When dating someone new, it can be difficult to know how to share the details of your hearing loss and needs. While we encourage people to be confident and share their hearing journey early, it can sometimes be a daunting task. Here are some tips and tricks to use when talking to your partner about your hearing loss.
1) Choose a time when you have their full attention
Many people have little to no experience with hearing loss. For this reason, hearing about yours might seem like a big deal to them, so make sure you choose a time to talk about it when you can both concentrate on the conversation. You could speak about it over a meal, or during some quality time together. Switch off the television, and bring it up when there is enough time for you to talk at lengths if that is needed.
2) Tell your story
Sometimes it can be helpful to share the background of how you came to have hearing loss, if it developed during your life, and how you came to be diagnosed and treated. Speak about the steps and major events in your hearing journey, such as when you became aware of your loss, when it was first diagnosed, when you received your hearing aids or Cochlear implant, and the difference these things made to your life. Framing the conversation within the story will help them to understand you better, and also to understand that your hearing loss does not need to be a disability, but is an interesting part of who you are.
3) Be open and upfront
Be honest during this conversation. Your partner will respond better and understand more if you share your experiences and journey in a transparent way. It can also be helpful to share the places, environments, or speaking styles that are more difficult for you because of your hearing loss. This will make them more understanding if and when you face hearing challenges throughout your relationship.
4) Show them your hearing instruments
If you feel comfortable, show your partner your hearing aids or cochlear implant. If you explain how your instruments work, they will better understand how you hear, and might even be able to help you in more challenging environments. If you and your partner are living together, it is especially important for them to understand how your hearing is affected at night when you remove your instruments. If your hearing loss is severe or profound without your instruments, they need to know that you will not be able to hear them or any other sounds in the environment once you remove your devices.
5) Encourage them to ask questions
There’s no such thing as a stupid question! For someone who has never experienced hearing loss or hearing aids in their own life, there might be basics that they don’t understand. Allow them the space to ask any questions they may have- and understand that some of these questions might seem to be more about them than about you! For some people, hearing about your hearing loss might be very small, but for others, it might seem like a big deal. It is again important to show them how the hearing loss affects your life, but also how using your instruments and assistive devices if you have them allows you to live a full and able life.
Talking to your partner about your hearing loss can seem scary, but if you share your experiences with confidence and openness, it should bring you closer together and help them to understand you better. It can also help them to understand other people with hearing loss that they may encounter throughout their lives. Have you shared your hearing loss with a partner or loved one before? Tell us about it in the comments, or contact us.