The Impact of Pretending to Hear on Relationships

Why Pretending to Hear Doesn’t Help

If you suspect you may have untreated hearing loss, you might have noticed some communication difficulties. For instance, your spouse might have said something, and you missed it completely. You also might have commented and then had a response that seemed to be off track. Perhaps you even received some essential information, only to realize that you didn’t follow much of what was said. In all of these cases, miscommunication might be the fault of untreated hearing loss.

When a person has untreated hearing loss, it can be difficult to admit the issue. Rather than owning up to the problem and taking steps to pursue treatment, that person might consciously or subconsciously pretend to hear what you have to say. Although this might make interactions easier at first glance, this habit can lead to a host of other issues. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that pretending to hear doesn’t help after all. Discussing these issues with your loved one is a great way to encourage treatment as soon as possible. 

Practical Issues

As you can see, pretending to hear can cause practical issues in day-to-day life. Imagine if you are attempting to communicate with someone who, it turns out, only pretends to hear you. 

If you pass along information to someone pretending to hear, you are assuming that the information is received. If you expect someone to take action on that information, it can be disheartening, frustrating, and even dangerous to find out that the information was not received in the first place. The practical issues that ensue from someone pretending to hear range from minor snafus to major risks to health and well-being. Pretending to hear might seem harmless, but missing out on information comes with a snowball effect of practical issues. 

Relationships and Trust

When a person pretends to hear, that act can be taken as a breach of trust. We communicate with our loved ones on the assumption that the process is a two-way street. When someone pretends to hear, that street is unidirectional. Without the ability to process, understand, and reply, the relationship can suffer. Rather than trusting that the other person is invested in your needs and the communication process, the relationship can suffer from mistrust and mixed expectations. For instance, when a person discloses personal information to someone else, they are being vulnerable. That vulnerability is a bid for a response that shows the relationship can be trusted. However, when someone pretends to hear, that disclosure falls flat. We can feel disappointed and even betrayed when someone does not understand and respond to a personal disclosure of information. 

Associated Health Risks

Not only do relationships suffer when someone pretends to have hearing loss, but other health issues can become more likely. Checking out in conversations reduces the amount of mental stimulation that a person receives. Without proper mental “exercise,” the brain can suffer serious problems ranging from memory issues and cognitive decline to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Getting enough verbal stimulation is a crucial aspect of keeping the mind healthy and sound. If a person pretends to hear, that lack of engagement can lead to serious health concerns of the mind, body, and emotional well-being. 

With these issues in mind, it is crucial to have a conversation with your loved one who seems to be pretending to hear. You can begin by asking about recent experiences with hearing ability, including if there have been any problems. Without directly asking if your loved one is pretending to hear, you can try to help them open up about hearing issues. If you can establish that hearing has become an issue, then the next step is to encourage a hearing test. That test is the first step toward getting treatment and resolving the practical, relationship, and health issues that stem from pretending to hear. Making an appointment for a hearing test is just a phone call away, so don’t delay opening up this conversation with your loved one. You might find great improvements to both of your lives!

Kenneth H. Wood, BC-HIS

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