Everyone has a different definition of what being ignored really means, but if you’re feeling neglected in your relationship, deal with it right away. While overreacting to your significant other’s behavior could have grave consequences, knowing what to do when he ignores you could propel the relationship—or give you reason to consider moving on.
How do I know if he’s ignoring me?
If you’re wondering if your partner is ignoring you, you may feel a disconnection with your partner. There is a difference between feeling ignored in the short-term (he didn’t immediately answer your text) versus being truly ignored in the relationship.
“Direct communication and creating a safe space is key in relationships,” said Christie Tcharkhoutian Kederian, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles, California. “If you feel your partner is ignoring you, there may be a reason they need to be able to communicate with you or understand more meaningful ways (such as your love language) to understand how to make you feel seen, heard and loved in the relationship.”
According to Kederian, some signs your partner may be ignoring you include: being short or surface level, especially if there used to be deeper conversation; seeming distracted and shutting you out; or not promptly or not at all responding to texts and phone calls.
“Much is communicated through nonverbal behavior,” said Wyatt Fisher, a licensed psychologist in Boulder, Colorado. “Ignoring behavior often includes lack of eye contact and physically staying distant.”
What to do when he ignores you
If you think he might be ignoring you—and you’ve already taken a step back to make sure there isn’t some rational explanation you might be missing—here are some options that may help you get to the bottom of what’s going on and hopefully win back some of his attention.
Give them the benefit of the doubt
Fisher recommends gently beginning the conversation. Keep in mind they may be stressed about something and unintentionally ignoring you.
Don’t give them the silent treatment
Resist the impulse to ignore them in response, Fisher said. Instead, get ready to have a frank and open conversation about why his behavior bothers you.
Don’t get defensive
“Try to empathize with their reasons for ignoring you instead of getting defensive,” Fisher said. If they understand how their behavior made you feel, they’ll likely be more aware of it in the future.
Talk about how to discuss these issues moving forward
Here’s a great opportunity to discuss how you want to communicate as a couple when further issues arrive.
“Consider discussing ways to tend to their feelings,” Fisher said, “and discuss how things could be handled differently moving forward to reduce ignoring behavior.”
Ask if you can spend some distraction-free time together
“Bring up in conversation the fact that you feel distant and maybe unvalued and unseen,” Kederian said. “Be careful not to place blame or judgment or speak in generalizations. Be honest and express how you’re feeling.”
Plan a fun date night
If you feel ignored, this is a sign of disconnection or not having valuable moments that bring you closer and form a healthy attachment, Kederian said. Fun together can help you feel valued and seen by your partner as well.
Avoid starting fights for attention
“Oftentimes, when you feel ignored or alone, the temptation can be to draw negative attention to yourself or the relationship,” Kederian said. “Avoid the temptation to bring negative attention so that you have some attention, and try a healthy approach.”
While this behavior can sometimes be intentional, it can sometimes be because of concerns and feelings going unaddressed for too long. That’s why it’s so important to tackle the issues when they appear.
Create more opportunities for connection
Kederian also suggested clearing out your calendar for meaningful connection. Feeling ignored in a relationship can sometimes be more of a product of a full calendar and distraction rather than a problem in a relationship.
Plan screen-free time together
Our cellphone can often be the “other person” in the relationship that makes significant others feel ignored, even when couples are spending time together. Kederian suggested planning times to remove distractions (for example, social media) with your partner so nothing gets in the way of your connection.
Suggest seeing a therapist
If these suggestions don’t create true change in your relationship but you’re both committed to making it work, it might be time to speak to a therapist.
“A therapist can help both of you work through blocks and difficult emotions in your relationship,” Kederian said, “so that you no longer feel unintentionally ignored by your partner.”