Sir George Bernard Shaw said, “The worst sin to our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that is the essence of inhumanity”.
If indifference to fellow human beings is inhumane, it’s unthinkable what someone goes through when they feel ignored in a relationship. The psychological effects of being ignored by someone you love can only be soul-searing and mentally torturous.
When a loved one doesn’t give us the attention we deserve, our first instinct is to get to the root of the problem and weed it out. However, in doing so, another vital question goes unaddressed: how to deal with being ignored by someone you love?
Considering the emotional toll being unseen or unheard by a partner or loved one can take on your mental health, it’s critical to understand how to cope with this unhealthy relationship dynamic. We’re here to help you with just that.
What Being Ignored Does To A Person?
Healthy relationships are based on intimacy, trust, respect and mutual understanding. Being ignored by someone you love leaves you stranded alone, with zillions of questions and doubts but no answers or clarity of intent from the one ignoring you. First and foremost, it’s important to understand that a partner or loved one needing space and some alone time every now and then is not the same as when someone ignores you on purpose.
The former scenario is often the classic case of one partner needing space in a relationship and the other considering it an ominous sign, which can lead to rifts, distance, fights and arguments. That in itself is not a healthy relationship dynamic either, but it’s a whole different ball game than having to deal with being ignored by someone you love.
On the other hand, when someone ignores you on purpose, often with an objective to exploit the trust you put in them and exert control and power over you, it can make a relationship extremely toxic. The psychological effects of being ignored by someone you love are real and harmful.
This emotional manipulation comes in many forms, one of the most common of which is the ‘silent treatment’ aka ignoring someone in order to get them to fall in line. When you feel ignored in a relationship because your partner just won’t speak to you, you can feel driven to a point of desperation to break the spell of silence.
The result? You agree to whatever it is they want from you in order to put an end to being ignored in a relationship. These toxic tendencies can be subtle and difficult to identify, so one must always be on guard because the psychological effects of being ignored by someone you love can be devastating.
Psychological effects of being ignored by someone you love
Psychologists and mental health experts agree that being ignored by someone you love is a form of manipulation and emotional abuse that can have far-reaching effects. When you feel unseen, unheard, invisible in intimate relationships, it strikes at the very core of your sense of self. Apart from low self-esteem, anxiety, anger and depression are some common psychological impacts a person may experience when they feel ignored by someone they love deeply.
But the impact is not always limited to your mental health and well-being. When someone ignores you on purpose, its impact on your psyche can also manifest in the form of physical signs of stress as well. Physical effects of being ignored in a relationship can include insomnia, headaches, racing heartbeat and muscle tension. Long-term effects of being ignored in a relationship can be eating disorders that may lead to obesity, substance abuse disorders and chronic pain.
According to a study done in 2012, the psychological effects of being ignored by someone you love can lead to anxiety, low self-esteem, social withdrawal and devoid of meaning to their lives. This, in turn, may lead to social isolation and depression that could be the starting point for long-term mental health issues.
Related Reading: 5 Signs Of Emotional Abuse You Should Watch Out For Warns Therapist
Another research finds that feeling excluded and ignored can cause changes in your brain, especially the part responsible for detecting pain – the anterior cingulate cortex. This can result in experiencing a spectrum of physical symptoms such as increased blood pressure, headaches, digestive problems, diabetes and even a compromised immune system.
These physical effects are often the outcome of high levels of stress as a result of being ignored by someone you love or consider important in your life. The higher the level of intimacy, the more exacerbated the effects can be. For instance, the impact can be a lot higher when you feel ignored in a relationship than it is when your friends, coworkers or boss give you the cold shoulder. That’s why it’s crucial to know how to deal with being ignored by someone you love.
How Do You Deal With Being Ignored By Someone In A Relationship?
Dealing with being ignored by someone you love is never easy. No matter how mentally strong you are or how stoically you handle this disrespectful treatment by a loved one, it’s not always possible to push the negative thoughts away and not let them get the better of you.
When someone ignores you on purpose – and that someone happens to be a loved one such as a romantic partner or parent – it’s only a matter of time before their actions start triggering bouts of self-doubt in you.
You may also normalize being taken for granted in relationships, which can impact the way you form intimate connections in the future. That’s why being ignored by someone you love needs to be dealt with, and dealt with the right way, as soon as you start noticing the red flags.
To help you do that, here are some tips on how to deal with being ignored by someone you love:
Related Reading: What Does It Mean When Someone Ignores You?
1. Take a step back
While stepping back may not be the first intuitive step on how to deal with being ignored by someone in a relationship, it is the most effective first response. Instead of coming across as needy, you communicate that while respecting their decision, you also value your self-esteem.
When you feel ignored in a relationship, don’t give the other person the sense that you’re ready to do whatever it takes to correct the situation. Understand that this dynamic stems from them and not you, so leave it to them to correct course. Let them reach out to you if and when they realize that it was wrong of them to ignore you.
Yes, the prevalent silence as a result of neither side making a move to diffuse the tension may sting while it lasts, but it’s the only way to put an end to this unhealthy power struggle in a relationship.
2. Distract yourself
Dan found himself embroiled in a similar dynamic with his partner, Justin, and the effects of being ignored in a relationship were beginning to take a toll on him. He was anxious, edgy, and experienced panic attacks whenever his partner went into one of his spells of silence. Ultimately, Dan decided to seek help, and his therapist advised him to keep himself productively occupied to sail through these challenging moments without unraveling.
