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. A little bit later you discover your partner didn’t do it. “I Didn’t hear you”, they declare. Funny how that works, how your partner didn’t hear the one thing you requested from them. The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s often a sign of failing communication.

This “selective hearing” is frequently viewed as a kind of character flaw. Accusing someone of selective hearing is saying they weren’t listening to you. But selective hearing could actually be connected to untreated hearing loss rather than a short attention span.

What is selective hearing?

You’ve most likely been accused of selective hearing at some point in your life, even if no one used that particular name. Selective hearing happens when you can clearly hear information that’s useful to you but conveniently miss the part that’s negative. You hear the part about the chocolate ice cream, but you don’t hear the part about the calories. That kind of thing.

As a behavior, selective hearing is extremely common. However, most research points to males 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 certainly does play into how this behavior is contextualized). But the other part of the equation might have something to do with hearing health. Let’s say your “selective hearing” starts to become more prevalent or more common. That could actually be an early indication of hearing loss.

Hearing loss can create gaps in communication

Undiagnosed hearing loss can certainly make communication a lot more challenging. You’re likely not surprised by that.

But one notable sign of hearing loss is communication problems.

Symptoms can be very difficult to notice when hearing loss is in the early stages. Perhaps you start cranking the volume on your tv up. When go out to your local haunt, you have a difficult time hearing conversations. You most likely just presume it’s because of the loud music. And so, besides that, you could go through most of your daily life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can gradually deteriorate because of this. You scarcely notice the problem until you’re at the point where you often have difficulty hearing conversations.

Your partner is becoming concerned about the health of your hearing

The people around you will likely be worried. Yes, selective hearing is a rather common annoyance (even more frustrating when you already feel as if nobody is listening to you). But as it happens more and more frequently, irritation may turn to concern.

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

It’s significant to pay attention to your partner’s concerns. Have an open discussion and consider that they are coming from a place of caring and not just annoyance.

Other early indications of hearing loss

You should watch out for some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing appears to be getting worse. Here are some of those signs:

  • Turning up the volume on your mobile phone, television, or radio
  • Hearing in crowds is challenging
  • People sound far-away or muffled when they talk
  • Consonants are hard to distinguish
  • Needing to ask people to speak up or slow down

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

Always protect your hearing

Protecting your hearing is so critical to preventing hearing loss. Minimize your exposure to loud settings (or at least use earmuffs or earplugs when you have to be around noise). Hearing aids can also help you have more effective communication, which can smooth over many rough spots that your hearing loss might have caused in the first place.

In most circumstances throughout your life, selective hearing will be an artifact of a waning attention span. But when you (or someone around you) observes your selective hearing getting worse, you might want to take that as an indication that it’s time to have your hearing assessed.

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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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