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Dating with Hearing Loss

Q. Hi Lindsay! ! I’m 16, and I’ve started to think about dating a little. I’ve got hearing loss in both ears and I wear hearing aids. My question is this: how do I explain my hearing loss and/or aids to guys? Will they think it’s gross? –Cherie

Hi Cherie,

I’m seeing two questions here. One, how best to broach the subject of your hearing loss to prospective love interests, and two, if in fact they will think you to be positively gagworthy upon realizing that – gasp! – you happen to wear hearing aids.

The second question comes with a short answer: though incredibly unlikely, if someone thinks you’re gross or strange or anything less than terrific because of this, well, they aren’t worth your time. I know that’s the line you would expect from your mother or a guidance counselor, but it’s true. What we need to drill into our skulls is that there’s nothing wrong with us; we just happen to hear differently.

Talking about your hearing loss with someone you’re crushing on? In theory, it shouldn’t be any different than talking about it with a friend. Any weirdness you may face is almost always harmless; start with giving them the benefit of the doubt. Sure, our brains can often jump to the worst-case scenario, and part of the (not-so) fun experience of like-liking someone is we can put ourselves under a microscope about anything. Is my hair too short? Did he or she see how much my history project sucked? Is that mustard on my shirt?

“It’s totally true that some guys thought my hearing aids and FM system were a little, um, weird in high school. You get teased now and then, sure,” says Nikki, a 20-year-old college student in Newmarket, ON, who says of her boyfriend of four years: “He didn’t really care. And looked surprised when I sort of freaked out one day and asked him if it was an issue.”

For me, things were likely a little different than they were for Nikki. I wore a hearing aid in high school. Did people find that weird? Probably. Were there roughly a dozen other things people found weird about me? Absolutely (keep in mind I had the social skills not unlike the characters on The Big Bang Theory). Did I care? Sometimes. But look around: high school is never a glowing fortress of free-to-be-you-and-me for anyone. Your best option is to keep your head up, your strides long, and surround yourself with people less concerned with starring in their own low-budget version of Mean Girls.