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Hearing Loss and Dating

"To say that my hearing loss made dating complicated is an understatement."


In honor of Valentine’s Day, 2024, CHC welcomes back Sydney, a former “CHC kid” who shared her experiences on the dating scene back in 2021. Read her candid comments from the original interview below and be sure to scroll to the bottom where she opens up about her current relationship.


Original Q&A (2021)


Can you tell us about yourself?


Headshot of Sydney who opened up about the topic of hearing loss and dating

It’s been my longtime desire to mentor others and be a useful resource for those obscure questions that others may be afraid to ask because I can think back to many different moments where I wish I had someone to ask or a place to go to read the answers to my many questions. I want the hearing loss community not to be afraid to ask questions, share experiences and situations and have someone say, “I know what you mean.” Because, trust me, “I know what you mean”!


Does having a hearing loss make dating extra complicated?


I’m going to break this question up into three different stages of my life.


Stage 1 – I was a high school student in a NYC private school and all I wanted was to fit in. I wasn’t even hoping to be the “popular” girl, but I just wanted to feel like I was someone other than who I was. I was not only dealing with all of the typical teenage insecurities, I was struggling with my identity as a hearing impaired teen. I recall one situation specifically, being invited to a pool party, immediately thinking I needed an excuse as to why I couldn’t go; I was too worried that the boy I had a crush on would find out I had a hearing loss and I couldn’t hear anything if I took off my implants to go in the pool. Needless to say I missed a lot of things that might have been very fun. I worked very hard at concealing my loss for many years; to say that my hearing loss made things complicated is an understatement.


Stage 2 – College, a new experience, living on my own, meeting new people and a chance to write the story the way I wanted people to see me. By the time I reached my sophomore year of college I knew that I was ready to start dating more seriously. I contemplated a lot of different situations in my head— the typical “Do I want to date a guy from that fraternity?” “Would a frat boy judge me?” “Would it be easier to be with a person who was also hearing impaired or did that just complicate matters worse?” There were many first experiences, most of which didn’t amount to much, and many times my hearing loss went unnoticed. I entered into my first serious relationship during my senior year. I had finally reached a point where I could truly open up to someone and I wasn’t scared that he would run away. I found myself comfortable using the same analogies that my parents and teachers used to tell me. The same ones I would roll my eyes at when they would say it to make me feel better. But there I was, 22 years old and actually explaining to a guy how glasses were similar to implants or hearing aids.


Stage 3 – I’m currently living in stage three. Back home in NYC, a foundation of great friends and the confidence to date and find a person who I am compatible with. I want to enjoy this stage, with the end result of finding that right person to be with. I hope to find a guy that accepts my hearing loss, appreciates my accomplishments, sees me for who I am and encourages me to continue building my confidence personally and professionally.


Do you tend to talk about your hearing loss on a first date?


To be honest, it wasn’t until a few months ago that I actually told a guy on the first date. The conversation was flowing, he was older than a typical guy that I would date and I figured “Why not?” It went better than I imagined and definitely built up my confidence for the next time I was in that situation. He listened, asked appropriate questions and gave me the reassurance I needed. At this point I’d say it depends on the night, the person and how the date is going.


Are there lessons you’ve learned during the pandemic?


One of the lessons I have learned during the pandemic is to take the time to think and focus on my challenges. I took out a piece of paper and wrote out what my challenges in life were and how I could overcome them. It took baby steps to get to where I am today. On that piece of paper, I wrote out the qualities that I am looking for in my next relationship and set the goal to be verbally open about my hearing loss. I can’t expect someone to fully open up to me if I don’t fully open up to them.


What advice do you have for teens and young adults with hearing loss?


Do not ignore your friends and family when they try to give you advice about your relationships.


Before going on a date, think about the things you want to say before rushing into it. I always tell people that everyone has their own challenges in life. Mine may be hearing loss and theirs may be something that is brand new to me.


It is important to take the time to know yourself and be the best person you can be.


Sydney's 2024 Update


Building on the insights shared in my 2021 post, I find myself at a new stage in my journey. Opening up about my hearing loss has been a game-changer, leading me to embrace my true self with newfound courage. Reflecting on past experiences, I'm struck by the progress made in overcoming insecurities.


Meeting my current boyfriend on Bumble in November 2021 was a turning point, though our first date had to wait until January 2022 due to pandemic-related delays. From that pivotal moment, our connection was strong, reassuring me to share early on about my cochlear implants. His response was overwhelmingly positive, and I never looked back or regretted how quickly I told him.


Fast forward to today, and our relationship has flourished over two years. Transitioning from long-distance to living together has brought new learnings and shared experiences. He’s learned how I change/charge my implant batteries, how the device works, and most importantly how when my implants come off at night, I can’t hear him at all.


More recently I became connected with other young professionals at CHC who are also Deaf and Hard of Hearing. At a social event a few months ago my boyfriend had the opportunity to join me and for the first time, he saw me not be the only deaf individual in a room full of hearing people. At the end of the night, he mentioned that it was nice to connect and see me have a high level of confidence and pride for my hearing loss. Moving forward, I'm excited to explore new opportunities at CHC and within the hearing loss community with him by my side. 


Contact CHC


Email CHC at info@CHChearing.org to share your thoughts and experiences about dating with a hearing loss.


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