You too can benefit from a similar approach if you have to deal with being ignored by someone you love. While you step back from a relationship to give the other some time to think, find time to do something you love – something that makes you happy.
From enrolling in an online course to painting or just getting yourself to make all those phone calls you have been putting off, distractions are beautiful. If nothing else, run, box, get active and enjoy a rush of adrenaline.
3. Surround yourself with people who make you happy
We tend to distance ourselves from the people closest to us, albeit unknowingly, during the honeymoon phase of our romantic relationships. Some people do find support, fulfillment and their best friend in their better half but others are left feeling lonely.
One in three married individuals reports being lonely, according to an AARP survey done in 2018. These feelings of loneliness and isolation only multiply manifold when you feel ignored in a relationship. So, surround yourself with people who make you happy – positive vibes only!
4. Find a support system
You may or may not want to share your state of mind with your friends. But if you do, don’t forget to ask them how do you deal with being ignored by someone in a relationship? If your friends are going through something similar or have experienced it in the past, they may have some helpful advice and tips to share.
You’ll be surprised to learn how life forces people to invent some of the simple yet effective methods in order to survive difficult situations such as being ignored by someone you love and find a glimmer of happiness.
If nothing else, you’ll just have a room full of wisecracks, laughter, and a fun time with your buddies.
Related Reading: The violence of silence…how lack of communication affects a marriage
5. Communicate when you feel ignored in a relationship
How to deal with being ignored by someone you love? Overcome communication barriers and establish channels for honest, heartfelt discussions. When someone ignores you on purpose, it could be a response to a conflict in your relationship.
Perhaps, your partner feels put in a spot whenever you try to resolve issues and their tendency to ignore you is a defense mechanism to counter that. Maybe, the reason for this behavior pattern can be traced to their own past emotional trauma.
When you talk to your partner or a loved one about the effects of being ignored in a relationship, focus on the ‘I’ rather than the ‘you’. Tell them how this dynamic makes you feel without placing blame or making accusations. To deal with being ignored by someone you love, you may have to show them your vulnerable side.
6. Sign up for counseling
When you feel ignored in a relationship and the pattern begins to resemble passive-aggressive behavior, emotional alienation or manipulation, it’s an indication that you need help. It’s time you and your partner discuss seeking counseling and speak to a mental health professional.
Feeling lonely even though you’re not alone is a mentally traumatic experience and you deserve better than that. Your partner too may have their own internalized struggles or traumas that are making them act out in this manner. Often, it’s hard to make these correlations on our own.
This is where couple’s therapy can make a huge difference, enabling you to sort through your issues rather than let resentment build in the relationship over time.
7. Become your biggest fan
American author and motivational speaker, Jack Canfield says, “You can’t change anyone else but people do change in relation to your change. All relationships are a system, and when any one part of a system changes, it affects the other part.”
Stop second-guessing yourself or relying on other people’s approval to boost your confidence. Love yourself, and become your biggest fan. Reward yourself for every job well done. Positivity is contagious and multiplies through sharing. You will become someone everyone notices and finds hard to ignore. If nothing else, your partner will be forced to ask you the reason for your happiness!
Related Reading: 13 Things To Do When Your Husband Ignores You
8. Break the cycle
When someone ignores you on purpose, it’s their way of extracting a reaction from you. Maybe you will fight, lash out, break down and cry, or beg for their affection. When you give them any of these reactions, you’re falling prey to manipulation.
So, break the cycle of emotional abuse and manipulation by not validating their attempts to ignore you with a reaction they expect. If manipulation and mind games do not work on you, they will be forced to abandon the method. When that happens, you can finally work toward establishing healthy conflict resolution techniques in your relationship.
Finding an answer to how to deal with being ignored by someone you love may seem challenging at first. You can overcome this hurdle by understanding that even though this unhealthy pattern stems from you, it thrives on your reaction to it. When you stop feeding the monster of silence and cold vibes in a relationship, it will eventually weaken and wither away. Also remember that more often than not, an honest conversation and opening your heart to someone you love and care about is all it takes to turn a new leaf.
Ignoring someone is definitely not an act of love. If you are being ignored in a relationship, it is not only unfair to you but creates an unhealthy power play in your relationship. The psychological effects of being ignored by someone you love can be emotionally damaging in the long-term. The mere thought of mistaking the silent treatment of being ignored as an act of love, shows that you have your foot in the trap.
When someone ignores you on purpose, they are doing it either to distance you from themselves and hoping that you would understand that they are not interested in you, without them having to spell it out. The other reason to ignore someone can be to manipulate the desired response or reaction from them. If you are being ignored in a relationship, chances are that they know what makes you tick and ignoring you is the manipulative tactic they are using to achieve the precise psychological or behavioral effect they want on you.
First off, make sure that you are actually being ignored and it’s not just an overreaction. Then, try to think from the other person’s perspective – could it be that lately they have been very busy and need some space? Distract yourself so that being ignored by someone you love doesn’t affect you psychologically. If even after giving them some time off, things don’t go back to the way they were or your relationship seems to be heading for a downward trend, communicate. Ask your partner what’s happening and discuss the issue. If that doesn’t solve the problem and you suspect manipulation, don’t react in the manner your partner expects you to – you’re stronger than that, and you know it!