3 Reasons why Dating Apps should include Disabled People

Dating is a deeply personal task. If you are looking for someone to date, you might have hundreds of ideas about what ideal qualities that person should have. You might want to date someone who looks like you, or shares the same interests. You might think that if you are a nondisabled person you dont want to date someone with a disability. There are lots of reasons why you might have that kind of preference, and choose a dating app that is segregated and therefore caters to your preference. But, there are also benefits to inclusive dating apps that integrate lots of different kinds of people together in the same space. Lets explore three reasons why including disabled and nondisabled groups together on dating apps is beneficial.

A man in white pushes a woman in a wheelchair down a beach at sunset. They are laughing

[Image from Pexels.com]

  1. Nondisabled people often do not understand disability

There is a lot of misunderstanding out there about what disability is, and what is bad about disability. By and large, disabled people engage in the same kinds of activities as nondisabled people. They go to work, have friends, have hobbies, and more. Disabled people generally rank their quality of life the same as nondisabled people, and if they are disappointed, its usually for the same reasons as nondisabled people: they are having family troubles, or experienced a breakup, or are struggling at work. When spaces and activities are accessible, disabled people can participate just as nondisabled people do. A lot of what we might consider bad about disability comes from ableist attitudes and a lack of accessibility in social settings and physical spaces. So, if you have a preference to date only nondisabled people, that preference might be rooted in a misunderstanding!

  1. The disabled community is bigger than you think

It is hard to measure exactly how many people are disabled, in part because it is hard to define exactly what counts as a disability (and not everyone with a disability might identify as disabled), but most estimates indicate that anywhere between 1526% of people have disabilities depending on where you live. At the high end, thats more than a quarter of everyone! Regardless of where the actual number lies, disabled people are considered to be the largest marginalized group outside of women. Disability can also fluctuate over time, as many people experience short-term disabilities, and rates of disability are much higher as people get older. So, if youre looking on a dating site for a lifelong partner, chances are that at some point you will have a disabled partner. If its going to happen anyways, why exclude people on that ground?

  1. Dating outside your experience can make you smarter and more empathetic

At least one of the reasons that people date is to open themselves to new experiences and learn from another person. People that are marginalized in general have more social awareness than people who are not. By dating a person who has a different social position than you, and who might experience discrimination as a result of that social position, you can learn from them. Aside from that, theres a lot of specialized knowledge that comes from navigating the world in a way that is different from the norm. Many disabled people might have accessibility strategies or use assistive technologies in ways that will open up your view about how people can navigate the world. By opening yourself up to new communities who might have different ways of connecting and supporting each other, you can increase your ability to connect with and support others too.

Obviously, dating a disabled person is not a novelty, and dating someone can never be solely just about how you benefit from it. Dont fetishize disability, and remember that disabled people are more than their disabilities, just like you are more than your race or gender or income level. There has to be give and take. But, these are just a few potential benefits of joining an inclusive dating app and opening yourself up to people that might go beyond your conception of what an ideal date looks like. 

Here at Mate Machine, we are committed to helping you find your perfect mate.

MateMachine is a Vancouver-based Technology start-up that has invented a unique secret crush search engine that can be used for connecting with the ones that we already know and have hidden feelings for. This happens through a unique and innovative search engine and is usable by anyone.

This work was supported by Mitacs through the Mitacs Business Strategy Internship.

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