This post was updated on Oct 13, 2023
Have you ever felt intense and overwhelming anger after being ignored by someone in your life? It would be a surprise if your answer was no. In fact, being hurt or angered when someone ignores you is an entirely natural reaction. If you are experiencing negative psychological effects after being ignored, you are not alone.
While most people have been ignored by someone to one degree or another in their lives, that doesn’t diminish the fact that being given the silent treatment can be an extremely painful experience. In fact, it can even be considered a form of emotional and psychological manipulation and abuse. The impact on your sense of self worth can also affect your self-esteem and your self confidence.
If you are having a hard time maintaining your emotional health when being ignored, consider contacting a remote relationship coach. In the meantime, keep on reading to learn why being ignored hurts and what you can do about it.
Why Does Being Ignored Hurt?
When someone ignores you, you may start feeling unworthy, unimportant, or unlovable, especially if you are blatantly ignored by someone you care about. Whether it’s your partner, parent, or boss, it is entirely natural to feel hurt when you don’t get the response you expect from them.
Although you are bound to feel hurt after being rejected or ignored, keep in mind that it’s not necessarily your fault. Remember that people have their own emotional struggles which may cause them to act in certain ways towards you. You can only be aware of what is going on with you and how being ignored is making you feel – you may not know the whole story behind why a person ignores you.
For instance, they may have been a victim of emotional neglect in their childhood, or may have experienced some other emotional trauma, or they might simply be overwhelmed by other matters in their life. But regardless of the reason why, your worthiness should never depend on other people’s attention and opinions of you.
What Does Being Ignored Look Like
Being ignored may look like different things to different people. For some it may look like no contact at all, while for others, it may look like being dismissed or invalidated. For others, being made to feel unimportant leaves them feeling like their core value is not recognized, and their true self is being ignored.
Some of the ways it may manifest might look like:
- A person may talk about liking/loving you, but their behavior is distant
- Avoiding physical connection, eye contact, or intimacy
- “Ghosting” someone
- Someone you were intimate with in private chooses to ignore you in public
- A person refuses to have two-way communication and use communication skills
- A partner tends to ignore or disregard subjects that are crucial to you
- A person distances themselves whenever serious emotions happen
- Your left feeling like your beliefs, feelings, or point of view weren’t worth being heard.
- Conversations end when it is your turn to talk
- Experiencing a connection, then being told that the person wants space without explanation
- A person makes you feel that a normal amount of healthy connection is wrong
- You act consistently, but the attention they give is inconsistent
- You find yourself dealing with challenges alone, even after asking for support
- Your alone time doesn’t feel like solitude, it feels like punishment.
How You Might React to Being Ignored by Someone
When a person is being ignored by someone that they care about, they might ruminate on how to win back the attention, or desperately try to figure out what they are doing wrong. They can find themselves flooded by self doubt, low self esteem and a feeling that the they must undo the silent treatment that we’re experiencing.
This puts people in a difficult situation – vacillating between trying to do the “dance” of winning back the attention of the person, but trying to avoid appearing clingy, needy, or desperate. They deeply want to talk to the other person and help them realize the pain that being ignored is causing, but are afraid to be so expressive that it pushes their partner away even further.
Your may recall Glenn Close’s scene from Fatal Attraction, when she says “I’m not going to be IGNORED, Dan.” This is, of course, the most extreme version of how abandonment and rejection can damage a person, but anger and sadness of being ignored is an impact that many understand.
You may find yourself “ignoring them back” to teach them a lesson. If they know what it’s like to feel unworthy of someone’s attention, surely they’ll change, you may think. This dynamic leaves people in a stand-off of mutual hostility.
Or, conversely, you might find yourself talking excessively with the person, desperately trying to communicate. If you can only find out what you did wrong, you can make sure it won’t happen again. You may think that a change in your behavior will affect the amount of attention they give you.
