I’ve compiled a brief list of tips for dating a deaf person. It’s important to keep in mind that these tips are applicable to overall relationships with a deaf person (family member, friend, co-worker, etc.).
Many deaf people rely largely on lip-reading, so it’s important to communicate clearly. This includes avoiding covering your mouth and looking at them when you speak. Similarly, if the deaf person communicates via sign language, it’s an absolute necessity that they be able to see you fully when communicating.
If you’re able to do this without being asked, major brownie points! Closed captions help deaf people follow along more closely when watching TV/movies and keep them from missing pertinent details.
If they wear hearing aids or have a cochlear implant, generally they have a “better” side, or an ear they hear better from. This is a side they feel more comfortable listening from. When dating a deaf person, be mindful of where they sit or where they would prefer you to sit for ample listening and conversation. The same goes for visibility; let them pick which seat at the table is better for lipreading. Avoid sitting in front of a window or direct light source where you’ll be back-lit. Similarly, if the room is noisy, let them determine where seating is optimal.
If you find silence following many of your questions, please know that Deaf people are not intentionally ignoring you. If they like you, they probably genuinely want to know what you’re saying.They might just not have heard you! Clarity can be a challenge, so please don’t take offense if you’re often asked “what?” or asked to repeat yourself.
“Deaf people are not intentionally ignoring you and genuinely want to know what you’re saying.”
Read more: When “Never Mind” Goes Both Ways
Intimacy is a sensitive topic for anyone. For deaf people who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants, touching the devices (or even the area around the devices) can be uncomfortable, as it can cause the devices to ring. This can make for annoying feedback that both people can hear, and the moment may be ruined. Some deaf people prefer to take their hearing devices off when getting intimate, so it might be helpful to communicate in advance or figure out signals for when it’s too dark to see.
Deaf people are learning just as much in this relationship as you are, so please be patient and understanding. Effective communication is key and necessary for all people involved.
Please do not be afraid to ask questions. Curiosity is appreciated and will only help all of us progress together! While in a relationship with a deaf person, romantic or not, you’ll pick up on things over time. You’ll learn how to work together on all fronts and likely come out learning more about yourself than the other person!
Read more: Dating tips for those new to hearing loss
Want more insights on what it’s like to date someone with hearing loss? You can watch my video on HearingLikeMe’s YouTube channel.
Do you have any tips or advice for dating with hearing loss? Let us know on Instagram!