Regardless of who you choose to date, all dating comes with its challenges. If you’ve fallen for someone who’s hard of hearing or deaf you might be concerned about how the two of you will communicate and get past your differences. After all, communication is the key to any successful relationship.
That being said, there are still many ways to communicate effectively with a deaf person and show your love and affection.
We’ve outlined 9 tips you should keep in mind when dating a deaf person. Hopefully, these will put your mind at ease and pave the way for a successful first date (and hopefully many more).
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Picking the right venue is crucial to the success of your first date with a deaf or hard-of-hearing person. Make sure the venue you select is well-lit, not too noisy, and still intimate enough for a date.
Many deaf or hard-of-hearing people communicate via lip reading. Picking a venue with good lighting will make lip reading and communication between the two of you easy and effective.
Many hard-of-hearing people may still have some degree of hearing, even if it’s only very slight. Make sure the venue you select doesn’t play very loud music or get extremely crowded - both of which will make any ability to hear almost impossible.
Lastly, try your best to choose a spot that’s got a romantic atmosphere and will set the scene. You don’t want them to end up thinking you’re just asking them out as a friend.
You want to be prepared as best as possible before your date. Don’t go about assuming your date lip-reads or uses sign language, it might be neither. Simply ask them how they prefer to communicate with non-deaf people and try to cater to that form of communication as best as possible.
While not all deaf people communicate via sign language, it still is very common in the deaf community. If you continue going on dates with your deaf or hard-of-hearing partner, you’re going to want to learn some sign language. Regardless of whether or not he/she speaks sign language, some of their friends might and it’ll make things a lot easier for you.
Learning some simple phrases before your first date will help communication flow more easily and effectively, and is a kind gesture that shows you care.
Don’t let communication challenges between the two of you stop you from being yourself. Act normally and put your best foot forward, regardless of how nervous you are. Chances are, they’re as nervous. In time, both of you will learn how to communicate effectively with each other.
Many people identify others based on their disabilities, never looking past that. Don’t be one of them. People who are deaf or hard of hearing are normal people just like us, each with their own histories and stories to tell. Asking about, or focusing solely on, their disability on your first date might be inappropriate.
Instead, ask them about their lives and their interests. Just as you would on any other date. If, however, they bring up their own disability then you should feel comfortable asking or talking about it but don’t make it the focus of the evening.
If your date communicates via lip reading, you’re going to want to talk slowly and clearly. Steer away from covering your mouth, talking while eating, or turning your face away from them while communicating.
If they use sign language, make sure you’re clearly visible/in full view of them while communicating.
If the person has a slight hearing ability, make sure you speak at a volume that they’re able to hear. But don’t shout. Ideally, pick a spot away from other people so the volume of communication doesn’t disrupt those around you.
Lastly, you may be able to communicate with a deaf person through writing. At the beginning of your relationship, handwritten notes and texts might help you convey messages to your date more quickly and easily than other forms of communication.
When communicating with someone who’s deaf or hard of hearing you’re going to need to practice patience and be willing to repeat yourself several times if necessary. As the two of you get used to each other’s styles of communication things will slowly become easier and flow more freely. Give it the time and patience it needs in order to develop.
If you’re inviting your date over to your house to watch a movie or series, make sure your TV is set to show the closed captions so your date is actually able to follow what’s happening on the screen.
Ask questions as you would on any other date. Show genuine interest in your date’s life, hobbies, and background. The more you ask about them, the more the two of you will be able to bond and grow together.
This may or may not come as a surprise to you but depending on the degree of hearing loss a person has, they may have trouble speaking, be completely mute, or simply pronounce words slightly differently from you. If they are mute, they will likely communicate via sign language.
Some people use hearing aids or cochlear implants to help them hear. However, these devices only help if the person has some degree of residual hearing and is not completely deaf. Keep in mind that hearing aids amplify all sound, including background noise, making the effects uncomfortable for the wearer.
If you go out in a group, make sure to include your partner in the conversation by translating as/when necessary so they don’t feel left out. Just because they have a hearing problem does not mean they won’t be able to engage in various conversations as effectively as anyone else.
Some hard-of-hearing people may still be able to sense the beat of the music. So, don’t rule out music concerts just yet! Honest and open communication is important here, just like in any other relationship.
