“How do I look? Gosh, I hope he likes me! Wonder if I have bad breath, let me check…..whew, all good!! Maybe I should change my outfit? I am just not going! What if we have nothing to say? Ugh! I hate dating.

You guessed it, add a vocal disorder to the mix and the anxiety becomes even greater (as well as the fear of rejection due to the disorder). One of the key elements that mark any vocal disorder is having a mind full of words and ideas to express, but limited ability to do so clearly through the use of voice. Wanting to speak, to interact and to emotionally connect is so difficult when your voice will not cooperate.

 Putting yourself out there in a dating situation strikes fear in the hearts of many as you could be set up for judgment, rejection and disappointment. Let’s look at how having a vocal disorder affects our ability to connect with others in the name of romance. For those of us that have a vocal disorder, our sense of self in many cases can become compromised and our self-perception can become skewed. We start to see ourselves not as we truly are but as others view us; which is diminished in some way.

Most people take their ability to communicate verbally for granted and do not realize how devastating it is to lose your voice.  It is commonplace to shrink from social settings when this loss occurs. Being attractive, having a great smile, and being outgoing is helpful but can only do so much before your voice loss affects your ability to relate to others. In some cases the effort of speaking comes with a good deal of visible straining to force the words out so even with the added perk of being cute a voice disorder could scare a potential suitor away. People react poorly to a garbled voice regardless of what that voice is saying.

One person with a vocal disorder reported joining an online dating website in hopes of making a love connection and did not receive any responses due to the mention of the disorder. Once she removed this reference her responses increased. Which leads us to the first question; when do you disclose a vocal disorder while dating in cyber space? How do you know when to broach the topic? It could be off putting to tell someone “I don’t talk on the phone.” And then not go into detail. One of the possible modern day solutions is to just text!

So how can we overcome the barriers of dating with a vocal disorder?

(1)  Firstly, some good old fashioned positive thinking.  If a person with a vocal disorder views themselves as being worthy of love and acceptance then, in most cases, others will follow that lead. If we feel unworthy, that is the message we share with the world, and the world will follow that lead as well. 

(2) Provide a non-threatening explanation of the disorder. Put your potential date at ease with an opportunity to ask any questions which may help lessen their fear of the unknown.

(3)  The key is to be yourself and not let the disorder define you.  If we perceive our disorder as the end of the world, others will follow our lead and feel the same.  Being able to manage this task also depends on where you are in the process of acceptance as it relates to the disorder. Trying to date in the early onset of any vocal disorder can be difficult as the natural progression of depression occurs and eventually leads to acceptance. But remember you are still the same intelligent, thoughtful person you were before the onset of the disorder.   You should hold your potential suitors to the same standards you held them to prior to the onset and remember YOU are still the same person deserving of the best!

(4) Lastly, be a communicator!  Even though you have trouble with your voice, it does not affect your ability to create ideas and share them in writing. By doing this, you will show your potential mates who you are as a person which will lessen the impact of not having a clear voice. Once they get a sense of who you are, what you sound like won’t be as important.

The following are some practical tips to dating with a vocal disorder.

  • Avoid noisy bars or restaurants. Pick an environment that will help the communication effort by allowing your date to hear you better.  If that situation cannot be avoided do not be hesitant to use adaptive equipment to get your point across.
  • If you are comfortable enough to sit close to each other this will help the situation by lessening the distance your voice must travel as well as make the date cozy.  But be careful, it’s very easy to send the wrong signals out, especially with someone you are not overly familiar with. As time progresses future dates can be cozy and intimate, thusly reducing the stress of communicating and straining your voice.
  • Focus on your ability to be a great listener, which is one of the gifts of having a vocal disorder.   People love to speak about themselves and listening intently to your date is very alluring. This skill could actually lead to a very long and fruitful discussion opening doors to topics that may have been missed.

Remember dating should be fun!  Don’t lose your sense of adventure and excitement.  Dating with a vocal disorder does not have to be a painful ordeal. It is all about your sense of self, your ability to see beyond your vocal disorder and your openness to share with the world. It is easy to get discouraged in dating and the pursuit of love in any condition.  Having a vocal disorder should never make a person feel unworthy of experiencing this great joy in life.