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. But, unfortunately, it never was accomplished. When you ask why it didn’t get done, your partner replies “I never heard you ask me”. Why are you not surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they needed done? This “selective hearing” is a common indication that communication is breaking down.

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

What is selective hearing?

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”. Selective hearing occurs when you can clearly hear information that’s helpful to you but conveniently miss the bit that’s negative. You hear the bit about the chocolate cake, but you miss the part about the calories. Things like that.

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

How individuals are socialized does provide some context and it may be tempting to make some assumptions from this. But the other part of the situation may have something to do with hearing health. If your “selective hearing” starts to become more common, it could be a clue that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Hearing loss can produce gaps in communication

Undiagnosed hearing loss can certainly make communication a lot harder. That’s likely not that surprising.

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

When hearing loss is in those very early phases, there aren’t going to be a lot of apparent symptoms. Your tv might get a little louder. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you stop for a drink at your local pub. You most likely just assume it’s because of the loud music. But besides situations like that, you might never even observe how loud day-to-day sounds can be. This allows your hearing to slowly (but surely) decline. You hardly notice the issue until you’re at the point where you often have trouble hearing conversations.

Your hearing health is concerning your partner

The people close to you will likely be concerned. Your family and friends will most likely be frustrated when they think you’re purposely ignoring what they say. But that frustration often turns to worry 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 discussion and consider that they are coming from a place of caring and not just annoyance.

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. Some of those signs include:

  • Having a tough time making out consonants
  • Speech sounds distant or muffled
  • Difficulty hearing in crowds
  • Needing to ask others to speak up or slow down
  • Turning up the volume on your mobile phone, television, or radio

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

Use ear protection

It’s crucial that you take measures to protect your ears in order to prevent hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, be certain that you use 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 successfully.

In most cases throughout your life, selective hearing will be an artifact of a diminishing attention span. But when you (or someone around you) notices your selective hearing getting worse, you may want to take that as a sign that it’s time to get 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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