Have you ever had a friend who seems to be ignoring you? You may have noticed they don’t text you back anymore, leave your calls unanswered, or even refuse to see you. You start to worry that something’s wrong, and you rack your brain for explanations of why this is happening and how to fix it.
It can be incredibly frustrating not knowing what to do about it but don’t worry — we’re here to help.
Here are helpful ways to deal with a friend who’s ignoring you, along with tips on maintaining healthy friendships despite occasional misunderstandings:
Ellie Borden, BA, RP, CPP
Registered Psychotherapist | Certified Life Coach | Clinical Director, Mind By Design®
Sincere friends are one of the greatest assets in life. Life becomes more beautiful and joyous in the company of friends. We invest a lot of energy and time in our friends.
So, what happens when a close friend starts deliberately ignoring you?
You may feel ignored by your friend when your calls or messages remain unanswered or are answered in a disinterested manner. You may also find your friend giving more attention and time to other friends than you.
This can be pretty hurtful, especially when you don’t clearly know what may make your friend act this way. This may create feelings of resentment on your part, or you may start to doubt your self-worth. However, you can deal with this challenging situation maturely and healthily.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Reflect on the situation in an unbiased manner
It is best to consider your thoughts and feelings and what is going on in your life. Sometimes we are going through some stress in our own life, which tends to inflate trivial matters into huge problems. Therefore, it is reasonable to first assess whether your friend is actually ignoring you.
Is it possible that you are assuming it is happening because of other things going on in your life?
Feeling lonely, isolated, less than, needy, or even struggling with a big deadline that is challenging or feeling ignored by a significant other may cause you to direct some of these feelings toward your friend. Always check in with you first!
Reflect on your friend’s situation in an unbiased manner
Good friends are mindful of what their friends are going through. Reflect on your friend’s current life situation.
If your friend has been recently going through a significant transition in life, like changing jobs or going through some financial or relationship problems, it might be the reason for them being detached or disinterested in you for a while.
If this is the case, then it is time to give your friend some space or offer a helping hand. Nonetheless, checking in with your friend and just letting them know that you are there if you need them can make a world of difference.
Have a meaningful conversation with your friend
If you have ruled out other things and you are pretty sure that your friend is blatantly ignoring you, you can insist on meeting with them to discuss your concerns.
It may be better to rehearse what you want to say to your friend so that you don’t chance to say anything impulsively that you may regret afterward.
Try to keep your tone mild and controlled, even if you are super annoyed with your friend. Ask them about their reason for ignoring you, and be ready to listen to their reasons with an open mind.
They might have a genuine reason, like a demanding new project, problems at work, or feeling hurt by something you may have done or said.
Use “I” statements in the conversation
Using “I” statements rather than “You” statements is a helpful strategy to make your friend understand how the situation has affected you without blaming them.
For example, rather than saying, “You don’t care about me,” you can say, “I miss you, and I feel like you’ve been ignoring me. Is something wrong?” Do not start a fight if the friend does not respond to your concerns well.
Instead, ask them to try to speak calmly and have a more open mind to your concerns in order to work things out.
Be keen to find a solution to the problem
While discussing the issue with your friend, be ready to accept if you have done something wrong that has contributed to your friend’s detached behavior towards you.
Although it might be unintentional, if it has hurt your friend in some way, a sincere apology is the quickest way to fix things. If possible, try to find a workable solution for both of you.
Move on if things don’t work out well
If, despite your sincere efforts, your friend is unwilling to continue the friendship or is not ready to invest any time and energy in it, then it is best to move.
A friendship is a two-way street that requires “drive” from both parties. If your friend shows indifference and a lack of motivation to nurture the friendship, then you may have reached an impasse.
Open yourself and your universe to someone who will value your care and attention and that of true friendship.
Cory Montfort, MS, LPC-S
Licensed Professional Counselor | Owner, The Montfort Group
It is understandable to feel lonely, frustrated, or even hurt when you keep trying to connect with a friend who resists those efforts.
If you think a friend is ignoring you, here are some things to consider:
Don’t automatically make it personal
Yes, it affects you, but when friends distance themselves, it may have nothing to do with you. If you check in with them and they tell you it does not involve you/your friendship, believe their answer.
There is nothing worse than needing space for personal reasons and then having a friend who needs frequent reassurance getting in the way of that. So, if they say it has nothing to do with you, even if you feel they aren’t being honest, believe them anyway.
This belief does two things:
- It gives you a chance to continue interacting with them in a non-anxious way.
- It holds the other person accountable for speaking up honestly if they want things to change between you instead of the passive-aggressive “I’m fine” approach.
