a face to face breakup may not be possible, such as long distance relationships, but when possible, please have the break up discussion in person.

When it comes to relationship break ups, you still want to keep the focus on yourself and your feelings.

“This isn’t working for me any longer because I feel…”

This puts the responsibility on yourself rather than on your partner. This is best of you are hoping for an amicable breakup.

Being part of the kink community in my city, it is important to me to have amicable breakups. I will continue to run into my exes, because we have the same circle of friends. This could be the same case if you have mutual friends or co-workers with your soon to be ex-partner.

So being respectful and taking responsibility for your own feelings is important.

I also recommend taking a break from seeing the person if possible. It may or may not be possible to “be friends” with an ex, but it takes some time and some boundaries need to be in place.

When I have had break-ups in the past, I also did my best, to keep the reasons for the breakup private. The reason for the breakup is between you and your partner. Talking about it, or worse yet, trying to ruin your ex partner’s reputation on social media makes you look bad, in my honest opinion. It may end up ruining your own reputation as it is another behavior that can make you look immature. When breaking off a relationship, or turning down a romantic gesture, it is best follow the golden rule and think about how you would want to be treated.

Learning to Flirt and Handling Rejection

I have always had a hard time making friends, let alone, getting involved in romantic relationships. I didn’t date at all when I was young. This may or may have not been related to my disability. I do remember having a lot of crushes, and having those crushes make fun of me or tease me when they noticed my feelings for them. I was pretty awkward and high schoolers can be cruel.

As a result , as an adult, I never really understood flirting or when people were flirting with me. I can still be pretty awkward in social situations.

I have a hard time figuring out if someone is actually “into me” or not. I often wonder if it is related to my disability as many people are so sweet to me, out of pity. I get the smiles as I cross the street. I get people being polite and being overly complimentary. I get the people who will talk to me whenever I call them…but never take the time to call or text me.

The few times where I realized someone was flirting with me, I have taken their flirty behavior to mean something much more than it actually was, and then I have ended up humiliated. I remember being in my 30s, and a man was flirting with me, and I got all excited like a teenager because someone was finally paying attention to me. So I threw myself at this guy. I got his number. I continued texting and calling him. And he had quickly moved on. Looking back, there were definitely clues that this person was just not into me. Of course, I didn’t see any of that at the time. I was in my thirties but felt like I was a teenager when it came to flirting. He was always nice to me and would chat with me whenever I texted him. He would never text me out of the blue though. He would spend time talking with me when we were at the same event. I was the one making all the effort to stay connected outside of the event though. I would invite him to go out on a date. He would give me excuses why he couldn’t or conveniently “forget” that I had asked him. Now I am sure this guy would do these things to try to spare my feelings. For the purposes of this writing, I refer to these types of behaviors as being “falsely sweet” to the disabled girl. I know it happens to abled bodied people as well, but I have to wonder if it happens to us disabled people more. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

I think people are “falsely sweet” to me as to not hurt my feelings. People really don’t want to hurt the girl who walks with crutches as they see her as pathetic and lonely. Problem is once I get to the realization that it was just an act and they are just stringing me along, it hurts more. By that time, I may have gotten to know them and I am more invested. Then it hits me that they just see me as the cute little disabled girl with the crush on them. It is more cruel than the kids in high school who teased me.

For me, a kind rejection would be much better than this sweet ambivalence or “false sweetness”. I would rather hear a firm “no” or “I’m not interested” rather than “Ok. Let me get back to you. Sounds good. Let me check my calendar…And it never happens… And I ask them again… Because I can be a bit persistent when I want something and I think there may be even the slightest possibility of a connection between us.

I may seem weak to you but, I can handle rejection. I have handled rejection in the past from friends and romantic interests. It is easier to handle if you are upfront about it. If you don’t want a friendship or a relationship with me, I understand and I can take no for an answer. If you don’t tell me though, I won’t know and I will keep trying. Unfortunately, this gives me a false sense of hope, and then I feel like a big fool once I realize you just weren’t into me from the beginning.

It not only hurts in the moment. It hurts my chances of flirting and opening up to another person in the future. The feelings of embarrassment lead me to not want to “put myself out there” anymore.

There have been many times since where I lost opportunities because I didn’t realize someone was flirting with me. I let them walk away, because I had these negative thoughts in my head “That person would never be interested in me. Why would they be? They are just being nice to the disabled girl. I must be misreading signals.”

So if someone you are not interested in (even someone with a disability) is flirting with you, please find a way to politely say “No thank you”. It is the much kinder thing to do. Be polite about it, but please make sure they understand you are not interested so they can move on.

Of course, I recognize that letting people down and saying “No” can be uncomfortable to do. What are some ways that you have said “No” to someone who was interested in you? We will talk more about that in my next blog. Be sure to subscribe to and stay tuned.

Disability Representation in Erotica

Disability Representation in Erotica is tough topic for me to write about, but I often get asked about it, so I will share my thoughts. It is difficult for me, because there is often a thin line between including people with disabilities in erotica and fetishizing disability.  Unfortunately, most of the erotica I have seen seems to be more fetishizing disability. Positive representation of people with disabilities in erotica, to me, would be focusing on a person who happens to have a disability, but is also sexy. Fetishizing disability is where the primary focus on the disability itself. This fetishizing is harmful to people with disabilities.

