Changing the Dating Experience for Disabled People
As a young girl, I dreamed about the day I would get married. I imagined finding my partner in college and beginning a happy life together, but when I graduated without a partner, I hit the dating apps. I knew the apps were becoming increasingly popular and real people were finding love on them, so I said, “Hey, why not? Let’s give it a shot.” I put my hobbies and basic information on my profile and uploaded my favorite photos. The matches started rolling in, but then the course suddenly changed. What happened you may ask? I told my matches I was disabled.
Rejection after rejection led me to feel shame and unworthy of love. I felt betrayed by society that no one would give me a chance after learning about my health history. I hated the feeling of having to defend myself and prove to the world that I am in fact worthy of receiving and giving love. It took a lot of work, but I was able to get to the point where I wholeheartedly believed that the rejection I was facing was not my fault and it said more about my potential partners than it did about me.
As a disabled woman, I struggled finding romantic partners that understood and had empathy for my health conditions. I often searched the internet for legitimate dating sites that targeted disabled and chronically ill communities, but those searches were always unsuccessful. I knew I could not be alone in this experience–disability is often neglected from the inclusivity conversation, but over one billion people worldwide, and one in four people in the U.S., have some form of disability. For a population so significant, this community has been widely underserved. The dating app market is a $7 billion industry and the lack of a dating app for disabled communities is shocking. Disabled people deserve a mainstream dating app that makes everyone feel safe and included, so my sister, Alexa, and I decided to take matters into our own hands.
We created Dateability to fill this huge gap. Everyone deserves love and too many people are written off due to chronic illness or disability. At Dateability, we want to change society’s perception of disabilities and change the disabled dating experience. Disabled people are not broken or unattractive and we want love. We are capable of giving and receiving love and we deserve a safe space to do so and I’m extremely fortunate to be able to provide that space.
Jacqueline is the co-founder of Dateability. She lives with multiple chronic illnesses and is dedicated to changing the experience of disabled people.