“I am an older woman and I have been in contact with deaf communities for more than 20 years, today, I feel that I have fallen in love with a deaf man younger than me. I don’t dare tell her and it worries me to continue platonically in love. Although I know his world and I’m a signer, I don’t dare to dismiss the idea of being able to have a relationship or adventure with him either. Between us there is great empathy, affinity, shared ideals, etc… common causes unite us. Culturally and educationally we are level. Neither is committed, but he sees me only as a friend since he has never manifested himself in any other way.
Should I continue like this or try to get close to him?”
“[…] I am 27 years old and my boyfriend is deaf… I fell in love with him the moment I saw him. Then I found out about his disability and nothing really changed me… We’ve been together for 2 years now, I learned sign language from him and we complement each other excellently. […]”
“[…] The deaf do not need compassion, but respect and consideration as a human being who thinks and feels…”
Deaf Person, Colombia
“I have been engaged for a year to a hearing man who loves me deeply, he has been an excellent man even though I speak very well as I am deaf with hearing loss, we have no problems understanding… Thanks to him, we had the most beautiful experience I have ever had. shared in life…”
“Hello… I am a 15-year-old hearing girl, and I have a classmate who is deaf. When I met him, I didn’t pay much attention to him: he was a partner, and nothing more. Later, I got to know him better, and no matter how hard it is for us to understand each other -several times I had to resort to a notebook- we always make each other laugh and have a great time together. Just today I was able to talk to him, yes, TALK to him, even if it was only through chat – most of the time I wrote, and he signed me back – for the first time: I was deeply moved, and I felt very happy […]”
“[…] I am a profoundly deaf person and I know that I would never fall in love with a hearing person because I would feel very insecure… I prefer with a postlingually deaf person than with a hearing person, that is very clear […]”
“ […] Two years ago I met a deaf man, at first I thought he was hearing, and I liked him a lot, later I found out he was deaf and since I had never had contact with deaf people before, I became even more interested.[…]”
“[…] I would like to be able to receive help for my relationship with my boyfriend, who is profoundly deaf, I thought it was perfect, but I have discovered things that make me feel bad… he does things that I do not think about, feeds his insecurities and makes him more possessive… [… ]”
The scene is recurring. Someone has been learning sign language for a while and suddenly meets a Deaf person  who seems exceptional to them. -Can not be! Could it be that I am falling in love with a Deaf? How can such a relationship work if I am a listener?
Although, although I consider that I am not the right person to write a paper on moral issues (there are more reliable and better sources than the Internet to look for this type of information; parents, a mature friend who knows you well enough, etc. ) and in addition to pretending to make my writings eminently academic reflections, some time ago I had the idea of talking about the romantic relationships between hearing and Deaf people. Considerations from my experience as boyfriend and husband of a Deaf person that are based on a cultural approach.
Now that I read again that I just wrote ” my experience ” I can’t help but let out a small laugh. One speaks of experience after 15, 20 or maybe 25 years of marriage… that’s experience. I’ve only had a Deaf wife for a few years. So, despite not feeling authoritative to define this and that, here are some points.
Don’t fall in love with yourself.
Get off the cloud, it’s easy to fantasize. Don’t let Ricardo Arjona’s song happen to him, ‘ You didn’t fall in love with me, but with you, when you’re with me ‘ The listener doesn’t fall in love with the Deaf person, but with himself sharing with the Deaf person. That is not love, many times it is just the effect of idealizing (seeing them perfect) Deaf people by perceiving their cultural traits as something exotic. The fact that a person has a different culture does not mean that they are perfect in themselves, or that they are perfect for you, that they make me happy (be careful with that egocentric expression), or that I can make them happy. Actually that is selfish.
