Dating While Deaf
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Dating While Deaf


[INTRO MUSIC] If you’ve been following me this year, you
know that I have a boyfriend. If you haven’t been following me this year
and this is one of the first videos you’re watching of me, I’m dating while Deaf. I’m in a deaf-hearing relationship. You’re probably thinking, “What does you
being deaf have to do with having a boyfriend and what does your boyfriend being hearing
have to do with you being deaf?” I get it, I get it. A common concern that I read from other d/Deaf
and hard of hearing people, and one I’ve always had myself, is how is this going to
affect my dating life? With deaf-deaf relationships, it’s easy. We have the same struggles so we understand each other. If we don’t understand what the other person
is saying or signing, we don’t feel as nervous as to what the outcome will be because we
get it. We often get worried that if we’re constantly
misunderstanding someone we’re interested in, or if we’re constantly asking them to
repeat themselves, they’re going to get frustrated and stop showing interest. Sometimes, they stop showing interest the
moment the “d” or the “h” word – hard of hearing – comes up. That’s not always the case, but right now,
that’s the case I’m talking about. The truth is, there is always going to be
a bit of a disconnect in deaf-hearing relationships. It’s not bad and it’s not anyone’s fault.
It’s just the way it is. I’m currently reading a book called “Finding
Zoe” and Brandi, the author, talks about her relationship with a hearing guy and how
the relationship was great, but as Brandi started getting more into Deaf culture, the
boyfriend was not getting the same connection as she was – obviously – and because of that,
they grew apart and Brandi ended the relationship. No matter how involved someone is in Deaf
culture, whether they’ve taken deaf studies, have a family family who is Deaf, etc., a
hearing partner will never understand what it’s like being deaf and what comes with
it. I’ve liked people in the past and every time, I always worry about how the other person was going to take the fact that I’m
Deaf. I didn’t have a lot of friends here, and
I still don’t, so I did a lot of online dating or signing up to websites like OkCupid. I’ve even used Tinder once upon a time. And I never knew how to explain the fact that
deafness was a part of me because I didn’t want people to be turned off by it. And I didn’t know what would happen if I
had ever met up with someone on one of those sites. This is a common feeling, a common worry. I see posts with the same thoughts on Tumblr
every once in a while. So, it’s no secret that my boyfriend is
hearing. If you were to ask me if I had any worries
about him possibly being hesitant with my ears, the answer would actually be no. Because he knew I existed before I knew he
existed so he knew that part about me already. Thank you, YouTube. I remember skyping with each other for the first time
after we knew each other for a couple of days and I was very nervous. I’m always very nervous when I try to Skype
with people using a voice call. During our first Skype call, I couldn’t
understand him so I had him type our entire call and I got nervous about it because I
thought it would be an inconvenience to him. Yes, I can talk about accommodating deaf and
hard of hearing people until I’m blue in the face, but sometimes, I get nervous about it. It took some getting used to, but after a
couple of Skype calls, I started getting used to how he sounds and now I can understand him pretty well over Skype. Most of the time. So that’s online and then you meet in person
– and the fear comes back a little because people
can sound different in person. Like, to me, my voice sounds much deeper in
video, but more high in person. And my deaf accent comes out more in videos
whereas the southern accent comes out more in person. I don’t know how that works, but anyway
– *So Devon, in person, has a higher pitched
voice and online, he has a bit of a deeper voice. To me, anyway. So on the first day we met in person, I had
not only meeting-in-person-for-the-first-time worries, but also how-the-fuck-is-communication-going-to-work-out
worries. Five months later, we’re still doing pretty
awesome. So while it is true that a lot of deaf-hearing
relationships don’t work out due to a disconnect, culture difference, communication barriers,
etc., there are deaf-relationships that do work out. We’re proof. Some hearing partners will start to learn
about Deaf culture and some will not. I have read about a couple of deaf-hearing
relationships and the communication was all oral. That, sometimes, is what some deaf people
prefer. As I said before, not all of us communicate
in the same way. Some of us sign. Not everyone signs. But someone who does use sign language as
their way of communicating can be worried or sad if their partner has or continues to
have no interest in being involved with Deaf culture or in learning your way of communicating. If it was me, I would say good-bye, but for
some, they will continue to stick it out. Hearing partners, if you are in a deaf-hearing
relationship and your partner’s main way of communicating is sign language, I highly
encourage you to try to learn it. Even if it’s just the basics. Even the smallest
amount will make your partner very, very happy. Moving on to less immediate family. My biggest deaf-hearing relationship fear
is being around my boyfriend’s immediate family because of communication barriers. I don’t and will never do well with large
groups of people. There’s too much going on, it’s all oral, and I can’t keep up. To clarify, I don’t dislike them. I just
get petrified during these events. I’ve also never been very involved with my family, so I just get nervous being around people and their family members. I don’t know how to function around families. Especially very close ones. Explaining to your hearing family that you
have a deaf partner can be very nerve racking because you don’t know what to expect
if they’ve never been around a deaf person for longer than thirty seconds before. In the Taiwanese movie, “Hear Me”, Tian
Kuo tells his hearing parents that Yang Yang is deaf and they kind of freak out a little
bit because they have no idea how they’re gonna communicate. When they all meet, the parents already have
a message written to her on a gigantic notebook and it’s a beautiful moment. That doesn’t always happen in real life.
Sometimes, but not always. You never know what to expect and you don’t
want to look like the asshole at the dinner table on Easter because you have no idea what’s
going on and what’s being said. So you follow your boyfriend around like a
helpless puppy. Everything worked out pretty well and it was
pretty fun that day, but still. It’s a very common worry for a lot of us. So, again, while there are deaf-hearing relationships
that don’t work out due to a disconnect and cultural differences, communication barriers,
etc., there are deaf-hearing relationships that do work out. As someone who has experienced deaf-hearing
friendships and has been deaf for quite some time now, I understand when another deaf person
gets hesitant and would feel more comfortable being in a deaf-deaf relationship. Before getting into this kind of relationship,
I definitely suggest talking about it and making sure everyone’s on the same page
as far as how to communicate, what you’re getting involved with as far as culture goes. It’s like with interracial relationships,
I think. You need to understand that your partner has been living with a lot of challenges
in life and it has made them a part of who they are. When stuff happens, like, issues with equal
rights and stuff, you need to sit and listen.
Don’t talk over and think you know more when you haven’t lived that life. Just show
patience and learn. Be open to learning and getting involved. I will see you later. Bye. Subtitles by the Amara.org community

