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

The only one thing that you asked for was for the garbage to be taken out. But, unfortunately, it never got done. When you ask why it didn’t get done, your partner says “I never heard you ask me”. Why are you not surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they wanted done? The popular term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s usually a sign of failed communication.

We have the tendency to think of selective hearing as a negative, sort of like it’s a character flaw. It’s as if you’re accusing somebody of purposely not listening. But selective hearing may actually be related to untreated hearing loss instead of a short attention span.

Selective hearing – what is it?

You’ve most likely had at least one or more scenarios in your life where someone has accused you of not listening, even if no one specifically used the term “selective hearing”. When you miss all the things you don’t want to hear but hear everything else, that’s selective hearing. You hear the part about the chocolate cake, but you miss the part about the calories. Things like that.

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

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

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

Undiagnosed hearing loss can definitely make communication a lot more difficult. You’re most likely not surprised by that.

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

Symptoms can be really hard to notice when hearing loss is in the early phases. Perhaps you start cranking the volume up on your tv. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing what people are saying. You probably just assume it’s because of the loud music. And so, other than that, you could go through the majority of your everyday life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can gradually deteriorate because of this. You hardly notice the problem until you’re at the point where you often have difficulty hearing conversations.

Your partner is becoming worried about the health of your hearing

The people close to you will probably be worried. Yes, selective hearing is a relatively common aggravation (even more annoying when you already feel as if nobody is listening to you). But as it happens more and more often, aggravation may turn to worry.

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

It’s important to listen to your partner’s concerns. Have an open discussion with them and welcome their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t simply annoyed with you.

Early hearing loss has a few other indicators

You should be aware of some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing seems to be getting worse. Here are a few of those signs:

  • Needing to ask people to talk louder or slow down
  • Having a tough time distinguishing consonants
  • Hearing in crowds is difficult
  • Cranking up the volume on your mobile phone, television, or radio
  • Speech sounds distant or muffled

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

Use ear protection

Safeguarding your hearing is so critical to preventing hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, be sure you wear hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Hearing aids can also help you communicate effectively, which can smooth over many rough spots that your hearing loss may have caused in the first place.

In most circumstances throughout your life, selective hearing will be an artifact of a diminishing attention span. But when you (or somebody around you) observes your selective hearing becoming worse, you may want to take that as an indication that it’s time to have your hearing checked.

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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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