Don’t get defensive
Don’t immediately get your shackles up if your friend lets you know it was something you did or said. I know that is our first instinct, especially when it wasn’t our intention to hurt them, but the other person’s experience and feelings are still valid.
It’s best, instead, to remember a time you felt upset with someone else and communicate empathy from that place. Don’t jump to a place of being made “wrong” when a friend feels hurt.
It’s okay to remind them how much you care, even if you feel misunderstood.
If you have an anxious attachment style, you will tend to handle distance or conflict by wanting more attention and validation, but your friend may, in fact, need distance to feel better.
Try acknowledging your hurt feelings without spending your whole day obsessing over them or demonizing their actions.
Understand that your friend might be genuinely focused on another aspect of their life. They may also worry that giving you more of what you want/need will trap them in a place of feeling weak or lacking autonomy, which may lead to them seeking even more distance from you.
Find alternatives to talking it out
If you have had a disagreement with your friend, try to appreciate time away from the conflict.
Friends can often revisit the conversation once the dust settles, usually while doing something you both enjoy, instead of having a serious sit-down conversation. It helps to go for a walk, play sports together, or even watch a movie.
Related: How to Ask Someone to Hang Out
These indirect ways of reconnecting can often provide the non-anxious space required for friends to have more rational conversations about what is going on for each of you.
Another thing you can do while holding space for your friend is to concentrate on yourself:
- Read a book you’ve wanted to pick up.
- Learn a new skill.
- Spend time with other friends.
- Distract yourself from the anxiety of the topic.
Your brain and your relationship will thank you.
Let some things go
When friendships clash, remember you’re just two individuals trying to get to the truth that will bring more joy into your lives.
The more you embrace your baggage, talk about it, laugh at it, and admit that some things will always set you off a little, no matter what you do, because you are both flawed humans, the easier and more peaceful things will feel between you.
Big fights don’t necessarily signal that a friendship is falling apart. Sometimes they signal that you’re working hard to reach a new level of friendship.
Trying to figure out who is right/wrong won’t help in moving things forward or finding new ground to stand on as friends. And in some cases, the old “Let’s agree to disagree” statement can be effective for areas or subjects where you just can’t find common ground.
Reconsider your friendship
Of course, it’s always preferable to attempt to understand your friend’s perspective and work to grow together in a friendship, but there are times when you genuinely need to reconsider staying friends with someone that isn’t reciprocating your bids for connection and repair.
If you find that the relationship continues to feel one-sided, it is absolutely okay to grow apart and give yourself a chance to cultivate a healthier dynamic with another person.
Heather Wilson, LCSW, LCADC, CCTP
Executive Director, Epiphany Wellness
It can be easy to jump to conclusions when our friends ignore us. We might think that they are mad at us or that we have done something wrong. But the truth is, sometimes people just need some space or simply don’t have the mental real estate to be sociable.
So, if you’re worried that your friend is ignoring you, here are some things to keep in mind:
They may just be busy; they’re too swamped to socialize
Our friends are often just as busy as we are, and sometimes they need to take a break from socializing. If you’ve been trying to reach out to them and they’re not responding, it’s possible that they’re just too swamped to talk.
They could be going through something difficult — ask if they’re okay
If your friend is going through a tough time, they may not have the energy to keep up with their usual socializing. If you’re worried about them, try asking them if they’re okay.
If they still don’t respond, ask someone they live with or someone who lives nearby to do a wellness check just to ensure that they’re alive and not in danger.
Give them space to recuperate
We all need time to ourselves occasionally, and that’s perfectly normal.
If your friend is ignoring you, it could just be that they need some space to recharge. If you know that your friend is an introvert who finds social interaction to be quite taxing, give them a bit of space to recuperate.
They might have been hurt by something you did — apologize before things escalate
Now, let the thought of potentially upsetting your friend consume you. Perhaps you didn’t, and the reason for them being MIA is listed above. However, if you know you said or did something that might have offended or hurt them, try to apologize before things escalate even more.
Be sincere and specific when you tell them you’re sorry.
Colleen Wenner-Foy, MA. LCMHC-S, LPC, MCAP
Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor | Founder and Clinical Director, New Heights Counseling and Consulting LLC
Friendships are meaningful relationships. They help us connect with others and make life easier. But sometimes friendships don’t work out. When this happens, it’s important to address your concerns maturely.
Here are some tips for how to handle the situation when you’re dealing with an unresponsive friend:
Extend grace; refrain from taking it personally
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is assuming that your friend intentionally ignores you. They might be having a hard time or dealing with a lot of stuff.
Maybe they got a job interview and have been working extra long hours lately. Or perhaps they feel like they need space. Whatever the case, it’s vital that you don’t assume they’re purposely trying to hurt your feelings. It’s also not fair to blame them if they have not responded.
