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To the normal hearing guy who dates me, I know you don't mean to make me feel beneath you or ashamed. You can talk to our friends in the noisy dance club downtown and can make out the hushed whispers in a movie on a Friday night.

You can understand what people are saying in groups and it doesn't matter where we are.

Naturally then, when I started dating my current girlfriend who suffers from hearing loss, I introduced our relationship to my friends with a joke: something akin to, “Makes a lot of sense that I would date someone who could choose when to mute me.” Most people found that sentiment, at best, mildly humorous. My girlfriend, like many people who suffer some form of deafness, exists in a liminal world between the hearing and the non-hearing populations.

It actually came as a shock to me on our first date when I discovered she was hard of hearing because I’d known her for a year at that point and never noticed it.

No matter your age, dating can be a wholly terrifying prospect. But in our twilight years, it’s easy to dwell on long-term marriages that can leave our partner either feeling either unable to measure up or taken aback (if the relationship ended poorly). For example, both men and women should feel free to start a conversation or make a move. And don’t be afraid to use a date as an opportunity to try something new!

As we get older, we assume that through marriages, divorces, and starting once again – this whole routine will somehow get easier or, at least, less nerve-wracking. Whether it’s a foreign film or a new type of cuisine, being brave together is a great way to jump-start a budding relationship.

Now is not the time to get self conscious– it’s important (and attractive) to be bold and confident. However, I quickly came to learn that without the latter, she is deafer than Beethoven next to a jet engine. I love her truly and passionately and nothing as superficial as hearing loss could ever change that.Nevertheless, it does mean certain things are different about our relationship.While I don’t want to generalize, I’d say the first thing people comment on after they meet me is my loquaciousness, and rightfully so.Despite the best efforts of my parents, I still don’t believe in an unspoken thought.

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