“WHAT DO I SAY!?”
“You always tell me what to say. You know. And you’ve done it before.” My (Deaf brother) insisted.
“I know, I know. It still makes me just a little nervous.”
[Proceed to come up with 5 different possibilities]
This is my typical reaction when it’s time to spill the news (or at least make sure they figured it out.)
Although I have to say I find it fascinating and enjoyable to watch the variety of reactions. I am self-assured so it does not bother me if a guy disappears because that’s saved us both the hassle and awkwardness. But of course, I’m still eager to make new friends, and don’t want to the person to back down.
After I moved to the city (making this whole ‘Fit in the City’ thing legit, right!?), I had a couple of first dates. I’ll call the gentlemen Mr. Improv and Craft Biker.
Mr. Improv asked me out for an improv show and/or drinks.
Obviously, I asked for drinks first, because I didn’t want to throw him into “let’s find a sign language interpreter for the improv show’ when we hadn’t even met. So that was my cue to tell him.
I settled on this:
“Blah blah. Also, I noticed it hasn’t come up in conversation. I mentioned using ASL in my bio, because I’m Deaf. I work with hearing people all day so I don’t think it will be an issue. Are you cool with that?”
[Tension mounted as I waited for a response]
Guess what Mr. Improv’s response was?
“Yes, I saw that; totally. (Thumbs up emoji)”
Empathy on the first dates
I asked if we could find a place with good lighting, so I could lip-read, Mr. Improv looked up the pictures of possible restaurants that had most light.
We settled on a place where we talked for a couple of hours, and he stopped a few times to ask if I was following along fine. Nice!
A second date didn’t happen, though and I had a new first date, with Craft Biker, couple weeks later.
Exact same thing happened. Before he met, he said:
“You seem like the kind of girl that enjoys BBQ, dancing and live folk/jazz. Am I right?”
DUH YES, YES and…errr, kind of….
I decided to use the same line I did with Mr. Improv, keeping it simple, and held my breath once again.
I asked if we could avoid one of those “resume-exchanging” dates, and he wholeheartedly agreed. He decided he would teach me how to make flowers over empanadas.
Not only that, he asked me how HE could make it easier for ME. It was nice to be on the other side.
I basically told him exactly what I wrote in the last post.
Eye contact – check
Gesture – check
Speaking normally (not too fast/slow) – check
He did it all with ease. Bonus: He showed up having learned how to sign “Ready to make flowers?” in ASL.
Empathy will set you apart.
I may be single (I have no second dates planned) but I can help you a little in the communication department.
If you read my last empathy post, there are several action tips to improve empathetic behavior.
Yes, there are more things that will lead to a second date than empathy alone but it’s still a significant factor that will make the second date more likely to happen, or to keep your current relationship healthy.
The little ways the gentlemen showed empathy – by Googling pictures of the restaurant or asking me how they could do their part – left a lasting impression, regardless we’re a match or not. The lack thereof is brutally loud to me as a Deaf person. Think about the little things you could do for your dates or your current relationship, because the lack of such things causes wear and tear.
Chivalry is sexier when done with empathy.