Be honest and ask yourself, “Why am I upset?”
If you tell your friend you feel ignored, they may not realize they have ignored you. And if they feel guilty, they’ll probably apologize. Ask yourself, “What am I feeling right now? Why did I get upset?”
In understanding why you responded the way you did, you become more self-aware of what you want in your friendship. The problem may not be your friend at all but in your expectations placed on them.
Don’t force a response
When people ignore us, we often react emotionally. We might lash out or snap at them. This isn’t productive. In fact, it makes things worse.
Don’t try to force your friend to respond. This doesn’t mean you should stop talking to your friend; instead, give them space by not calling or texting them back immediately.
Let them know you care about them and would love to talk soon. Be prepared with the possibility that they might never reach out. If you want to talk about what happened, wait until they do.
Do something nice for your friend
This could mean anything from sending flowers to sending a card to let them know you’re thinking of them. There’s no need to overdo it, the point is to show you appreciate your friend.
Gratitude goes a long way in a friendship.
Develop more friendships
If you’ve tried everything else and your friend still doesn’t seem interested in talking, it may be time to let go. Try making new friends who will support you through this difficult time.
Find other ways to get connected with people outside of your friendship group. That way, you’ll have someone to lean on when your friend finally reaches out.
Remember, you have control over your own happiness. So take care of yourself first. And then, you’ll be able to focus on healing your relationship with your friend if presented with the opportunity.
Lena Suarez-Angelino, LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Writer, Choosing Therapy
Try not to internalize
It can be extremely challenging not to internalize negative thoughts and feelings when a friend is ignoring you. When a friend seems to be ignoring you, the most important thing to do is to refrain from negative self-talk.
It can be easy to spiral into thoughts that you are not a good friend, they are annoyed by you, etc.
Try reframing any negative self-talk that creeps up on you by saying things such as, “My friend is not ignoring me. They will talk to me when they have time,” or “Just because my friend isn’t responding to me as quickly, I know that they still care and think about me often.”
Give them space
At the end of the day, there are often a lot of stressors that are happening in someone’s world. A friend may not be intentionally ignoring you; rather, they have a lot going on that they need to give more attention to.
You can give them space and also tell them that you are there to support them but will give them space if that is what they need right now.
Letting them know that you are thinking about them and willing to help can help ease some of their guilt and shame of not being able to give you the same amount of attention in return.
Reflect on recent interactions and make a note of changes
Sometimes there are certain interactions or subtle changes in body language or conversation that, in hindsight, may help you to recognize that your friend may be pulling back over a period of time.
Reflect on previous conversations and interactions and ask yourself if there is anything that you could have taken ownership of, something that may have come off as offensive to your friend.
Additionally, your friend may have been verbalizing how much stress or pressure they have been feeling or that their schedule has gotten busier.
Befriend time alone
It can feel uncomfortable and quite challenging to spend time alone.
When a friend is ignoring you, this is a great opportunity to practice befriending time alone and finding things that you could enjoy doing solo, such as a hobby (art, writing, music, riding a bike, etc.) or focusing on other friendships, responsibilities, or your own areas of growth.
At the end of the day, you are only responsible for yourself. You know the type of friendship you provide to others, and while you would hope they treat you the same way, that is not always the case.
When you feel like a friend is ignoring you, use this opportunity to explore the qualities you value in a friendship, such as:
- Defining what they mean and look like to you
Perhaps you value more words of affirmation or quality time spent together versus gift-giving or random acts of kindness.
While understanding your “Love Languages,” originally defined by Gary Chapman, is helpful, recognizing other people’s love languages can help tame negative thoughts and insecurities that often arise when we feel as if we’re being ignored.
What do you have control over, and at what point do you need to let go? An important thing to keep in mind if a friend is ignoring you is that there is only so much you can do or have control over.
I can think of a few scenarios of why a friend might be ignoring you:
- They are feeling hurt or upset by something you said or did.
- They are no longer interested in a friendship.
- They are very busy or have other priorities at this time.
- They are struggling with mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, or low self-confidence.
Give them time and space
For the first scenario, sometimes we mess up and might recognize that our actions or words were hurtful to someone else. If this is the case, you can give a genuine apology and ask that person if they’d like to talk about it or think about if there is anything else that you can do to right your wrong.
However, even in this case, there is only so much you have control over, and after providing a genuine attempt at repairing the friendship, the other person still might not yet be ready to accept the apology.
At this point, all you can do is give them time and space.
If you can’t think of anything you could have done to be hurtful, you can tell that person that you feel as if they’re avoiding you and ask them if there’s anything you did to cause harm.
No response is a response
In both of these cases, no response is a response: if they continue to ignore you, you have done all you can and placed the ball in their court.
