The Nature of Selective Hearing

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

The only one thing that you requested was for the trash to be taken out. A little bit later you discover your partner didn’t do it. When you ask why it didn’t get done, your partner replies “I never heard you ask me”. Crazy how that works, how your partner failed to hear the one thing you asked them to do. The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s often a sign of failed communication.

We normally view selective hearing as a negative, almost like it’s a character defect. 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.

Selective hearing – what is it?

You’ve most likely been accused of selective hearing at some time in your life, even if nobody used that particular name. 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 cake, but you don’t hear the part about the calories. That kind of thing.

As a behavior, selective hearing is very common. However, most studies point to males failing to hear their partners more frequently than women.

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

Hearing loss can create gaps in communication

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

But one prominent sign of hearing loss is communication problems.

When hearing loss is in those very early phases, there won’t be very many obvious symptoms. Perhaps you start cranking the volume on your tv up. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing conversations. You probably just assume it’s because of the loud music. And so, besides that, you could go through the majority of your daily life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can slowly deteriorate because of this. Up to the time you’re having problems following daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.

Your hearing health is concerning your partner

The people close to you will most likely be worried. Your family and friends will probably be irritated when they think you’re deliberately ignoring what they say. But as it happens more and more often, aggravation might turn to concern.

And your partner may want you to find out what’s going on by having you schedule a hearing test.

It’s important to pay attention to your partner’s concerns. Talk openly with them and welcome their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t just aggravated with you.

Early hearing loss has a few other indicators

If your selective hearing is getting worse over time, it might be worth keeping an eye out for some of these other early signs of hearing loss. Some of those signs include:

  • Needing to ask others to speak up or slow down
  • People sound far-away or muted when they speak
  • Consonants are hard to distinguish
  • Trouble hearing in crowds
  • Cranking the volume up on your mobile phone, television, or radio

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should call us for a hearing test.

Always safeguard your hearing

It’s essential that you take measures to protect your ears in order to 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 spots that your hearing loss might have caused in the first place.

A diminishing attention span will be to blame for the majority of selective hearing incidents in your life. But when you (or someone around you) observes your selective hearing getting worse, you may want to take that as a sign that it’s time to get your hearing checked.

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.

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