Dating with a hidden disability

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 10, 2009 5:59 PM GMT
    Hi there--I'm 27, lean, fit, reasonably attractive (I think), educated and so forth. Have few problems getting anonymous hookups over the Internet, the kind that involve a minimum of personal interaction, but that's exactly my problem...

    I have a moderate-to-severe stutter, and it's really frustrating my attempts to date guys and get to know them on a level deeper than sex. Here's what typically happens: I'm at the gym, a social event, a party, or a bar, and I start making eye contact with someone. It's clear that he's into me, but once I try to introduce myself or he tries to engage me in conversation, he sees I have problems speaking. Invariably, he gets a look on his face like he's about to crawl out of his skin, and within a few minutes the conversation is over, he's vanished back into the crowd, and I'm alone again. I've tried Internet dating. Guys are usually fine when I tell them by email about my speech problem, but it always seems to get in the way of a "spark" happening when we meet in person.

    I assuming most of these guys are decent--I refuse to believe that every guy I meet is superficial and judgmental. So, my question is... put yourself in his position. What's going on in your head? How do I make you more comfortable? Would you think it's possible for you to go on a second date with someone like me? After I spend time around someone, I'm usually able to speak much more freely, although it's never absolutely normal. I have no problems making friends, but sexual attraction never seems to survive an encounter with my disability.

    I very much want to develop a personal connection with someone and appreciate any advice or suggestions.
  • DanBasil

    Posts: 173

    Aug 10, 2009 6:17 PM GMT
    It can be really hard dealing with this sort of thing. For a long time I had trouble dealing with meeting people especially at places where there was a lot of noise ie. clubs, bars, events etc. People would approach me to talk, but because I'm partially deaf they would get extremely offended that I couldn't understand what they were saying or I'd ask them to repeat themselves. It got very stressful, so I try to meeting people through social activities and volunteer work, there are some nice guys there and getting to know them better on a non-pick-up setting and then move from there, it's not as intriguing as the club scene pick-up but it's worked several times for me and I am currently in a relationship. So i wish you luck, but honestly people can be very insensitive especially when the disability is not easily visible to them. I wish you luck in your search for more than a wham-bam-thank-you-man encounter.icon_cool.gif
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    Aug 10, 2009 7:16 PM GMT
    I'd suggest trying speech therapy. I used to stutter a lot until my mid 20s and speech therapy really helped.

    Also, it's important to practice speaking as much as possible. I noticed that after moving to a big city alone, and being forced to communicate more often, the stuttering improved. Nowadays, people just assume I'm thinking if I say "umm". It's barely noticeable icon_smile.gif

    Hope it goes well for you!
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Aug 10, 2009 7:22 PM GMT
    aww, sorry to hear that stud. well, i know that i wouldn't ever turn down a guy for stuttering (I have a slight slur myself), so I am sure there are other guys out there. Perhaps the best approach is to meet someone in a social setting, like through friends, where the intent is just to get to know you, and once they see what a great guy you are, they'll see past the stutter.
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    Aug 10, 2009 7:26 PM GMT
    Well, first of all, good for you for taking the initiative to try and understand where others are coming from rather than just crawling back into a hole, yourself, and giving up. That takes courage and strength, as does living with any kind of disability, so you're way ahead in my book already icon_wink.gif.

    I haven't personally known anyone in my adult life with a similar problem, but I'm guessing that because most people don't encounter a person who stutters on a regular basis, that when they do it catches them totally off guard. They don't know what do say or how to act and are probably more self counscious than you are at that moment.

    In that case, I think I might address the issue head on and make light of it (not to make fun of yourself, but to say something that makes him feel more at ease with you). Once the elephant in the room is addressed and he doesn't have to feel as uncomfortable.

    If he's not willing to spend the time to get to know you and now just your disability, then he's ultimately not worth knowing anyway.
  • collegeguy06

    Posts: 7

    Aug 10, 2009 7:29 PM GMT
    i would date someone with a stutter. it honestly wouldn't bother me at all. i think the guys that dump you because of that are shallow. thats just my opinion.
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    Aug 10, 2009 7:31 PM GMT
    dcathlete,

    Is your stutter brought on by heightened physiological arousal i.e. when you are nervous or excited? Or is the stutter 24/7?

