Being ignored by someone you love is as painful and confusing as an abrupt breakup. Despite what your heart may tell you, this silent treatment isn’t an accident.
When someone you care about intentionally ignores you, it can be a type of emotional mistreatment aimed at getting a reaction from you. This might be an apology if they think you’ve done something wrong, an angry response that allows them to treat you even worse, or a desperate effort to regain their favor.
This behavior can give them a sense of control and shift the balance of power in the relationship to their advantage.
While some reasons for silent treatment are more understandable than others, none are justifiable. Healthy, productive relationships rely on open, honest discussion, and turning the cold shoulder on a loved one does nothing more than breed negative emotions and cultivate distrust.
When you’re ignored by someone you love, it harms your relationship, stops you from moving forward together, and greatly affects your mental and physical health.
As psychologists have observed, feeling the pain and confusion from being given silent treatment can be similar to the pain of a breakup.
These effects can stay with you, impacting your future relationships and life. You might face low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. That said, being ignored by someone you love isn’t something to push to the side or write off as no big deal.
How to Deal With Being Ignored By Someone Your Love?
So, what can you do if she’s ignoring you? Here is what I suggest after ten-plus years as a relationship coach.
1. Take a step back and practice self-love
Taking a step back is never the intuitive response to the silent treatment, but it has been shown time and time again to be the most effective.
Why? It denies your partner the extreme response they are looking for and shows them that if this is indeed going to be a dramatic affair, they’ll be the sole cause for the drama–the only clown in the circus.
It shows them that while you respect their wish for some separation or silence, you value your self-esteem.
Here is what I mean and don’t mean by taking a step back:
- not pursuing conversation when they show resistance
- not chasing down every relational rift as you may normally
- being okay with decreased physical affection and not insisting upon it when they show resistance
- taking more time to be alone
I don’t mean…
- being hostile and closed off
- not even trying to be affectionate at all
- taking a leap back rather than a measured pace (moving out of the house, refusing to communicate, etc.)
2. Communicate your confusion
Relationships revolve around communication. A couple who aren’t communicating openly and honestly are bound for a quick breakup or a relationship rife with resentment and distrust.
Willingness to communicate is the direct combatant to the silent treatment.
Think of the role silence plays in interaction. Consider the power in one human’s ability to neglect another.
Oftentimes the most effective and destructive tactics of mental abuse and manipulation are those that happen in silence. Why? Because they are difficult to put the finger on–it’s tough to assign blame to silence because…well…it’s nothing. It doesn’t exist.
When someone punches you in the face, you know they’re in the wrong. If someone is cold to you, however, you can wonder what you’re doing wrong and never suspect they may do something wrong.
This inability or unwillingness to assign blame to your partner’s silence confuses you. You begin to wonder where you screwed up. Self-doubt creeps in, and eventually, you feel sad. You feel depressed. You feel hurt, but you never suspect someone else is hurting you.
Showing direct willingness to communicate pulls the covers off of your partner’s silent tactics and cuts the legs out from under their passive-aggressive attacks.
You acknowledge that you recognize what they are doing and, even if you have some original fault in the matter, show them that you are only interested in a mature and openly communicative restoration of the relationship.
3. Listen and be open
Listen if your partner speaks (or when they do speak).
Many men are so fed up with being ignored that they fail to recognize their faults.
Your partner likely has valid reasons to feel hurt. Yes, their response is immature and manipulative, but that doesn’t change the fact that you could also be in the wrong.
Rather than letting your anger at their handling of the situation and their obvious lack of objectivity in seeing their wrong cause you to pridefully ignore your issues, be willing to offer them what you can.
A man who can acknowledge and apologize for his shortcomings in the middle of conflict shows himself to be extremely mature.
4. Avoid responding in silent resentment
If you are being ignored by someone you love, you must ask yourself why?
First, you should ask yourself if you want to be with that person because silent treatment is a major indicator of immaturity and childishness.
If you do care to pursue the relationship further, you need to ask yourself why they are ignoring you.
They are likely trying to get something out of you. If not control or validation, they may be looking for you to reciprocate their silence so they aren’t alone in their immaturity.
By refusing to respond in silent resentment, you skip over their trap and ensure that any future mistreatment on their part is unmerited.
5. Avoid responding in anger and perpetuating the cycle
Anger is another common response to silent treatment that does nothing more than make your partner feel justified in their immaturity.
While they may be equal in destructive capability, blatant acts of anger will always outshine underhanded tactics like manipulation. If you respond to your partner’s “nothing” with “something,” you will give them the right to feel attacked and hurt.
You’ll then feel guilty for what you have done, wonder if they were right all along, and make yourself vulnerable to even more manipulation.
Responding in anger does nothing more than provide your partner a reason to be even more silent and give your relationship a reason to weaken even more.
To avoid the dangerous cycle of mind games, you can’t let your justifiable anger get the best of you.
