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. A little bit later you discover your partner failed to do it. “I Didn’t hear you”, they declare. Crazy how that works, how your partner didn’t hear the one thing you requested from them. This “selective hearing” is a normal sign that communication is failing.

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

Selective hearing – what is it?

You’ve likely had at least one or more scenarios in your life where somebody has accused you of not listening, even if no one specifically used the phrase “selective hearing”. Selective hearing happens when you can clearly hear information that’s useful to you but conveniently miss the bit that’s negative. You hear the part about the chocolate cake, but you don’t hear the part about the calories. Things like that.

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

It might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from that (and the way that individuals are socialized definitely does play a part in how this behavior is contextualized). But hearing health is probably another major component. If your “selective hearing” starts to become more common, it might be a hint that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

Undiagnosed hearing loss can certainly make communication much more challenging. That’s probably not that shocking.

But one prominent sign of hearing loss is communication issues.

Symptoms can be really hard to detect when hearing loss is in the early phases. Your tv may get a bit louder. 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. But besides situations like that, you might never even observe how loud everyday sounds can be. Your hearing can slowly deteriorate because of this. You hardly 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

You will notice some of the people close to you are starting to worry. Your family and friends will most likely be frustrated when they think you’re intentionally ignoring what they say. But as it happens more and more often, aggravation 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 important to pay attention to your partner’s concerns. Have an open discussion with them and accept their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t just irritated with you.

Other early signs 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. Some of those signs include:

  • Requesting that people talk slower and talk louder
  • Trouble hearing in crowds
  • People sound far-away or muffled when they speak
  • Cranking up the volume on your devices
  • Having a difficult time distinguishing consonants

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

Use ear protection

It’s essential that you take steps to protect your ears so that you can prevent hearing loss. If you can’t avoid overly loud noise, be sure you wear 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 the majority of selective hearing situations in your life. But when you (or somebody around you) observes your selective hearing becoming worse, you may want to take that as a sign that it’s time to have your hearing checked.

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