Thursday 21 September 2017

'I want to shed light on disability with First Dates,' says Snapchat star Paddy Smyth

Paddy Smyth on First Dates
Paddy Smyth on First Dates

Sean O'Grady

A man with Cerebral Palsy is hoping his appearance on First Dates Ireland will change perceptions of disabled people.

Paddy Smyth (28) from Sutton said his condition has hindered his dating prospects in the past.

"Because of my own insecurity of having a disability and society's perception of finding people who have a disability attractive, I wanted to shed a light on it and what better show to go on than First Dates," he said.

Paddy has been faced with rejection on online dating apps like Tinder when men he was speaking to cut off contact after he told them he had Cerebral Palsy.

"I've never had a proper relationship," Paddy said. "I find it really hard to open up with guys. They feel like I should always be positive or OK with having a disability and I feel like I can't be vulnerable around them.

"I've been stood up on dates. On Tinder, I've told people I'm disabled and they've told me they don't want to meet me anymore."

Paddy has a large following on his Snapchat account and has found a few dates through the app.

He hopes his appearance on the series will make people see it's possible to still have a fulfilling life despite having a disability.

"I want to shed a light on 'it's OK to be disabled and have fun'," he said.

"I feel like there's a stigma around having a disability where you have to feel sorry for yourself or people feel sorry for you. I love my life and I've a lot to give someone so that's why I went for it.

"I would do it again. It was always an insecurity of mine to put myself out there and now I've done it, I'm definitely more confident."

First Dates airs tonight at 9.30pm on RTE2

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