In our series on disability and sex, expert and resident agony aunt Tuppy – who runs Outsiders, a private club for disabled people looking for a relationship – answers your questions. This week, finding a partner and being sexual again after becoming blind…
Dear Aunty Tuppy,
I was a happily married man until I lost my sight. But, instead of trying to get on with life as a blind person, I became incredibly sorry for myself. In the end, my wife got fed up with my wining and insisting she did everything for me, and so our marriage broke down as a result.
Now I live on my own and, although I have voice recognition on my phone and computer, a guide dog and talking books, I have no friends and no hope of finding a new partner. I try to enjoy pleasuring myself, but I was a very visual lover, who got off on seeing my wife’s beautiful body naked, and these memories are fading.
I fear nobody would be interested in me because I am so terribly depressed and feel helpless. If only I had a friend to cheer me up, perhaps introduce me to some new women and give me some encouragement, that would help.
So I am resorting to asking you, Tuppy – what would you recommend?
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Firstly, I would recommend contacting the RNIB for help – you need to start feeling better about yourself before you start trying to find another partner. RNIB has a department of counsellers sitting by the phone ready to support people just like you, who have been through a painful divorce. They can also offer great emotional support if you feel alone.
May I ask whether you ever try to go out, maybe to the local pub or shopping? Do you use public transport? Getting out and about will help you to stop feeling so isolated, and hopefully help you to make new friends. People are often very willing to help if they see a blind person that needs some assistance.
Also, I don’t know whether you work, but if you can, this would be another great way to boost your confidence and meet people. It might be worth visiting the RNIB website for advice on employment if you’re blind.
I’d also suggest joining members club Outsiders as a way to meet people. It’s a safe and supportive place where people with all sorts of disabilities can meet, share similar experiences, and maybe even fall in love.
Make sure you don’t just focus on speaking to people who are similarly depressed – you need to also speak to those who have come through a time like that. We had a guy one, like you, who told me that he had been a member for two years and at that time had only ever spoken on the phone to other very depressed women. That seemed to be what he needed at the time. But once he met a blind member, who was in a much better place, they formed a happy relationship – it pulled him out of his downheartedness.
Once you get to the stage of meeting a woman for the first time, be honest with them about what you need to feel secure. It is OK to ask if you can hold their hand while you sit together, to comfort you to know she is there. You will be able to tell by the way she holds your hand as to how interested she is in you. It’s great way to judge it when you can no longer rely on eye contact.
When you are making love, it is even more important to speak to each other and to show your appreciation, or otherwise if something annoys you or you’re not comfortable with. Many people are too inhibited but, if you keep on encouraging each other, you will reap the benefits. If you still miss the visual stimulation, you could also ask your lover to turn you on verbally if you encourage her.
With regards to pleasuring yourself before a time comes when you can meet someone, I can completely understand that you’re struggling to enjoy your body now your sense of sight has gone, when that’s what you relied on before. Think about your other senses – hearing and touch. You could try erotic CDs to turn yourself on, or a variety of textured sex toys.
If you’re not feeling confident, but want to satisfy your sexual urges with another person before you meet someone, one option is to use a sex worker. Tell them what you need, to describe their bodies to you as you touch them. Ask them to give you lots of hugs and cuddles as well, allowing you to cry on their shoulders. That’s what sex workers on the TLC website are there to do – give you a good romp while feeling safe in their hands.
By Tuppy Owens