The Dynamics of Selective Hearing

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

You asked for help with one basic chore: take the trash out. A little while 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”. Why aren’t you surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they needed done? This “selective hearing” is a common indication that communication is failing.

We tend to view selective hearing as a negative, kind of like it’s a character flaw. Accusing someone of selective hearing is implying 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 phases of hearing loss.

Selective hearing – what is it?

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 stuff you don’t want to hear but hear everything else, that’s selective hearing. You hear the bit about the chocolate ice cream, but you miss the part about the calories. That kind of thing.

It’s really common for people to have selective hearing behavior. However, most research points to males failing to hear their partners more often than women.

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

Hearing loss can cause gaps in communication

Communication will undoubtedly be harder with undiagnosed hearing loss. You’re likely not surprised by that.

But one notable indication of hearing loss is communication issues.

When hearing loss is in those really early phases, there aren’t going to be very many obvious symptoms. Perhaps you start turning the volume up on your tv. 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 the majority of your day-to-day life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. This allows your hearing to slowly (but surely) deteriorate. Up to the time you’re having trouble following along with daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.

Your hearing health is worrying your partner

You will notice some of the people in your life are starting to be concerned. Your family and friends will likely be annoyed when they think you’re intentionally ignoring what they say. But that aggravation often becomes worry when they recognize that hearing loss may be the actual culprit.

So, your partner might suggest you schedule a hearing test to find out if something is wrong.

It’s significant to listen to your partner’s concerns. Have an open discussion with them and welcome their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t simply aggravated with you.

Other early signs of hearing loss

You should watch out for some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing seems to be getting worse. Here are a few of those signs:

  • People sound distant or muffled when they speak
  • Turning up the volume on your mobile phone, television, or radio
  • Requesting that people talk slower and talk louder
  • Consonants are hard to distinguish
  • Difficulty hearing in crowds

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

Always protect your hearing

It’s essential that you take measures to protect your ears in order to prevent hearing loss. Minimize your exposure to noisy settings (or at least wear earmuffs or earplugs when you have to be around noise). Any feathers that you may have ruffled with your selective hearing can be smoothed over by using hearing aids to communicate more successfully.

A diminishing attention span will be responsible for most selective hearing situations in your life. But when you (or somebody around you) notices your selective hearing getting worse, you may want to take that as a sign that it’s time to get your hearing assessed.

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.