How To With Deal Someone Who Doesn’t Care About You
By Danni Peck
Updated January 16, 2019
Reviewer Aaron Dutil
There are a variety of reasons why you might care about someone who doesn't return that feeling. You may be in a bad romantic relationship, or you might be in the post-breakup stage. Also, you could have a parent or sibling who doesn't seem to care about you. Whoever the person is who's ignoring you or antagonizing you, it may be best to learn how to deal with someone who doesn't seem to care about you.
Why you need to deal with it
Continuing to care for someone who cannot, or will not, return your feelings, sets you up to feel miserable. There is no reason for you to allow someone to have that kind of power over you. No matter how someone is connected to you or what your past is with them, they have no right to continue to bring you down. And you are not required to remain in such relationships. It is helpful to recognize, and accept, that we really cannot change anyone but ourselves. We have no control over anyone other than ourselves. The more we allow ourselves to focus on things outside our control, the more impotent and crazy we tend to feel.
How to handle your feelings about someone
There is certainly nothing wrong with genuinely caring about another person. And sometimes we intentionally choose to continue loving someone well even when they do not reciprocate our feelings, for legitimate reasons. For instance, a pretty critical responsibility of every healthy parent is to love their children unconditionally. By definition, loving unconditionally is complete separate, and sometimes in spite of, whether the other person returns our love. Sometimes it is very healthy, appropriate, mature, and responsible, to be willing to so love another who may be incapable of returning our love.
But when you care a lot about someone who does not feel the same, or cares too little, and who is also an adult with the capacity to love appropriately, it is reasonable to critically evaluate your choices in light of this reality. Perhaps it may be helpful to consider what constitutes genuine love. We often believe that if we truly love someone, we will accept virtually anything from them. But even parents have a responsibility to teach their children that some thoughts, attitudes, or actions, are unacceptable. Of course, the parent should not suggest that they are withdrawing their unconditional love from the child; but genuine love includes healthy boundaries, limits, expectations, and meaningful consequences for misbehavior. To NOT provide such consequences is actually less loving, than providing what the child truly needs in response to their inappropriate, or disobedient, actions. Sometimes, this may be the case with peers, or other adults, as well. Sometimes the most genuinely loving, caring, and most mutually respectful action we can choose in response to another adult, is to allow them to experience the natural, or logical, consequences of their own actions. If someone is treating you inappropriately, disrespectfully, or unkindly; especially if this seems to be a pattern; and if you have tried to talk with them about what would be more mutually respectful, to no avail, it may be time to consider whether remaining in the relationship is best.
Another relevant perspective is the relationship between our thoughts and our feelings. While it is pretty impossible to simply change our feelings, we do have a much greater capacity to change our thoughts, perspectives, the meaning we attach to specific events, our conclusions, expectations, etc. Since our feelings are almost always directly created from those cognitions, our ability to change them, can produce an automatic change in our feelings. For instance, it seems safe to assert that much of the disappointment, hurt, offense, sadness, anger, etc we experience, is a result of unmet expectations. So if we can change our expectations, we will be able to dramatically decrease the negative feelings that result from experiencing unmet expectations, right? This certainly applies to a situation in which a person about whom we care does not return our feelings.
Care more about you
You may find yourself spending a lot of mental energy on this person that you wish also cared about you. But there is one person you can count on to care about you, and that's you. While you're adjusting to spending less of your time and focus on another person, use that free time to think about what you want. What would you like someone else to do for you? When you figure out what that is, go ahead and give that to yourself!
Do you wish you had a partner to help you with the dishes? Hire someone to do it. Do you wish you had someone to compliment you on your appearance? Do things that make you feel beautiful. Do you wish someone would congratulate your successes with a nice gift? Buy yourself that thing you've wanted when you reach your goals. You do not have to wait for someone else to make you feel important.
Choose to focus on what you can actually control. We often have much more control than we perceive. There is hope in choosing to look at ourselves, to ensure that we are being the persons we want to be. None of us are perfect. We all have room to grow, change, improve. And since our own self-improvement is completely within our control, there is hope and power, and confidence, in spending time gaining awareness of areas in which we may want to grow, and then being intentional to implement concrete actions to that end. Often, the characteristics which are the most frustrating and offensive to us, are those of which we are guilty ourselves. So it is always a good practice to turn our attention to ourselves, as soon as we realize we are annoyed with someone else. Awareness is critical to our even having the option to make changes in ourselves. That about which we are unaware, we cannot control. Stated another way, that about which we are unaware in ourselves, will control us. Sometimes, just gaining awareness of a tendency in ourselves is all we need to choose to think, or act, differently.
It seems to be most often the case that we tend to be drawn to those who are 'symbiotic' to us. This means that we tend to attract those who compliment us in some way. This is the reason that abusers tend to be attracted to 'victims;' those who are more dominant, tend to be attracted to those who are more submissive, and vice versa; takers are drawn to givers; etc. For this reason, it is very wise to do what we can to become as healthy as possible prior to entering a new potential dating relationship. The more independently healthy we are, the healthier others we are likely to attract, and be attracted to ourselves.
This may also be a good time to consider if we have experienced a 'theme' of being drawn to those who end up not liking us very much. If we recognize such a pattern, we may want to process through this with a professional counselor, to help us both understand that trend, as well as break it.
Care less about opinions in general
Sometimes the problem is not about what a particular person thinks of you. Sometimes you just feel the need to make everyone else happy. You're the one who worries what your partner will think if you try a new look. You cover for others when they would never do the same for you. You're afraid to express your opinion because someone might not like you for it.
If this sounds like you, then it can be difficult to break these anxious thought patterns. But the truth is, you will be happier worrying less and surrounding yourself with people who aren't afraid of seeing your true self. Would you rather spend time with someone with whom you must constantly be on guard, or someone with whom you can relax because they accept you?
If the people you surround you would leave just because you express your true feelings, then your life will probably be easier, and less toxic, without them. To reduce anxiety about what others think of you, you can also speak with a licensed therapist who can discuss your concerns with you. An online therapist can guide you to find a counselor who will be a good fit for you. You can work with that professional to love and appreciate yourself. You don't need a partner to show you your strengths. You can find out what you love about you and feel proud of those qualities. When you work on yourself, you will start to see your quality of life improve, and you will feel happier and more fulfilled.