Warming up to Intimacy as an Interabled Couple| Guest Blogger Cole & Charisma

Posted by Reeve Staff in Life After Paralysis on July 19, 2019 # Caregiving

Intimacy is an integral part of any relationship. For us, Cole and Charisma, it was quite the adventure exploring what form intimacy would take within our relationship. We were surprised to find that for us it was much more than what one may think, taking a shape that we’ve enjoyed sharing with each other for over a year and a half. Here we’ll share our journey toward intimacy.

Our relationship started out so strong. From the very first date we clicked, we were comfortable, and we knew we were attracted to each other not just mentally, but physically as well. We were both nervous, however, as for both of us, interabled relationships were very new. Neither of us knew exactly how to navigate intimacy, even though it was something we both wanted to explore. We found ourselves on dates enjoying each other’s company, on the couch snuggling, holding hands during a movie at the theater, and all of that was amazing. But naturally, it was a matter of time before one of us made a move.

The first time we kissed was amazing; something that neither of us will ever forget. It was so easy forgetting about everything, lost in the moment. And as is the natural course of any relationship, an innocent kiss became more; we couldn’t get enough of each other. Before long we entered into a space of intimacy that publicly we’ve chosen not to share the details of, although we’re more than happy to share what made intimacy work for us. There are three things we would recommend to anyone entering an interabled relationship for the first time, whether you are the disabled or able partner:

First, RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! We cannot stress this enough. You are not expected to know what to do from the onset, and resources exist out there for you to arm yourself as you work towards intimacy with someone. Neither of us had a clue what we were doing, which led to some scary moments, driving home the point to us that we shouldn’t jump into anything in ignorance. Research also helps answer questions you may have about extensions of intimacy, like the potential of pregnancy. Again, very important information to have.

Secondly, communicate with each other! This point is admittedly a bit more cliché as it pertains to all relationship advice, but still, we’ve found it to be extremely important in our intimate lives to be forthcoming with each other. Nobody is a mind reader; you must talk to your partner about what you like or don’t like, what you’d be willing to try or what is too much, and even if you feel things are moving too quickly or slowly. Being on the same page with the person you care for is critical to doing intimacy the right way.

Lastly, extending from the second point, be open with each other and be open to trying new things. No matter how much research you did (or didn’t) do, it’s almost a guarantee that things are not going to go smoothly from the start… Prepare yourself for some trial and error. Openness is crucial throughout this process as things go wrong, other things go right, and potentially what has been working becomes old news and you’re ready for something new.

We are very lucky to both be people who love to research, can communicate well (most of the time), and are generally quite open about things. From our perspective, we believe it takes both partners having these traits to have a successful intimate relationship. It’s important for us to note, however, that we’ve found the most “intimate” moments with each other to not be constrained to physical intimacy. When we take a walk by the river on a sunny summer day, or when we whisper to each other in bed until neither of us can keep our eyelids open anymore, those are the moments we find the most special. And the amazing part of that is no matter who you are or what your circumstances or condition might be, you can share that intimacy with someone. With the right mindset and the right person, it’s yours.

-Cole & Charisma

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.