How to date a Deaf person?

I’m noticing there are more hearing people dating deaf people largely because they are learning ASL and think we’re cool people. Here’s the list below.

1. You need to know ASL (duh) and be darned good at it or have a passion for it. It takes a long time to develop “deaf eyes”. How do you know if you have them? You don’t find yourself saying “what’s that sign or what did s/he just say?” anymore and able to talk with our Deaf friends at ease without looking at us for help.

2. If you don’t know what’s that sign or what we’re talking about, ask. Please don’t pretend.

3. Don’t over-patronize. If we want to order food on our own, let us.

4. Don’t ever feel bad for our inability to hear. It’s irrelevant like we don’t feel bad that you can hear.

5. You are not an interpreter but there will be times you will need to interpret. If it becomes annoying, you should have second thoughts about dating one.

6. If you happen to know or meet a hearing friend who knows ASL, talk in ASL. Save your voice for your non-signing friends.

7. Respect each other’s culture. We don’t mind hanging out with your speaking-only friends but not all the time and you don’t have to hang out with us all the time. Balance is nice. Example: if you want to go to a movie theater with your friends and it doesn’t have subtitles or captions, don’t feel bad. Remember #4.

8. If you really want to date a deaf person, watch “Children of Lesser God” first to get some idea.

9. It’s impolite not to tell us who you got off the phone with.

10. We like loud music. Deal with it.

Hope these help. Happy dating!


27 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Wolfers

    I beg to differ about #5. I have dated a few hearing guys and I NEVER had them interpret for me. I did and will NEVER ask them to take on that responsbility. In my belief, if there is a need for interpreters, I’ll ask that location to provide an interpreter (as I did for when we went to a night tour of New Orleans.) I don’t know about you but I am fiercely independent and I don’t believe in relying on anyone. If I don’t understand someone, determinating on the situation, I will ask that person to either write down or repeat saying it. And before you assume, I am not a good speaker or lip-reader. Several hearing folks told me that they dated deaf folks and found out that they ended up interpreting overmuch that they WONDERED if the deaf person was “dating” them for “free” interpreting or for relationship itself. GOOD question.


  2. Suzy

    DO YOU date hearing person along with interpreter?
    YOU know Marlee Matlin did play on L Word show on Showtime on televsion.. She is dating hearing lady along with male interpreter..
    OMG that gives hearies world wrong impression. That we deaf people are depending on interpeter .. NO WAY!
    I do date hearing lady and we learn to communicate by teaching ASL and write notes for a while then in time she will learn to sign if she is really interesting serious to be with you then teach them ASL will do fine!
    FORGET interpreter on dating … Im not very imppressed with Marlee playing in L Word.

  3. asdf

    Why you said that? Do you think we are idiot!? That only questions that you wrote to see what we respond that can educated yourself. Duh.

  4. natech

    I didn’t mean to sound like that, to use them as interpreters. I was thinking more along those lines: a hearing girl and I are meeting her friends for dinner. Do I just sit there at the table, looking at them talk while I play with my food? I don’t think so. I would expect her to interpret a bit and try to stay involved in the conversation.

    All I’m saying there will be times that she would need to interpret like if we’re meeting her family but ofc you are right, never use her like she’s a full time interpreter. That would be awful.

  5. natech

    After receiving emails and your comments, I’ve edited the #5 to make it more clear. Thanks all for your input. :-)

  6. Lantana

    Well what about when the deaf person and the hearing person are dating and they go to a totally deaf party? The deaf person will have to do some interpreting there!

  7. At the first I disagree with rule #5 but after reading your comments, I understand what you mean.

    I might would have worded it differently like not using the word “interpreting” since it’s a such loaded word in Deaf World.

    Maybe something like “From time to time during your conversations with non-signing persons, it’d be nice to fill in with your Deaf date regarding what’s being said, something like a summary.”

    Something like that. *shrug* I think there’s alot of preferences regarding that. Some persons may want word for word but me – I’m satisfied with a summary because most of the time conversations are about… nothing. Nothing important. If I’m interested in knowing more, I’d just ask questions and go from there.

    Anyway, a good list!

  8. Lantana – sorry, I disagree. A Deaf person is constantly surrounded by gumflappers. Then finally he is among his own peers who can communicate with him in his own language. I say, the hearing person just will have to figure out how to adapt.

  9. BEG

    Um, whatever happened to dating a [deaf, hearing, purple] person BECAUSE YOU LIKED THAT PERSON?

    If you really want to polish up your ASL skills then can’t you just hang out with deaf people?

    Children of a Lesser God gives you some idea, but it does not encompass the full range of possibilities either.

    Still I suppose the above list is good if you happen to find yourself dating a deaf person.

