The only one thing that you requested was for the garbage to be taken out. A little while later you realize your partner didn’t do it. When you ask why they didn’t do it, your partner replies “I never heard you ask me”. Funny how that works, how your partner didn’t hear the one thing you requested from them. The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s often a sign of failed communication.
This “selective hearing” is often viewed as a kind of character flaw. It’s as if you’re accusing someone of intentionally not listening. But it’s possible that the real cause behind your selective hearing might not be a short attention span, it might be the early stages of hearing loss.
What is selective hearing?
You’ve most likely had at least one or more situations in your life where somebody 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 kind of thing.
It’s really common for people to have selective hearing behavior. However, most studies point to males failing to hear their partners more frequently than women.
How people are socialized does give some context and it may be tempting to make some assumptions from this. But the other part of the situation may have something to do with hearing health. Let’s say your “selective hearing” starts to become more prevalent or more common. That could actually be an early sign of hearing loss.
Communication can be impacted by hearing loss
Communication will undoubtedly be harder with undiagnosed hearing loss. You’re most likely not surprised by that.
But one notable sign of hearing loss is communication issues.
Symptoms can be really hard to detect when hearing loss is in the early phases. Maybe you begin turning the volume up on your tv. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you stop for a drink at your local tavern. It’s likely because the music is so loud, right? And so, besides that, you could go through most of your everyday life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can slowly deteriorate because of this. You barely notice the issue until you’re at the point where you frequently have trouble hearing conversations.
Your hearing health is worrying your partner
You will notice some of the people close to you are starting to be concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a fairly common irritation (even more frustrating when you already feel like nobody listens to you). But that frustration often turns to concern when they recognize that hearing loss may be the real culprit.
So, your partner may recommend you set up a hearing exam to find out if something is wrong.
It’s important to listen to your partner’s concerns. Talk openly with them and accept their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t simply aggravated with you.
Early hearing loss has a few other signs
You should be aware of some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing seems to be getting worse. Here are a few of those signs:
- Consonants are hard to distinguish
- Turning the volume up on your mobile phone, television, or radio
- When people talk it sounds distant or muffled
- Hearing in crowds is challenging
- Requesting that people speak slower and talk louder
You should call us for a hearing exam if you have any of these symptoms.
Always protect your hearing
It’s essential that you take steps to protect your ears in order to prevent hearing loss. Limit your exposure to loud environments (or at least wear earmuffs or earplugs when you must be around noise). Hearing aids can also help you have more effective communication, 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 signal that it’s time for a hearing test when people around you start to observe your selective hearing getting worse.