This is just a little personal reflection, on a question that I am often asked at the association: “How does it happen in a romantic relationship between a deaf and a hearing person?”
I speak here only from my point of view and my own feelings. I do not pretend to have absolute knowledge, on the contrary, I ask myself a lot of questions on this subject. If you have your own opinion, I would be happy to discuss it with you in the comments.
Many of you must be thinking, “But what does being deaf have to do with having a girl or a boyfriend? “
And although being deaf or hard of hearing (it is surely a bit the same for other handicaps), we always wonder if it will have an impact on our love life.
In a relationship between deaf people, it is “easy”. We have the same concerns so we understand each other. It is less embarrassing to repeat a sentence that you will have misunderstood, whether orally or in sign language.
With a hearing person, it’s very different. We are afraid of annoying the person who interests us by dint of having them repeat and doing so that they are disinterested in us.
Sometimes just announcing that you are deaf (or hard of hearing) is enough to scare some people away.
Between a deaf person and a hearing person, there is always a gap, because we do not live in the same world.
It is not a bad thing or anyone’s fault but it is so then it requires efforts of both parties to try to understand each other.
In the book “Finding Zoe” by Brandy Rarus, the deaf author describes her relationship with a hearing man. It was idyllic at first, but the more she got involved in the deaf culture, the more her boyfriend seemed to move away, which ended their relationship.
No matter how much a person can be involved in deaf culture, whether they have studied the subject or have deaf family … A hearing person will never be what it is to be deaf and what it brings.
In the past I’ve already loved, many times and each time I’m apprehensive of how the other will take the fact that I’m deaf.
How I am when I’m dating!
I’ve always had a close core of friends but I’m a very reserved person so I’ve done a lot of online dating, be it Okcupid or even Tinder! (yes I was desperate!).
But I never knew how to explain the fact that deafness was a part of me. I didn’t want people to reject me because of this. (It’s already happened).
Making contact :
After a few days, the time for the first Skype comes. It always makes me nervous. Indeed, I often have to ask them to type what they have to say and I think it must be a disadvantage to have to do it, it can annoy.
The encounter :
Then we get used to it but at some point comes the time for the first meeting. As for everyone I suppose, there is the apprehension of “the-meeting-of-the-first-time”, but to that is added also the fear of “how-the-devil-is-that- communication-will-work ”! Fortunately for me, I read very well on the lips but according to the diction of each one, I need a time of adaptation, and to that is added that I am 100% deaf and not implantable, so I cannot help myself with the sound I would have heard to understand part of the conversation if he does not speak sign language.
The family presentation :
Finally if all his moments are going well, there is the presentation to the family. Personally I always apprehend, because that is when she realizes that you are deaf and that this is not harmless in everyday life, suddenly they do not know how to react and it can be very embarrassing.
With my first boyfriend’s family, it went very badly. I felt like the attraction of the evening, in the wrong sense of the word. I felt like the highlight of a freak-show! I was harassed with questions about my deafness and none about our couple …
Besides that in these kind of meetings, people often talk at the same time, which is very complicated for us to follow the conversations all the more since often several discussions get entangled at the same time which we totally lose … we ended up following our boyfriend like a disarmed puppy, and we feel very stupid…
Be careful I don’t want to discourage deaf-hearing relationships, on the contrary my only two important stories were with a hearing person and they were wonderful. It exists and it works, but it requires investment on the part of the hearing partner, taking a minimum interest in deaf culture and sign language because it is a part of us.
On our side we must also make an effort to welcome them into our little world of ours by being compassionate and patient when they are awkward or when they find it difficult to understand us.
As in all couples, there are two of us. Efforts must therefore be made by both parties!