Do not enter into a relationship with a Deaf person with the goal of becoming a better signer or better interpreter.. In addition to being selfish, it is unloving to play with someone’s feelings just to use them as a professional or social springboard. Furthermore, although you will certainly have more opportunities to use sign language, that is no guarantee that it will make you a proficient signer and less of a good interpreter (because you will need to be a proficient user of Spanish as well, and what experience shows is that interpreters who are children of Deaf people or married to Deaf people should make an additional effort not to deteriorate their oral language skills). What happens is that some bilingual listeners -in the sense that they know sign language and Spanish- are prey to the prestige cultural schemes of the Deaf community, which seem to establish a certain “status” in descending order as follows :
a) Pure Deaf [Deaf family for generations]
b) Deaf children of Deaf
c) Hard-of-hearing deaf,
e) CODA’s [Hearing children of the Deaf] f) Interpreters with relatives of the Deaf
g) Interpreters without a Deaf family
h) Listener who knows some sign language
Thus, to move up the “status” ladder in the Deaf community, a hearing person might be tempted to mate with a Deaf person. Seeing this in anthropological terms. However, that would not be a good foundation to build human relationships, in addition to having little linguistic impact, because as it once seemed to me to “listen” to a Deaf leader, it happens that many hard of hearing and deaf people (who would be in the 3rd and 4th place on our scale of prestige) can be equal to or even better than many “Pure Deaf” (1st place) and many interpreters without a Deaf family (7th on the scale) can be better than some CODA’s (5th on the scale) The matter is very relative and therefore depends on many variables.
You are not Deaf, and you never will be. (I speak in cultural terms, of course, excluding illness, accident or self-mutilation)
This consideration could perfectly well be a derivation of the first. It may seem exciting to live in a “world of silence” and the closest I can get to experiencing it is to share it with a Deaf person. No, if you think like that you’re wrong, it’s not exciting. Starting because that idyllic “world of silence” does not exist in practice for Deaf people. As Carol Padden comments early in her pioneering work Deaf in America: Voices of Culture (1988)the Deaf have known how to appropriate the world of sound in visual and tactile terms. The fact that they do not hear does not mean that they give up voluntarily or involuntarily to produce sounds (especially if their phonatory apparatus is not affected). Although the vast majority of Deaf people accept their condition as a cultural way of life and are not ashamed or deny their deafness, on the contrary, in some cases they see it as something natural and come to feel an ethnocentric pride in their deafness. Being deprived of a sense is not fun, at least not in 20 or 30 years, the matter is less fun if you can not fully know the messages in the language of the majority culture. It is not a matter of living in the peace of silence, it is a matter of access to information,
She/He is a Deaf person and will be forever (at least in this world)
This point complements and is the continuation of the previous one. What could happen is that:
i) our individual thinks that by getting married, he will become Deaf himself (and therefore a good signer) or
ii) by dating, the Deaf person will become culturally hearing.
That is, either I go deaf or she hears . When in reality it is both (I will show that later) I want to point out a realistic perspective of the relationship with someone who does not share my way of life, a relationship that one cannot start ideologized, attributing moral or cultural value judgments to deafness (either good or bad). Otherwise, you will end up frustrated trying to be the doctor, the speech pathologist, the psychologist, the father or the mother of your future partner. To be realistic is to see the issues with their pros and cons.
Avoid split personality.
About this I will write later and in more detail. Are you one person when you speak and another when you sign? hmm…bad sign. In any case, the phenomenon does not seem to be exclusive to sign languages, as there is research that shows that the issue is more common than it seems. However, I believe that it is one thing to “act” by signing sporadically (perhaps imitating the way a deaf model signs) and another is to live daily with sign language; talk about what is most intimate and personal, discuss, shout (in signs), insult, speak ironically, ask for forgiveness, sign while crying, laugh while signing… if you are someone else with a smiley facewhen he signs, I think that sooner or later that listener that we all carry inside will emerge and that one will be another (and quite different) for the bewildered Deaf couple. Make an effort to be the same when you sign, that when you speak, do not allow yourself certain licenses expressing in signs what you would not be able to express speaking and vice versa.
Avoid Deaf victimization.
If you go into a relationship thinking you’re doing the Deaf person a favor, you’re bound to run into trouble. I understand “Deaf victimization” as that social stereotype that leads us to think that being deaf is a condition of suffering that exempts people from some civil and social responsibilities, therefore, the Deaf are always the victims, and they must be compensated for it’s. So they shouldn’t have to pay taxes, they should be given the cheapest items for sale, and they should get free entry to all events. The truth is that a Deaf person will tell me – «You say it that way because you don’t know what it means to be Deaf» and he will be right. For those of us who are hearing, it is easier for us to say it, and we must admit that the Deaf have to assume all the responsibilities and duties as citizens without respecting a large part of their rights.
However, if this “positive discrimination” is taken to the extreme, Deaf victimization is reached. Now, I think that Deaf victimization is not only of the Deaf, many times the hearing person tends towards attitudes where he assumes a paternalistic role that makes the Deaf person feel comfortable. So, do not start a relationship in the role of a Spanish or English teacher, a speech therapist, a special educator, a psychologist, a linguist, or an interpreter, etc. Of course it is not bad to share knowledge and experiences but if you want to fall in love, fall in love with a person, not with a social, work or academic role. That brings us to the next point.