  10. fieryz

    It’s depend on hearing person’s personailty. I have dated a few hearing guys. I perfer who is a patient person. I dont mind to have a hearing boyfriend if he’s very patient. Im fully deaf woman.

  11. siftus

    Wow. reading these forums gives me so much more depth into peoples experiences than reading dry articles. Its nice to see what people (hearing or non) have on their minds. Before I flap my gums I’d like to thank everyone for their insight.

    I’m a “hearie” lol, so keep that in mind.

    I’ve found that in dating body language is one of the most important aspects anyway. To look into your companion’s eyes and see each other’s thoughts with no actual communication is part of what dating and eventually love is really about anyway. The million words that are transferred though just a touch transcend any other forms of human language. These are the simple things that come before a relationship can flourish at all and then you begin to hash out stuff like trust and goals or who interprets for who. (I apoplogize. My grammar is as bad as my sign.)

    I have a close friend I adore (not dating to my chagrin. lol. yeah i’m hilarious) and we have attended both hearing and non hearing parties together. We do tend to rely on each other for a certain level of interpretation yet I think we both find it somewhat patronizing when the other interprets unwarranted. But sometimes she sees me get lost or vice versa, then that previously mentioned eye communication kicks in, and then the other intervenes with a bit of catching up as you might put it. I surely will catch her up as I refuse to let her feel left out and evidently get bored enough to retreat to the ole sidekick.

    Our friendship is very much based on patience and humor. I have a feeling dating between deaf, HOH, and hearing ppl would have to be similar. Her friends make fun of my somewhat juvenile ASL (even though I’ve known a sliver for over fifteen years without enough practice to be seasoned.) and I make fun of my hearie friends in sign to get a smile out of her.

    It’s about the smile is my point to all this.

    Every bond is different and has its own unique set of rules even if they are unspoken. I think this list is very interesting and helpful, yet each relationship should be just as unique as the individuals involved.

    Love is a funny thing. Yeah?

  12. siftus

    Oh, and as a sidenote…..
    I love the last one.
    I like loud music too, probably why I’m loosing my hearing.

  13. natech

    Siftus, are you in love with someone who’s deaf? seems like you are. Yup, love is a funny thing, true that.

  14. I fell in love with a listener.

    No. She doesn’t hear like I hear. But g-d. She takes in everything. I remember wishing that I would experience half as much as I can tell she experiences. I wish I would pay attention as she does.

    So. Tip for the hearing. Listening is what separates the life lived from the life experienced.

    Here’s my tip list for the listening impaired …

    1, Reading lips is awesome. Learn it. A loud restaurant will never be the same.

    2. Get acknowledgment. Don’t settle for “Yes.” If you don’t think she heard you. Say it another way.

    3. It’s not about hearing or not hearing, it’s about finding the talents of your loved one. Finding your loved one’s talent is life lived in surround sound.

    4. Position yourself to hear everything. Your girl will want to be in tune with the conversation. It’s not necessarily about hearing. It’s about participating. For example. If you were a star basketball player. And a friend who didn’t play much joined you in a game. Wouldn’t you toss her a pass with a clean line to the hoop? Of course you would!

    5. If you really want to know what it’s like to date a deaf person, then date a deaf person. Sorry. But the Children’s thing is just stupid. I’ve found that dating a person who happens to be deaf has been more about being with the person I’ve wanted to be with than being with a person who doesn’t hear like I hear.

  15. Jennifer

    I would never date a deaf person period. There would be too many challenges of communication. I would never date someone who is handicapped, mentally retarded, etc.

  16. Haha you’re funny but sorry to hear that you feel that way. If that’s how you feel, then sure, be that way. No one is telling you to date a deaf person.

  17. Baby Brown Eyes

    A deaf person is no different to any sufficient other who is able to hear.I’m a hearing girl and been involved with a guy who is completly deaf and never treated him any differently to anyone else.jennifer that’s your own oppion and Natech i agree with you nobody is telling her to date a deaf person and using a strong word as “mentally retarded” is so heartless

  18. CSO

    To be honest … dating a deaf person or a hearing person – the choice is really up to any individual.

    I either like to date hearing or deaf people. I know by dating an hearing person is really tough because for given lack of cultural understanding of how we deaf people live in everyday life. Dating an hearing person, of course, gives me a great opportunity to build up wealth because, generally, hearing people earns more income than deaf people – I am speaking only when we are married.

    However, I met several deaf divorcees – they were unhappy with hearing partners. I don’t see any reasons that hearing people are really bad people. They have several reasons – you can name – communication and poor cultural understanding as two of main reasons why marriage or dating does not work very well.

