The only one thing that you asked for was for the trash to be taken out. A little bit later you discover your partner didn’t do it. When you ask why it didn’t get done, your partner replies “I never heard you ask me”. Crazy how that works, how your partner didn’t hear the one thing you asked them to do. This “selective hearing” is a common indication that communication is failing.
We often view selective hearing as a negative, almost like it’s a character flaw. It’s like you’re accusing somebody of deliberately not listening. But it’s possible that the real cause behind your selective hearing may not be a short attention span, it may be the early stages of hearing loss.
What is selective hearing?
You’ve most likely been accused of selective hearing at some time in your life, even if nobody used that particular name. When you miss all the things you don’t want to hear but hear everything else, that’s selective hearing. You hear the bit about the chocolate ice cream, but you don’t hear the part about the calories. That sort of thing.
It’s very common for people to have selective hearing behavior. However, most research points to males failing to hear their partners more frequently than women.
It might be tempting to make some assumptions about that (and the way that individuals are socialized certainly does play into how this behavior is contextualized). But hearing health is most likely another major aspect. Let’s say your “selective hearing” begins to become more prominent or more common. That could actually be an early indication of hearing loss.
Hearing loss can create gaps in communication
Communication will undoubtedly be harder with undiagnosed hearing loss. You’re probably not surprised by that.
But here’s the thing: in many cases, communication issues are a sign of hearing loss.
Symptoms can be very hard to detect when hearing loss is in the early phases. Your tv might get a bit louder. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you go out for a beverage at your local tavern. You most likely just assume it’s because of the loud music. And so, besides that, you could go through the majority of your daily life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can gradually decline because of this. Up to the time you’re having difficulty following along with daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.
Your partner is becoming concerned about the health of your hearing
The people close to you will probably be worried. Yes, selective hearing is a fairly common irritation (even more irritating when you already feel as if nobody is listening to you). But that frustration often becomes worry when they recognize that hearing loss could be the actual culprit.
So, your partner may suggest you set up a hearing exam to find out if something is wrong.
Your partner’s worry is significant and it’s essential for you to recognize that. Talk openly with them and welcome their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t just annoyed with you.
Early hearing loss has a few other indicators
If your selective hearing is getting worse over time, it might be worth watching out for some of these other early signs of hearing loss. A few of those signs include:
- Difficulty hearing in crowds
- Consonants are hard to make out
- Turning the volume up on your mobile phone, television, or radio
- Speech sounds distant or muffled
- Requesting that people speak slower and talk louder
You should contact us for a hearing test if you have any of these symptoms.
Always protect your hearing
It’s essential that you take steps to protect your ears so that you can prevent hearing loss. Reduce your exposure to loud settings (or at least wear earmuffs or earplugs when you must be around noise). Hearing aids can also help you communicate effectively, which can smooth over many rough patches that your hearing loss may have caused in the first place.
A diminishing attention span will be responsible for most selective hearing situations in your life. But you might want to take it as a sign that it’s time to get a hearing test when people around you begin to observe your selective hearing getting worse.