The only one thing that you asked for was for the trash to be taken out. A little bit later you discover your partner failed to 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 asked them to do. This “selective hearing” is a common sign that communication is failing.
We tend to think of selective hearing as a negative, kind of like it’s a character defect. It’s like you’re accusing someone of purposely not listening. But it’s possible that the actual culprit 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 likely been accused of selective hearing at some time 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 the chocolate cake, but you miss the part about the calories. Things like that.
As a behavior, selective hearing is incredibly common. 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 draw some social conclusions from this. But hearing health is likely another major component. Let’s say your “selective hearing” starts to become more prevalent or more common. That could actually be an early indication of hearing loss.
Communication can be impacted by hearing loss
Undiagnosed hearing loss can definitely make communication a lot more difficult. You’re most 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 detect when hearing loss is in the early stages. 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 most 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 decline because of this. You hardly notice the problem until you’re at the point where you frequently have difficulty hearing conversations.
Your hearing health is concerning your partner
You will notice some of the people in your life are starting to worry. Your friends and family will most likely be frustrated when they think you’re purposely ignoring what they say. 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.
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 annoyed with you.
Other early indications of hearing loss
You should watch out for some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing appears to be getting worse. Here are a few of those signs:
- Having a hard time distinguishing consonants
- When people talk it sounds distant or muffled
- Having to ask others to talk louder or slow down
- Cranking the volume up on your mobile phone, television, or radio
- Hearing in crowds is difficult
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s worth calling us and getting a hearing test.
Wear ear protection
It’s essential that you take measures to safeguard 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. Hearing aids can also help you have more effective communication, which can smooth over many rough patches that your hearing loss might have caused in the first place.
In most cases throughout your life, selective hearing will be an artifact of a waning attention span. But you may want to take it as a sign that it’s time to get a hearing test when people around you start to notice your selective hearing getting worse.