Hearing Health Blog

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

The only one thing that you requested was for the garbage to be taken out. But, regrettably, it never was accomplished. “I Didn’t hear you”, they declare. Curious how that works, how your partner didn’t hear the one thing you requested from them. The popular term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s often a sign of failed communication.

We have the tendency to view selective hearing as a negative, almost like it’s a character defect. Accusing somebody of selective hearing is saying they weren’t listening to you. But it’s possible that the actual cause behind your selective hearing might not be a short attention span, it may be the early phases of hearing loss.

What is selective hearing?

You’ve likely been accused of selective hearing at some time in your life, even if no one used that specific term. 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 cooking a delicious meal but miss the part about cleaning up the dishes. That sort of thing.

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

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

Hearing loss can create gaps in communication

Undiagnosed hearing loss can certainly make communication much more difficult. That’s most likely not that surprising.

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

When hearing loss is in those very early phases, there aren’t going to be a lot of apparent symptoms. Maybe you start turning the volume on your tv up. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you stop for a drink at your local tavern. It’s probably because the music is so loud, right? And so, other than that, you could go through most of your day-to-day life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can slowly diminish because of this. You hardly notice the problem until you’re at the point where you often have difficulty hearing conversations.

Your hearing health is concerning your partner

You will notice some of the people in your life are beginning to worry. Yes, selective hearing is a rather common aggravation (even more annoying when you already feel like nobody listens to you). But that aggravation often becomes worry when they realize that hearing loss might be the real culprit.

So, your partner might suggest you set up a hearing exam to determine if something is wrong.

Your partner’s concern is significant and it’s important for you to recognize that. 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

If your selective hearing has become worse over time, it may be worth keeping an eye out for some of these other early signs of hearing loss. Some of those signs include:

  • Having to ask people to talk louder or slow down
  • Cranking up the volume on your devices
  • Difficulty hearing in crowds
  • Having a hard time making out consonants
  • Speech sounds distant or muffled

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

Use ear protection

Safeguarding your hearing is so crucial to preventing hearing loss. Minimize your exposure to noisy environments (or at least wear earmuffs or earplugs when you have to be around noise). 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 incidents in your life. But you might want to take it as a signal that it’s time for a hearing test when people around you begin to observe 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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