64 Comments

  • HayleyDaily

    you look completely different with your hair up ! this is really educating for someone who isn't deaf. loved hearing about your perspective.

  • MeggZ91

    Hi rikki . Love this vid its so close to home. I'm the same way with groups of people . It looks like I'm not interested or all over the place but really I'm just trying to stay attentive and I get a little anxiety ok actually quite a bit and i get confused. Some people forget so I do have to remind them . Mine is still adjusting to it. If its worth working out you do What you can to make the person feel comfortable so yeah I get EXACTLY What you re saying:) mine is trying. Although sometines there is the outside frustration. Restaurants etc.

    Great vid very educational . I've been sharing this with lots of my friends.

    Keep it up.

    Social media D/d/HoH awareness is becoming stronger. Way to go :))

  • 13Redpanther

    As some who is deaf but has a cochlear implant (so I can hear but still doesn't compare to normal hearing) I always been nervous if I ever get a boyfriend because quite of few people are turned off already if I try to be just friends with them because I'm deaf. Although I have few but very nice friends who understand my problems. I prefer to communicate orally but I struggle with large groups of people as well (ex, family dinners). After watching your video, I feel better about it and not nervous anymore when I may date. Thank you!

  • TheScienceOfChic

    Shit… I feel this. My girlfriend is a bit of a mush mouth and I basically can't hear her anywhere in large, loud places… costco trips are a fucking nightmare. 😡

  • krystakree

    Another great video!! I never dated anyone with a HL, only had two boyfriends my entire life and I married my second one. Thankfully my husband is patient and knows some ASL so we can communicate if my CI is off. It's helpful when my hair is wet from swimming or the shower or if I'm just waking up. I really believe in order to be in a deaf/hearing relationship, a lot of patience needs to be in place as well. There will always be miscommunications no matter how hard you try.

  • Lindsay Stock

    Loved this video, im hard of hearing and im working on learning ASL, my boyfriend of 5 years is hearing and he is also interested in learning with me which makes me happy that he is taking a interest in a very important part of my life. I am also a hearing instrument specialist and test hearing and fit hearing aids daily i love that i can have that connect with my clients in how i understand as i have gone through this as well. Thank you for the wonderful video rikki!

