‘The Best Sex I’ve Ever Had Was with a Quadriplegic’
How physical limitations led to greater intimacy
‘ Ifirst met Anton Engelbrecht when I went for a job interview about three years ago. He was my interviewer. He was actually one of two interviewers, but if you were in the room that day, you’d never have thought there was someone else there with us. Anton and I only had eyes for each other. He was so captivating when he spoke; there was something in his eyes that demanded your attention.
‘I got the job, although we didn’t pursue anything while we were working in the same office. But even then, our attraction was obvious.
‘Although Anton was wheelchair-bound when we met, he hadn’t always been a quadriplegic: he was in a rugby accident when he was 22 and in his fourth year of medicine at varsity. A scrum collapsed, injuring his spinal cord; from that moment on, he was never able to walk again. It took him six weeks in hospital and almost five years of readjusting to his new life – learning to cope and to be independent – to fully recover.
‘I never saw Anton as a man in a wheelchair because he made it impossible to view him like that. He never appeared anything other than independent, and he refused to let his physical challenges restrict him, working in a senior position, and flying between Pretoria and Cape Town for work. While Anton can’t walk and has restricted movement, he does have some mobility in his hands and arms – although this is limited.
‘I eventually moved on to another job; that was when we started dating. Because Anton was quite traditional, we only slept together after eight months of seeing each other. In the lead-up, we did all sorts of other things, including oral sex, but never penetrative sex.
‘As we got closer in those months of dating, we talked more and more openly about having sex for the fi rst time. Anton was very upfront about what he could and couldn’t do – like not being able to do the missionary position, with him on top, for example. While I was sad not to be able to experiment with him as much as I’d have loved to, I knew from our intimacy and oral sex that he was able to get an erection and experience an orgasm. We played games to explore and experiment with each other in a way that helped me understand his physical limitations – I’d touch him somewhere, and see whether he could feel it. As I moved my fi ngers around his body, I realised that despite being paraplegic, his skin could feel my touch almost everywhere. He could feel my breath against his neck; he could feel my touch on his legs; he could sense the weight of me when I leaned against him.
‘When it came to having sex for the fi rst time, I really wasn’t nervous. With so much communication and honesty leading up to it, I felt more comfortable than I ever had before having sex for the fi rst time with a partner.
‘We went away for the weekend to a place by the sea – somewhere Anton had been before, where he knew his wheelchair could manoeuvre around, where he could get himself into the shower and lift himself with his arms onto the bed. That helped to make him feel more at ease, too.
‘We’d spent the day watching rugby, then went to a restaurant for a winefi lled dinner. Over dinner we talked about sleeping together that night, and Anton took a pill of Cialis to help him with his erection – mostly to maintain it for the duration of penetrative sex. The pill takes about 30 minutes to work, so we had to plan around that. That was something very different for me: with someone who isn’t able-bodied, you have to get used to inviting other aspects into your relationship, like planning around a pill. We had to think – and talk – about things a lot more than with an able-bodied partner; spontaneity wasn’t really an option. Sure, that detracted from the mood a little, but it also invited open conversation that made me feel incredibly secure and comfortable. It really felt like we were in this together.
‘After dinner we’d had a ball with me pushing him back to our hotel, laughing and joking as I raced him along the pavement. When we got back to our room, we headed straight to the bedroom. I helped Anton onto the bed and we started kissing. I slowly undressed Anton, and then undressed myself. He helped me peel off my top and underwear. It was empowering to be guiding the pace at which we moved – I had to be, for practical reasons, but it was also amazing to be in control, something I had rarely felt when being with someone for the first time. While some might think the lack of ripping off of each other’s clothes takes away from the passion, Anton’s total respect and kindness in those moments were foreplay enough for me!
‘Because his physical disability meant foreplay included a lot of talking, it also opened the door for Anton to ask me what I liked and what I wanted him to do to me. It was liberating to have a man ask that so honestly – and to really listen.
‘Slowly we built up to the sex, with me moving to be on top of him – the only position we could really do together, given his limited mobility. Since his body was restricted in what he could and couldn’t do, the focus was on my body: my movements, my speed. I was in charge. Throughout it all we kept asking each other if we were okay, if we were enjoying it – it was the most safe, intimate, caring sexual experience I’d ever had. It was also the first time I orgasmed from penetrative sex because I could dictate exactly what we did and for how long. Everything was geared towards me – I was the centre of attention.
‘We’ve been together ever since, and although Anton’s disability restricts us from trying out things like crazy sex positions, it’s allowed us to develop a deep, open bond. And I’ve learnt to be in control when it comes to sex, and to talk honestly about what I want. Above all, being with Anton has shown me that sex is more than an orgasm, and that intimacy is more than physicality.’