Choosing how to present oneself to potential romantic and/or sexual partners can be challenging while using dating apps or websites. Teresa Milbrodt, a disability expert and fiction author, studied how disabled persons, commonly referred to as people with disabilities (PWD), represent their impairment in dating profiles.
When asked why handicapped persons may have trouble finding non-disabled partners, Milbrodt said, “Negative cultural connections with disability mean that identifying as disabled can produce an imperative to “account” for one’s body.”
There are dating websites where disabled persons can meet one another, similar to JDate for Jews. Dating4Disabled is one of these websites. Milbrodt discovered that people were open about their disabilities on the website.
According to Milbrodt, “Posters say they have discovered ways to live with handicap and participate in things they enjoy, making ability level one small element of identity.”
Disabled persons may have significantly diverse experiences on popular dating applications and platforms. According to Milbrodt, a common issue among profiles on Match.com is how dating can be challenging for people with disabilities. Users who are disabled may, or may not, disclose their disability on their profile.
According to Milbrodt, one wheelchair user named DrB views his usage of a mobility aid as a potential social impediment. DrB does not have wheelchair-related images on his profile, but he does mention using one in the text. His perspective that he doesn’t see why people are disturbed by his wheelchair suggests that he does not view his wheelchair use as a dating obstacle, according to Milbrodt.
Milbrodt noticed that many disabled Match.com users did not have this information up top, in contrast to Dating4Disabled, where someone’s disability status is obvious just by being on the site.
Before declaring their impairment, a number of PWD on Match.com highlighted different facets of their personalities, according to Milbrodt.
It is obviously up to the individual with a handicap to decide whether or not it is important to include their impairment at the start of their bio, on dating profiles, or somewhere else.
Milbrodt discovered that people posted images of their disabilities on both platforms, some of which may be obvious and some of which may not. For instance, those who have chronic conditions may include images of themselves from before they were diagnosed in their dating profiles.
Prosthetic equipment like wheelchairs or white canes may cause profile readers to draw conclusions about a person’s level of ability because photographs cannot accurately depict how someone moves through the environment. The desire of some handicapped persons to appear non-disabled alludes to a larger problem of how ableism impacts disabled people in our culture.