  • Cody Campbell

    I hate to say this but I've seen people dising you on tumbler for not using ASL and say you should use it if you are deaf does this happen often I'm curious as I am deaf but don't know much ASL and want to start a YouTube channel about my experiances

  • Daniels G Mery

    "so you follow your boyfriend around like a helpless puppy", that made me laugh a bit, that's just like my ex and she did that all the time for the same reason.

    I liked this video. I met my ex when I already knew sign languague (chilean version), so that wasn't a problem for us. my family learned the basics to be able to talk to her. Currently I'm doing research on deaf people in Chile (the main reason why a learned to sign).

  • Marc

    Hi Rikki, I reckon that you're sub-consciously changing your voice because talking to a camera by yourself is not the same as talking to actual people. In front of the camera you probably try to talk better, more clearer, slightly slower, knowing your videos can be watched by anyone in any country. Talking with people you might be all, "meh, I can just repeat myself.". I do a similar thing, but on the telephone. :0)

  • Jeanne Greenlee

    I was in a long term relationship with a hearing person. It didn't work out for many reasons but it was a learning experience; having to teach him how to communicate more effectively with me, and to understand and empathize with my disability. Now when on dating sites I disclose my deafness on my profile. It's direct,it's honest, and it weeds out the people who are going to have issues with accommodating me, or who stigmatize disabilities.

  • The Carlitos Way

    Whats up Rikki, I am also Hard of Hearing and use hearing aids to be able to hear better. How old are you by the way? What are you currently doing with your life? Do you have any goals? I ask because I am currently trying to find a job in NYC and trying to build a fitness clothing brand as well. Subscribed!

  • Lexi Ronevich

    I'm currently dating my hearing boyfriend, and being hard of hearing hasn't stopped us being together for almost three years. Deaf and hearing relationships can work:)

  • Robbie Isbell

    I'm hard of hearing. I grew up in Utah and was comfortable dating a lot of hearing people, but as I left Utah, my dating life has gotten less over the years. It's not a matter of comfort, but it was a lack of support from family and friends that understands my situation since I am away from them. As of today, I have lost most of my interest in trying to date someone because it takes a huge effort to explain the other half of my struggles. I have tried dating deaf people, and it doesn't work out for me because I lean toward hearing world. I once dated a hard of hearing girl, and she was perfect, but it didn't work out for some reason. It would be nice to have a hearing person take intrest in me and understands me without a lot of effort to explain my world to them.

  • pmg1180

    Bingo!! you said it all, I wish this applies in small town where many hearing people are so clueless. They kept saying that you can speak well so why we should learn signing? I was like, excuse me? I worked my ass off to learn how to speak to fit in this world and you refused to learn or not want to learn because you are lazy=== is that the reason? Many guys walked away because i have a such smart mouth. SOrry if i cant help it. I am so tired of telling people over and over. I rather a guy is interesting in me and put a lot of efforting to learn something to communicate with because sometime I dont feel like to speak. I only speak at work or something quicker to get by. I m so glad that you are making this video. Keep it up!!! 🙂

  • filbird

    A deaf friend on Facebook linked to one of your videos and I'm glad she did, as I've spent the last hour or so watching and enjoying your work.  It occurs to me that there can be so many layers to deafness – do you sign, do you not sign; do you lip read and how well do you lip read; were you mainstreamed or were you raised in the deaf culture; do you want/is it possible for you to get/use a CI or not.  Each of these aspects of your personal history can have an impact on how you live and how you identify yourself.  I understand (I think) why "hearing impaired" is a disliked term, because the loss of hearing seems to be not so much an impairment as it is a source of… difference?  I've been interested in deaf culture ever since I read "Seeing Voices" by Oliver Sacks (a great book that I highly recommend, by the way), and your videos have re-awakened that interest. You are a patient, funny, and insightful advocate, and a great bridge for all of us trying to make sense of this slice of the world.

  • whiskis xxx

    Im sory but do you know how you sound like or do you know that you are saying a word right because if i cant hear. I dont know if im saying a word right

  • kenziegrace18

    im in a HOH/ hearing relationship at times it is hard and frustraiting but you learn to communicate if you truly love your partner.

  • Khaleigh Rose

    I'm hearing and dating a deaf girl, and she is profoundly deaf so she only signs. But I started taking ASL before I met her, so definitely knowing ASL has helped our relationship so much!

