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

You asked for help with one basic task: take the trash out. But, unfortunately, it never got done. When you ask why they didn’t do it, your partner responds “I never heard you ask me”. Curious how that works, how your partner didn’t hear the one thing you requested from them. This “selective hearing” is a normal indication that communication is breaking down.

We have the tendency to view selective hearing as a negative, almost like it’s a character flaw. It’s as if you’re accusing somebody 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.

What is selective hearing?

You’ve likely been accused of selective hearing at some point in your life, even if no one used that specific term. Selective hearing happens when you can clearly hear information that’s beneficial to you but conveniently miss the bit that’s negative. You hear the bit about the chocolate cake, but you miss the part about the calories. Things like that.

As a behavior, selective hearing is very common. However, most studies point to men failing to hear their partners more frequently than women.

It may be tempting to make some assumptions about that (and the way that individuals are socialized definitely does play a part in how this behavior is contextualized). But hearing health is most likely another major aspect. 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 great deal more challenging. You’re most likely not shocked by that.

But one prominent indication of hearing loss is communication issues.

Symptoms can be very difficult to notice when hearing loss is in the early phases. Perhaps you start cranking the volume on your tv up. When go out to your local haunt, you have a difficult time hearing conversations. You most likely just assume it’s because of the loud music. And so, other than that, you could go through the majority of your day-to-day life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can slowly decline because of this. Up to the time you’re having problems following along with daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.

Your partner is becoming worried about the health of your hearing

You will notice some of the people close to you are starting to worry. Yes, selective hearing is a relatively common aggravation (even more annoying when you already feel like no one listens to you). But that aggravation often becomes concern when they realize that hearing loss may be the real culprit.

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. Talk openly with them and welcome their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t simply annoyed with you.

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 indications of hearing loss. A few of those signs include:

  • Having a tough time distinguishing consonants
  • Speech sounds distant or muffled
  • Cranking the volume up on your devices
  • Requesting that people speak slower and speak up
  • Difficulty hearing in crowds

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

Wear ear protection

It’s crucial that you take measures to protect your ears so that you can prevent hearing loss. Reduce your exposure to noisy environments (or at least wear 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 successfully.

A diminishing attention span will be responsible for the majority of selective hearing situations 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 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.