Delving into the Dynamics 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. A little while later you discover your partner didn’t do it. “I Didn’t hear you”, they declare. Curious how that works, how your partner failed to hear the one thing you requested from them. This “selective hearing” is a normal sign that communication is failing.

This “selective hearing” is often viewed as a sort of character defect. It’s as if you’re accusing someone of deliberately not listening. But it’s possible that the real cause behind your selective hearing might not be a short attention span, it might be the early phases of hearing loss.

What is selective hearing?

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”. Selective hearing happens when you can clearly hear information that’s beneficial to you but conveniently miss the bit that’s negative. You hear the part about making a delicious meal but miss the part about cleaning up the dishes. 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 frequently than women.

It might be tempting to make some assumptions about that (and the way that people are socialized certainly 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” begins to become more common, it could be a hint that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

Communication will undoubtedly be more difficult with undiagnosed hearing loss. You’re most likely not shocked by that.

But one notable sign of hearing loss is communication problems.

Symptoms can be really difficult to detect when hearing loss is in the early phases. Your tv may get a little louder. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing what people are saying. It’s likely because the music is so loud, right? And so, besides that, you could go through most of your daily life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can gradually deteriorate 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 worrying your partner

You will notice some of the people in your life are beginning to worry. Yes, selective hearing is a fairly common irritation (even more frustrating when you already feel as if nobody is listening to you). 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 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 indications of hearing loss

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. Here are some of those signs:

  • Hearing in crowds is difficult
  • Turning up the volume on your devices
  • Having a hard time making out consonants
  • Having to ask others to talk louder or slow down
  • When people talk it sounds distant or muffled

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

Always safeguard your hearing

Protecting your hearing is so critical to preventing hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from 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 using hearing aids to communicate more effectively.

In most circumstances throughout your life, selective hearing will be an artifact of a diminishing attention span. But you may want to take it as an indication that it’s time for a hearing test when people around you start to observe 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.