6. Avoid acting in desperation and be a grounded man
One of the worst things you can do when you are being ignored by someone you love is throw yourself at your feet and beg for their approval and a return to like things were.
Why? You’re giving them exactly what they’re looking for. Even if you want things to be how they were, going along with their games isn’t how you will achieve this.
To have a healthy relationship, you must find a healthy balance of power. Desperately begging for your partner’s approval puts all the power in their hands. It proves your happiness is at their mercy and satisfies their yearning for control.
You become a puppet on a string, flinging your arms and mouth about in reckless abandon, trying to find the right words or actions to put yourself in their good grace once again.
A grounded man recognizes his worth as something completely separate from the approval of his romantic partner. He cares about her feelings and values her approval and advice but knows that his importance depends greatly more than her smile.
7. Avoid blaming yourself
Whether you break up or stick together, your healing process will be long and difficult. An important thing to avoid during this time is blaming yourself for things you didn’t do.
When someone neglects you, it’s virtually impossible to feel like you didn’t deserve it at least a little bit.
Could you have done something wrong that merits an apology? Of course. Does that mean that you deserve to be ignored completely and mistreated? No.
Don’t blame yourself unnecessarily if you’re being ignored by someone you love. Psychological manipulation like neglect aims to make another feel as if they’ve done something wrong and deserve to be sorry.
If you know you haven’t done anything wrong, there’s no reason you should feel guilty about your partner’s behavior. You can feel sorry for and hurt by them but not guilty!
8. Find purpose and live a fulfilling life
While none of this may be your fault, it would be foolish to deny that this may be a sad and lonely time for you. Your relationship, likely the most important thing in your life, is unstable and not easy to accept.
You may spend a long period dealing with negative emotions and struggling with your mental health. If this is the case, don’t feel bad. This is very normal.
The best thing you can do for yourself during this lack of trying time is to find purpose in other areas of your life.
Like a breakup, your weakened relationship will leave a hole in your being that must be filled.
Here are some ways to fill your life with purpose:
- Start living a structured life: giving your life a sense of structure will make it harder to focus on your pain. Start waking up and going to bed consistently, plan your meals and pay attention to what you put in your body, and limit your screen time.
- Workout: Physical activity is a great outlet and distracter from pain, whether going to the gym, running, or playing a sport.
- Focus on your career: Focus your mental effort on your job rather than the pain of your relationship. Go for that promotion, change careers, and find some way to spice up your professional life.
- Start reading: Beyond being enjoyable, reading opens your eyes to the truth and makes your problems seem small. Whether you want to increase your confidence or improve your life in some other way, there are many life-changing books for men.
- Get outside: The benefits of getting out in the sunlight of the “real world” cannot be overstated.
9. Get connected outside of your relationship
A committed relationship (healthy or unhealthy) will take much of your time and take you away from environments where you once thrived and people you used to rely on.
You may have gotten detached from your family or friends throughout this relationship. If your partner is ignoring you, you need people to turn to. Humans need human interaction.
It’s time to reconnect with loved ones outside of your relationship.
Beyond providing shoulders to cry on and plenty of laughs in a dark time, friends and family often have valuable advice when navigating relational conflict.
10. Get a coach to help you become the best version of yourself
If you want to get through this hard time and avoid mental pain and harmful physical effects, the best thing you can do for yourself is get a men’s coach.
While a mental health professional can help you detect pain and spot the dangerous psychological effects of your partner’s silent treatment, a men’s coach will help you know exactly what to do. They will help you know how to act differently.
Through their years of experience with other men in similar situations, they will know exactly what works and what doesn’t. The advice of friends and family can only go so far and do so much.
If you feel your options have run out and you have nowhere to turn, it’s time to enlist the help of a men’s coach.
Your partner has turned a cold shoulder, and you don’t know how to respond.
Maybe you should turn your shoulder to them as well and show them that you can be just as cold. Or maybe you should throw yourself at their feet and beg for their affection to show them how much you love them. Perhaps outright anger is the way to go.
The truth is, all of these are just ways to give them exactly what they want: control.
The best thing you can do for yourself and the relationship’s future is to take a step back, show your willingness to communicate, and move on with your life the best you can. Find purpose outside her smile, reconnect with friends, and get a coach to help you through this trying time.
Don’t give her reason to resent you or blame you for anything. If she holds any maturity, she’ll eventually feel bad for her mistreatment of you.
If you are looking for more guidance in this area or the myriad of other seemingly impossible situations that confront men today, we have what you’re looking for here at Knowledge for Men. Over a decade of fine-tuning and try and try again, we have put together a team of a dozen elite men’s coaches to help men just like yourself.
These men have been through the worst relational turmoil and emerged with valuable insight and wisdom and an insatiable desire to share it with the rest of the world of men.
These guys have experienced the worst rejection, the most toxic of relationships, and the most painful breakups. They are well-versed in pain, and they want to help you wade through it or avoid it altogether.
It’s time to move forward and take that first step. Click here to watch my new client orientation!