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

You asked for help with one basic chore: take out the trash. But, regrettably, it never got done. When you ask why it didn’t get done, your partner replies “I never heard you ask me”. Why aren’t you surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they wanted done? This “selective hearing” is a normal sign that communication is failing.

We often think of selective hearing as a negative, sort of like it’s a character defect. It’s as if you’re accusing someone of deliberately not listening. But it’s possible that the actual culprit behind your selective hearing might 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 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 useful to you but conveniently miss the part that’s negative. You hear the bit about the chocolate cake, but you miss the part about the calories. That sort of thing.

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

It may 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 situation might have something to do with hearing health. If your “selective hearing” begins to become more common, it could be a hint that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause gaps in communication

Undiagnosed hearing loss can certainly make communication a great deal more difficult. You’re most likely not surprised 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 stages. Maybe 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. You probably just presume it’s because of the loud music. And so, besides that, you could go through the majority of your everyday life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can slowly decline because of this. You hardly notice the problem until you’re at the point where you regularly have difficulty hearing conversations.

Your partner is becoming worried about the health of your hearing

You will notice some of the people in your life are beginning to be concerned. Your friends and family will most likely be annoyed when they think you’re purposely ignoring what they say. But as it happens more and more frequently, irritation might 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 important to listen to your partner’s concerns. Have an open conversation and consider that they have a caring attitude and not just annoyance.

Early hearing loss has a few other signs

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

  • Consonants are hard to make out
  • Cranking up the volume on your mobile phone, television, or radio
  • Requesting that people speak slower and speak up
  • When people talk it sounds distant or muffled
  • Trouble hearing in crowds

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

Wear ear protection

Protecting your hearing is so essential to preventing hearing loss. Minimize your exposure to loud environments (or at least use earmuffs or earplugs when you must 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 effectively.

A diminishing attention span will be responsible for most selective hearing incidents in your life. But when you (or someone around you) observes your selective hearing getting worse, you might want to take that as an indication that it’s time to have 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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