Gaining Sexual Confidence by Sexting
How Sexting Helped Me Embrace My Disabled Body
“Shit, those people are looking at us.” I ducked, trying to hide my face in his chest.
“Let them,” he replied. “Everyone should know what a little slut you are.”
My breath hitched as fingers got busy on my body, the onlookers forgotten. But I wasn’t in some busy club, surreptitiously being fingered to orgasm. I was at home, sprawled out on my bed, my iPhone besides me.
“That was great,” I typed, still shuddering.
On the screen, in an open text window, a smiley appeared. “Which part was your favorite?”
Google “sexting statistics” and?—?once you scroll past multiple warnings about the dangers of teenage sexting?—?you find that over 50% of adults participate. Some sext their partner in a bid to spice up their love life, others sext strangers to escape marital monotony. Still others explore forbidden fantasies, finding it easier to admit them to virtual supporters than to seek real life ones. There are dire security-related predictions and murky moral issues around sexting, but I love it.
At 15, when my friends were learning how to flirt and experiencing their first loves, I decided relationships weren’t for me. I use a wheelchair, need help for personal care and nearly always have a carer fluttering around me. Which guy wants to deal with that? Better, I concluded firmly, to I focus on what’s important and get into a good university. Secretly, I’d daydream about finding a man at uni, convinced that they would be more mature than pimply high school boys.
But not much changed at university. Making friends was easy, but the prospect of romance remained foreign. I was painfully aware of my own awkwardness as I manoeuvred my chair into small British classrooms and needed help cutting up my pizza in the canteen surrounded by classmates. Who’d want to date that? I’d wonder. How would we even manage sex?
In the idle days between graduation and landing an internship, I decided to do something about the single gap in my experiences of being a young adult. Typical of my generation, I turned to the Internet. If I couldn’t have sex physically, I was going to explore it mentally. I joined forums and followed blogs. I blogged myself. I read erotica and figured out what was appealing to me. I learned how to talk about sex in titillating ways. I made friends with whom I could share my thoughts, and I learned how to sext and emulate the things I wanted to try.
After months of this, I worked up the courage to type to a regular sexting partner: “So I have to tell you something. I’m physically disabled.” I held my breath.
But, to my utter shock, my scared message didn’t incite a huge negative response. The guy I’d messaged didn’t block me. Instead, he seemed curious and wanted to learn more.
That must be one nice guy; just a fluke. I should try again. And I did, over and over, apologetically revealing my little secret, so irrelevant online, so all-important to me personally. Some men lost interest and drifted off, but most were intelligent and imaginative enough to take my disability in their stride.
“But you can feel everything, right?” they asked
Or, “Would _____ hurt?”
And increasingly often, they said, “Could you manage longer if we were in an armchair and not in bed?”
Could I? I thought about it for a few minutes. It didn’t matter that we weren’t going to enact this position now. I was thinking of my body in a way I hadn’t before. If he supported me just so, maybe I could sit up longer. Hey! Look at that!
With time, a couple of these men have become friends, and over the last year?—?with their help?—?I’ve gained confidence in my body. In the beginning, most of my fantasies featured an able-bodied me; now they are all about the real me.
“You’d make bondage games really easy and fun, you know?” is the response I get most often. And I’m okay with that. They see potential in my body where I couldn’t.
After a particularly energetic textual performance, a regular sexting partner asked me about cuddling. “If I pull you onto my lap with my arms around your waist, your left arm could go around me, yes? What about your right?”
I screwed my eyes shut and imagined what he was describing. My right arm is weaker, so… “Could you lift it up to your shoulder? If we place it properly, it could easily go around your neck.”
“Ah. You can snuggle in closer then.”
There it was, an intimacy I never thought I’d actually get.
I know this isn’t real. Sex won’t actually be as easy when we’re trying to keep it sexy and simultaneously and not topple off the bed. The acceptance and interest of virtual acquaintances an ocean away doesn’t mean there’s a happily ever after for me around the corner. But my experiences of sex on the Internet have given me the confidence to stick my neck out in the real world and give it a shot. I know that, with someone patient, we can experiment and make it work.