    Granted all other conditions being met, I would definitely go on a second date with a guy that stutters. I have a friend who stutters a lot and when he does I sorta just beatbox along with him, as we're both fans of house/trance music. It makes him laugh.
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Aug 10, 2009 7:36 PM GMT
    I don't think someone who stutters would be an issue for me, though I will admit I think it could get frustrating if we were having a fight.
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    Aug 10, 2009 7:42 PM GMT
    I'll be honesty... I would be surprised be someone with a stutter.

    But that's becasue I have never been around anyone with a stutter before... it's werid to me, and weird isn't always bad.

    That doesn't mean I couldn't tolerate it, ignore it, or completely get used to it and hardly ever notice it.

    Just realize that sometimes people get surpirsed... and they send off non-verbal messages they may not intend. They may not have known how to deal with it.

    Some guys are jerks. But even the nice guys sometimes get surprised and act in less than ideal ways.

    Explain yourself as youhave been. Ask them openly about their thoughts and feelings.
  • TadPohl

    Posts: 259

    Aug 10, 2009 7:43 PM GMT
    I am sorry that you're suffering through this issue, however I don't think it's as big a deal as you're making it.

    I have a straight friend from Germany who stutters. He possesses both an germanic accent AND a speech impediment! And yet with all these vocal obstacles, beautiful and often wonderful women are attracted to him and date him. Gay men also find themselves slack jawed and idiotic when he comes to clubs with me... regardless of his speech impediment.

    I am certain that there are a few people who are put off by his stutter, but I think that it's all the better that they stand aside. Why should anyone mold themselves to the standards of the intolerant? In the end he is bound to gorgeous women who love him for his true, unapologetic self. There is no game, there is no facade. They're drawn to his good looks, his energy and his confidence.
    The same should be true for you. Let the evil fags who judge you for your stutter stand aside so that you may make room for some Prince Charming who will accept you as you are...stutter and everything.

    Personally, I am attracted to confidence. If you have something different about you and you are apologetic about it... it becomes an immediate turn off. However if you are or have something special about you, embrace it and value yourself in spite of it or because of it I will probably become immediately drawn to you. Regardless of what characteristics you have that may stand you apart from the "norm", if you let it cripple you it WILL cripple you and sabotage any hopes of developing a meaningful relationship with anyone.

    Be yourself. Be sexy. Walk confidently into a room and remember that you deserve the best. Anything else substandard does not deserve you're time.

    IF you really have a problem communicating....I agree with some of the other commenters and suggest speech therapy:
    http://www.edubook.com/ways-to-fight-stuttering/1387/
    Perhaps it will help with your speech pattern, but not what you believe yourself to be worth.

    Good Luck
  • shirty

    Posts: 290

    Aug 10, 2009 7:49 PM GMT
    Tangtastic said Regardless of what characteristics you have that may stand you apart from the "norm", if you let it cripple you it WILL cripple you and sabotage any hopes of developing a meaningful relationship with anyone.


    This is great advice!
  • phunkie

    Posts: 325

    Aug 10, 2009 7:51 PM GMT
    dcathlete saidHi there--I'm 27, lean, fit, reasonably attractive (I think), educated and so forth. Have few problems getting anonymous hookups over the Internet, the kind that involve a minimum of personal interaction, but that's exactly my problem...

    I have a moderate-to-severe stutter, and it's really frustrating my attempts to date guys and get to know them on a level deeper than sex. Here's what typically happens: I'm at the gym, a social event, a party, or a bar, and I start making eye contact with someone. It's clear that he's into me, but once I try to introduce myself or he tries to engage me in conversation, he sees I have problems speaking. Invariably, he gets a look on his face like he's about to crawl out of his skin, and within a few minutes the conversation is over, he's vanished back into the crowd, and I'm alone again. I've tried Internet dating. Guys are usually fine when I tell them by email about my speech problem, but it always seems to get in the way of a "spark" happening when we meet in person.

    I assuming most of these guys are decent--I refuse to believe that every guy I meet is superficial and judgmental. So, my question is... put yourself in his position. What's going on in your head? How do I make you more comfortable? Would you think it's possible for you to go on a second date with someone like me? After I spend time around someone, I'm usually able to speak much more freely, although it's never absolutely normal. I have no problems making friends, but sexual attraction never seems to survive an encounter with my disability.

