I’m lucky I found someone early in my life so I didn’t have to deal with the stressful dating game for long. Deaf people — at least in my case — who live outside of the Deaf culture feel insecure when it comes to the dating game. Although it’s wrong to dislike someone just because of a difference, it’s human nature.
A person who is deaf wrote to Dr. Romance about returning to the dating pool:
I want to tell you a short story about myself. I am deaf since birth and I grew up being deaf. It’s hard for me to fit in, because this society doesn’t understand about us very well. I was married to hearing man for 13 years and we’ve been divorced for 10 years . I have wonderful sons, I love them so much and I have given up a lot to raise them. Now I am ready to date and trying to meet men on line, and chatting with them seems to go well; but as soon as I let them know that I am deaf they have stopped talking to me as if I had leprosy or something.
Its hard to meet men who aren’t scared of deaf people; the ones I meet seem not willing to try to be patient or to know me better. They never find out I’m a lot of fun like other people in general; and I like the outdoors, riding bikes, and camping. I also have job, because I can do anything but hear.
At the bar scene or anywhere when men talk to me and I try to understand them by reading lips, they act like I’m weirdo so I have to tell them that I am deaf. I hate to LABEL myself “I am deaf.” Then they say, “Oh, can you read my lips?” or “Never mind” and they walk away from me it hurts and frustrates me.
We the deaf people who love hearing people and want to prove them that we can be like they are and enjoy dating. It seems very limited for us to date people in general. They need to get better educated about us and to understand us better. It wont hurt to try!
Dr. Romance‘s reply:
I love your dating tips for deaf people, and I’m going to post them on my blog. To meet a hearing man who understands deaf people, why not go to classes in American Sign for the hearing? There you’ll find people who understand what it is to be deaf (many have relatives who are deaf) and who won’t be ignorant or afraid of deaf people. If you search online, be up front about being deaf in your profile — that will filter out the people who don’t understand. Try reading my article, “Where is Love?” .
How to Date Deaf People: (written by Dawn)
*If you meet a deaf person and you want to talk, let the person know by waving “Hi” or write a note to give to her or him.
*When you want to say something; Have a pen and paper to communicate with them so he or she can understand.
*If you invite a deaf person out out on a date, please face your date, to make it easier to read lips, and use the pen and paper when you don’t understand. Also, listen to what he or she has to say.
*If you have cell phone with you, don’t answer it unless you warn your date first [Dr. Romance says this is true of any date, not just a deaf person.] Understand that a deaf person probably can’t tell what you’re saying when you’re talking into a cell phone, so it’s polite to let your date know why you’re answering the phone and what the call is about (for example, it’s work calling, or someone who is ill. Non-essential calls can wait.)
*If you take this date to a party, introduce your date and let them know that she or he is deaf. Sometimes, people knew some sign language — you never know.
*If the other person is talking and your date doesn’t understand, help him or her stay in the conversation by briefly explaining the gist of the conversation.
*It’s helpful and kind to ask your date how to say some words in sign language. Your date will be impressed that you are willing to learn to communicate with them in their own language.
*Phone calls are easy — text messaging always works. Even when you’re on a date, texting something on your phone and handing it to your date will work if you don’t think you’re understood.
*If you’re going to the movies, ask in advance if there are closed captions for the hearing impaired.
*Remember your date can’t read your lips in a darkened theater. This is a good place to use texting — you can just hand your date your phone.
*If you want to be able to talk, it’s better to take your date out to mini golf, a nice small cafe or the park.
*Understand that American Sign is a different language, with different grammar, so don’t be offended if your date is sometimes hard to understand. As with any different language, it takes a little patience. You’ll get used to it after a while.
*I encourage you to learn sign language. Classes are fun, and you’ll impress your friends.
*Your date will be happy to answer questions if you ask.