The Dynamics of Selective Hearing

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

You asked for help with one basic task: take the trash out. But, regrettably, it never was accomplished. “I Didn’t hear you”, they state. Crazy how that works, how your partner failed to hear the one thing you asked them to do. This “selective hearing” is a common sign that communication is breaking down.

We often view selective hearing as a negative, sort of like it’s a character defect. Accusing somebody of selective hearing is saying they weren’t listening to you. But selective hearing may actually be related to untreated hearing loss rather than a short attention span.

What is selective hearing?

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

As a behavior, selective hearing is very common. However, most studies point to males failing to hear their partners more frequently than women.

How individuals are socialized does offer some context and it might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But the other part of the situation might have something to do with hearing health. If your “selective hearing” begins to become more common, it could be an indication that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause gaps in communication

Undiagnosed hearing loss can indeed make communication a lot more challenging. That’s probably not that shocking.

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

Symptoms can be really hard to detect when hearing loss is in the early phases. Your tv may get a bit louder. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing conversations. It’s most likely because the music is so loud, right? And so, besides that, you could go through most of your everyday life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. This allows your hearing to gradually diminish. Up to the time you’re having trouble following daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.

Your partner is becoming worried about the health of your hearing

You will notice some of the people close to you are beginning to worry. Your friends and family will probably be annoyed when they think you’re intentionally missing what they say. But that frustration often turns to concern when they recognize that hearing loss could be the actual culprit.

So, your partner may recommend you schedule a hearing exam to find out if something is wrong.

It’s important to pay attention to your partner’s concerns. Have an open discussion and consider that they have a caring attitude and not just annoyance.

Other early signs of hearing loss

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

  • Requesting that people talk slower and speak up
  • Hearing in crowds is difficult
  • Turning up the volume on your mobile phone, television, or radio
  • Consonants are hard to distinguish
  • People sound far-away or muffled when they speak

If you have any of these symptoms, you should call us for a hearing test.

Always protect your hearing

It’s critical that you take steps to protect your ears in order to prevent hearing loss. Reduce your exposure to loud settings (or at least wear earmuffs or earplugs when you must be around noise). Any feathers that you might have ruffled with your selective hearing can be smoothed over by wearing hearing aids to communicate more successfully.

In most situations 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 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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