    I very much want to develop a personal connection with someone and appreciate any advice or suggestions.


    I wouldn't worry about the stutter. The only thing i can't stand is repeating things a lot which has nothing to do with any speech disability.

    You should try slowing down a bit. Speaking a bit slower may lessen the stutter.
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    Aug 10, 2009 8:16 PM GMT
    Timberoo saidI don't think someone who stutters would be an issue for me, though I will admit I think it could get frustrating if we were having a fight.


    LOL... actually, I can usually speak fine when I'm fighting with someone. Otherwise, it's pretty much 24/7, but to wildly varying degrees (almost nonexistent with my best friends, but quite severe with new acquaintances at times).

    Unfortunately, speech therapy has never helped.
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    Aug 10, 2009 8:49 PM GMT
    I applaud your perseverance...and please don't give up. I bet that you just haven't met the right guy. My good friend and former bf stutters and has since he was a child...to me it's just part of who he is...and we all have our special qualities that make us unique.
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    Aug 10, 2009 9:08 PM GMT
    dcathlete said
    Timberoo saidI don't think someone who stutters would be an issue for me, though I will admit I think it could get frustrating if we were having a fight.


    LOL... actually, I can usually speak fine when I'm fighting with someone. Otherwise, it's pretty much 24/7, but to wildly varying degrees (almost nonexistent with my best friends, but quite severe with new acquaintances at times).

    Unfortunately, speech therapy has never helped.


    So do you think it's anxiety related? I have an acquaintance who stutters a lot and has pretty bad anxiety problems. I too can get anxious in social situations where I don't know people well and sometimes I'll start speaking faster than my brain is formulating my thoughts thus I stutter or miscommunicate. The combination of the anxiety, and the trying to carry on a clear conversation can be kind of an overload. Around your close friends you're probably not going to be as anxious because they've already accepted you. Fighting with someone? At that moment one tends not to care about keeping up appearances as much.

    In all honesty I don't think the 20s to 30ish is the easiest time to find someone to build something substantial with, with or without a disability. A lot of people want it, the bar is just set way too high. Guys seem to be especially judgemental, they still have their looks, they're getting their feet firmly planted in their careers, they feel important and in demand, and therefore have less patience for obstacles. They're a bit more fresh off the issues that can make one feel a bit jaded after coming out of the closet. They've graduated from night clubs and frat parties to night lounges, and dinner parties and want to think they're sophisticated and superior to people who don't roam in that particular circle. Just the general impression that I've gotten. Not trying to cut down anyone, it just seems to be a stage that people who are still on the market and have yet to face any major life challenges seem to go through.
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    Aug 10, 2009 9:08 PM GMT
    SeaSon saidI'd suggest trying speech therapy. I used to stutter a lot until my mid 20s and speech therapy really helped.

    Also, it's important to practice speaking as much as possible. I noticed that after moving to a big city alone, and being forced to communicate more often, the stuttering improved. Nowadays, people just assume I'm thinking if I say "umm". It's barely noticeable icon_smile.gif

    Hope it goes well for you!
    Speech therapy will fix it. I used to have a minor stutter while I was in middle school. I'm in college and I haven't stuttered since.

    It also helps to ignore it, if you feel it coming ahead of time, your speech will definitely stutter.

    Thinking about what your about to say, even for the slightest second, also helps.

  • DCEric

    Posts: 3713

    Aug 10, 2009 9:10 PM GMT
    DCAthleate,

    1) To be honest your are trying to pick people up in places those of us without a stutter struggle, so it may be that you are not facing any more of a challenge than the rest of us. Most folks in relationships meet people doing similar social actividies in a non-typical place.

