Guest post from Deaf Girly who lives in London.
When I saw Scope’s End the Awkward campaign featuring the girl with hearing aids in the bar, I was transported back to my twenties when I was new to London and out every night, and single.
Now, dating in your twenties is awkward enough. But for me, deafness added another layer of awkward to the ‘flirting in bar’ scenario. Take the night of four kisses. There I was dancing away when a man started talking to my ear. He was cute. But I had no idea what he was saying. So I took his face and moved it so I could lipread. And he kissed me. Ten minutes later, it happened again, with a different guy. And again. And again. Until I had four guys in one club who all thought I was into them. Problem is, kissing guys before they know your name is not usually the best way to get a date. So I remained single, albeit with a lot of kissing experience.
After a year of this, I signed up to online dating. I chose not to put my deafness on my profile and instead tell guys when I met them. My first date was in a noisy bar with a mumbling man. The effort of trying to hear him over the background noise was exhausting. At 10pm I was asleep, head on the bar, my gin and tonic untouched. The man slunk out, never to be seen again.
This trend continued. I met guys in dark bars where I just nodded and smiled like a nutter. I went climbing with a man who kept yelling instructions at me when I was halfway up the wall – helpful. And, on one occasion, I told a guy I couldn’t hear and he made his excuses and left.
But it wasn’t all bad. One guy took me to a silent movie. Another told me he could sign before showing me the standard (and slightly rude) sign about bulls that everyone says they know.
And then last summer I met a guy at a friend’s summer party. He walked into the kitchen where I was putting the icing on a lemon drizzle cake. I was so distracted by him that I drizzled the floor and my feet, completely missing the cake.
I didn’t tell him about my deafness as he had an easy-to-hear low voice. But then as night fell in the garden, it became harder to hear so I told him. His reaction was wonderful. He asked a few questions and then paid attention to make sure I could hear him – sitting by a candle to light up his face and looking at me at all times
Nearly a year on, the wonderful man continues to be wonderful. He’s attentive without being patronising, helpful without being suffocating and accepts that my deafness is a part of me in a way I wish I could have done when I first learnt I was deaf.
With him there is no awkward. Proof along with Scope’s campaign that it really is possible – and time – to end the awkward.