Wife is annoyed by husband who appears to have selective hearing.

You asked for help with one simple task: take out the trash. But, regrettably, it never was accomplished. When you ask why they didn’t do it, your partner responds “I never heard you ask me”. Why aren’t you surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they needed done? This “selective hearing” is a common indication that communication is breaking down.

We normally view selective hearing as a negative, sort of like it’s a character defect. Accusing somebody of selective hearing is saying they weren’t listening to you. But it’s possible that the real cause behind your selective hearing may not be a short attention span, it may be the early phases of hearing loss.

Selective hearing – what is it?

You’ve likely been accused of selective hearing at some time in your life, even if no one used that specific name. When you miss all the things you don’t want to hear but hear everything else, that’s selective hearing. You hear the bit about the chocolate cake, but you miss the part about the calories. That kind of thing.

As a behavior, selective hearing is incredibly common. However, most research points to males failing to hear their partners more frequently than women.

How individuals are socialized does offer some context and it might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But the other part of the equation may have something to do with hearing health. If your “selective hearing” starts to become more common, it could be a clue that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause gaps in communication

Communication will certainly be more difficult with undiagnosed hearing loss. You’re likely not shocked by that.

But here’s the thing: in many cases, communication issues are a sign of hearing loss.

Symptoms can be very difficult to detect when hearing loss is in the early stages. Maybe you start turning the volume on your tv up. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing what people are saying. You probably just presume it’s because of the loud music. And so, besides that, you could go through most of your daily life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. This allows your hearing to slowly (but surely) deteriorate. You barely notice the issue until you’re at the point where you often have trouble hearing conversations.

Your partner is becoming worried about the health of your hearing

The people around you will most likely be worried. Yes, selective hearing is a rather common irritation (even more aggravating when you already feel like no one listens to you). But that frustration often turns to concern when they acknowledge that hearing loss may be the real culprit.

So, your partner might recommend you set up a hearing test to determine if something is wrong.

Your partner’s worry is relevant and it’s important for you to recognize that. Have an open discussion with them and welcome their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t simply irritated with you.

Other early signs of hearing loss

If your selective hearing is getting worse over time, it may be worth watching out for some of these other early indications of hearing loss. Some of those signs include:

  • People sound far-away or muted when they speak
  • Hearing in crowds is challenging
  • Needing to ask others to talk louder or slow down
  • Cranking up the volume on your mobile phone, television, or radio
  • Having a difficult time making out consonants

You should call us for a hearing test if you experience any of these symptoms.

Always safeguard your hearing

Protecting your hearing is so essential to preventing hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, be certain that you use hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Any feathers that you might have ruffled with your selective hearing can be smoothed over by wearing hearing aids to communicate more effectively.

A diminishing attention span will be to blame for most selective hearing situations in your life. But when you (or somebody around you) observes your selective hearing getting worse, you may want to take that as a sign that it’s time to get your hearing checked.

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