    2) This is something my mother once taught me (she is active in the disability community): If someone has a problem with your disability, that is in fact their disability. Though you seem to have already gotten this concept.
  • dh__

    Posts: 143

    Aug 10, 2009 9:18 PM GMT
    I got a friend that has a pretty bad stutter, but that's stupid if it's turn off.
    From what you've typed. I think it's kinda cute, but my bf says i'm werid so maybe it's just me.
    Personally, I would just say be yourself. I know that you feel that isn't working, but I see nothing wrong with it, You should haven't to worry about making the other person feel more comfortable if that is just being you. I'd think to try and make you more comfortable.
    And unless you came off as an asshole, I'd probably give a second date a chance.I think you just have to keep trying and I hope it all works out for you
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    Aug 10, 2009 10:26 PM GMT
    I have a real good friend who stutters. He is amazingly intelligent and very self-confident. Most people who meet him assume he is nervous , not sure of himself, or is insecure about himself and none of that is true. For him it is truly a neurological disorder that he works very hard to keep in control.
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    Aug 10, 2009 10:34 PM GMT
    A know a guy who had a HUGE studdering problem. What fixed it was concentration, speech therapy, and self control. I advise you to keep working on meeting guys. You'll meet a guy who'll see you as you, not the "guy who studders". And to answer your question, sure. If I don't hit you up for a second date, it's not the studder, it's because we didn't spark. But I won't tell a guy no just because he has a disability.

    Kudos on your attitude towards this (not giving up)
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    Aug 10, 2009 10:38 PM GMT
    I work with a guy thats the same way...therefore he doesn't really say much or engage in any conversation!

    But if guys can't handle your speech issue then F*#K them and move on! Iam totally find with any handicap...in fact I find guys in wheelchairs SEXY as FK! And the guy I work with is pretty hot too! I doubt he is gay tho!

    But good luck with the search man!
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    Aug 10, 2009 10:45 PM GMT
    I have a mild stutter as well! I’ve been stuttering since I first learned how to speak and it wasn’t until my freshmen year of college that I finally sought help via speech therapy. I believed my therapist would be able to “cure” me of my disability and I quickly learned otherwise. Speech therapists can give you strategies for accepting and overcoming the emotional struggle that’s often a result of stuttering, and they can give you speaking techniques to improve fluency but it is up to you to implement those techniques in real life speaking situations. Bottom line… speech therapy in itself doesn’t do much. It’s whether or not you practice the techniques given that determines if it’s a success. Yes, you must be the one who pushes yourself and expands your comfort zone.

    The truth is, that if a stutter is not corrected in the early stages of childhood there is a great possibility that the child will evolve into a stuttering adult, and once that happens its permanent. That person will have a lifelong challenge of maintaining and improving their fluency.

    As you may know only 1% of the adult population stutters! Being gay and a person who stutters is, well……very rare!

    Own your stutter! And remember you MUST work on your speech! As you gain confidence your fluency will improve. If initially meeting people is the hardest for you, then go out and talk to as many strangers as possible. Its not the easy answer, but it will work and after a while going out on dates will not be such a big deal.
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    Aug 10, 2009 10:51 PM GMT
    While I can't speak for others, it wouldn't (and didn't) phase me in the least. My ex had a mild to moderate stutter when he was nervous or excited. I didn't care, I thought he was cute and I liked him. It didn't take long for him to get more comfortable with me, and then you could barely notice it. Either that or I just got used to it.

    Point is - any guy that is worth knowing/dating isn't going to let something like that get in the way of getting to know you. icon_smile.gif
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    Aug 10, 2009 11:07 PM GMT
    DCAthlete-

    I wouldn't have a problem with it at all, however I am not the most impartial person in this matter.

    My nephew is 14 and has - up until recently - a very severe stutter. It has gotten better over time (still with him, though) with a lot of therapy - both speech and cognitive I believe.

    He has the same issue as you - when he is nervous or excited, especially when meeting new people, his stuttering becomes much worse. He was taught techniques to switch his mind from the immediate sense of being rejected/ridiculed to something else and it has really seemed to help him, but that portion was not through speech therapy.

    Just be patient with yourself. Someone will take the time to get to know you past your stutter. People often fear and avoid what they don't understand or that they have never experienced.

    Not to minimize your situation at all, but the same guys who reject you for your stutter are rejecting the other guy across the room because of his nose, and the other guy in the corner because of the size of his ears, and another guy for the shirt he is wearing.

    I think your determination and goal is great!

    Best of luck.
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    Aug 10, 2009 11:20 PM GMT
    there's a guy in my fraternity with a stutter and i have always thought he was cuter for it. unless it made conversation nigh-impossible, i wouldn't have a problem with it if the rest of a guy were up to par