  • Ninjasis 1

    hey what up I'm half deaf in both of my ears and have been basically my whole life I think an awesome video would be if you showed everyone an everyday life through a deaf persons eyes so like turn down the volume at some points so then others can see and hear how hard it is to hear what they are saying and show the regular volume so then they can at least hear what the other person said but do it in a way that would be your everyday life chilling with friends or family instead of talking about it give more of a live demonstration to give everyone who isn't half deaf a better understanding

  • Ninjasis 1

    my favorite video of someone elses would definatly have to be this onr here hearing loss what it sounds like to live this wag

  • Ninjasis 1

    I love you and I lover your channel because I can relate to you so much it's not even funny even though my speech doesn't show it I know I have it and the hearing aid people says that no I need to have hearing aids there's no question about it

  • Ninjasis 1

    my hearing loss well it all depends on background noise the noise of the environment around me and of course distance as well. I honestly sometimes have cried because everyone else around me are laughing and enjoying themselves while I don't have a clue on what going on and every time I ask they don't tell me because they are enjoying themselves so much and I'm the only one that is not. So you can see how frustrating it might be and I know you understand as well its extremely frustrating and it hurts a lot because you feel like your basically missing out on the world around you

  • Catarina

    Sailor Moon earrings? So cute! This isn't exactly related to this video, but: I am not deaf, but sometimes I have issues with processing, and I appreciate your work to try to get everyone on YouTube to caption their videos.

  • Rachel Lee

    I didn't pick up on any southern accent until you mentioned it, and I've been watching you for over a year now

  • Adrianna Marie

    my Ex boyfriend was deaf and i myself an hearing but we made it work and i started learning ASL for him (Still learning Still suck at it lol) and the first sign i ever learned was "I Love You" and i signed it to him for the first time on our anniversary and he cried it was amazing tho

  • Macusercom

    I wish there was a better standard for sign language. I'm not really into this, but AFAIK every language has its own kind of sign language which I think makes me a bit discouraged to learn it (I would do it out of fun and interest, not because I need it) :S

  • ife sanders

    just discovered you on YouTube and you are such an amazing person! your so sweet and pretty and I love that you are willing to put yourself out into the world to educate others. a small act that impacts so many

  • Matthew Harvey

    I love your sense of humour! THanks for this clip. I hope you dont mind I share it into FB group of Singles where im the only deaf member. 🙂

  • Kelly Brooks

    I soooo want to meet you hahaha im taking ASL for a build-a-grade project… and i have 50% hearing loss in both ears … but i hear better out of my right ear.. anyways but i seriously can relate … i have this annoying teacher who argues no stop and i turn my hearing aids off sometimes lol … i realize this was like last year just now haha .. but i am in a relationship going on for 3 years this coming Feb. and he is hearing like .. REALLY good hearing .. but then again i think its REALLY good hearing .. when it could be normal .. but i really want to learn sign just for future experiences 🙂 … also same i think my voice is low in general but whatever and ive had so many ridiculous questions asked to me … its crazy

  • NickSerrano

    over the summer, I had taken ASL classes, then matched with my boyfriend in August. one of the reasons I swiped right was because I saw he went to Gallaudet and thought it would be interesting conversation (I never actually meant to use tinder to meet people IRL) we are on 4 months now and I couldn't be happier. He is Deaf, but with hearing aids, he can hear a little better, and our communication is strictly ASL based! Being the hearing one in the relationship was interesting when meeting his family. I could communicate, but the family signed so fast, that I relied alot on him to slow it down! He will be meeting my family New Years Day and I'm nervous because they, as far as I know, have never had an interaction with a d/Deaf person so I think I will play interpreter for them to understand the signing. Would you have any tips for the hearing family when meeting the Deaf partner? 🙂

  • Meg Willsher

    My bestie (who is deaf) is married to an amazing hearing guy. There are bad and good outcomes. I'm so happy that my bestie is happy, and I also sympathise with people that struggle because my bestie had been there.

  • AllieSpeaks

    So question for you, while epilepsy isn't the same as being Deaf I tend to compare the two. 1. There's frustrations on ignorant people. For instance I'm not retarded I just don't have a normal nervous system. Deaf people aren't retarded either their mode of communication tends to be different.
    2. Bullying due to asking for accommodations.
    3. Depression when you wish life wasn't so hard, that sometimes you didn't need to spend hours explaining your different body to others.
    4. pitiful kicked the puppy looks during interviews or first dates.
    so question is, are these comparisons inaccurate or rude? I will not fully understand ears that don't work 100% (i did at one point for a year as a toddler but I'm talking about my life as it is today). as a partner will never understand why I scream and shout while also throwing up after a seizure.

