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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, unfortunately, it never was accomplished. “I Didn’t hear you”, they state. Why are you not surprised that your partner failed to hear the one thing they needed done? The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s often a sign of failing communication.

We have the tendency to think of selective hearing as a negative, sort of like it’s a character defect. Accusing someone of selective hearing is implying they weren’t listening to you. But it’s possible that the real cause 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 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 stuff you don’t want to hear but hear everything else, that’s selective hearing. You hear the part about the chocolate cake, but you don’t hear the part about the calories. Things like that.

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

It might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from that (and the way that individuals are socialized certainly does play into how this behavior is contextualized). But the other part of the equation may have something to do with hearing health. If your “selective hearing” starts to become more common, it could be an indication that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

Communication will definitely be harder with undiagnosed hearing loss. That’s likely not that surprising.

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

Symptoms can be really difficult to notice when hearing loss is in the early phases. Maybe you begin turning the volume on your tv up. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you go out for a drink at your local pub. You most likely just presume it’s because of the loud music. But besides scenarios like that, you may never even observe how loud day-to-day sounds can be. This lets your hearing slowly (but surely) diminish. Up to the time you’re having problems following daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.

Your partner is becoming worried about the health of your hearing

The people around you will probably be concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a rather common irritation (even more annoying when you already feel as if nobody is listening to you). But as it happens more and more often, aggravation may turn to worry.

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

Your partner’s worry is relevant and it’s essential for you to recognize that. Have an open discussion with them and accept their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t just aggravated with you.

Early hearing loss has a few other indicators

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:

  • When people talk it sounds distant or muffled
  • Difficulty hearing in crowds
  • Needing to ask others to speak up or slow down
  • Cranking up the volume on your devices
  • Having a hard time distinguishing consonants

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

Use ear protection

Safeguarding your hearing is so critical to preventing hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, be sure you use hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Any feathers that you might have ruffled with your selective hearing can be smoothed over by using 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 sign that it’s time for a hearing test when people around you begin 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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