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It’s completely fine if you don’t know something, so asking is the best way for you to learn. Be curious and creative in trying to learn more about your partner.
For many deaf people, phone calls are a nightmare. It’s difficult to hear what the person on the other line is saying and you can’t read lips, use sign language, or write a quick note to get a message across.
So, if you’re the hearing one in the relationship, you’re likely going to be the one picking up the phone to order takeout, book trips away, call the doctor, call the bank, the list goes on.
With the switch of a button, deaf people are able to turn their hearing aids, and your argument off. Funny, frustrating, and definitely not a healthy way of communicating.
We take for granted how easily we’re able to communicate with others… for example, when you’re in the same house, you might chat to your partner who’s in the kitchen making dinner while you’re getting dressed in the bedroom. Or, you might shout to someone upstairs to quickly do something.
In a relationship with a deaf person, this won’t be possible. They will need your full, visible attention when communicating.
Finding the perfect date spot might be a challenge if your deaf partner struggles with background noise when wearing their hearing device. Instead, you may opt to order takeout and stay in for a romantic evening together.
It’s important to make sure your loved one is included in your social circles when you’re dating. But, even more time and energy will need to be invested to include your deaf partner, simply because they may not always be given the chance to hear what’s being said and interact accordingly. Be extra mindful of this.
Apart from picking a spot that’s too noisy, finding something to do together with your deaf partner should be relatively easy. Instead of focusing on the fact that they’re deaf, shift your focus to what they enjoy. Whether it’s a cup of coffee, a hike in nature, or cooking a meal together, your options are limitless.
This is such a strange misconception, but one nonetheless. People often see deafness as a disability that needs some special kind of treatment. This seems to be especially true during sex, people think deaf people are fragile and should be treated gently. This is offensive and may hinder the progression of any relationship.
This is not true. There are many happy, functioning relationships between deaf and hearing people. Deafness is simply a barrier to communication that needs to be overcome and understood. All relationships come with challenges, deaf or not.
Just because someone is deaf doesn’t mean they’re mute. Many deaf people are able to communicate extremely well.
Whether you’re looking for friendship, romance, or marriage, or are a student of ASL, these deaf dating sites connect deaf and hearing-impaired people from around the globe.
A great place to meet other signers, regardless of whether you’re looking for friendship or love.
This is one of the largest and most popular dating sites for deaf, ASL, and hard-of-hearing people. The perfect place to meet like-minded individuals.
With strict internal review protocols and high-level encryption deafsinglesmeet.com is a safe space to meet other deaf men and women. The chat function allows deaf and hearing people to communicate easily and effectively.
An international dating site for deaf, hard-of-hearing, and ASL singles can find a community, understanding, friendship, and love.
A free deaf dating site that makes meeting like-minded individuals accessible for all.
Another large and popular dating site that’s totally free. Enjoy perks like browsing through photo galleries, watching videos, and instant chats.
Hundreds of thousands of deaf people use this platform in hopes of finding love, friendship, and marriage.
While there might be some initial hurdles to overcome and things to get used to, in time it should be no different from dating a hearing person.
There are a few difficulties that deaf and hard-of-hearing people face, over and above their physical impairment. Some of these include: being excluded and overlooked by society, loneliness, and isolation, and being treated as “different” or less intelligent than their peers.
Yes! Many people who date deaf or hard-of-hearing people are happily coupled-up. Once you’re able to overcome the initial communication barrier and find a way to communicate effectively, there’s no reason why your relationship shouldn’t work out just as well as any other.
According to this BBC article, these are some of the things you should avoid saying to deaf people:
You don’t look deaf
You speak well for a deaf person
“Nevermind” - this deliberately excludes them when they’re trying to understand what’s going on in a conversation
“I’m sorry you’re deaf”
“You’re deaf and dumb, right?”
There’s no reason for physical intimacy and sex to be any different with a deaf or hard-of-hearing person, as long as you communicate beforehand.
Because many deaf people prefer to remove their hearing aids before being intimate (due to the fact that they can become uncomfortable or start ringing when touched) talk about what you like and don’t like in bed and even come up with a sign to use if you want something changed/stopped. Having sex with the lights on might also make things easier when it comes to communicating.
While dating a deaf or hard-of-hearing person may come with some initial communication challenges, there’s no reason why these hurdles can’t be overcome and why your relationship can’t work out.
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