Should I mention my stammer when dating?
14th February 2022
Should you mention your stammer when online dating or on first dates? When? We asked people who stammer to give their views and other dating tips.
We asked people in our community for their views on whether or not they disclose, or mention, their stammer when dating.
(Please note: these are people's own opinions and should not be taken as a guide. If you don't feel comfortable telling people about your stammer or if you don't feel the need to mention it, that's your prerogative — we each deal with stammering in our own way; there is no right or wrong thing to do.) Here's what they said…
YES, I WOULD MENTION MY STAMMER
"One thing I've learnt is that it's probably a good idea to disclose your stammer on your online dating profile. Don't put it at the top. Instead, put it at the end as one of those 'other things' that describe you. I wrote something like, "One other thing about me is that I have a stammer". I added that it gave me drive and determination, and said that I was very happy to chat about it. This marks you out as being honest. Stammering also makes you interesting, and when it comes to internet dating, interest is everything."
"The nice thing about online dating apps is the ability to tell people in advance that you have a stammer. It weeds out the cruel people and gave me the safety of knowing they knew in advance. Sometimes that helps when I'm going to meet someone."
Telling the person near the beginning of a date can be a good idea to alleviate pressure, as they might be wondering whether or not to acknowledge it.
"When I've been communicating with men I have spoken about my stammer and they seem to be understanding and usually tell me it's OK, which is a reassurance."
"It helps if you meet online first to break the ice and get to know each other through texting. Then you can open up to them about the stammer. That's how I met my wife."
"Telling the person near the beginning of a date can be a good idea to alleviate pressure, as they might be wondering whether or not to acknowledge it. On one first date I stammered a lot near the beginning, partially due to how nervous I was and partially due to the fact I'd drunk quite a bit. My date started laughing and I calmly explained to him what a stammer was. He looked very embarrassed and apologised. It has never been an issue since and we are still together a year later."
"I've found that if I don't mention my stammer, I subconsciously try to hide it on dates and it not only makes me stammer more, it also means I don't say what I want to say and don't show my true personality."
"In the past when messaging I didn't mention it because my stammer is just one aspect of my make up. But once it came to meeting face to face, one of the first things I'd say would be, "I have a stammer". I'm mainly covert and so it does tend to take people by surprise."
"I always make sure that I tell the other person about my stammer. Even though I stammer, I was always confident and assertive for which I always got the feedback that this quality makes me attractive and desirable."
NO, I WOULDN'T MENTION MY STAMMER
"I've never told anyone — not because I'm uncomfortable as such but because I don't see the big deal about it; my speech isn't who I am."
"I never explicitly mentioned my stammer on a dating profile or in an introductory message. I've never wanted my speech to define me, or anyone's perception of me. When my date would inevitably notice, things would go one of two ways: we'd talk about it and hopefully move on to more dates, or they'd get a bit uncomfortable and I'd know the relationship maybe wasn't worth pursuing."
I've never wanted my speech to define me, or anyone's perception of me.
"In all the first dates I've been on, I've never told the guy that I stammer, nor do I mention it on my dating profile. As a covert stammerer, I hide my stammer most days. If I decide to tell someone, I make sure I suss them out first so I can work out what kind of person they are and if I can trust that they're not going to react negatively when I tell them. I worry about setting a good impression and I guess I'm afraid of them judging me because of my stammer."
"Nope, never disclosed. As others have said, my stammer doesn't define me."
"Many, many years ago when I was dating I told nobody, including my dates, I stammered. I was ashamed of stammering and tried to hide it. I am wiser with age."
OTHER DATING TIPS
Here's a few other things our respondents added:
"I was always crippled by stammer-related anxiety when trying to flirt with girls. However, by the age of 25 I realised it was actually a real asset! For example, if I was taking ages to introduce myself to a girl at a party, by using eye contact in the right way I found stammering becomes quite flirtatious in itself."
"If someone does react badly, explain to them what stammering is. If they continue to react badly, just get out of there — they're not someone you want to spend your time on!"
"I have accepted the way I speak and it's made me highly aware and sensitive of different people and situations. Due to that, my dating life has been good so far."
"I think the key is to 'own' your stammer and try to be confident about it. Try not to show that you are anxious about having a stammer. Obviously stammering is a massive hurdle to confidence, but when people realise that you are not nervous, you just have a speech impediment, it is endearing and just a great asset to one's personality. I've had a severe stammer since infancy; I'm now 31 and happily married, still a severe stammerer!"
"If the other person don't accept your stammer, just remember everyone is different and it can sometimes take time to find the right person."
"I was given one bit of advice that I found really helpful: become the person you want to date. I internalised this phrase. For me it means: find things you find interesting and do things you like doing. Self-help gurus say things like, 'the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself'. They're probably right."
(This is an extract from our feature article 'Dating, stammering and disclosing')