You asked for help with one simple task: take out the trash. A little bit later you discover your partner didn’t do it. “I Didn’t hear you”, they say. Why aren’t you surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they needed done? The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s usually a sign of poor communication.
We tend to think of selective hearing as a negative, almost like it’s a character defect. It’s like you’re accusing somebody of deliberately not listening. But selective hearing may actually be related to untreated hearing loss rather than a short attention span.
Selective hearing – what is it?
You’ve probably been accused of selective hearing at some point in your life, even if no one used that specific name. 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 making a delicious meal but miss the part about cleaning up the dishes. Things like that.
It’s extremely common for people to have selective hearing behavior. However, most research points to males 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. Let’s say your “selective hearing” starts to become more prominent or more common. That could actually be an early sign of hearing loss.
Communication can be impacted by hearing loss
Undiagnosed hearing loss can indeed make communication much more challenging. That’s probably not that shocking.
But one notable indication of hearing loss is communication issues.
Symptoms can be really hard to detect when hearing loss is in the early phases. 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. You most likely just presume it’s because of the loud music. But besides scenarios like that, you might never even observe how loud everyday sounds can be. Your hearing can slowly decline because of this. You scarcely notice the issue until you’re at the point where you often have difficulty hearing conversations.
Your hearing health is concerning your partner
The people close to you will likely be concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a relatively common aggravation (even more frustrating when you already feel as if nobody is listening to you). But as it turns out more and more frequently, irritation may turn to concern.
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 relevant and it’s important for you to recognize that. Have an open discussion with them and welcome their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t simply annoyed with you.
Other early indications of hearing loss
If your selective hearing has become worse over time, it might be worth watching out for some of these other early signs of hearing loss. Here are some of those signs:
- Hearing in crowds is difficult
- Speech sounds distant or muffled
- Requesting that people speak slower and talk louder
- Turning up the volume on your mobile phone, television, or radio
- Consonants are hard to make out
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should call us for a hearing test.
Use ear protection
It’s crucial that you take steps to protect your ears so that you can prevent hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, make sure you wear 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 most selective hearing incidents in your life. But you might want to take it as a sign that it’s time for a hearing test when people around you start to notice your selective hearing getting worse.