How can erotica include people with disabilities in a positive way? I would love to see more people with disabilities producing their own erotica, or at least having a say in how the erotica is portrayed. For example, it can be very empowering for a person with a disability to be in erotica and to be seen as sexy AND disabled. The focus needs to be the person…it is the person who is portrayed as sexy. It is Not about sexualizing the disability itself. It is not about sexualizing their mobility devices…wheelchairs, canes, etc. Sometimes even well meaning producers of erotica too often make it more about the disability and less about the person. When the title of the books or film is based around the disability, I personally think it is fetishizing. It ultimately hurts those of us with disabilities.

The goal in including people with disabilities should be to make that person feel sexy, not make them feel like they are there just because of their disability. It should empower, enrich and make that person feel good about themselves.

Fetishizing, on the other hand, can have a detrimental effect on people with disabilities. It can damage the self esteem of the actors as well as observers who also have disabilities. Fetish erotica plays into how we are different. In my opinion, as a woman with a disability, we do not need another thing focusing on our differences and making us feel separate.

Positive representation means people with disabilities are included with able bodied people. Positive representation would have the benefit of allowing others to see people with disabilities as adults with same sexual needs and desires as everyone else. It would show that we can have a disability but we can also be sexy. 

I was interviewed for this article in The Mighty last year, and the author, Renee Fabian, also includes her recommendations for positive representation in erotica. I haven’t seen them all personally, but this may be a good place to start if you are seeking to see disability portrayed positively in erotica. Links are adult only 18+ and NSFW.

Inclusive Erotica Featuring People With Disabilities You Can Read, Watch and Enjoy

What did I find in a BDSM Dungeon? Acceptance

What do you think of when you think of a BDSM dungeon? What do you think of when you think of a Master/slave relationship?

Most people think of these places and these relationships in a negative light. There must be something wrong with the people who go there. Why else would they subject themselves to that? Right?

Wrong! Let me share my experience with you.

I have Spina Bifida. I am used to people telling me that I am so cute, so inspiring..blah, blah, blah.
Before joining the lifestyle, I felt like a child. I never felt like an adult, let alone, a sexual adult.

My husband would tell me that I was beautiful and sexy. The problem was that I never felt that way about myself. I let too much of the vanilla world tell me how I was versus how I should be. (Vanilla refers to those not into kink or bdsm.) I looked too young, too short, too overweight. I was “too handicapped and too helpless”. I joined the kink community over 7 years ago with my late husband. I came in because I was bisexual and I was looking for other poly folks. However, after going to events like munches and play parties, I became more and more curious about BDSM. BDSM can be used for multiple dynamics described here; BD: Bondage and Discipline, D/s: Dominance and submission, S/m: Sado-masochism.

In my experience over the past 7 years, the kink world has not been judgemental like the vanilla world. Everyone is welcome there. Men, women, gender-fluid, white, black, short, tall, skinny, overweight. It is the most accepting group of people I have ever known.

Coming into the lifestyle, I was very shy and socially awkward. People here were different than in the vanilla world as they approached me, took an interest in getting to know me, and answered my questions regarding bdsm and kink. I made friends who gradually grew into chosen family. I learned early on that I was submissive in the bedroom. I tried switching for a while and found that wasn’t for me.

In the lifestyle, I am no longer odd. I am not judged for being there. I found a place where I fit in. I found a place I can be free to let my hair down, take my clothes off and just be me. I can trust and I can be vulnerable. I can feel pain yet I know I am safe. I can scream and let go of all the pain I’ve been holding in. Pain is pleasure and pain is freeing

I never saw myself as a 24/7 slave. Then I became a submissive to a Dominant I knew and trusted.  He saw the potential in me. He noticed that I had slave-like tendencies before I ever did. We slowly developed into a 24/7 Master/slave couple over the past four years. We don’t personally use the terms Master/slave. We prefer the terms Sir and girl, but we have a total power exchange Master/slave relationship nonetheless.

Who knew this shy little girl would one day be exhibitionist, a masochist, a slave? The girl who has trouble making small talk and making friends, can suddenly be naked in front of a room full of people. I can be flogged or I can be lit on fire. I find myself. I can accept myself. I feel sexy for the first time in my life.  I learned that is exactly who I am and where I want to be.

We have learned about these power exchange relationships through our kink, leather communities, local MAsT chapters and M/s conferences. As an M/s couple, we take the time to learn, negotiate and discuss our relationship much more than I ever have in a vanilla relationship. Today, we also help teach newer community members.

I have a physical disability so our M/s dynamic looks a little different than others. We have our own rituals and protocols. I am not able to kneel, but I can sit next to him and unlace his boots when he comes home at the end of the day. I still provide daily service and He is head of our household.

Sir and I have given presentations on Disability, Kink and Power Exchange in our local community and we are open to future conversations on disability and other topics related to M/s.

I have held off about talking about kink and power exchange publicly, mostly out of fear of judgement. Interestingly, I have met many other people with disabilities in the kink lifestyle. I have also met people at my vanilla presentations who had questions about kink, so I know I am not the only person with a disability interested in it.

Today I am living my truth and have decided to add my lived experience of kink and power exchange experience to my DISIRability presentations and blogs. I have learned a lot in the last few years and I am sharing my experiences openly in an effort to help others who may be considering a similar path.