A person being ignored may find themselves doubling-down on being a people pleaser, or flooding the person who is ignoring them with messages and phone calls. They often believe that winning back the person’s favor will ease the pain they are feeling.
The difficult emotions are directed at the particular person who is ignoring them, but it may that the person being ignored is being triggered by older feelings rooted in early experiences of abandonment or neglect.
If being ignored by someone has profound psychological effects on you, you may want to have a professional help you determine if the relationship is echoing a painful experience from earlier in your life. You may realize that there is more to your story underneath the current relationship.
Did I Push Them Away?
When you are being ignored by someone, people often start by looking at themselves first. Did you cross somebody’s boundaries? Did you unintentionally hold someone at a distance? Did you have unrealistic expectations of a person? Did you flood them with needs, or front-load with them with too much self-disclosure?
If the answer to any of these is “yes”, it can be quite an empowering revelation.
“That doesn’t make any sense” you might be thinking. Why would it be empowering to realize these sort of things about yourself? The reason is that now, you can self-examine and course-correct so that the circumstances you created that resulted being ignored by someone don’t have to become a life-long pattern. The power is in your hands!
You may think that realizing that you pushed someone away might feel like a crushing blow to your self-esteem, but often the opposite is true. For many, these realizations mean that any future relationship you chose may quite possibly have different outcomes.
If being ignored by someone has repeatedly happened to you, then this self-reflection may be extra helpful. We at Pivot are specially skilled to help evaluate exactly this kind of relational patterns.
Sometimes, however, being ignored by someone has nothing to do with how you showed up, and has everything to do with the limitations and challenges of another person. When that happens, we can drive ourselves crazy trying to figure out what we did wrong in the relationship. The impact can be very painful.
The Psychological Effects of Being Ignored by Someone
Being ignored by someone can create psychological stress, and can have a significant mental health impact. Being ignored can be an annoyance – a confusing frustration, or sometimes it can lead to significant negative emotions and mental health symptoms. To some, being ignored is deeply impactful.
Being ignored can certainly impact a person’s mood and their ability to enjoy life. Psychological effects may look like depression, anxiety, an inability to spend time alone, losing a sense of self when their partner ignores them, or being flooded with feelings of anger.
You may even find that you’re own thoughts turn to obsessing on the person ignoring you, wondering what they’re thinking and doing and trying again and again in your own mind to figure out what happened.
If the person ignoring you is somebody that you’re in a romantic relationship with, or a family member, you may feel even more frustrated and angry, because of the belief that a close relationship like that one should follow certain “rules.” There should be open communication and you should be spending time together, right?
You might tell yourself “How could people ignore me if they claim to love me?” This dynamic could create conflicted emotions about the person and may even impact a person’s ability to feel safe and secure in other relationships.
In some cases, the person being ignored may be experiencing overt emotional abuse. This kind of hostile silence, withholding of affection, and manipulative avoidance can have profound psychological effects on a person. The person in this kind of a situation may find themselves in a place of decimated self esteem, or they may find their mental health suffers.
What Does Being Ignored Do To The Brain and Body?
In addition to the negative psychological effects you might experience after being ignored, it has been shown that the silent treatment can actually have physical effects on your brain and body.
According to research, feeling ignored and excluded can cause real changes in your brain, particularly in the anterior cingulate cortex, a zone in the brain responsible for detecting pain. This area of the brain also does not distinguish between physical pain and emotional distress. When this zone is activated, you may experience several different physical symptoms. These may include:
- Digestive problems
- Insomnia and fatigue
- Increased blood pressure
- Affected autoimmune system
These physical effects are caused by the high stress levels that you may experience after being ignored in a relationship. They may be exacerbated if you are subjected to the silent treatment for prolonged periods of time or if the person who is ignoring you is a particularly important figure in your life, such as your parent, partner, or boss.
Additionally, extended periods where you have feelings exclusion or neglect can lead to a heightened stress response and increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Chronic high cortisol levels can interfere with several bodily functions, leading to complications like increased blood pressure.
