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

You asked for help with one simple task: take the trash out. But, regrettably, it never got done. “I Didn’t hear you”, they say. Curious how that works, how your partner failed to hear the one thing you asked them to do. This “selective hearing” is a normal sign that communication is failing.

This “selective hearing” is frequently viewed as a sort of character defect. Accusing someone of selective hearing is saying they weren’t listening to you. But it’s possible that the real culprit behind your selective hearing may not be a short attention span, it may be the early phases of hearing loss.

What is selective hearing?

You’ve probably 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”. 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 miss the part about the calories. That kind of thing.

It’s very common for people to have selective hearing behavior. However, most studies point to males failing to hear their partners more often than women.

It may be tempting to draw some social conclusions from that (and the way that individuals are socialized certainly does play a part in how this behavior is contextualized). 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 hint that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

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

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

When hearing loss is in those really early phases, there won’t be very many obvious symptoms. Your tv might get a little louder. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing conversations. It’s likely because the music is so loud, right? But besides situations like that, you may never even notice how loud everyday sounds can be. Your hearing can slowly decline because of this. You scarcely notice the issue until you’re at the point where you regularly have difficulty hearing conversations.

Your partner is becoming worried about the health of your hearing

The people close to you will likely be concerned. Your family and friends will likely be irritated when they think you’re purposely ignoring what they say. But as it happens more and more often, aggravation might turn to worry.

So, your partner might recommend you schedule a hearing exam to determine if something is wrong.

It’s significant to listen to your partner’s concerns. 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 signs

You should watch out for some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing seems to be getting worse. Here are a few of those signs:

  • Cranking up the volume on your devices
  • Having to ask people to speak up or slow down
  • People sound far-away or muted when they talk
  • Having a hard time distinguishing consonants
  • Difficulty hearing in crowds

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

Wear ear protection

Safeguarding your hearing is so crucial to preventing hearing loss. If you can’t avoid overly loud noise, be certain that you wear hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Hearing aids can also help you have more effective communication, which can smooth over many rough patches that your hearing loss may have caused in the first place.

A diminishing attention span will be to blame for most 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 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.