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

The only one thing that you requested was for the garbage to be taken out. A little bit later you realize your partner didn’t do it. “I Didn’t hear you”, they say. Why are you not surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they wanted done? This “selective hearing” is a normal indication that communication is breaking down.

We have the tendency to think of selective hearing as a negative, almost like it’s a character defect. It’s as if you’re accusing someone of intentionally not listening. But selective hearing may 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 nobody used that particular name. 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 the chocolate ice cream, but you miss the part about the calories. That kind of thing.

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

How people are socialized does offer some context and it may be tempting to make some assumptions from this. But hearing health is probably another major component. Let’s say your “selective hearing” begins to become more prevalent or more common. That could actually be an early sign of hearing loss.

Hearing loss can produce gaps in communication

Undiagnosed hearing loss can indeed make communication a great deal more difficult. You’re likely not surprised by that.

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

When hearing loss is in those very early stages, there won’t be a lot of apparent symptoms. Maybe you begin cranking the volume on your tv up. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you stop for a drink at your local tavern. It’s most likely because the music is so loud, right? But besides situations like that, you may never even notice how loud daily sounds can be. Your hearing can slowly decline because of this. Up to the time you’re having difficulty following along with daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.

Your partner is becoming concerned about the health of your hearing

You will notice some of the people close to you are starting to worry. Your friends and family will probably be frustrated when they think you’re purposely missing what they say. But that aggravation often turns to concern when they recognize that hearing loss may be the real culprit.

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

Your partner’s worry is relevant 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 annoyance.

Other early signs of hearing loss

If your selective hearing is getting worse over time, it might be worth keeping an eye out for some of these other early signs of hearing loss. Here are some of those signs:

  • Having a hard time distinguishing consonants
  • Hearing in crowds is challenging
  • Needing to ask people to talk louder or slow down
  • Turning up the volume on your devices
  • Speech sounds distant or muffled

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

Always safeguard your hearing

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

A diminishing attention span will be responsible for the majority of selective hearing incidents in your life. But when you (or somebody around you) notices your selective hearing becoming worse, you may want to take that as an indication that it’s time to have your hearing assessed.

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