What its like to love someone who’s dyslexic?

couple

I saw this blog about bipolar a while ago and thought it would be interesting to try and do something similar for dyslexic. Partly because most people still think of dyslexia as simply a learning condition, and have no idea of the bigger picture especially when it comes to relationships.

I’m going to start this off by being completely honest; loving someone who’s dyslexic can be easy or hard; like loving anyone. Being dyslexic myself, I am pretty bias and may find some of the things pretty easy and understandable. I actually like dating people with dyslexia to be honest, as things seem to make more rational. So this comes from personal experience rather than fact or research papers. I think there could be a sit-com idea out of this, in the same way there is the big bang theory which focuses on academically intelligent but socially awkward characters.

I also used dyslexic and person with dyslexia through-out this post, don’t expect any consistency from me – sorry!

Basically don’t take any of this to heart! Its meant to be light hearted

First thing, not every dyslexic person are alike, in the book the dyslexic advantage; the writers talk about 4 different strengths which also come with some disadvantages. People with dyslexia tend to have a blend of the 4 MIND strengths.

  • M-Strength for Material Reasoning, which is primarily reasoning about the position, form, and movement of objects 3D space
  • I-Strengths for Interconnected Reasoning, which is primarily the ability to spot, understand, and reason about connections and relationships (e.g., analogies, metaphors, systems, patterns)
  • N-Strengths for Narrative Reasoning, which is primarily the ability to reason using fragments of memory formed from past personal experience (i.e., using cases, examples, and simulations rather than abstract reasoning from principles)
  • D-Strengths for Dynamic Reasoning, which is the ability to accurately predict using patterns derived through experience the future or the unwitnessed past

As you can imagine these have a impact, but how it affects relationships is still very unknown and up for debate.

Once again… don’t take any of this to heart, think of it as poking a little bit of light hearted fun.

Usually late

Dyslexics tend to be late or have to work harder to be on time. This can seem like laziness or lack of attention when actually this isn’t as such true. As Victoria says.

Dyslexics live in the “now” and not aware of their schedule or anyone else which often makes them seem as if they are in their “own world”

Expect lots of excuses and don’t take their lateness as a insult because when you are with them.

Dyslexics however are solidly planted in the moment and if they are spending time with you, that is where they are mentally – 100% with you. They may seem distracted as their minds may drift or catapult to a stimulating tangent or many tangents as you chat due to the conversation sparking new and exciting thoughts for them, but they are with you.

Think of it like a state of flow.

Remember that thing…?

Expect to have conversations about favourite media or books, for which the dyslexic can’t remember the actual title. Usually explaining the plot or key moments will awaken the dyslexic mind to the fact they have read/seen/heard/experienced it before. It can be frustrating to have that conversation again and again but once awoken expect vivid retracing; like where they first read that book or which cinema they first saw the film in.

Mishearing and misreading

Dyslexics tend to have extended hearing (hears things not said or apparent to others – maybe something to do with the mind working over time?); this can cause issues which can lead to miscommunication, confusion and misunderstanding. Not exactly what you need in a relationship really. Exactly the same is true of misreading, especially when rushed. Don’t rush them, if you do expect miscommunication and mistakes.

Focus on the bigger picture

Its clear dyslexics have a grand vision and see all the possibilities. Its not that they don’t care about the details, but rather haven’t considered them yet. Once locked into the details, there is a certain amount of  perfectionism which creeps in but generally details are boring… and for boring people (smile).

They tend to be 3 steps ahead but haven’t considered what step 1 or 2 actually are. They tend to work backwards not forwards. Dyslexics tend to have great intuition, think of everything being loosely connected and I imagine its really annoying but some understanding of this will help greatly.

Remember they are holding back their natural state and creativity to fit in a world where its less respected. Go with their intuition as magical things will happen.

Expect the unexpected

Ask a dyslexic for the plan and they will tell you one thing but ask them again in a few days and it will change. Theres a element of keeping all the options/possibilities open and bouncing around the options at will.

This can be exciting because everyday is new but this can also be exhausting. A lot of dyslexics force themselves to routines but left to their own means would happily change it up in a flash.

Things will be lost

Lots of dyslexics tend to misplace things and lose things quite a bit because they put it in the wrong place. Its common for dyslexics to leave things in the fridge, bathroom or at someone else’s house.

This can be seen as absent mindedness but its usually because their mind is working 4 times the speed of others and the details of where things are just don’t matter as much. I can imagine this is frustrating but you can help by, giving nudges of reminders (not too many however!)

Expect lots of contradictions

Consistency isn’t a dyslexic trait. One day its one thing another day its another thing. You kind of need to get use to it, as its easier if its openly discussed and not simply judged. Dyslexics tend to like playing devils advocate a bit, so watch for that.

The mind is simply sexy

Simple as it says, they really love minds and the term sapiosexual really applies here. I’ve looked at this quite a bit and I think its down to the idea dyslexic people can experience thoughts as reality. Dyslexics also tend to be more curious about things then the average person, making them geeky about many things including the brain and ideas.

Expect lots of meta and deep conversations when you really get to know them.

Passion and emotional intelligence

Dyslexics tend to think in visions instead of language. They describe things with passion, are highly intuitive and insightful (hence the 3 steps ahead). They tend to take in or perceive through all their senses not just what they are reading or seeing.

This means a simple story can turn into something quite a bit more than expected.

Most neurotypical (not my term, but an interesting one) people are captivated when they meet or hear someone with dyslexia talk. They are totally caught up in the passion, which you don’t hear much. This is why the likes of Steve Jobs could cast his magic (Reality distortion field) They have a change the world stance which can be honest and genuine.

Team this up with a level of emotional intelligence and maturity not usually seen in most of the population and you got a one heck of a partner.

Give them space and be flexible

Don’t give up. It’s worth it in the end. I promise!

Serious point…

Saying all this, it really depends if they know and embrace their dyslexia? Many don’t know they have dyslexia and/or actively fight against it causing many other problems like low-self esteem and depression as they fight to be neurotypical.

Its a real shame and really blows me away when I meet people who have been diagnosed with dyslexia but are forced to keep quiet (hide in the wardrobe?) because of the shame they will face. This can be the difference between having a job or not sometimes. So many people I have met, work 4x as hard to make sure no one notices their mistakes, difficulties and natural state.

Author: cubicgarden

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.