You ever heard the saying communication is key? Anytime someone writes a book, gives a speech or even unwanted advice, one of the main keys they mention is communication is vital to the success of a relationship. This cliché holds to be truer in the deaf community. There are many levels and different names for those inside the deaf community such as deaf, Deaf, heard of hearing, and hearing impaired but when it comes to the dating world, these various levels share a common need…Communication. When you like someone the feeling is the new and fun but then you have to figure out how to communicate to your new love interest. How will they know you like them and when is the right time to approach them? These are questions that whether you’re hearing or deaf, we all face. But as a deaf person, communication preferences play a major role in dating styles.Order now
Dating in the deaf community has challenges just like the hearing community. How a deaf person was raised or if they have cochlear implant changes the landscape of dating. For children born to hearing parents, some of them never learned ASL, but know how to read lips really well. Then there are children who are given a cochlear implant and talk/ hear very well. While some deaf people were born with hearing loss and more feel comfortable signing then reading lips. These factors shape how they find a great mate and are able to communicate with them. Communication and culture are instrumental when it comes to deaf people and romantic relationships because sometimes there are two languages and two cultures to consider when dating someone. Some may be curious to try and learn a new language or attracted to another person’s differences.
Romance for deaf individuals can be a struggle at times because you either date another deaf person or enter intermodal dating and have to learn the best way of communicating. Although it is said the deaf community doesn’t have a distinctive features, slang or specific place of origin, there is a culture that only people who grew up deaf may understand. Because of this a hearing person has to dispel any hearing bias and emerge themselves in the deaf world for the best dating experience. Being frank and overly expressive becomes a way of life for a deaf person and teaching a hearing person to open-minded to their norms has helped chances of succeeding at love. Studies have shown that in cases of a hearing person and deaf marriage, the divorce rate is much higher. People from the same world and even social status doesn’t make a successful marriage. Many relationships people start off saying they will learn ASL, they will be patient and learn to be a part of the deaf world but over time without communication counseling frustrations begin to build up and divorce is now an option. “Deaf and hearing people usually think and express their ideas in different ways…..I feel that the best hearing candidate is a person who has a strong skill of sign language or even a strong desire to develop his/her signing skill, willing to be involved in the Deaf community and understands the difference in Deaf and hearing people and their world.” (Levitan, Moore, 2003)
How you are raised plays a significant role in how you view love and receive love. The same truth applies to a deaf person. When a deaf person comes from deaf parents, they are taught more about deaf culture first hand and in many cases their communication style may be exclusive to sign language. There are also some deaf who live in remote towns and were never taught sign language, which made them feel like outsiders to their own community. For some when you don’t grow up with sign language it can bring on depression and loneliness. Lack of ASL communication causes invisible barriers that make finding romance harder for some individuals. Glamour.com covered a story on a young man named Jacob who grew up Mormon and didn’t find romance till he moved away to Vegas and had a re awakening. He was never taught ASL until he left for college and growing up Mormon made him socially inept and shamed to be loving. Jacob was asked by the magazine how does his relationships differ from hearing only. He replied “I can’t understand someone if they’re not near me, in a place with little or no background noise, or facing me so I can read their lips, we’re forced to continue communicating in an intimate matter indefinitely. This is true with my friendships as well.” (Kassoy, 2013). Romance for Jacob is easier with hearing women because that’s the world he grew up in. He is uniquely apart of two worlds but has found love in a hearing woman.
With the evolution of technology, being able to find a mate has increased variety in the dating pool. Dating sites like Cupid.com, ASLsingles.com and Deafs.com have provided many ways for deaf people to meet new people in hopes of a romantic relationship. There is a population of people who want to date within their community because for them communication will be easier. As a deaf person wanting romance is just like any other relationship. You want to find someone that values you but for some people, you just want to find someone for a good time. “Sometimes it’s hard for deaf women and men to find their soulmate in real life as well as they are often committed to their career or hobby, so they just don’t have enough time for searching for love in public places, exactly that’s why deaf people start taking advantage of deaf dating site, where everyone is able to make new friends and build long-term relationships regardless of preferences and differences” (Deaf Dating, n.d. p1). Being able to use your phone to text, or facetime has also helped many singles connect and form romantic bonds. Technology has tremendously helped make communication easier but doesn’t replace the authentic connection and intimacy of expressing yourself. Online dating has blown up and provided confidence to many deaf and hard of hearing singles, while also broadening the horizons for new friendships.
For hearing people trying to date someone exclusively in the Deaf community is very intimidating. “Online dating is weird, entertaining, experimental and mind-blowing all at the same time. I met someone online that I ended up dating for a little over two years.…We messaged back and forth for a while and decided to meet up at a Chipotle, but not before I found out that he was deaf. My first thought was something like, there’s no way I can date a deaf dude; it was just so foreign to me.” (Cssady, 2015) In this Huffington post article one girl describes her online dating experience as a hearing person with a deaf man. The romance was amazing because she emerged herself into the deaf culture by going to deaf events with him, meeting his completely deaf family and friends This relationship was new and rewarding because she learned to sign like a deaf person and grew to love everything about the deaf community. Eventually the romance left and the guilt of feeling he needed her kept her from ending it for a while. While the thought of dating a deaf person seemed foreign just two years prior, the chance to build a romantic relationship actually happened and broaden her horizons.
Dating has many meanings depending on where you’re from or city you live in. Even in Deaf dating there are long term goals of finding someone to build with and then there is sex. A lot of people have misconceptions about deaf people in bed. They ask silly questions like are deaf people noisy in bed or how do they sound. There are women who aren’t afraid to just date to hook up with someone. Cosmopolitan.com featured an article interviewing three millennial Deaf women about sex and dating. In the interview one was single, one married and one currently in a relationship and they shared the insecurities of dating while being deaf and how communicating what your preferences are makes the difference. In particular two of the women shared how keeping the cochlear implant inside their ear during sex was hard. Because the implant is magnetic it can attach to another metal or fall out. Not that romantic when you envision it. One woman shared “The most challenging part about having sex while being deaf is helping guys stop thinking of disabled people as china dolls you have to be careful with. The best part is I don’t have to listen to anyone’s weird sex noises” (Moore, 2016)
Dating while Deaf has some of the same similar challenges as the hearing world does. But the common theme in finding a love and romance through the positives, negatives, challenges and straight misconceptions is communication is imperative. Some deaf people who are raised in a hearing culture prefer a hearing woman/man over a deaf one. While those raised in a complete deaf culture using mainly ASL prefer someone who is fluent or have great deal of interest in learning ASL. I love what this married woman said in a last cosmopolitan interview “The world will never let you forget that you’re different, regardless of whether that’s well-meaning or spiteful. The truly good people won’t view your deafness as a negative thing.” (Moore, 2016).