The Nature 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 trash to be taken out. But, unfortunately, it never got done. When you ask why they didn’t do it, your partner replies “I never heard you ask me”. Why are you not surprised that your partner failed to hear the one thing they wanted done? The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s usually a sign of failed communication.

We have the tendency to view selective hearing as a negative, sort of like it’s a character defect. It’s like you’re accusing someone of purposely not listening. But selective hearing may actually be connected to untreated hearing loss rather than a short attention span.

What is selective hearing?

You’ve likely been accused of selective hearing at some point in your life, even if no one used that specific term. 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 cake, but you don’t hear the part about the calories. Things like that.

It’s extremely common for people to have selective hearing behavior. However, most studies point to men failing to hear their partners more frequently than women.

It might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from that (and the way that people are socialized definitely does play into how this behavior is contextualized). But the other part of the equation might have something to do with hearing health. If your “selective hearing” starts to become more common, it could be a clue that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

Communication will undoubtedly be harder with undiagnosed hearing loss. That’s most likely not that surprising.

But here’s the thing: oftentimes, communication problems are an indication of hearing loss.

Symptoms can be really hard to detect when hearing loss is in the early phases. Your tv might get a little louder. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you stop for a beverage at your local tavern. You most likely just presume it’s because of the loud music. And so, other than that, you could go through the majority of your daily life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can gradually decline because of this. Up to the time you’re having problems following along with daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.

Your hearing health is worrying your partner

You will notice some of the people close to you are beginning to worry. Your family and friends will probably be frustrated when they think you’re deliberately missing what they say. But that aggravation often becomes worry when they acknowledge that hearing loss may be the actual culprit.

So, your partner might suggest you schedule a hearing exam to determine if something is wrong.

Your partner’s worry is relevant and it’s essential for you to recognize that. Talk openly with them and accept their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t simply annoyed 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. A few of those signs include:

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

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

Always safeguard your hearing

It’s crucial that you take measures to protect your ears so that you can prevent hearing loss. If you can’t avoid overly loud noise, be certain you use hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Any feathers that you might have ruffled with your selective hearing can be smoothed over by wearing hearing aids to communicate more effectively.

A diminishing attention span will be responsible for most selective hearing incidents in your life. But you might want to take it as an indication that it’s time to get 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.