Dating is a tangled web of guesses, tries, do-overs and misses. It’s messy and a rush to be involved with another living being. But what about when not only language but the ability to hear is an impediment?
Like with anyone, dating someone new is a potentially terrifying prospect. You want to give this person a chance to get to know you, and you them, but fear of the unknown can sometimes overtake you. Is she cheating on me? Has he been tested? Is he being honest about his family? Does she have too many male friends?
But when someone you like is deaf or hard of hearing, it can take more than a little getting used to. Even when you’re ready to learn ASL, it can be tricky to get the required study time. Whether you’re learning it from the person you’re dating or in a classroom, you will need to practice your own shorthand with your paramour. Fingerspelling and some simple signs, along with signs you both make up, will help you two connect faster and deeper on an intellectual and emotional level.
That said, there are still hurdles when it comes to dating someone who can’t hear or hear well. The very nature of your ability to speak out loud and hear can be a hurdle but not a necessarily insurmountable one.
If you two go out to a majority deaf event, observe how the deaf get each other’s attention when one doesn’t see the other. A hand wave, a knock at the table they’re both seated at, a tap on the shoulder, a hand on the back, a touch of the arm, etc. The deaf and hard of hearing use all their other senses to communicate, more so than most hearing people. If I can’t see you, I can feel the vibrations of your stomp, knock or pound. I can feel your touch against me. In other words, think like a deafie when trying to communicate. Use more than just your mouth and ears.
Tactile sensation is one of the most effective ways that the deaf and HoH have to communicate with the world around them. To recognize that someone is attempting to get their attention.
Knowing all of this, it becomes easier to communicate and relate. Don’t just take the time to learn ASL, but take the time to learn how best to communicate with your own personal shorthand that you both share and to learn how to think like a deafie.
“In life, risk is part of the equation…”