No one likes being ignored. The silent treatment is a common yet awful thing to experience, whether coming from someone you’re close to or someone you’ve just met. In some relationships, people use the silent treatment as a form of punishment, which some believe constitutes emotional abuse. If someone is ignoring you and it’s driving you crazy, here’s what to do about it.
Reflect on the situation. Sometimes our emotions get the better of us and make it hard to see things clearly. So start by reflecting on the situation. Is the person really ignoring you? It could be that they’ve had a bad day. Maybe they didn’t respond to your message because they’re super busy. Gather all the evidence you have that suggests they’re ignoring you. Make sure they really are ignoring you before you jump to conclusions.
Think about what you might have done to make them mad. If you decide that the person definitely is ignoring you, have a think about why they could be. Have you done something to make them mad? Knowing what is going through their head can help you choose a response. Sometimes, you won’t have done anything at all to prompt someone to start ignoring you. So don’t automatically assume you must have done something terrible. You might have, but you could also be completely innocent.
Apologize if you need to. If you have done something wrong and you want to make it right, apologize. It’s best to do this in person. But if that’s not an option, apologize over the phone or send a text. Keep in mind that if a person is really mad at you, they might need some time before they’re ready to talk.
Give the person space. The relationship experts at Love Panky recommend giving the other person space when they ignore you. If you have apologized, don’t badger them to forgive you. And if you have nothing to apologize for, don’t keep trying to start a conversation with them. Just back off for a while and give them some space and some time. Often, you’ll find that they’ll get over what their problem is and will come back to you on their own. Otherwise, this step helps to determine for sure that they are definitely ignoring you.
Avoid the temptation to ignore them back. As tempting as it can be, try not to ignore them back. If they do start talking to you again, don’t give them the silent treatment to show them how it feels. The Law of Attraction website explains that this strategy won’t help you to fix your relationship, as tempting as it is.
Avoid escalating the situation as well. When someone is ignoring you and you’re absolutely fuming about it, it’s totally normal to want to lash out and tell them off for being so rude and immature. However, starting a fight isn’t going to do anything to resolve the situation and may even make things worse. Take a few deep breaths before you act.
Talk to the person about why they’re ignoring you. After you’ve given it some time, and they’re still ignoring you, approach them and gently ask them the reason why. Again, try to do this in person, but if you have to, you can by phone or text. It also works better if the person is someone you’re close to, like a friend, family member, or romantic interest.
Focus your attention elsewhere. Confronting the person about why they’re ignoring you will often resolve the issue. Or at the very least, let you know why they’re upset. But if they still don’t give you any answers and don’t cease the behavior, you may have to accept that this is how it’s going to be. As upsetting as it is, try to focus your attention elsewhere. Surround yourself with people who treat you well. Do things that make you happy. Start a project or set a goal to keep you busy. Try to distract yourself whenever you dwell on the person ignoring you.
Know that you don’t deserve the silent treatment. Ultimately, the silent treatment is considered a form of emotional abuse by some. You don’t deserve to be ignored without explanation. That’s particularly true when it comes to being ignored by loved ones. Remind yourself that you deserve better than this. While it’s not a good idea to ignore the person back, you also no longer have to put any effort into having a relationship with them. Accept that it’s best to let them go and release the negativity.
Why someone might be ignoring you instead of communicating effectively
As infuriating as it is, the silent treatment is usually given for a reason (even if it’s not a good one). As relationship therapist Megan Harrison, LMFT, told Fatherly, ignoring you “is a way to try and inflict emotional pain on someone as a consequence of feelings of anger or frustration.” She added that “through withholding approval, they are non-verbally expressing that your actions and words are unacceptable.”
It’s possible that the person who’s ignoring you isn’t actually trying to upset or hurt you but is taking vital time to try and gather their own thoughts and feelings. If they’re bad at communication and struggle to express themselves clearly, they might decide to stay completely silent so as not to misrepresent themselves or provoke a fight. Of course, this is usually exactly what happens when they give the silent treatment!
Whatever the reason for this person’s decision to ignore you, it’s unacceptable. Once you get to the bottom of the issue at hand, it’s also important that you make it clear that ignoring you or giving you the silent treatment isn’t behavior that you appreciate or will deal with. If they can’t handle that, you’re better off without them. However, if they’re committed to making things work are willing to change their behavior, you just might stand a chance.
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