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May 16, 2024

My quest for love and inclusion in dating

Written by guest blogger, Jerusha Mather. Jerusha is a phD student in cerebral palsy research, an advocate for CPActive, medical students with disabilities, inclusive immigration, and accessible packaging and fashion. She’s also been recognised by the Australian Academy of Sciences as one of the STEM change makers. 

The quest for love and world of dating are rarely easy, they often involve stepping out of your comfort zone and navigating a landscape of emotions. For people with disabilities, finding love is more challenging due to systemic barriers, stereotypes, and a lack of representation within media and culture.  

Despite the movement towards greater diversity and representation in recent years, mainstream dating shows continue to fall short. People with disabilities, who make up a generous portion of the population, are under-represented. This lack of visibility reinforces the idea that disability is incompatible with romance and desirability.  

As someone living with a physical disability, people look at me and my differences and start to make a judgement of who I am. By aspiring to become the next Bachelorette (mainstream dating show), I aim to dismantle stereotypes, redefine beauty standards, and empower individuals with disabilities to pursue love and happiness on their own terms. I have never seen anyone with cerebral palsy on that show so I thought I would step up and advocate for greater representation and inclusion by applying to go on the show. I’ve had a conversation with The Bachelorette and am also looking for opportunities to get involved with different platforms and shows in the realm of dating. 

My dating experience is pretty limited and I’ve never been asked out on one. I tried a dating app once very briefly when I was younger and I found it overwhelming, so I deleted my account. I’ve heard good things about Hinge but I’m hoping to find love naturally; the old-fashioned way, with a face to face encounter.   

I’ve had crushes on guys but they didn’t reciprocate my interest which was heart breaking. This has made me reluctant to trust people and find love again. It’s been lonely and sometimes I feel very vulnerable, but I am turning 29 and am feeling marriage pressure, coming from a South Asian background. So, I’m determined to find love and to advocate for inclusion for people with disabilities. Hopefully, you will see me as the next Bachelorette or on a similar dating show! Wish me luck…