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 got done. “I Didn’t hear you”, they state. Why are you not surprised that your partner failed to hear the one thing they wanted 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 implying they weren’t listening to you. But it’s possible that the actual cause behind your selective hearing might not be a short attention span, it may be the early stages of hearing loss.

Selective hearing – what is it?

You’ve likely had at least one or more situations in your life where someone has accused you of not listening, even if no one specifically used the phrase “selective hearing”. Selective hearing occurs when you can clearly hear information that’s useful to you but conveniently miss the part that’s negative. You hear the bit about the chocolate ice cream, but you miss the part about the calories. That sort of thing.

It’s really common for people to have selective hearing behavior. But this behavior is more prevalent in men than women, according to some research.

It might be tempting to make some assumptions about that (and the way that individuals are socialized certainly does play into how this behavior is contextualized). But the other part of the picture might have something to do with hearing health. Let’s say your “selective hearing” begins to become more prominent or more common. That could actually be an early sign of hearing loss.

Hearing loss can create gaps in communication

Undiagnosed hearing loss can definitely make communication a lot harder. You’re most likely not shocked by that.

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

Symptoms can be very difficult to notice when hearing loss is in the early phases. Perhaps you begin cranking the volume up on your tv. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing what people are saying. It’s probably because the music is so loud, right? And so, other than that, you could go through the majority of your day-to-day life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can slowly decline because of this. Up to the time you’re having trouble following along with daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.

Your partner is becoming worried about the health of your hearing

The people close to you will most likely be concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a relatively common aggravation (even more frustrating when you already feel as if no one is listening to you). But that aggravation often becomes worry when they recognize that hearing loss could be the actual culprit.

So, your partner might recommend you schedule a hearing exam to find out if something is wrong.

Your partner’s concern is significant and it’s essential for you to recognize that. Have an open conversation and consider that they are coming from a place of caring and not just aggravation.

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 seems to be getting worse. Some of those signs include:

  • People sound distant or muffled when they speak
  • Needing to ask people to talk louder or slow down
  • Turning up the volume on your devices
  • Consonants are hard to make out
  • Hearing in crowds is difficult

If you have any of these symptoms, it’s worth calling us and getting a hearing test.

Always safeguard your hearing

Safeguarding your hearing is so essential to preventing hearing loss. Minimize your exposure to loud settings (or at least wear earmuffs or earplugs when you have to be around noise). Hearing aids can also help you communicate effectively, which can smooth over many rough patches that your hearing loss may have caused in the first place.

In most circumstances throughout your life, selective hearing is going to be an artifact of a waning attention span. But you might want to take it as an indication that it’s time for a hearing test when people around you start to observe your selective hearing getting worse.

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