You may hear people that care about you say things like “You need to move past this” or “You need to get over it.” Those sentiments can seem so invalidating and dismissive when your body and mind are having critical responses to the stress.
What Does It Mean When Your Partner Ignores You?
If your boyfriend ignores you, or your girlfriend ignores you, and is not responding to your texts or calls, you probably feel hurt, confused, or angry. While this is completely natural, there may actually be a reasonable explanation for this behavior. Here are some possible reasons:
This simple explanation is actually more common than you may think. Many individuals don’t like or don’t know how to express themselves over the phone, and your partner may feel the same way.
Although you probably want to be the focus of your significant other’s life, it may be the case that they have other problems in their life that have to be dealt with before speaking with you.
Although you probably feel extremely hurt because your partner is ignoring you, you should consider the fact that you might be smothering them. Give them some space and see what happens.
If you tend to be demanding towards your partner, they may feel like you only contact them when you need something that they are not able to give.
If a person is creating unexpected distance, especially if it’s during a phase when you are getting closer, consider that they may be challenged by emotional intimacy. The experience of emotional closeness may create anxiety in them which causes them to push away.
Sometimes a person’s culture may have different standards about time spent together than our own. What may be culturally appropriate for someone may feel like ignoring to someone else.
As a relationship develops, it’s important to understand if you have different goals around commitment. A person may be “not looking for anything heavy” or maybe they just got out of a relationship and are keeping things light for a while. A clarifying conversation may be necessary.
There’s no point denying that it is a possibility that your partner may be losing interest, or may not want to be in a relationship with you any longer. Try talking to them openly and see if there are any issues that you two should work on.
Is Ignoring Someone Manipulative?
While there are many logical reasons why someone might ignore you, some individuals may use the silent treatment as a manipulation tactic. They may know exactly what makes you tick, and being ignored tends to achieve that precise effect on most people.
The person who is ignoring you probably knows exactly what they are doing to your emotional state, and they might use this to their advantage, causing you to think about them more and be more vulnerable to the rest of their manipulation tactics. The silent treatment is often used as part of narcissistic abuse, hand in hand with gaslighting, deflection, stonewalling, and other abusive behavior.
How Do You Respond To Being Ignored?
If you are interacting with an ignorant person who is close to you, you are probably looking for a way to deal with all the negative emotions that the silent treatment brings about. Here are some tips:
- Take a step back
Your partner may simply need some space to collect their thoughts and deal with their own emotions. Give them time and work on yourself in the meantime.
- Distract yourself
Find things to do in order to keep yourself from obsessing over the person who is ignoring you.
- Check if they are actually ignoring you
The whole deal may simply be a misunderstanding or the person may be dealing with other personal issues.
- Try not to overreact
Yes, being ignored hurts, but remember that the individual ignoring you may be trying to achieve exactly that. Don’t give them the satisfaction.
Your partner may have some concerns about the relationship that they are afraid to bring up. Try speaking with them without anger or bitterness.
Looking For A Relationship Coach Online? Contact PIVOT Today
Remember that it is entirely natural to feel hurt and confused about your relationships with other people. Being ignored by someone is painful and you may need specialized support. You never know exactly why people are treating you the way they do, and it’s not your responsibility to waste energy trying to figure it out. Instead, focus on your own wellbeing and health.
Part of our expertise is helping people understand why they respond the way they do to situations. For example, if being ignored by someone has had psychological effects that are making it hard for you to enjoy your life, or to have other, healthy relationships, we are here to help.
We want to help you better understand what is happening, and importantly, better understand the relationship you have with yourself. The most important thing here is that you don’t ignore YOURSELF. Your relationship with YOU is where it all starts!
PIVOT can help you with that. Whether you want to speak with a relationship coaching professional online or attend an intensive relational freedom workshop, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We have a wide variety of services that can support you. We are looking forward to listening to what you have to say. Contact us today!