The Dynamics of Selective Hearing

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

The only one thing that you requested was for the garbage to be taken out. But, regrettably, it never got done. When you ask why they didn’t do it, your partner responds “I never heard you ask me”. Why are you not surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they needed done? The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s often a sign of failing communication.

We normally view selective hearing as a negative, sort of like it’s a character flaw. Accusing someone of selective hearing is saying they weren’t listening to you. But it’s possible that the actual culprit behind your selective hearing might not be a short attention span, it might be the early stages of hearing loss.

Selective hearing – what is it?

You’ve likely been accused of selective hearing at some point in your life, even if nobody used that particular term. 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 making a delicious meal but miss the part about cleaning up the dishes. Things like that.

As a behavior, selective hearing is extremely common. But this behavior is more common in men than women, according to some studies.

It might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from that (and the way that people are socialized certainly does play into how this behavior is contextualized). But the other part of the situation may have something to do with hearing health. If your “selective hearing” begins 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 certainly be harder with undiagnosed hearing loss. You’re probably not shocked by that.

But one notable sign of hearing loss is communication problems.

When hearing loss is in those really early phases, there won’t be very many noticeable symptoms. Maybe you start cranking the volume up on your tv. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing conversations. It’s likely because the music is so loud, right? But besides situations like that, you might never even observe how loud everyday sounds can be. Your hearing can slowly diminish because of this. Up to the time you’re having difficulty following along with daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.

Your hearing health is concerning your partner

You will notice some of the people close to you are beginning to worry. Your friends and family will likely be annoyed when they think you’re intentionally missing what they say. But as it happens more and more frequently, aggravation might turn to concern.

So, your partner might recommend you set up a hearing exam to find out if something is wrong.

Your partner’s worry is significant and it’s essential for you to acknowledge that. Have an open discussion and consider that they have a caring attitude and not just annoyance.

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. Here are some of those signs:

  • People sound far-away or muffled when they speak
  • Having a tough time distinguishing consonants
  • Needing to ask others to speak up or slow down
  • Turning the volume up on your devices
  • Hearing in crowds is challenging

You should contact us for a hearing test 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 settings (or at least use earmuffs or earplugs when you have to be around noise). Any feathers that you might have ruffled with your selective hearing can be smoothed over by using hearing aids to communicate more effectively.

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 becoming worse, you might want to take that as an indication that it’s time to have 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.