Sometimes people outgrow friendships. While ignoring someone you no longer want a friendship with may not be the most assertive form of communication, some people do not have the confidence or skills to be this brutally honest.
If you feel that the friendship has already been slowly fading, you no longer have much in common, the conversations feel forced, or the hangouts feel like more of an obligation, it just means that the time for this friendship has come to an end.
It is normal for people to grow and change, resulting in relationships ending. It is also very normal and okay to grieve these friendships ending, even if you know it’s for the best.
Some people also use ignoring or “giving the cold shoulder” as a form of passive communication. This often is an adaptation coming from childhood, whether their parents did the same or they learned it was somehow more effective/safer to stay quiet than to verbalize their feelings.
When people become very caught up in different areas of their lives, like work, family, finances, hobbies, etc., sometimes their priorities may shift, and friendships take a backseat. This might not even be intentional.
If you have a hunch that this is the case, you can send your friend a message along the lines of “I know you’re really busy right now with XYZ; let me know when things slow down, or you have availability, and I would love to grab a coffee.”
This does not necessarily mean that they do not value your friendship; it may be difficult for them to juggle multiple facets of their life at this time.
They might be dealing with depression leading to isolation
Another thought that comes to mind for me as a psychotherapist is that isolating oneself can be a sign of severe depression or anxiety. If this person is not only ignoring you but others in their life as well, it could be a sign that something more serious is going on.
Social anxiety is also on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic — at least, I have encountered that in my practice. People may still feel uncomfortable going into public settings with large crowds or being exposed to many people. This has also led to more isolation in many people.
Another symptom of depression, trauma, or anxiety can be lower self-esteem or self-confidence. Sometimes negative beliefs about oneself, such as “I’m a bad friend” or “Why would anyone want to be friends with me?” can creep up due to adverse experiences in life.
Let them know you care about them
In these cases, calling or sending them messages letting them know that you care about them, miss them, and are there for them if they need anything, can make a world of difference for someone who is experiencing depression.
It is very important that you feel a friendship is a two-way street. At times the effort may be a little lopsided; you might be putting more in at times, especially if your friend is experiencing a lot of stress or mental health challenges.
But if you feel you’ve consistently done more work to maintain the friendship than the other person, it may be time to let that friendship go.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Psychotherapist, Bronwyn Shiffer Psychotherapy
Assess as an outside observer
Your first response may be to dissect previous encounters to see what you could have done to cause the ignoring. You may assume it is your fault that you did something wrong. Although this may be the case, it may be about what your friend is going through.
If you did something to hurt them that you aren’t aware of (malicious intent and microaggressions aside), it’s their responsibility to come to you to talk about it.
Microaggressions are statements or actions that indirectly or unintentionally discriminate or reinforce oppression, such as a white person asking a person with Asian features where they are from. In these cases, it is not your friend’s responsibility to let you know you hurt them.
If you suspect this is part of the dynamic, do some research on your own privilege and identities in order to stay aware of possible microaggressions.
Reflect on how it is affecting you
Regardless of the reason, it can be helpful for you to suss out what this might bring up for you. Does this ignoring remind you of painful past experiences where friends or partners ghosted you? Does it feel like a familiar family dynamic?
Staying aware of what it means for you and how it affects you personally can help get clear about what it is that you need and how to move forward.
Imagine what your friend might be going through
Take some time to think about what your friend might be going through that could have caused the distance. Is this a particularly difficult time of year for them? Are they experiencing any major life transitions?
Sometimes it could mean that your friend simply needs more care from you right now.
Use the opportunity
Conflict is an essential part of any relationship. If you’re feeling hurt, it’s your responsibility to make that known. Be direct, honest, and kind.
If you can work through it, your friendship will be stronger because of it. If you can’t, use it as a growth opportunity for yourself to move forward.
Kevin Mimms, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Choosing Therapy
Check in with other friends
Using other parts of your support system can help get what you were hoping this friend would give to you.
Reaching out to others is not to get back at the friend that is ignoring you, but rather to lean on other supports during the time when your friend is unavailable to you.
Remember, your friend has their own responsibilities that could make them unavailable
This could be a responsibility that takes their time, making them unavailable in that way. It could also be true that they are at the limits of their emotional capacity (not necessarily because of you!), making them unavailable in a different way.
This gives you an opportunity to be gracious with them, possibly allowing the friendship to deepen.
Try to understand what upsets you so much about being ignored
There may be a history, whether with this friend or someone else, that can provide some useful insight into what bothers you about being ignored.
If you think you know part of what makes that feeling so difficult, consider sharing it with that friend or other friends.
Wait until next time with this friend
The feelings you are experiencing while you are feeling ignored are valuable, and a good friend will care about those feelings.
