Delving into the Nature of Selective Hearing


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

The only one thing that you asked for 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 aren’t you surprised that your partner failed to hear the one thing they wanted done? The popular term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s often a sign of failed communication.

This “selective hearing” is often viewed as a sort of character defect. It’s like you’re accusing somebody of purposely not listening. But selective hearing could actually be related to untreated hearing loss instead of a short attention span.

What is selective hearing?

You’ve likely had at least one or more situations in your life where someone has accused you of not listening, even if no one specifically used the term “selective hearing”. 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 the chocolate ice cream, but you don’t hear the part about the calories. That kind of thing.

As a behavior, selective hearing is very common. But this behavior is more prevalent in men than women, according to some research.

How people are socialized does provide some context and it may be tempting to make some assumptions from this. But the other part of the picture may have something to do with hearing health. If your “selective hearing” begins to become more common, it might be an indication that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Hearing loss can create gaps in communication

Undiagnosed hearing loss can definitely make communication a lot harder. That’s most 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 phases. Your tv may get a bit louder. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you go out for a beverage at your local bar. It’s most likely because the music is so loud, right? And so, other than that, you could go through most of your everyday life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can gradually diminish because of this. You scarcely notice the issue until you’re at the point where you regularly have trouble hearing conversations.

Your partner is becoming worried about the health of your hearing

You will notice some of the people in your life are beginning to worry. Your friends and family will likely be frustrated when they think you’re purposely missing what they say. But that frustration often becomes concern when they realize that hearing loss may be the real culprit.

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

It’s significant to listen to your partner’s concerns. Have an open conversation and consider that they have a caring attitude and not just annoyance.

Early hearing loss has a few other signs

You should watch out for some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing seems to be getting worse. A few of those signs include:

  • Turning up the volume on your devices
  • People sound distant or muted when they talk
  • Needing to ask people to talk louder or slow down
  • Hearing in crowds is difficult
  • Having a hard time making out consonants

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

Always protect your hearing

It’s crucial that you take measures to safeguard your ears so that you can prevent hearing loss. If you can’t avoid overly loud noise, make sure 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 successfully.

A diminishing attention span will be to blame for the majority of selective hearing situations in your life. But you may want to take it as a sign that it’s time for a hearing test when people around you start to notice your selective hearing getting worse.

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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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