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What Does It Mean to Ignore Someone?

by Melody Causewell

Being ignored is a hurtful experience that can make you feel anxious, angry or sad. But no one deserves this treatment. By understanding ignoring behaviors, you can tell whether you are being ignored and take steps toward healthier relationships. And if you're the one doing the ignoring, recognizing how your actions are affecting others is a positive first step toward stopping.

The Definition

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, to ignore is to refuse to show that you see or hear something or to do nothing in response to those events. This may take the form of someone turning away from you when you are talking, or refusing to answer phone calls or emails. Once you identify the issue, someone may ignore your statements and do the opposite of your request without acknowledging your input.

It Means You Might Get Upset

Being ignored can make you feel as if you don’t matter at all, a fate worse than being outright rejected, according to life coach Marty Nemko in a Psychology Today article titled, “When You’re Ignored.” Those who are ignored may also feel anxious, as if they are supposed to do something to resolve the issue. They may also feel sad or angry at this treatment or have trouble sleeping. But rest assured, you do not deserve to be ignored. If someone is treating you this way, it might be time to cut ties.

It Means Not Being Responsive

Paying attention to your partner’s needs is a critical part of healthy relationships, note Canevello and Crocker, researchers and authors of “Creating Good Relationships,” which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2010. Friends who are not compassionate or responsive or who ignore one another’s needs have less fulfilling relationships than those who do not ignore their partners. Surround yourself with those who are able to reciprocate the relationship through mutual favors, conversations and caring instead of those who ignore.

It Means Control

Ignoring can sometimes mean control. Gaslighting, for instance is a tactic that is used to convince someone that there isn’t really anything wrong, i.e, “What do you mean I’m ignoring you? You’re crazy.” But the control may not be all bad. Sometimes ignoring someone means less stress if the person doing the ignoring is tuning out annoying habits such as loud chewing or nail biting. In these cases, the ignoring may stop once the behavior subsides and relationships may be stronger for it. In any case, discussion is critical to identify the cause of the ignoring and move on without feeling rejected.

About the Author

Melody Causewell has been a writer in the mental health field since 2001. She written training manuals and clinical programs for mental health organizations. She has published feature articles "Leaven" magazine and has been published in "Natural Awakenings." She has a degree in psychology, a Masters degree in social work and is a La Leche League leader.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images