If you’re thinking about asking someone with hearing loss on a date, know that everyone’s hearing loss is unique. The amount of information that a person with hearing loss can comfortably take in from speech and conversation can vary enormously.
Some people with hearing loss might say “no” to a date, fearing that their hearing loss will make conversation hard to follow. Losing one’s hearing can be a distressing experience. Some people might take years to come to terms with it. Using technology in our ears is so commonplace. But some people still feel embarrassed about their hearing loss and may not feel comfortable admitting it, especially on a first date.
If the person you’d like to ask out is a co-worker and you work in a quiet environment, they may well find it quite easy to understand you at work. But in a noisy restaurant, with the clatter of plates and cutlery, distinguishing speech from all the background noise might be tricky. Even the best assistive technology can only do so much. In this kind of environment, there’s a good chance that your date might not go as well as you’d hoped. The venue will matter enormously!
In fact, It might be better if you allow the other person to choose where you go. Perhaps — once they’ve said yes, of course — ask them what they might like to do. If you do want to suggest a place to meet up, an outdoor coffee and walk in a park may well be much less stressful. A quieter, tranquil location in the great outdoors is more than likely to be quieter than a noisy bar or restaurant.
Read more: 7 tips for dating with hearing loss
Another tip is to suggest a meeting during the day. Even with assistive technology, some people with hearing loss rely on lipreading. This is not helped with romantic candlelight. Try to speak to your date directly and don’t look away as you talk. Depending on the COVID-19 rules where you live, wearing masks may still be required, which will affect communication. You may have no option but to meet outdoors.
“Try to speak to your date directly and don’t look away as you talk.”
You might want to keep the date short. Dating can be stressful at the best of times. Keeping the date to just a quiet coffee and a stroll means you can both relax. Knowing that going someplace noisy is not on the agenda can remove any worries either of you may have. While it may not be evident, your date may have to concentrate a little harder to understand you. This may be the case if they are lipreading or their hearing loss makes speech particularly hard to understand. My hearing loss is quite mild, but I know how tiring it can be to feel like you are always running just a little behind the conversation.
Your date might be confident and may want to talk about their hearing loss to put you at ease or simply just to get it out of the way. They may wear their hair in such a way that you see their technology or they may try to hide it. People’s comfort levels vary. Be honest and open and ask questions about how their aids or implant work, but only as long as they are comfortable doing so. Only mention it after they bring the conversation round to the subject; let them take the lead.
Read more: Why dating in the hearing world is hard for deaf people
Finally, (and I’d suggest this is good advice for anyone on any date), let them do the talking. Don’t try to constantly show your quirky sense of humor or drop in witty asides. Conversation that comes out of left field is sometimes harder to follow. Your date might not get your meaning. Keep chatting and being yourself, obviously. Keep it in context to make it easier for both of you. As your date gets used to you, they’ll find you easier to follow. If you want to get a call or a text saying yes to a second date, then the best thing to do is to listen!