As a confidante of several deaf and hearing girlfriends, I have been exposed to issues that come up when dating deaf and hearing men. I decided to enlist the help of my girlfriends and find out what it is like to date a hearing man. One of the things I was surprised by during my research for this article was that the majority of my deaf girlfriends have not dated a hearing guy.
I decided to push a bit more and found some girlfriends who have dated hearing men (I also asked the girls who have not dated hearing men for the reasons why they have not). The following is a list of my findings:
Faking emotions-One woman spoke of faking humor when the hearing guy’s posse made jokes she didn’t understand, or faking a smile to pretend she was happy when she really felt left out.
Communication issues-hearing guys, deaf women complain, are indirect and vague, a quality a deaf woman would feel at loss to make sense out of due to being accustomed to blunt and direct deaf guys.
Not understanding the man-deaf women complain that men are not expressing their emotions at all. They might not “get it” when hearing guys are using cliches, lyrics from a song, or common sayings to explain themselves. Deaf guys use lines from a movie.
Difficulty connecting with their families-hearing guys cannot interpret everything that is being said and deaf women would feel left out at family dinners because, as with their date’s “posse,” they didn’t feel involved in the conversations. For example, a friend once mentioned her experience sitting at the family table as her boyfriend was talking to his mother. She then caught his sister rolling her eyes. She had the feeling that her boyfriend wasn’t what he seemed.
Jealousy and unwarranted suspicion-hearing men might not understand the extent of how many deaf guys from college, residential schools, or friendships deaf women keep in their lives. The deaf community is a close-knit community that resembles an large extended family. Many members of the deaf community in general grew up in a community that values friendships, since everyone knows everyone. It would be considered offensive for a deaf woman to cut a deaf guy out of her life just because she has a new boyfriend. It’s like living in a small town, where it would be likely for a childhood sweetheart to marry in the future.
Conflicting definitions of “News”-Hearing men might be more inclined toward news regarding what is going on with the world, politics, and the community. Deaf women might be more inclined toward news that reflects herself and her circle of friends. This isn’t to say that a deaf women would not be interested in the world or in politics. It’s just is that she expects her love to consider the news of the Deaf World important too. The hearing guy might say, “Yeah?” without really getting it.
Inability to understand disability hardships-A hearing man might get annoyed if he needs to interpret for his deaf girlfriend or he might not understand the difficulty a deaf person faces in finding a job. He might deem these difficulties to be an excuse for laziness. A deaf man would be able to relate to what it’s like being deaf.
Intellectual equals-some deaf women state that hearing men are more likely to be on their intellectual level.
Structured dating– hearing men tend to plan out their dates with more thought. They try to make a big impression on the first date, do something mellow on the second date, and the third date depends on how the first and second date went. On the dates after that, if they are serious, hearing mean will introduce their deaf girlfriends to family and friends. Their art of courting, some deaf women would say, is more romantic.
Assessing how she fits in– hearing men would put more emphasis on how their deaf girlfriends fit in with their families and close friends. Deaf men would put less emphasis on the fit between families, because communication barriers might not permit this in the first place. Deaf men would rely more on how their deaf girlfriends fit with their own role in the deaf community.