Bringing those feelings to your friend is not meant to make them feel guilty or responsible for being unavailable. Instead, it is meant to inform your friend of ways they can support you in your hurt when they are available.
Colette Lopane-Capella, M.A., LMHC, LPC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor | Founder and Director, New Day Vitality Mental Health Counseling PLLC
Do things that make you feel good
So you texted a friend, and there’s no answer — you try again a couple of days later, and still no response. Have you been ghosted? Are they mad at you?
All the negative cognitions begin to arise. The fears, the abandonment, the rejection. It doesn’t feel good. I get it; we all have been there.
Here are a couple of things I highly encourage you to do when a friend is ignoring you:
- Create space. Maybe they need space; maybe you need space. Space isn’t always negative — in fact, it’s extremely useful.
- Take time for you.
- Do things that fill your cup, things that make you feel good.
- Reach out to another friend for a space of perspective and support.
- Evaluate or reevaluate the friendship, the gains it gives, and the space you’re in now; think about what you need for your future.
- Try to reach out again. If there’s no answer, it may be time to move on. It’s hard, I get it, but sometimes it’s that boundary that’s self-care for you.
You may grieve the relationship. It may be painful. Either way, allow yourself to feel and provide yourself with lots of self-compassion and love. Help yourself gain compassion and self-care. You deserve it.
Here’s a list of mantras that you can also use for yourself during this stressful, difficult time:
- “I give myself what I need at this moment.”
- “I allow myself to feel.”
- “I am worthy of love.”
- “I choose self-kindness today.”
- “Today is a day to check in with me.”
- “I am a good person.”
- “I am a good friend.”
- “I choose me.”
- “Love is a way to create regulation.”
- “Take it slow.”
- “Time, time for myself.”
- “I deserve love and care.”
- “Things will change with time.”
Content Writer, Yogic Experience
Try talking to them
You are troubled that they’re ignoring you because they are precious to you, and you would do anything to save the relationship. The first step is to keep your ego aside and try talking to them.
Let them know that you understand they are ignoring you, but you are available if they want to share something with you.
Do not accuse or judge
Desperation to talk often manifests as guesses, accusations, and judgments. Stay clear of them. Even if they are upset with you, try and handle the situation non-judgmentally.
Moreover, they may struggle with something they are not yet ready to share. Hold a comfortable space for them.
Talk to a common friend
Another friend may either help you decode your friend’s behavior or just give you a comfortable space to vent. Do not isolate yourself and try to stay distracted if that means it will help you to stay mentally calm.
Give them time and take care of yourself
We all sometimes need to disconnect to reconnect with refreshed zeal. Give them the time to come around. This space will help both of you to rethink your relationship.
Do your favorite things, and do not be too hard on yourself.
Related: How To Stop Beating Yourself Up
Move on if it doesn’t work after you have tried everything
All you can do in this situation is try. You cannot force them to talk or be friends with you. If you have tried it all, wish them the best and move on. This will prevent you from repeated disappointments and hurt.
Becky Bernard Stuempfig, MA, LMFT
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Encinitas Therapy
When you perceive that you are being ignored by a friend, these are helpful steps to take:
Examine the evidence
It is important to try to take an objective inventory of the evidence you have to avoid jumping to conclusions:
- What evidence do you have that you are being ignored?
- Have you reached out to your friend by phone, text, email, or in person and not received any kind of response?
- Has your friend rejected your requests to spend time together?
- Is your friend avoiding eye contact with you when you talk to each other?
- Do you feel you are putting more effort into the friendship than your friend?
Practice the art of using “MGI”
Try practicing the art of using the Most Generous Interpretation (MGI). MGI is giving people the benefit of the doubt and assuming the best, most positive interpretation of their behavior. It comes from a perspective of optimism and empathy.
In a scenario when you feel a friend is ignoring you, an MGI approach would consider if there could be any other interpretations of your friend’s behavior.
For example, could your friend be going through difficult times that you may not be aware of? Is it possible that your friend is silently struggling with something they don’t feel comfortable talking about yet and may feel quite isolated themselves?
Is it possible your friend is feeling busy and overwhelmed in their life? Is it possible your friend feels insecure about how they stand with you? Is it possible your friend avoids you because they are worried you will disagree with something they are doing or saying?
How does your friend manage conflict? Do they tend to avoid conflict in their life, or do they face it directly and openly? Consider other explanations for the behavior in addition to the interpretation, “My friend is ignoring me.”
Try to remain open to other possibilities that are more generous, empathic, positive, and productive.
Consider the source of the “ignoring”
Is this the first time you have felt this way with this particular friend, or is this a pattern? Do others often wonder if this friend is ignoring them? Have you witnessed this friend cutting themselves off from certain people or family members as a reaction to difficult experiences? Do they have a pattern of ending relationships without first discussing disagreements?