Fall in love with a person, not with deafness.
It is closely related to what I have said before, I think it reflects a form of Deaf victimhood in the listener. Think about the qualities of the defects and qualities of THE PERSON, I know that many associate some attitudes and behaviors with the «deaf culture» -for now I do not dare to discuss that- the truth is that if you do not support certain behaviors and perhaps for having two personalities, one per language, lets them pass by assuming that they are “cultural” is making a serious mistake.
A golden rule.
A few years ago, when I was invited to sing some songs with the guitar on the anniversary of a couple celebrating their “golden anniversary” (50 years of marriage) to set the scene for the celebration, it occurred to me to ask: – Well, according to you, which is the secret to staying married for so long? to which they responded
– Well, nothing special, that she has accepted me as I am and I have accepted her as she is, just that.
Truly, a long-lasting relationship is a matter of putting up with each other over time, obviously, putting up with each other on the basis of love. As much as we are meticulous and selective with the person with whom we are going to fall in love, the human factor will always be present, in this case… the Deaf factor. However, you have to keep in mind that you also have to put up with it. What do you think about putting up with a hypersensitive and compulsive listener who listens to things from all sides -even where there is “nothing”- who needs in some way from time to time to “speak” advocating that he is different and that sometimes he does not know what he wants , because he cannot express it in sign language and from time to time he only limits himself to saying “it’s just that you don’t understand me”. So a Deaf person can see us, not as much as complexesbut as complicated . Then we must abandon messianism to start a relationship with a Deaf person, we are not better humans, or gold coins, or the saviors to assume the role of martyrs.
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The issue is both sides, you must accept that the person is Deaf and will be, and the Deaf person must accept that you are hearing , also permanently. And so they will be accepted… or endured. Here I make a clarification: “accepting” or “bearing” does not mean that the relationship must become tortuous or that you must resign yourself. If you do not enjoy within the Deaf community, living as Deaf and the Deaf person does not enjoy within the hearing contexts, living as a hearer (although we know that in both cases they could not actually be so) the matter will not work, I repeat , it will not work. Better find someone who listens. In that sense, you must be willing to deafen yourself and she or he to listen,at the same time or when needed. It is what some deaf call having a “deaf spirit”; that you culturally, linguistically and socially look like a Deaf, being hearing. What I must point out is that the Deaf couple must also have a certain “hearing spirit” that is willing to understand life culturally, linguistically and socially as a hearing person, even if they are Deaf. This last point is summed up in the words of Jesus “Therefore whatever things you want men to do to you, you also ought to do to them as well” (Matthew 7:12).
I may seem crude or acid in my comments, but it is the best way to give a recommendation that is realistic and that makes you fall in love not only with your heart, but with your brain. I personally feel grateful to have married the mother of my daughters, it is a blessing from God. The matter that she was Deaf was circumstantial, even so, spending this time with a person who has a different cultural conception of the world has enriched me enormously. Yes, it is true, it is very different from what I imagined, and in addition to “joys” there have also been “sorrows”, each time that passes, our love is reaffirmed and refined by tests like fire. I married her and hers her world Her deaf, I married the fact that I have to be an interpreter 24 hours a day, I married sign language, I married an overprotective mother-in-law… with tactile sign language at night, with the fact of going up and down the stairs to call her (In that sense I feel Deaf, well, orality is useless to me) and I am happy like this. My wife therefore married me and my Listening world, married my complex family problems, my music, my boring and unintelligible listening explanations, married my books and their theories, my inexplicable instinct to turn my head every time I hear something… with my mood swings. And yet, I give thanks that you are still by my side. married my complex family problems, my music, my boring and unintelligible listener explanations, married my books and their theories, my inexplicable instinct to turn my head every time I hear something… my mood swings. And yet, I give thanks that you are still by my side. married my complex family problems, my music, my boring and unintelligible listener explanations, married my books and their theories, my inexplicable instinct to turn my head every time I hear something… my mood swings. And yet, I give thanks that you are still by my side.
That is all
Grades Although I will try to refer to a gender-neutral “Deaf person” sometimes, for linguistic economy, I will refer to a hypothetical male-hearing/female-Deaf relationship . Although there are marked cultural differences in the inverse relationship woman-hearing / man-Deaf, for the moment, the considerations that I write are intended for both types of relationship.
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