How Hearing Loss Interferes with Your Relationships

Jesse Western
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Relationships are built on strong communication. From the first moment, the ways you learn about another person and come to trust what they have to communicate is built on the ability to communicate. That communication has a wide range—from the mundane details of everyday life to the deepest secrets and values that make us who we are. Experts agree that the entire scope of communication is important to building trust with others, not only these deep disclosures but casual asides, simple jokes, and observations about the world around you. However, conversations tend to rely on the ability to hear clearly what the other person is saying. Let’s look at the effects that hearing loss can have on these two types of communication that build strong relationships: casual conversation and intimate disclosures. Each reveals that hearing loss can get in the way of building a bond between yourself and another person.

Casual Conversation

Although you might think that closeness is built on those deep conversations when you tell another person about your innermost thoughts, experts agree that casual conversation is key to building trust in the long-term. The ability to share simple thoughts, observations, opinions, and humor forms the backbone of a relationship, revealing the true self in ways that self-conscious disclosures cannot. Although a person might want to convey a particular feature of personality, the true measure of the self is how one acts in casual activity, particularly when it seems like no one is paying attention. The subtle remarks and jokes that you can share with a person over the course of many hours together may disclose more about their personality than these deep conversations ever can. However, hearing loss can easily interfere with these casual comments. If you are at home with a loved one, family member, or partner, you may find yourself saying these remarks while a person is in the room. You may even call out your thoughts when they occur to you from another part of the house. In these cases, hearing is crucial to the ability to pick up on these asides. When they take the form of questions, it is even more important to be able to hear and respond appropriately. Hearing loss can get in the way of these simple everyday moments of communication with larger effects on your relationship than you might have thought.

Intimate Disclosures

In addition to these basic building blocks of a relationship, intimate disclosures are a crucial piece of the relationship puzzle when you are building trust and closeness. The ability to share a story from your past, a deeply held belief, or an embarrassing moment that made you feel vulnerable builds intimacy between two friends, family members, or romantic partners. We are only able to talk about these deep parts of ourselves once a baseline of commonality has been reached in those casual conversations. Once that foundation has been built, we can take a leap of faith to disclose something very personal to another person. Imagine the feeling if you were to make that disclosure and then be met with frustration in the communication process. You might feel a sense of disappointment and even hurt feelings if a person wasn’t able to hear and understand that personal information you had just shared. On the other hand, if you were the person with hearing loss in the scenario, imagine how you would feel to have missed an essential piece of information at that moment. Just when a person was really opening up to you, hearing loss got in the way of communication. The degree of that interference might be even more striking than those lost moments of casual conversation, particularly if the other person thought you were able to make out what they were disclosing.

With these two main types of relationship interference in mind, why not take the steps to seek treatment for hearing loss? Your relationships might be suffering in ways you didn’t even realize. The first step toward treatment is to schedule a professional hearing evaluation at a hearing clinic. Once you have treatment in place, you might be surprised at the ways you are able to connect with new people or to rebuild relationships with those who have felt the strain of miscommunication for too long.