Reality TV

Joey Essex isn’t the only one to catch Maria Thattil’s eye, just look at the I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here star’s past loves

Inside her dating history and sexuality.
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Maria Thattil already had a few notable achievements under her belt before she dropped into the jungle on the 2022 season of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here.

The model, writer, speaker and podcast host shot to fame in 2020 when she became Miss Universe Australia, in part because she represented big change for the pageant.

Standing at 5’3″, not only is Maria a few heads shorter than the average model, she’s also South-Asian Australian.

Australian models are often stereotyped as tall, white and blonde, but Maria broke barriers when she was crowned and has used her platform to spark conversations and inspire change.

Maria Thattil shot to fame in 2020 when she became Miss Universe Australia.

(Image: Instagram)

Though some critics hurled vile abuse at the 28-year-old, Maria says their attacks only prove how important her message is.

“Every day I would open my phone and there would be criticisms and racism,” she told WHO last year.

“But I realised that was why it was more important than ever that I didn’t buckle under the pressure and kept going. This wasn’t just for me but for a lot of Australians who don’t ever see themselves represented.”

She’s since become something of a household name, especially as she appeared in the 2022 season of I’m A Celeb… but it’s not her beauty or background that has people talking now.

After sparks seemed to fly between her and fellow contestant Joey Essex in the jungle, fans wanted to know all about Maria’s love life – and we have answers!

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What is Maria Thattil’s sexuality?

Maria came out as bisexual on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!


Maria made waves when she came out as bisexual on national TV, sharing her sexuality publicly for the first time during a conversation with I’m A Celeb… co-star David Subritzky.

While chatting about her budding romance with Joey Essex (more on that later) Maria confessed that she had experienced attraction to women in the past and wanted to explore that.

“Growing up I always thought maybe I was a little bi-curious. I only ever dated straight people but growing up I did have crushes on girls,” she said.

Maria admitted that she “buried” her sexuality because it felt “easier” to just date men, but just before filming the 28-year-old “hooked up with” a woman at a party.

She went on to say: “It just felt natural… I don’t want to carry any shame or stigma about it… I just want to break out of that.”

The model later took to Instagram to confirm that she identifies as bisexual, revealing that her brother Dom, who is gay, helped her accept herself.

“My brother took my call at midnight last night and talked it over with me – and I realised the reason I’ve been so f–king scared to do this is exactly why I need to,” she penned.

Since coming out, Maria has been praised by celebrity pals and high-profile members of the Australian LGBTQ+ community.

She later told Now To Love it was a huge moment for her and that she hopes she can encourage other young women like her to embrace themselves for who they are.

“Growing up, things would’ve been very different for me if I saw a sexually confident South Asian woman owning her sexual fluidity,” she said.

“I think 15-year-old Maria would’ve seen this and said, ‘stuff the rules, I don’t need to be anything other than myself’. And I think that’s pretty cool.”

Are Maria Thattil and Joey Essex dating?

“Joey’s gorgeous and you know, we were attracted to each other from the get-go.”

(Images: Instagram)

Okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. While Joey and Maria appear to have spent a bit of time in the jungle flirting, nothing concrete actually happened between them.

In the show’s fifth episode the duo chatted briefly about what they look for in a partner, Joey joking that he ticks all of Maria’s boxes.

They continued to grow closer throughout the season, sharing plenty of flirty and personal moments together before Maria was ejected from the jungle.

In an exclusive chat with Now To Love, the Australian beauty said: “Joey’s gorgeous and you know, we were attracted to each other from the get-go … we connected really quickly over very, very long and open conversations.

“It was nice to have somebody I could be close to and intimate with in that way. I’m so glad he was there to make those memories with.”

She also revealed that she and Joey were still in touch at the time, but wouldn’t spill any other details about their relationship status.

Before and after the live grand finale, during which the pair continued to flirt on TV, Joey and Maria shared several cuddly snaps to social media.

Photos and video posted on Instagram showed Maria sitting on Joey’s lap before filming, getting ready together, and sharing a cheeky kiss on the cheek.

There definitely seemed to be a connection between the two beautiful contestants, but in the end they didn’t turn it into anything serious outside of the jungle.

Maria previously addressed talk of a romance between her and Joey, writing: “I am 28 and fulfilled focusing on my career without knowing IF marriage and kids are for me.

“The timeline is arbitrary, and the things we think we ‘have to do’ are a social construct. Do whatever makes you happy.

“I still get pressure from family and strangers, but I believe that if you’re ever going to disappoint anyone when it comes to your life – it shouldn’t be yourself.☺️”

The caption suggested that romance just wasn’t the focus in Maria’s life at the time, but fans thought maybe Joey could change that.


Is Maria Thattil single?

Maria and Moana have been together since at least September 2023. (Image: Getty)

Maria is currently in a relationship with AFLW player and Survivor star Moana Hope.

The model confirmed her relationship status as the couple made their red carpet debut together in September 2023.

Maria and Moana have been happily together ever since. 

Who has Maria Thattil dated in the past?

Maria has kept fairly quiet about her romantic past.

(Image: Instagram)

Despite leading a pretty public life, Maria has kept fairly quiet about her romantic past and hasn’t dated any other notable celebs as far as we know.

Though she tends to play things close to the chest, the 31-year-old opened up about her outlook on love in a 2021 column for 9Honey.

“Every relationship I’ve had has gifted me with either fond memories or a lesson. I’ve learned that falling in love isn’t enough to sustain a connection,” she penned.

Maria went on to reveal that she had one “big” past relationship with a man she considered her best friend, who shared so many similar values to her.

But in the end things didn’t work out because he “wasn’t on stable ground” and they both had very different plans for the future.

They ended up parting ways, but Maria added that the relationship helped her learn how to love herself, even though it didn’t work out.

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