    So, the choice of dating is really up to them … whatever does not work out very well – the responsibility goes to both of them. No need to criticize .. who is right or who is wrong. :)

  19. debbie

    you can’t help who you fall in love with. my cousin is dating a woman who happens to be deaf, but she is very sweet and they are good for each other. all the power to them :)

  20. kahlua

    hi…i really like this guy whos deaf…we text each other a lot..he made an efford to see me b4 he left for college…that was really sweet of him…i really like him…i dont know if he likes me or not ..cuz if he would be a ragual guy i would know that he likes me..but i dont know i think deaf people are really sweet weather they like u or not..may be am wrong i dont know ..i have not yet met a rude deaf am confuesd..hes not dating any one n i dont know weather he would like a girl who can hear…is he just being nice or he like me as well…

  21. kahlua

    due to lack of education abt deaf people i dont know weather hes like hearing guys or do unhearing guys have different way of liking girls…

  22. natech

    Hi Kahlua,

    Nice to hear from you. First of all, anybody who is deaf isn’t any different from other hearing people. So there may be some deaf people who are rude, some others nice. The reason he may like you is because you simply make efforts to communicate with him, which doesn’t happen very often with other people. Now, you said he’s in college, so maybe it is best that you both keep in touch and be friends till he comes back. From that moment, you both will know what to do. Good luck!

  23. Genny

    This is so true i love your list
    i have only dated 1 deaf person but, all my friends
    are deaf!So yeah its so true the part where
    you said to ask dont act like you
    know what they are talking about
    There have been so many times ive been
    lost but,now i always ask
    well i also have a comment for JENNIFER

  24. Shannon

    This is very interesting, I musy say after reading this whole thing.

    I am a deaf girl myself…
    I find that I am not very much interested in dating deaf guys, just because I am deaf. It is like Italians must be with only Italians and stick to their own races, disability etc.

    For a hearing person to date a deaf person they both must be willinging to meet in the middle and as a person said before, it is all about balance, and not relying on one another to interpret all the time. I, myself often find sometimes in social situation it is easier to interpret as not everyone has the perfect level of understanding sign language or spoken language.

    I find I need to be around hearing people, as well as deaf people, as they are my keys to the hearing world.
    I am in between deaf and hearing world and I go back and forth between them.
    However I really love it when the hearing people try to sign, and this shows courage and unfortunately yes, some deaf people make fun of their signs, just as hearing people make fun of the deaf people’s speeches and voices.

    I have been with hearing guys, but they weren’t interested in learning sign language (only when they’re drunk and the signs they learnt were quickly forgotten as they sober up) so it was obviously a bye-bye to them.

    Sign language, is just another language like Indian, Italian etc etc

    Deaf people expierences the world visually, so SHOW them and INVOLVE them and they will understand, don’t just tell them.

    P.S we are not retarded or spastic either. Thank you.

  25. Hi Folks,

    I run – and we feel it’s important for deaf people in the community to be able to reach out and contact others with similar interests in order to enrich their lives.

    Please contact me if you’d like any more information.

    Many Thanks and Have a great day!!


  26. Ginny

    Hey there,
    I’m a hearing girl, but I have a great passion for ASL and deaf culture!
    I’m currently learning about 5 signs a day and I hope to one day be able to have a smooth conversation with someone without getting lost in the conversation.
    I have only met 2 Deaf people in my whole life, One of which was extremely rude and the other a very sweet person. Just because the guy is nice AND deaf doesn’t make every deaf person nice.
    I’m hoping to someday find a group of deaf people to hang out with so I can use what I’m learning.
    I never feel bad about someone being deaf, I am actually jealous! They get to experience something I never really can which is to be a part of an interesting, bold and strong culture full of people who are so..Amazing!
    And one last thing, Jennifer, If you say that you would NEVER date someone who is deaf or if they have anything else that doesn’t quite work the way you want, Then you’re just limiting yourself in a little bubble of people you can date! It’s like saying you won’t date a blonde or someone who is white, you have just cut millions of people out of your heart!

    Ginny <3
    P.S. I love my music LOUD, so I can feel the vibrations of the drums in my whole body; It's FANTASTIC :D

  27. heather

    Hi I’m heather,
    I’m currently falling for someone whose born deaf… we just clicked on so many levels but he never learned to sign he actually has an implant and talks.. I really like him a lot and think he’s a great guy but I am scared for the challenges ahead. Like I’ve never dated someone who was deaf and I don’t want him to feel like I don’t accept him when I do and I think its incredible the challenges faced my deaf individuals and I respect that 100%.
    I just wanted some imput.. we literally just met and this kid is the sweetest guy I’ve ever met and I feel like I can just be myself completely and he’s amazing. I just want to know some inside from those who are deaf on how you would want a hearing girl to act towards you and not be offended.. like sometimes I feel like he didn’t hear me or I talked to fast or mumbled ( I’m a mumbler :/ ) but like how do I help him feel like I can do this and work with him without hurting him or frustrating him by doing those things…
    Hopefully that made sense!
    Thanks guys

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