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Ask Anna: My fiancé doesn’t understand my communication needs

dating with hearing loss

Ask Anna is a weekly advice column for the hearing loss community. 

Dear Anna: I have 80% hearing loss in both ears. I speak and wear hearing aids. I am fluent in ASL. (American sign language). I have been engaged to a man for the past 4 years. I recently told him about my progressive hearing loss, along with a letter from my audiologist describing the severity of it. He is refusing to learn sign language or try to communicate with me effectively so I can understand him without my hearing aids. Any advice? –  Lonely in Utah

Dear Lonely,

Dating with hearing loss can be challenging, for both the person with hearing loss and the partner. It is good that you’ve been open about your needs from your relationship, and your preferred communication techniques. 

I can’t really comment on why your partner might be reluctant to learn more about sign language or communication skills, but I would encourage you to continue to have conversations with him. Just remember that your needs are valid and people who really care about you should put in effort to communicate with you. 

Hearing Like Me blogger Ellie recently wrote a blog post about dating with hearing loss, in which she offers dating advice from her personal experiences.  

As a person with hearing loss, there are two sides to dating… being with a normal hearing person or with a deaf partner. Personally, I’ve been in a deaf-hearing relationship before, and it didn’t work out. I wouldn’t say it was my deafness that ended it, as I am very capable in life with communicating, but I’d just like to point out that he could have been more understanding with my needs. (Like he didn’t get my attention when talking to me, or couldn’t be bothered to repeat what he said… so the whole thing didn’t work anyway.)

Here are her 5 tips for dating with hearing loss

  1. When meeting each other, be yourself. Admit your deafness, and if they don’t accept it, then they’re not right for you
  2. Understand each other’s cultures. (Deaf/deaf/hearing) and being willing to experience the differences. You’ll both appreciate each other more
  3. Be patient and understanding. Don’t say “I’ll tell you later” or “never mind.” It’s not fair.
  4. Consider learning their language. Whether it’s sign language or clearly enunciating so they can read your lips… it might make communication between you much easier
  5. Ensure the family understand your partner’s needs. There’s nothing worse than not being able to follow the conversation during their family’s Sunday dinner. 

You might also want to reach out on the Hearing Like Me forum  to get more advice from the community. 

Best of luck! 

Do you have a question for Anna? Email: feedback@hearinglikeme.com

The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Hearing Like Me website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency medical services immediately.
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Anna is currently the Senior Audiology Manager at Phonak. She has worked in the field of audiology and hearing aids for 25 years, and is passionate about all things audiology.
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Anna is currently the Senior Audiology Manager at Phonak. She has worked in the field of audiology and hearing aids for 25 years, and is passionate about all things audiology.