If so, this may be your friend’s style of communicating and managing conflict, which is passive and indirect. It likely leaves them feeling alone in relationships. Is this friendship a positive relationship that brings out the best in you?
At times we need to sort through our friendships and “prune” the ones that have a pattern of leaving us feeling ignored, blamed, criticized, and unsupported.
Engage in assertive communication
Once you’ve examined the evidence, considered other alternative explanations, and determined that this is a supportive friendship worth fighting for, assertive communication is the best way to seek a resolution to the feeling of being ignored.
Assertive communication involves speaking only from your feelings and taking responsibility for your feelings without blaming or criticizing the other person.
For example, you could say to your friend, “I have been feeling some distance between us lately, and I feel disappointed about that. I really miss you and wanted to check in about our friendship. I’m wondering how you’re feeling?”
By opening with “I” statements, your friend is much less likely to become defensive or feel attacked.
Once you hear how they are feeling, you can practice active listening by re-stating what they said and asking, “Did I get that right? Is there anything else you’d like me to know?” Then, you can practice expressing your needs in an assertive and kind way.
For example, “I would love to set up a regular time we could hang out or have lunch/walk/meet for dinner/chat on the phone so that we feel more connected. How do you feel about that?”
Assertive communication takes practice and can feel mechanical at first and more natural as you continue to practice.
Move on from the friendship with acceptance and growth
If you’ve gone through all of these steps and your friend is unable to reassure you in a supportive way, or they continue behavior that leaves you feeling ignored, it is likely time to move on from the friendship.
Friendships need to be mutually supportive for them to be healthy. Perhaps this person is doing their best but simply does not have the skills or resources to be a supportive friend at this time (MGI).
If that’s the case, it may be time to move on and focus on how you can surround yourself with people with the emotional availability you desire and give to others so that it is a more mutually supportive relationship.
Avoid judging yourself for the end of the friendship, but rather grieve the loss and try to incorporate what you learned into future relationships.
Women’s Alcohol Recovery Coach
I am sure everyone has experienced some time in their life a friend, or two or even three that have just completely ignored you. It becomes bothersome because we ask, “Why?”
Here are five things you can do when a friend is ignoring you:
Leave a polite voice message (not a text) asking about their well-being
How we communicate is vital when we interact, and text messages are often misunderstood because there is no tone. By leaving a voice message instead of a text, your friend can clearly hear your concern.
Be patient because you never know if your friend may just need time alone
I used to disconnect from my friends whenever I was going through trials in my life. During those times, I would spend a lot of time with family and also read a lot, but I always made sure to reconnect with my friends afterward.
Don’t overthink the situation, and analyze why they ignore you
Our minds are very powerful and can create scenarios far from the truth. You may find yourself asking these questions:
- “Did I say something wrong?”
- “What did I do?”
When we are in our heads like this, it really isn’t healthy for us.
Ask a mutual friend if they know why you are being ignored
Speaking to a mutual friend gives reassurance and also peace of mind.
Confront them face to face
This can be a little tricky, especially if you are ringing their doorbell and they are still ignoring you. I would suggest going to their work. Be kind, maybe bringing their favorite snack food or drink.
I know this may seem a little stalkerish, but hey, this is supposed to be your friend, right? I believe there is nothing better than just going straight to the source instead of playing guessing games, confusing your mind.
When a friend is ignoring you, don’t jump to conclusions. Some people may assume the worst-case scenario — that their friend is mad at them. But before taking it personally, assume it has more to do with the events in their life, not their feelings towards you.
Unless you did something to upset them or they confirmed they were mad at you, it’s best to hold out for a response.
Contact them through a different medium
If they haven’t responded in a while, follow it up with another one. Use a different platform if possible. For example, if you sent a text before, call them. If you sent an email, send a message through social media this time. If they live nearby, you can drop by their house.
Sometimes they just don’t check some platforms often. They could’ve also moved, no longer used a specific email address, changed phone numbers, or been locked out of an account.
Give them time
It’s common for people not to respond to messages when they are super busy. Don’t worry about it. Unless it’s urgent, don’t pester them repeatedly. Accept that you’re not a top priority for them, and they’re likely dealing with matters you have no idea about.
Make sure they got your message
If it’s been a few days or weeks since sending your previous messages, you can ask if they received them.
Acknowledge that you know they’re busy — to take their time responding. This takes the pressure off. But you can still follow up by asking if they want to meet up sometime or catch up on the phone.
Tone is important; offer a warm, friendly vibe
Keep your message light and kind. Whether they are busy, upset at you for an unknown reason, or haven’t seen it yet, sounding angry or impatient will not help you get a response. It could exacerbate issues and prove to them that they should not talk to you.
