Diving into the Nature of Selective Hearing

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

You asked for help with one simple task: take the trash out. But, regrettably, it never got done. 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 asked them to do. This “selective hearing” is a common sign that communication is failing.

We often think of selective hearing as a negative, almost like it’s a character flaw. It’s like you’re accusing somebody of deliberately not listening. But selective hearing might actually be connected to untreated hearing loss instead of a short attention span.

Selective hearing – what is it?

You’ve most likely had at least one or more scenarios in your life where somebody has accused you of not listening, even if no one specifically used the term “selective hearing”. Selective hearing occurs when you can clearly hear information that’s helpful to you but conveniently miss the bit that’s negative. You hear the part about the chocolate ice cream, 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 males failing to hear their partners more often 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 hearing health is probably another major component. Let’s say your “selective hearing” starts to become more prominent or more common. That could actually be an early sign of hearing loss.

Hearing loss can produce gaps in communication

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

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

Symptoms can be very hard to detect when hearing loss is in the early stages. Perhaps you begin cranking the volume on your tv up. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing conversations. It’s probably because the music is so loud, right? But besides scenarios like that, you might never even observe how loud everyday sounds can be. This lets your hearing gradually decline. You scarcely notice the issue until you’re at the point where you often have trouble hearing conversations.

Your hearing health is worrying your partner

You will notice some of the people in your life are beginning to worry. Yes, selective hearing is a rather common irritation (even more frustrating when you already feel as if no one is listening to you). But as it turns out more and more often, irritation might 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 concern is relevant and it’s important for you to acknowledge that. Talk openly with them and accept their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t just annoyed with you.

Other early indications of hearing loss

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

  • Having a tough time distinguishing consonants
  • Hearing in crowds is challenging
  • Turning the volume up on your devices
  • Requesting that people speak slower and speak up
  • People sound far-away or muted when they talk

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

Always protect your hearing

Safeguarding your hearing is so crucial to preventing hearing loss. Limit your exposure to noisy environments (or at least wear earmuffs or earplugs when you have to be around noise). Hearing aids can also help you have more effective communication, 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 most selective hearing situations in your life. But you may 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.

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