When Someone Ignores You

Advice for dealing with the ultimate anti-confrontation

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Mag Pole on Unsplash

What are the consequences?

It’s one thing to hold a grudge. Holding a grudge often takes work. It takes energy. And holding onto hatred is often said to be harmful to the holder. So plenty of advice says let it go.

Why is it happening?

People give the ‘silent treatment’ for all kinds of reasons, and pretending nothing happened is an extension of this. In particular, this kind of behaviour speaks to a kind of avoidance of confrontation that goes above and beyond valuing intimacy. In other words, the person who does the ignoring would much rather avoid than invest in a connection.

What can you do about it?

How important is the relationship?

Start by determining the nature of the relationship. How important is this relationship to you? It’s an important place to start, because it’s good to determine whether this is something you want to push to work through or not.

How important was the issue?

This refers to whatever it was that triggered the ignoring/pretending in the first place. Was it a disagreement, that they have chosen to just skim over? If it was, what was it about? How likely that this issue could crop up again? Chances are, if you were hurt by it, you might benefit from a discussion. In which case, the issue is important to you.

What if it just keeps happening?!

So, what if they ignored you out of nowhere, and now you’re not sure what it was that caused them to do so? Well, that’s the uglier possibility. Someone who ignores you out of nowhere, routinely, is not handling communication very well. They may be trying to punish you or control the scenario, but not in a very mature or kind way. In this case, it is worth approaching directly when you feel okay to do so — if they never respond, then clearly they found something in your behaviour so unacceptable that you may not have the chance to work through it. That is a huge shame, but makes some sense depending on what happened.

What if you don’t get any clear response or can’t make the discussion happen?

It’s worth contemplating this: if you really can’t get to a conversation, what does this mean for the relationship? Would it signal a major rift, or are you just as happy to pretend nothing happened and move on?

Are you able to articulate your needs?

It will not be easy, but the only way through this sort of behaviour is to ensure you bring it up, and point it out, and discuss it. They may ignore you for a while — it may take time to actually get to the conversation. But when the opportunity does arrive, it will take courage to say, “So, what was that about?”. Understanding your needs is important here, and if you aren’t sure, it’s worth reflecting on.

And finally…

Every relationship has its quirks. But they aren’t so cute if they actually start to upset you. If someone is hurtful, ignoring the problem won’t really solve it. If you have hurt someone, you need to know in order to make change.

Written by

Trying to live better. Writing on Mental Health, Relationships, and Living Ethically. Editor/Podcaster.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store