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. But, unfortunately, it never was accomplished. When you ask why they didn’t do it, your partner replies “I never heard you ask me”. Crazy how that works, how your partner failed to hear the one thing you asked them to do. The popular term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s often a sign of poor communication.

We tend to view selective hearing as a negative, almost like it’s a character flaw. Accusing someone of selective hearing is saying they weren’t listening to you. But it’s possible that the actual culprit behind your selective hearing may not be a short attention span, it might be the early phases of hearing loss.

Selective hearing – what is it?

You’ve probably 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”. When you miss all the things 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 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 men failing to hear their partners more often than women.

It may be tempting to make some assumptions about that (and the way that people are socialized certainly does play into how this behavior is contextualized). But the other part of the situation may have something to do with hearing health. If your “selective hearing” begins to become more common, it might be a hint that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

Communication will certainly be more difficult with undiagnosed hearing loss. You’re likely not surprised by that.

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

Symptoms can be very difficult to notice when hearing loss is in the early stages. Perhaps 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 bar. It’s likely because the music is so loud, right? And so, besides that, you could go through most of your everyday life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can slowly deteriorate because of this. You barely notice the issue until you’re at the point where you often have difficulty hearing conversations.

Your hearing health is concerning your partner

The people close to you will likely be worried. Your friends and family will likely be frustrated when they think you’re deliberately ignoring what they say. But as it turns out 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 significant to pay attention to your partner’s concerns. Have an open discussion and consider that they have a caring attitude and not just aggravation.

Early hearing loss has a few other signs

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
  • Cranking up the volume on your mobile phone, television, or radio
  • Requesting that people speak slower and speak up
  • Speech sounds distant or muffled
  • Hearing in crowds is difficult

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

Wear ear protection

It’s essential that you take measures to safeguard your ears in order to prevent hearing loss. Minimize your exposure to noisy environments (or at least use earmuffs or earplugs when you have to be around noise). Any feathers that you may have ruffled with your selective hearing can be smoothed over by wearing hearing aids to communicate more successfully.

A diminishing attention span will be to blame for the majority of selective hearing incidents in your life. But you may want to take it as a signal that it’s time for a hearing test when people around you begin to notice your selective hearing getting worse.

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