So your partner has a hearing loss. They struggle every day with situations that people without hearing loss can never truly understand. It can be difficult for you as the partner without a hearing loss at times too. Your loved one’s hearing loss doesn’t take away from who they are or your love for them, but it does present a unique challenge in relationships. It can cause arguments, resentment and frustration that nobody wants affecting their relationship.
We have 6 things to remember when dating someone with a hearing loss so you can support your partner the best way possible and strengthen your relationship.
Constantly struggling to listen and hear is exhausting for someone with a hearing loss. It requires a lot of extra energy and effort that can wear them down. Certain environments are more difficult for your partner such as a noisy restaurant with multiple voices and sounds or a dark place where they can’t read your lips. Each situation brings a challenge and it’s important to be patient.
Remember, they are doing their best. Even with hearing aids and lip-reading techniques, it isn’t always enough. They understand and recognize your frustration because they’ve likely dealt with it throughout their whole life. But, as a hearing person, your experience is very different from theirs. Be compassionate and patient as they are trying.
People with hearing loss struggle to hear clearly and it can be annoying for both parties involved in conversations. Mumbling is the common perpetrator of poor communication. Make sure you are speaking clearly, enunciating and directly facing them to make it easier for your partner to hear you. With these practices, they can read your lips and their hearing aids will pick up speech better.
Be willing to repeat yourself
As irritating as it is when you have to repeat yourself for the third time because your partner can’t hear what you are saying, remind yourself that it isn’t their fault. They can sense your frustration and once you start refusing to repeat yourself saying, “nevermind, it wasn’t important,” it will hurt their feelings. It’s incredibly discouraging for your partner because it is important for them and they’re doing their best.
Your partner genuinely cares to know what you said and wants to carry on the conversation. Remember, it isn’t their fault and it’s upsetting for them too. Negative reactions remind them that they’re different and may make them feel unworthy or less than. By staying positive, calmly repeating yourself as many times as necessary and understanding their position, you can avoid hurt feelings, resentment and fights.
Don’t be afraid to be curious and ask questions. It shows you care and want to learn more about your partner’s experience. Ask about their hearing loss to learn more, work together and be open to finding new ways to improve your communication. It may be an adjustment at first, but your partner will appreciate the effort and it will make a difference in your day-to-day lives.
Help them understand, not just hear
It’s easy to hear sounds or words, but to truly understand them is a bit more difficult. Processing words is harder for someone with a hearing loss because their brain and ears don’t function together the same way as someone without a hearing loss.
Your partner may ask you to speak louder, slower or face-to-face so they can understand. It’s common to become annoyed when it frequently happens, but it’s important to remember that all your partner wants is to hear what you said and talk to you. If they didn’t care, you would know.
Don’t baby them
Babying your partner looks like a number of things. It can be telling new people about their condition, speaking for them, not inviting them places because it will be hard for them to hear, or treating them as though they can’t deal with it on their own. For you, it comes from a good place, but for your partner, it’s usually a sensitive situation. People with hearing loss are usually used to feeling like outsiders so they try to be as normal as possible. They want to do the same things as others, have the same opportunities and be independent.
It’s worth noting that each person has different boundaries when it comes to hearing loss. What is acceptable for one person might not be for another. Allowing them to advocate for themselves and starting the conversation about it will define boundaries so you know when it’s okay to step in and help.
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