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

The only one thing that you requested was for the trash to be taken out. But, unfortunately, it never was accomplished. “I Didn’t hear you”, they declare. Curious how that works, how your partner failed to hear the one thing you requested from them. The popular term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s often a sign of failed communication.

We often view selective hearing as a negative, almost like it’s a character defect. It’s as if you’re accusing somebody of purposely not listening. But it’s possible that the real cause behind your selective hearing may not be a short attention span, it might be the early stages of hearing loss.

What is selective hearing?

You’ve likely had at least one or more situations in your life where somebody has accused you of not listening, even if no one specifically used the term “selective hearing”. When you miss all the stuff you don’t want to hear but hear everything else, that’s selective hearing. You hear the part about making a delicious meal but miss the part about cleaning up the dishes. That sort of thing.

As a behavior, selective hearing is incredibly common. However, most studies point to men failing to hear their partners more frequently than women.

It may be tempting to draw some social conclusions from that (and the way that people are socialized certainly does play a part in how this behavior is contextualized). But hearing health is probably another major component. Let’s say your “selective hearing” starts to become more prevalent or more common. That could actually be an early sign of hearing loss.

Hearing loss can create gaps in communication

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

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

When hearing loss is in those really early phases, there won’t be very many apparent symptoms. Your tv may get a bit louder. When go out to your local haunt, you have a difficult time hearing conversations. It’s most likely because the music is so loud, right? But besides situations like that, you might never even notice how loud everyday sounds can be. Your hearing can gradually decline because of this. You hardly notice the problem until you’re at the point where you frequently have difficulty hearing conversations.

Your hearing health is worrying your partner

The people close to you will probably be worried. Yes, selective hearing is a relatively common annoyance (even more irritating when you already feel like nobody listens to you). But that frustration often becomes worry when they recognize that hearing loss may be the actual culprit.

And your partner may want you to find out what’s going on by having you schedule a hearing test.

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

Early hearing loss has a few other indicators

You should watch out for some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing seems to be getting worse. A few of those signs include:

  • Having to ask others to speak up or slow down
  • When people talk it sounds distant or muffled
  • Hearing in crowds is difficult
  • Turning up the volume on your devices
  • Consonants are hard to make out

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

Use ear protection

It’s critical that you take steps to safeguard your ears in order to prevent hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, be certain that you wear hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Any feathers that you might have ruffled with your selective hearing can be smoothed over by using hearing aids to communicate more effectively.

In most circumstances throughout your life, selective hearing is going to be an artifact of a diminishing attention span. But when you (or someone around you) observes your selective hearing getting worse, you might want to take that as a sign that it’s time to get your hearing tested.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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