It's hugely frustrating when you're watching porn and the guy comes on and gets into about 20 different positions; you just have to accept that that's not something you can even attempt.  It doesn't mean that there's not plenty that you can do though.

I had a girlfriend when I was injured.  We stayed together at first, but we were both trying to cope with what we'd lost and I wasn't dealing with things very well.  I wasn't the same guy I was before the accident, and I think I just expected her to stick with me regardless; eventually the relationship broke down.

there's plenty that you can do

I didn't have huge confidence, and being single didn't help.  But I started hanging around with my sister and her friends.  I was still coming to terms with the injury, but they were cool with it.  The first girl I got together with after that didn't have a clue about spinal injury, and I wasn't sure how to explain just what it all meant, but it was good to be dating again.  After that, I had a small succession of girls; it sounds bad now saying that, but it was what I needed.  There was nothing serious, they were just short term things, but each one was a confidence boost.  And I realised that owning up to using a catheter wasn't going to make girls back off.

James, in his wheelchair, having tea outside with his girlfriendThere have been a few ups and downs relationship wise since then, but I've been with Kelly for a year and a half and things are great.  She's never had any issues with some of the grottier sides of my injury and we're comfortable enough together to make things work for us.  

I've been asked on a first date before if 'it all works downstairs?'  Kelly wasn't so brash, but she's told me since that she'd already run the possible issues through her head.  You would, wouldn't you?  It's been a concern for me too.  But as she says, she's not with me for what I do in bed.  Once you are relaxed with someone, the sex is so much better anyway - it's more of a laugh and you're happy to try things.  If you are into it, there's all sorts of stuff out there that can help, and peeking into the sex shops in Amsterdam recently was a real eye-opener!  I miss the spontaneity; things have to be planned, but the other side is that we're open and talk about what we do and don't want and we've learnt together.

Relationships are hard whoever you are.  I might have to throw spinal injury into the mix, but if a girl can't deal with the situation then she's not the right one in the first place.

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