I first met my paraplegic lover Chris online a year ago. There was an instant “click” as we are both from Midwest USA, the same age, liked the same music, and made each other laugh. It was wonderful to laugh with someone again. Each day we learned more about each other and the relationship grew. Even though we had never met in person we were like two peas in a pod.
Two months later we made the decision to meet and he flew to Ohio. This was the first time he had ever been on a plane. His only previous experience with flight had been a helicopter to the hospital after his car accident in 2002, which resulted in L4-5 paraplegia and a below knee amputation on the right. Obviously we had discussed “the chair” but it was rather irrelevant to our relationship at the beginning- just the way he gets around.
I have to admit I was a tad apprehensive while waiting for the plane to land about silly things, like getting his chair in my car (as I have a VW beetle), how much could he feel, how would I approach intimacy etc. We had talked about being intimate as we believe open and honest communication is key to a relationship, but talking and doing are two totally different things. I ran across the airport, threw myself onto his lap (much to his surprise and the surprise of people waiting for luggage) and all was right with the world. I knew immediately he was the man for me and this relationship could work.
As I always say, and mentioned above, the most important advice I can give, is communicate, communicate, and communicate some more. He talked me through getting his chair in my car and our week began. We went out to eat but ended up spending most of our time in each others arms just getting to know each other and each others bodies.
Even though he has no feeling below T12, we found out that there are so many different ways to please another person, and satisfy each other, other than “traditional” sex. I was in heaven with my paraplegic lover. The neighbors banged on our wall which really made me laugh. Mapping his body, finding those sensitive spots was such a turn on for both of us. We talked about his accident, our pasts, our future and made a plan to see each other again. All too soon that first visit was over.
Two months later he flew back again. We were talking 16 hours a day by phone, e-mailing, etc yet we really wanted to be physically in the same location to see if the magic still happened. I went for rides on his lap at parks, we saw movies, and did what every other couple does- we just got more looks from people and some even made snide remarks, such as “can you believe she is sitting on his lap kissing in public?” It just made us laugh harder, as if people expected us to hide away just because he was in a wheelchair.
For those who are leery of dating a paraplegic or anyone in a wheelchair – don’t be. He has expanded my horizons so much just be being himself. Intimacy is different than for an able bodied couple, but let me tell you that upper body strength is awesome and we’ve learned to please each other to a degree that would make able bodied people jealous. His mouth, his hands, the way he looks at me are so intense and when we stare into each others eyes its as if I feel him touch me. Even though my paraplegic lover Chris can’t feel me – in a traditional sense – he has many areas of sensation that other men don’t have.
In my opinion, what some men don’t “get” is that the brain is the largest sex organ in your body. So you can learn to “feel” in a different way and achieve orgasm in a more mental way… like your brain is exploding with pleasure. It’s so intense for both of us that I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And oh my there should be books about the hows and joys of wheelchair sex.
As for eating out and things like that, we just make sure where we are going is accessible, and add a little more time for transfers. If you are considering dating someone in a chair just relax and have fun with each other. Communicate, talk things through, and never let someone tell you it can’t be done. Throw the books out the window, ignore any odd looks you get (or if you are like me just smile and wave as you ride on your guys lap) and since every SCI is different don’t be afraid to experiment!
Don’t let odd questions from people get you down just smile and answer in whatever way you feel comfortable. Because, people tend to ask intrusive things. Children are curious, not afraid to say anything, and generally will find you to be the coolest ones around. We overheard a boy in the grocery say, “Mom, I want a THAT for Christmas” THAT being a wheelchair with lighted castors.
People have also been very helpful to us. We have a large military base in my town and a large VA, so more than once people have come out of nowhere to see if he needs hep transferring or if I need help with the chair. Our usual answer is, “we’ve got this, but thank you” and once a woman approached Chris, said “this isn’t your first rodeo, is it?” and then danced off with him at an outdoor concert, while I took pictures. Most people do mean well.
After further meetings here and in his home state, he has moved in with me as of August and we are blissfully happy. I’m not saying we never have things to overcome, but that’s true of any honest relationship. What we do have is so much laughter, so much fun, and so much appreciation for the little things in life. Most of all… we laugh :) Remember, scars have stories of strength and the will to survive to don’t be put off by silly things.
If anyone has any questions, I’m always willing to answer and will continue to keep you updated. We are officially engaged, so more to follow on that another time and also more to follow about traveling by plane with your chair and the things to know beforehand that we have learned the hard way :)
Good luck to all of you- don’t be afraid to try. Together you can overcome anything.