An alternate title for this article might be: If I Were Dating Again (Which I’m Not), What Questions Should a Deaf Dater Ask?
In the many years I’ve been hitched to the Hearing Husband, the dating scene has changed dramatically. The term ‘online’ existed only to describe what to do with your laundry: hang them “on(the clothes)line”, although we did have dryers back then. I met my future husband one of the old-fashioned ways – at the office.
I had time to observe him and get to know him without asking him questions anonymously through a dating platform. He had very speechread-able lips and a deep voice and endless patience. He knew I had hearing loss and the communication challenges that come with it. When romance eventually bloomed, he had a heads-up to what our relationship might be like, defined in a small but significant way by hearing loss.
Recently while I was writing and browsing, an ad for a seniors online dating service popped up on my screen. Two beautiful people with silvery-white hair and even whiter teeth were embracing, happy in their better-late-than-never love. This tickled my fancy – if I were single, what would I ask on an online dating platform? I looked up “Best online dating questions” and realized that I would need to add a few specialized queries of my own or my own twist to the recommended questions.
The ability to weed out potential partners is a plus in the cyber universe. Based on lifelong experience, relationships with people who have hearing loss require some specific personality traits in the ‘other guy’.
Do you like dogs? Specifically, if you had a retriever of some sort, would you be happy throwing the ball over and over again? This is important information we’re after here. I don’t have a dog, but if he doesn’t have the patience to keep throwing that ball, he probably does not have the patience to keep repeating himself when I say ‘pardon’!
If you were given $100,000, what would you spend it on? The goal here, apparently, is to assess his practicality or generosity. Would he give to charity, or buy something frivolous like a high-end car? I want to know if he’d mind sharing a chunk of that windfall to buy me the latest and greatest hearing aids.
What’s your idea of a fun date night? If his answers reveal a passion for dark nightclubs or noisy restaurants, this is the end of the line. We’re done before we start. This deaf girl doesn’t do noise.
What question could I ask to get a sense of how well the man moves his lips enough to speechread him easily? Someone whose lips only move a millimeter apart when speaking, is not my match made in heaven. Assuming I’ve already revealed that I have hearing loss, the question could go something like: What animal best describes how well you enunciate – a chimpanzee, a sloth, or a chattering dolphin?
Speaking of revealing a hearing loss, the question for so many people is when should I tell? I learned early on that honesty is truly the best policy. If we put a lot of energy into trying to hide a hearing loss or putting off the grand reveal until absolutely necessary – that’s simply a waste of a lot of energy. First off, there’s nothing shameful about having hearing loss, and when we try to hide it, we’re saying the opposite. And people will figure it out anyway, or at least that something’s going on. Why not be upfront about it, explain what we need and then forward ho! If your hearing loss is a problem for your potential date, then you certainly don’t want to date them. The question/statement might be: “I have hearing loss and wear hearing aids. What this means is that I need you to face me when we’re talking.”
But it’s important not to assume he or she has a bias towards hearing loss – give the person a chance! For seniors dabbling in online dating, hearing loss is a common attribute, so it would not be a shocking revelation. But many younger daters may find it difficult being upfront about it. But hearing loss is not a turnoff unless you make it one. If you accept your own hearing loss with confidence, other people will follow your lead. It’s one step towards success, not only in online dating, but in any relationship.