If you’re offering a warm, friendly vibe, you’re reminding them that you add to their life. You make them smile and enhance their life. This is important if you want them to open up to you.
Maybe you asked them a big favor
If they started ignoring them after you asked a favor from them, this could be why.
- Can’t do it, and don’t want to disappoint you.
- Don’t have time.
- Just don’t want to do it.
If this is the case, they probably just didn’t want to let you down.
When following up with them, it can help to say that you don’t need their help anymore. Then just follow up to ask how everything is going with their job, school, kids, sports, or whatever it is you normally talk about.
Resolve any miscommunication
If this happened, there was probably a miscommunication somewhere. In this case, it’s very important to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. You don’t want the person stewing over anything that has to do with you.
It’s also important to refrain from discussing it in detail with the person delivering the news. This is how gossip starts. Just say it’s odd, and you wouldn’t know why. Then speak to the person directly to get the facts, instead of playing telephone through other people.
Ask around about them
If the person still isn’t responding, see if any mutual friends or family saw or heard from them. Don’t say the person won’t talk to you. This is how gossip starts.
Just say you haven’t heard from them in a while. You may find out they have been busy and haven’t been seeing or speaking to anyone else.
Sit back, wait, and relax
Once you’ve taken these steps, know this is all you can do. If someone chooses not to respond to you for a long time or indefinitely, you can’t control that.
Realize that not everyone is adult enough to talk out problems or misunderstandings. Also, recognize that people grow apart over time.
If and when they are ready to have a relationship with you again, you’ve left the door open for them to walk through. The ball is now in their court.
Senior Editor, Tandem
There is no one right or one wrong answer for what to do when a friend is ignoring you. Every person and situation is different. You need to assess your situation to determine what the right course of action would be for you.
There are, however, some things you can try that work for various situations involving a friend who is ignoring you:
Really think about what has recently happened
Do you remember doing or saying something that could have hurt them or could have been misconstrued? Remember that this could be more about them than you. This means you might not remember having said or done something to make them ignore you.
Give your friend some space
Don’t presume that the reason your friend is ignoring you is something you did or said. Some people need to focus more on themselves and less on their friends when they are having trouble.
If this is your friend, maybe just giving them space to process their feelings or what they believe happened is all you can do. They will, hopefully, reach out to you when they are ready.
Talk to them
You might not know what caused your friend to ignore you. Was it something you did, said, or something else entirely? Talking to them might be easier said than done.
After all, they might not allow you to talk to them if they are currently ignoring you. Instead of confronting them in person or calling them, try sending them an email or a text. Be prepared that these efforts, too, may go ignored.
Use an intermediary to speak to them on your behalf, like a mutual friend
If you have tried to reach your friend, and they continue to ignore you, you might want to use a mutual friend to speak to them on your behalf. Just remember that some people will not feel comfortable getting involved in something unrelated to them.
Don’t try to force anyone to do anything they don’t want to do. What if they are willing and able to help you? Great. And if they decline to help? Don’t take it personally. How might you feel if you were in the same situation?
Ignore them back; they will reach out to you when they are ready
When all else fails, an option you have when you are being ignored by a friend is to ignore them back. Though two wrongs do not make a right, sometimes you need to remove yourself from a situation to make yourself feel better.
If they are truly your friend, when they are ready, they will reach out to you and tell you why they ignored you and if there is anything you can do about it.
And if they don’t reach out to you? It’s sad when a friendship, or any relationship, ends. But if this is the outcome, remember that you are never too old to make new friends. Hopefully, any new friendships you forge will be open and allow you to correct any wrongs.
Reach out and express concern over their lack of response
Friendships are relationships which means there are two people involved who have a responsibility to one another to maintain a healthy, even relationship.
If your friend is ignoring you, the burden of the “why” is not solely on you. I suggest reaching out to your friend, whether by voicemail or text message expressing concern over the lack of response.
You can say something like:
“Hey [friend’s name], I haven’t heard from you in a while, and I’m not sure what went wrong here, but our friendship means a lot to me, and I would like to hear from you when you’re ready. Feel free to text or call. I am available.”
While you might not get a response back from your friend who is essentially ghosting you, you will never be able to repair the relationship if you don’t first extend a bridge to restore the friendship.
Jordyn Mastrodomenico, LCADC, LAC, CTP
Clinical Director, ChoicePoint
Ask them why they seem distant
It may be hard to realize that a close friend with who you share everything is not responding as they used to.
Try to keep an open mind and realize that they do have a life of their own and they must be busy. Do not think negatively and cut them out of your life. You can always be the first one to message or call.
