Dating Someone Who Is Hard of Hearing

Photo by Cher VernalEQ (Flickr)

All relationships have challenges, but if you are hard of hearing,dating can be even more challenging. Communication is an important issue in any relationship, but if you are deaf or dating someone who is hearing-impaired, the added obstacle can be very frustrating.

What Could be the Biggest Issues?

The biggest source of frustration for many deaf or hard-of-hearing people when they are dating a hearing person is when their partner doesn’t invest the effort to make themselves understood. Few things are more infuriating to hear for hearing-impaired people than“ nevermind” or “it’s not important.” These phrases sound demeaning and belittling, even if that’s not what the speaker intended. They essentially say, “Communicating with you isn’t worth the effort.”

When you are deaf, dating someone who can hear can be frustrating, and the same goes for if you’re the one who can hear. Like in all relationships, a great deal of patience is needed. Whether you are hearing-impaired or are dating a deaf person, it’s especially important to take the time to make sure that you’re communicating effectively, and at times, that can also entail careful planning.

Patience Makes Sense … But Planning?

For someone who is deaf dating hearing people, this is second nature, but for someone who can hear entering into a relationship with someone who is hard of hearing, dating can take more forethought. Plan for talking in environments that are best for those who are hard of hearing or deaf. You shouldn’t shy away from parties or noisy environments, but your loved one might need accommodations if you plan on having any meaningful conversations there. Explain to your partner what you want to do, and then be open and responsive to their feedback. This will go a long way toward easing any frustration rooted in the difficulty to communicate.

If you do decide to go somewhere particularly noisy or crowded, where being able to communicate might be an issue, plan on always carrying a way to write things down. Having a speech-to-text app on your phone can really help, as you can just speak into your phone and then show your partner what you have been trying to say. Simple planning ahead to overcome the most obvious obstacles can really show how much you care.

What More Can I Do?

While the deaf and hard of hearing live in a hearing world everyday, when you begin to date someone who has some or total hearing loss, you begin to enter into their world. When you are deaf dating hearing individuals, it’s likely that you’ll have a better idea of what you are getting into and already be familiar with the challenges ahead, since you have been learning how to communicate with the hearing their whole lives. For those who can hear, it’s important to make every effort to be able to communicate well with your partner, including learning American Sign Language (ASL) if that is how they prefer to communicate. If they prefer to read lips, understanding how to position your body so they can see enough to read your lips is really important.

Last but not least, make sure if you are dating someone who is hearing-impaired that you stand up for your partner. You need to be willing to ensure that your significant other gets the service and respect that they deserve. Don’t let a restaurant give them the wrong order because they misheard or didn’t understand. Be willing to ask a friend to turn down the radio so your sweetheart can understand and participate in the conversation. Be willing to serve your loved one and nourish your relationship. If you are willing and able to do these things, there is nothing that love cannot overcome.

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