Diving into the Dynamics of Selective Hearing

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

You asked for help with one simple chore: take the trash out. But, regrettably, it never got done. When you ask why they didn’t do it, your partner says “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 indication that communication is failing.

We often think of selective hearing as a negative, kind of like it’s a character defect. It’s as if you’re accusing someone of intentionally not listening. But it’s possible that the real cause behind your selective hearing may not be a short attention span, it may be the early phases of hearing loss.

What is selective hearing?

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

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

How individuals are socialized does provide some context and it might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But hearing health is probably another major component. Let’s say your “selective hearing” begins to become more prominent or more common. That could actually be an early indication of hearing loss.

Hearing loss can create gaps in communication

Undiagnosed hearing loss can indeed make communication much more difficult. You’re likely not surprised by that.

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

Symptoms can be very hard to detect when hearing loss is in the early phases. Your tv might get a bit louder. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you go out for a beverage at your local pub. You most likely just assume it’s because of the loud music. 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. This lets your hearing slowly (but surely) decline. You barely notice the problem until you’re at the point where you frequently have trouble hearing conversations.

Your partner is becoming worried about the health of your hearing

The people around you will likely be concerned. Your family and friends will likely be frustrated when they think you’re intentionally ignoring what they say. But that frustration often turns to concern when they recognize that hearing loss could be the real culprit.

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 significant and it’s essential for you to acknowledge that. Have an open discussion with them and accept their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t simply aggravated with you.

Other early signs of hearing loss

If your selective hearing is getting worse over time, it might be worth watching out for some of these other early signs of hearing loss. Here are a few of those signs:

  • Having to ask others to talk louder or slow down
  • Speech sounds distant or muffled
  • Cranking up the volume on your mobile phone, television, or radio
  • Hearing in crowds is challenging
  • Consonants are hard to make out

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

Always protect your hearing

It’s essential that you take measures to safeguard your ears so that you can prevent hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, be certain you wear hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Hearing aids can also help you have more effective communication, which can smooth over many rough spots that your hearing loss might have caused in the first place.

In most situations throughout your life, selective hearing is going to 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 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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