Ask them how they are and what is up with them and if the conversation takes a turn, ask them why they seem distant.
If a friend wants to stay connected, they will share what is wrong or at least try to give you hints that someone may not be right. However, if they still seem like they are not interested in talking, let them be.
Not every friendship is supposed to last a lifetime. Realize this before it is too late, and move on!
Founder, Ethical Frames LLC | Author, “Persuade, Don’t Preach: Restoring Civility across the Political Divide“
Respect that boundary
If a friend is ignoring you, the most important thing is to respect that boundary. If they don’t want to talk, it doesn’t help to push it. Pushing it may make it worse. Plus, that’s a pretty needy thing to do. It will tip the relationship into a bad space.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything at all. If you value the friendship, you can prepare if the door opens again.
Think about what the relationship means to you. Consider whether or not your behavior has contributed to the person ignoring you. Is this about you, or is it just them? Is this the first time they have done this, or is this a pattern?
If you did something wrong, apologize and make amends
Another factor to consider is whether this behavior relates to a difficult conversation you had, perhaps about a contentious topic. If you want things to turn out differently, take steps to learn other, more productive ways to talk about difficult issues.
My newsletter, Mending Fractured Relationships, on Substack, contains lots of tips for how to navigate these tricky conversations.
While you are waiting, don’t do anything to inflame the situation. Don’t gossip about the person, and don’t post anything online that might make the situation worse! Instead, send positive thoughts to the other person. Then you are ready for what you might say if you get an opening.
Hopefully, you already know what the relationship means to you, so you could talk about that as well as anything you did to contribute to it. If you did something, apologize and make amends. Say how your behavior will change.
Hopefully, the future relationship will be different. If you behave differently, then the relationship will change.
Chief People and Operations Officer, Checkr, Inc.
Check the situation
First, check whether they’re the same with everyone or just with you. If they’re the same with everyone, it may not be personal, and there could be something else going on in their life.
If they’re only ignoring you, it’s likely that something has happened to cause a rift between you.
Reach out to them
Try reaching out to them directly and asking why they’re ignoring you. You can do this in person, over the phone, or even through a text or email. If they don’t respond to you, try not to take it personally. They may be going through something and just need some space.
Ask the help of other friends
If you’re still being ignored after reaching out, you can try asking mutual friends if they know what’s going on.
Review your past encounters
It would also be helpful to try recalling any instances where you may have offended your friend. If you can, apologize for any times, you may have inadvertently hurt them.
Friendships are built on trust and communication, so it’s important to try and repair things if they’ve been damaged.
Stay or go
If all else fails, you can always just let the person know you’re there for them when they’re ready to talk.
You may also choose to accept that the friendship is over. This can be difficult, but it’s important to remember that not every friendship is meant to last forever.
Talk it out
If your friends ignore you on purpose, you can clarify the reason by starting a conversation with them. The best way to get clarity is to have an open and honest conversation, being mindful not to come across as blaming or attacking.
Instead, focus on observations and facts, sharing your feelings and requests in a non-judgmental way. This will help your friend feel comfortable opening up to you and allow you to stay calm to find out the true reasons.
Focus on yourself
When a friend hurts you by ghosting you, even if it’s accidental or you don’t know the entirety of the situation yet, taking care of yourself is essential. If you don’t take care of yourself, it’s easy to dwell on the issue and feel down.
Allowing yourself to spiral might make you forget that you are ultimately trying to figure out a solution that will work for both you and your friend.
In addition, focusing on yourself also allows you to be more clearheaded when approaching the situation with your friend.
In the end, there are some things you can’t control. There comes the point where you must simply go on if you’ve tried everything and still haven’t succeeded.
Maybe after talking to your friend, you discovered that they don’t feel as involved in your friendship as you do, which is why they aren’t paying you as much attention as you’d want. Although it will always hurt to end a friendship, it’s crucial to remember the aspects that enriched your life.
Let it happen
The best thing to do when a friend is ignoring you is to let it happen. Give them time and space to do so. It might be their own process of grievance towards you.
Reach out to them in a subtle way
If you can sense that you already gave them ample time to ignore you, reach out to them in a subtle way. You can send them a letter or a message through your mobile phone asking how they are, and tell him/her how you feel about them ignoring you.
Be open about how you feel about the situation and offer some time for the two of you to talk about it. But don’t expect an immediate response from them. It might be that they are still in their grieving process, and you should respect that.
The most important thing is that you already reach out to them in your most subtle but sincerest way.
Accepting that your friendship must end rather than holding on to it is the best way to deal with it. And if the worse happens and your friend continues to ignore you despite your best efforts to get in touch with them, then let them go. Maybe the friendship wasn’t meant to be in the first place.
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