You asked for help with one basic chore: take out the trash. But, unfortunately, it never got done. When you ask why it didn’t get done, your partner says “I never heard you ask me”. Why are you not surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they needed done? This “selective hearing” is a normal sign that communication is failing.
We have the tendency to think of selective hearing as a negative, almost like it’s a character flaw. It’s as if you’re accusing someone of deliberately not listening. But selective hearing could actually be related to untreated hearing loss instead of a short attention span.
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”. 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.
As a behavior, selective hearing is extremely common. However, most research points to men failing to hear their partners more frequently than women.
How individuals are socialized does provide some context and it may be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But the other part of the equation may have something to do with hearing health. Let’s say your “selective hearing” begins to become more prominent or more common. That could actually be an early sign of hearing loss.
Hearing loss can create gaps in communication
Communication will undoubtedly be harder with undiagnosed hearing loss. You’re likely not shocked by that.
But here’s the thing: oftentimes, communication issues are an indication of hearing loss.
Symptoms can be very hard to notice when hearing loss is in the early stages. Maybe you start cranking the volume up on your tv. When go out to your local haunt, you have a difficult time hearing what people are saying. It’s likely because the music is so loud, right? But besides scenarios like that, you may never even observe how loud daily sounds can be. Your hearing can gradually diminish because of this. Up to the time you’re having trouble following along with daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.
Your hearing health is concerning your partner
The people around you will probably be concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a fairly common aggravation (even more frustrating when you already feel like no one listens to you). But that aggravation often becomes worry when they acknowledge that hearing loss might be the actual culprit.
And your partner may want you to find out what’s going on by having you schedule a hearing test.
Your partner’s worry is significant and it’s important for you to acknowledge that. Have an open conversation and consider that they are coming from a place of caring and not just aggravation.
Other early indications of hearing loss
If your selective hearing has become worse over time, it may be worth keeping an eye out for some of these other early indications of hearing loss. Here are a few of those signs:
- Cranking up the volume on your mobile phone, television, or radio
- Difficulty hearing in crowds
- Needing to ask others to talk louder or slow down
- Consonants are hard to distinguish
- People sound far-away or muffled when they speak
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s worth calling us and getting a hearing test.
Always protect your hearing
It’s critical that you take measures to protect your ears so that you can prevent hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, be certain you use hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. 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 to blame for the majority of selective hearing incidents in your life. But you may want to take it as a signal that it’s time to get a hearing test when people around you begin to notice your selective hearing getting worse.