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

You asked for help with one simple chore: take the trash out. A little while later you discover your partner failed to do it. When you ask why it didn’t get done, your partner responds “I never heard you ask me”. Funny 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 usually a sign of poor communication.

We normally think of selective hearing as a negative, kind of like it’s a character defect. Accusing somebody of selective hearing is implying they weren’t listening to you. But selective hearing could actually be connected to untreated hearing loss instead of a short attention span.

What is selective hearing?

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 cooking a delicious meal but miss the part about cleaning up the dishes. That sort of thing.

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

How people are socialized does offer some context and it might 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 create gaps in communication

Communication will definitely be more difficult with undiagnosed hearing loss. You’re probably not shocked by that.

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 won’t be very many apparent symptoms. 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 most likely just presume it’s because of the loud music. And so, besides that, you could go through most of your daily life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can slowly decline because of this. You barely notice the issue until you’re at the point where you frequently have difficulty hearing conversations.

Your partner is becoming concerned about the health of your hearing

The people around you will probably be worried. Yes, selective hearing is a rather common aggravation (even more aggravating when you already feel as if no one listens to you). But as it turns out more and more often, aggravation might turn to concern.

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

Your partner’s concern is relevant and it’s important for you to recognize that. Have an open conversation and consider that they have a caring attitude and not just annoyance.

Other early signs of hearing loss

If your selective hearing is getting worse over time, it might be worth watching out for some of these other early signs of hearing loss. Some of those signs include:

  • Hearing in crowds is challenging
  • People sound far-away or muffled when they speak
  • Requesting that people talk slower and speak up
  • Cranking the volume up on your mobile phone, television, or radio
  • Having a hard time distinguishing consonants

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

Use ear protection

Safeguarding your hearing is so crucial to preventing hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from 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 responsible for most selective hearing situations in your life. But you might want to take it as an indication that it’s time to get a hearing test when people around you start to notice your selective hearing getting worse.

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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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