Delving into the Dynamics of Selective Hearing

Wife is annoyed by husband who appears to have selective hearing.

The only one thing that you asked for was for the garbage to be taken out. But, unfortunately, it never got done. When you ask why it didn’t get done, your partner replies “I never heard you ask me”. Funny how that works, how your partner failed to hear the one thing you requested from them. The popular term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s usually a sign of failing communication.

We have the tendency to think of selective hearing as a negative, almost like it’s a character flaw. It’s like you’re accusing somebody of purposely not listening. But selective hearing might actually be related to untreated hearing loss rather than a short attention span.

Selective hearing – what is it?

You’ve most likely had at least one or more scenarios in your life where somebody has accused you of not listening, even if no one specifically used the phrase “selective hearing”. When you miss all the stuff you don’t want to hear but hear everything else, that’s selective hearing. You hear the part about the chocolate ice cream, but you miss the part about the calories. Things like that.

As a behavior, selective hearing is extremely common. However, most research points to men failing to hear their partners more often than women.

How individuals are socialized does offer some context and it may be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But hearing health is most likely another major component. Let’s say your “selective hearing” starts to become more prominent or more common. That could actually be an early sign of hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause gaps in communication

Undiagnosed hearing loss can indeed make communication a great deal more difficult. That’s likely not that shocking.

But here’s the thing: in many cases, communication problems are a sign of hearing loss.

When hearing loss is in those really early stages, there won’t be a lot of noticeable symptoms. Perhaps you begin cranking the volume on your tv up. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you stop for a beverage at your local bar. It’s most likely because the music is so loud, right? And so, besides that, you could go through most of your daily 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 often have trouble hearing conversations.

Your partner is becoming concerned about the health of your hearing

The people around you will likely be concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a rather common aggravation (even more frustrating when you already feel like no one listens to you). But that aggravation often turns to concern when they realize that hearing loss may be the actual culprit.

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 significant 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

You should be aware of some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing seems to be getting worse. Some of those signs include:

  • Cranking the volume up on your devices
  • Trouble hearing in crowds
  • Consonants are hard to make out
  • Having to ask others to talk louder or slow down
  • People sound far-away or muted when they speak

You should call us for a hearing exam if you have any of these symptoms.

Wear ear protection

It’s critical that you take measures to safeguard your ears in order to prevent hearing loss. Reduce your exposure to noisy environments (or at least use earmuffs or earplugs when you have to be around noise). 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.

A diminishing attention span will be responsible for most selective hearing situations in your life. But you may want to take it as a sign that it’s time for a hearing test when people around you begin to notice your selective hearing getting worse.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.