I strive to run Coffee & Kink as an intersectional space that considers all the different ways sexuality relates to the various other facets of our unique identities. That’s why I’m delighted to be publishing this piece on chronic illnesses and dating by Layla Jax (she/her). Disabled people are so often desexualised by society but, as Layla says, sexuality is for everyone who wants to engage with it.
As always, you can help support me in bringing in more brilliant guest bloggers by chipping in via the tip jar. More voices really do make this space better, and paying all my writers a small fee is incredibly important to me.
Why Talking to Strangers Online Makes Me Feel Better About My Chronic Illnesses by Layla Jax
Chronic illnesses have been part of my life for the last eight years – longer, even. They have consumed every aspect of my being from my ability to work, to my social life and interactions with the world. More than that though, they have affected my dating and sex life.
Living with chronic illness, you are constantly subjected to people who don’t quite “get” you. You may look healthy or “normal”, and therefore they assume your illnesses cannot be as bad as you’re making out. People struggle to sympathise with a body full of symptoms and no end in sight. Meeting a person in a dating capacity is no different because, unconsciously or not, people judge and feel uncomfortable at the prospect of dating a person who is not fighting fit.
Moving to online dating, I thought I had found the answer. I could talk to people without them noticing any of my symptoms or see the worn out version of me behind a screen. Yet quite quickly this started to fall short, too, because eventually it had to come out. People wanted to know why I didn’t work or why I was still living at home and therefore my chronically ill self was revealed, and a lot of the time they would disappear without a second glance. For those who did stick around, the change in the tone of conversation would start, and the patronising would begin.
Time and time again the devastation of being rejected would hit me and I was sick of being stuck back at square one. But more than that, the disappearance of the excitement I felt at being desired cut deeper than the idea of someone not wanting to take me out for dinner. It was then that it hit me: it wasn’t just that I wanted to date. I wanted someone to rip my clothes off, to throw me across the bed; I wanted to have sex.
Swinging websites were first introduced to me through my kink-loving ex. Although at the time I wasn’t too interested, it has always stayed in my mind. Signing up to the website for the first time on my own, simple messaging was all that was on my agenda. I was nervous at first, embarrassed even, weighed down with the previous setbacks I had faced of people ghosting me and finding me unappealing due to the reality of my life. Even so, I was horny and I wanted to get the buzz I used to get before becoming ill, that feeling of being wanted. So, I created a basic profile, added a pretty PG snap, and watched the likes and messages flood in.
Message after message, with no judgement, filled my screen and suddenly I had all these people wanting to talk to me. People who knew nothing of my life and the limitations I had, who didn’t know me or my chronic illness journey, who weren’t interested about my lack of job or my living arrangements. They didn’t speak to me like a patient who didn’t know my own mind or a child who was still finding their way in the world. They spoke to me like the 30-something grown-ass woman I was, the one that had been hidden for so long.
A 30-something grown-ass woman who has sexual fantasies and desires, who loves masturbation and being dominated as well as partaking in serious filthy talk, yet has never had the freedom to explore these things due to the bias found in the normal dating world. Suddenly I could talk about my body and what it needed, I could take part in – albeit virtual – simultaneous wanking and I could sext long into the wee hours of the morning. For once, I could feel like the sexual woman that I am, and not the woman I am perceived to be.
Talking to strangers about sex online has helped me for so many reasons. It has installed confidence in me to know that there are people out in the world who can see past all the other bullshit known as life. On a sexual level, it has helped me find what my kink is through getting to know my own body and what turns me on, and I can now use my body as a vessel for pleasure and not just anguish. Online I can be anyone I want to be. I can be the me who can escape and leave my troubles behind or the me I strive to be away from the pain and the fatigue – the real me. It has shown me there are so many reasons to love the skin I am in and the body I call home. It has awoken something in me no judgemental guy looking for their perfect person on a traditional dating site could ever do.
Collectively, we should all understand that being chronically ill and/or disabled doesn’t take away our sexual instincts or desires. Sexuality isn’t just reserved for the healthy or abled-bodied. Take away the physical limitations and my time online is no different to anybody else getting their horny kicks. My mind works in the same way as a lot of people my age, as does the wetness between my legs. Where sex is involved we are all on an equal playing field, and I for one have no intention of forgetting that ever again.
About the author:
Layla Jax is a chronic illness blogger and writer. Her passion is for writing erotica, exploring her new found fantasies, and educating people that disabled people can love sex too.