Diving into the Dynamics of Selective Hearing

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

You asked for help with one simple chore: take the trash out. A little while later you discover your partner didn’t do it. When you ask why they didn’t do it, your partner replies “I never heard you ask me”. Crazy how that works, how your partner didn’t hear the one thing you requested from them. This “selective hearing” is a normal indication that communication is failing.

This “selective hearing” is frequently viewed as a sort of character flaw. Accusing someone of selective hearing is saying they weren’t listening to you. But it’s possible that the real cause behind your selective hearing may not be a short attention span, it may 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 sort of thing.

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

How people are socialized does offer some context and it might be tempting to make some assumptions from this. But hearing health is most likely another major component. If your “selective hearing” begins to become more common, it might be a clue that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

Undiagnosed hearing loss can definitely make communication much harder. You’re most likely not surprised by that.

But here’s the thing: in many cases, communication issues are an indication of hearing loss.

When hearing loss is in those really early phases, there aren’t going to be very many noticeable symptoms. Your tv might get a bit louder. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing what people are saying. You most likely just assume it’s because of the loud music. 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 deteriorate because of this. You scarcely notice the issue until you’re at the point where you frequently have difficulty hearing conversations.

Your partner is becoming concerned about the health of your hearing

The people close to you will most likely be worried. Yes, selective hearing is a relatively common aggravation (even more aggravating 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 aggravated with you.

Early hearing loss has a few other indicators

If your selective hearing is getting worse over time, it might be worth watching out for some of these other early indications of hearing loss. A few of those signs include:

  • Requesting that people talk slower and talk louder
  • Having a difficult time making out consonants
  • Hearing in crowds is challenging
  • When people talk it sounds distant or muffled
  • Turning up the volume on your mobile phone, television, or radio

You should contact us for a hearing exam if you experience any of these symptoms.

Always safeguard your hearing

Safeguarding your hearing is so crucial to preventing hearing loss. Limit your exposure to noisy environments (or at least use earmuffs or earplugs when you must be around noise). Hearing aids can also help you communicate effectively, which can smooth over many rough patches that your hearing loss may have caused in the first place.

A diminishing attention span will be to blame for the majority of selective hearing situations in your life. But when you (or somebody around you) notices your selective hearing getting worse, you might want to take that as a sign that it’s time to have your hearing tested.

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.