My wife and kids left for Alabama over Memorial Day weekend to visit family, so I
got some much-needed alone time. I had the whole weekend to play Mr. Bachelor. Two weeks ago on Deaf-Insight. I wrote about my experience going back to church, where I struggled to
lipread while the pastor preached, which is the last thing I want to do during church after doing it all week at work. I realized a hearing church is not going to be the best fit for me but going to a church with a sign language interpreter is also a challenge, since I am not yet fluent in ASL and most churches don’t provide captioning for the sermon. Where does a new deaf Christian go to worship? You can read the story here: http://www.deaf-insight.com/15/post/2013/06/bachelor-weekend.html
Let’s talk about dating - deaf dating. I have been deaf for a little more than a year now. My deafness happened suddenly after an infection. When I realized I was permanently deaf, I researched everything I could about hearing loss and asked a lot of questions. I didn’t feel sad about my loss. I didn’t have time to feel sad and decided it was more productive to learn as much as I could about hearing loss, deafness, and deaf culture. From participating in some deaf chats I picked up on the difficulties of being deaf and single. I heard from some deaf singles who felt alone and wanted to connect with hearing people but were afraid. I was curious to see if a hearing person would be willing to date a deaf person.
Before I tell you my story about my VERY INTERESTING DEAF BACHELOR WEEKEND, let me stress that I am happily married and would never consider jumping into another relationship just because my wife is hearing. My wife and I have an amazing relationship and my deafness is a small bump in the road compared to what we have experienced in the past. I hope my deaf friends who read this story will keep an open mind and be encouraged by my findings.
SO . . . .GUESS WHAT I DID OVER MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND?. . .
I went to two different pubs in two different areas and asked 20 people this question: “Would you date a deaf person?” Let me first say, I didn’t wear my hearing aids so I had to lip-read their answers. Hearing people usually don’t realize I’m deaf. I struggle at times to hear myself but I get by. In this survey I didn’t mention that I was deaf until after they answered my question. Now, I know my sample size is small but the responses were interesting. I have to share one of the conversations with you.
Deaf Jeff: “Hello, I am a blogger and I’m doing a survey. If you met someone you found attractive and compatible but they happened to be deaf, would you go out with that person?”
Female: “Yes, sure. I don’t see why not. I have never been on a date
with a deaf person nor met one, but I have been out with some really dumb hearing guys.”
Deaf Jeff: “Thank you for being honest and open-minded. Now, what if the man’s first language is ASL Would you willing to learn? How are you going to communicate on the date?”
Female: “If I really liked the guy I would learn his language. The dating would be a challenge and would require a lot of patience from both of us. "WOULD A DEAF PERSON BE WILLING TO DATE A HEARING PERSON?”
Deaf Jeff: “Actually, we typically stay in our own community. I am not sure. Good question.”
I told her that I am deaf and that I had to read her lips during the whole conversation. She was quite impressed and I was quite exhausted. Her response was not unusual. I only got two “no’s” from men who thought it would be too much work. By the end of the night I was happy to find that the hearing world doesn’t necessarily shut us out, even if it sometimes seems that way.
Final thoughts: The television show Switched at Birth opened up a door for the hearing world to see what it’s like for a deaf person. I have friends at work who watch that show and it opens up conversations about what is it like to be without sound. For those who are hearing and reading
this I am asking you to reach out to a deaf person. If you don’t know one contact me--there are no dumb questions. Consider learning American Sign Language--it’s not just for the deaf. For my deaf single friends, GET OUT AND DATE. Don’t be afraid to ask a hearing person. Yes, there are some who will say “no”, but you may be surprised by how quickly you arrive at “yes”.
Do you have a dating story?
My name is Jeff Swartz and I live in Atlanta, GA. I am married to wonderful wife and have two teenaged daughter.