  • Renee Parrinello

    I am HoH and my husband is hearing. He does pretty well with me, but it took him a bit to get used to some things. Like making sure I see his face when I talk and don't try to chat with me from another room or I will end up just hearing Charlie Brown's teacher.

  • Saimeren

    Honestly, I don't think dating a deaf girl (as a hearing guy) would be that big of an issue for me. Everyone's different, and love is all about accepting your other half for their faults.

    Sure it might be difficult in the beginning, but I think over time you would become comfortable enough with each other that you could communicate in your own way, and understand each other perfectly.

    I wouldn't actively seek out a girl with a disability, but if one came along that had the personality that I liked, and there was a connection between us, I wouldn't shy away from pursuing her.

  • Lacey Starz

    I haven't dated since I was like 18, I'm 22 now, only ever had one boyfriend, barley lasted but he didn't care that I was deaf, although sometimes he would be a pure dick and tell me shit people say about me when I was around that I never heard nor wanted to know, but that's more down to him being an emotionally abusive bastard. anyway, everytime I like someone or meet people, so so many of them freak out and act werid and don't know how to act and never give me a chance, its the same with pals, its really fucking shitty in my hometown and job, everyones a fucking asshole, and ive tried going to therapy for being deaf but theres never enough to say and never enough time, so its this contanst warp and brainwash thinking noones ever wanna gonna be my mate or boyfriend cause I'm deaf and they cant deal with it or whatever, idk, I'm tired cause I'm the one who has to live it with not them, why is everyone a fucking asshole, I always try my best to hide that I'm deaf cause its far far too much fucking hassle and abuse. god I'm so godamn tired
    sorry for my rant, I deal with so many shitty people and having a hard time accepting being deaf, a really hard time

  • Samir C. Cat

    Question from an ignorant person trying to learn – what's the difference between Deaf and deaf? It seems to be important? (English isn't my first language)

  • slowfire2

    I'm hard of hearing and my language is Swedish sign language. I feel really invalidated and less than a person when the people who are supposed to be closest to me refuse to learn my language. It is a huge reason why my relationships shrivel up and die. Or just be about the most necessary logistics. I would need meet someone who knows my language or is really interested in learning it. I need that connection.

  • DawnDreams 26

    This is really great for me. I'm a hard of hearing teenager ( The doctors said it'll get progressively worse and in at most 10 years ill be completely deaf) But im starting to get into the dating scene and it sucks sometimes. So this was great.

  • Jack Clary

    I just saw this video and I see you point out a movie that calls "Hear Me" that I was not aware of. I was checking out what the movie is about. For those who like to see the foreign TV show that is similar to the deaf-hearing relationship. You should check out the two foreign TV show that called "Orange Days" and "Can You Hear My Heart?". For those who like Anime movie, check out "koe no katachi" (A Silent Voice).

  • Lacey Starz

    it affects everyone, am deaf, ive dated and done friends benefits thing with them, but it always bothered them when i couldn't hear them, like they tried really hard not to let it bother them but i could tell it did

  • Alew

    nice vid. never dated a deaf girl before but thats very interesting. It is like dating a chinese girls needs to learn a new language and culture

  • Sabrina Menten

    Hi rikki, i think you doing great and its easy to say but you have no need te nervous for. People asking Some weird questions like why would a hearing person a deaf person or why would a sighted person a blind person. And although there are much people who discriminate on disability, Color or whatever i think its rude and completely unnessesary because love is blind. So how somebody looks like or what limitations somebody has should be matter at all. I am limitated. I hear, see and can walk. But i do understand whats it like. Because of much ear infections and a lots of ear trouble sometimes i hear worse. And i dont hear very well but doktors cant find anything so they say always that my nasal cavities are clogged. Its a chronical issue en i need to look at the person who talks to me. I cant stand loud noise and i cant talk if there are others talking around me. And i am also a person who has to ask a lot sorry what did you say, i cant hear you. And that is very frustrating not only for the other person but for me to. My husband always say to me you need hearing aids. But he is the one who talk to me when he is in the kitchen when i am in the livingroom. Doctors says it isnt nessesary and hearing test tell that my ears are fine and the problems are my cavities. But i totally understand the issues because i can really empathise with everyone. And i dont belong to the deaf or hard of hearing world (yet). The issues i just describe is familiair in our family. Sometimes i am anxious that there Will be a day that i really become deaf. But great video. Love sabrina

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