What to do when he ignores you

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry
Updated February 6, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

If your partner has been ignoring you, you may feel hurt and confused. There can be a variety of reasons why he ignores you, from choosing to give you the silent treatment to guilt, boredom, stress, and even hearing issues. It can be possible to move forward in the relationship through effective communication, rebuilding your emotional connection, finding ways to revive the spark, and making yourself emotionally available. Online or in-person couples therapy can also be an especially effective method of addressing relationship challenges like ineffective communication.

Please note that although this article may use male pronouns, the information here can be applied to people of any gender.

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Communication: The core of a healthy relationship

According to a recent study, honest, open communication can be the core of a healthy relationship, potentially allowing partners to support each other through difficult times. How each partner reacts during conflicts and works together to overcome the obstacles in your lives can be affected by how well you communicate with each other. 

When you’re not communicating openly in a relationship, you may face ongoing, unresolved issues that can contribute to future conflicts. Without effective communication, you’ll likely have more difficulty managing stressors like family, finances, work, and intimacy in your relationship. 

Essential communication skills for relationships

The following can be viewed as general tips for effective communication in a romantic relationship.

  • Don’t attack their personality or character. 
  • Avoid intentional insults, name-calling, and mocking. 
  • Try not to be defensive, as it can block the ability to communicate. 
  • Refusing to communicate, or stonewalling, may amplify problems in the relationship.
  • Focus on what you can control and how you can positively influence your relationship.
  • Disengaging from the altercation and taking time to calm down may prevent emotionally charged conversations where you may say something hurtful. 
  • If your partner does something that genuinely upsets you, it can be best to respond using specific language.
  • Try to use “I” and “we” statements when addressing problems.
  • Listen when your partner speaks, validate their feelings, and engage in the conversation. 

Why the silent treatment can hurt relationships

According to a 2016 study, some people use the silent treatment—ignoring their partner and refusing to communicate—as a punishment, and they’re often seeking an emotional response from their partner. When used as a punitive measure, the silent treatment can threaten your emotional need to belong, damage your self-esteem, and leave you feeling helpless. If your partner uses the silent treatment on you, try to express how it makes you feel and ask if you can work together to manage conflict.

Why your partner may be ignoring you

When trying to deal with a close person ignoring you, it may be helpful to look for a reasonable explanation for why they might be unintentionally or deliberately ignoring you. There may be many reasons why your partner ignores you, and you may need to realize that being ignored isn't necessarily about anything you did wrong. Consider whether any of the following circumstances fit your situation and express your concerns to your partner.

  • Are they having trouble adjusting to extra pressure or stressed out over something that happened at work?
  • Is the family experiencing financial hardships that could be adding stress to your partner’s life? 
  • Have there been recent problems with miscommunication in your relationship?
  • Could a physical condition (such as hearing impairment) be related to the issue?
  • Is your partner experiencing physical pain or discomfort that’s causing them to withdraw?
  • Does your partner lack a well-developed sense of emotional intelligence or literacy that could be leading them to struggle to identify and communicate their feelings?
  • Is your partner feeling bored in the relationship?
  • Have there been any recent conflicts with their friends or family members?
  • Might your partner be feeling guilt over indiscretions and thus creating emotional distance?
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How to move forward when you feel ignored

If you feel ignored in your relationship, there may be steps you can take to repair the damage and move forward together. 

  • Take a step back and evaluate the situation. Your partner may need to spend time alone to sort through their feelings and thoughts. Use the time to work on yourself to identify what you want and the treatment you are willing to accept as a standard in your relationship.
  • Stay calm and find ways to distract yourself so you don’t fixate on being ignored.
  • Ensure you’re actually being ignored. Make sure there isn’t a misunderstanding or your partner doesn’t have hearing problems.
  • Being ignored can hurt, but trying not to overreact can be important. Sometimes, a partner may use the silent treatment as a punishment, and they may be seeking a reaction from you.
  • Remember that effective communication tends to flow in both directions. Try to create an emotional environment that allows both of you to express your concerns about the relationship without the situation devolving into anger and bitterness.
  • At some point, you and your partner may want to come to an agreement on what truly matters to both of you and how you want to be treated in a relationship. After coming to an agreement on what to do when you’re feeling ignored, it’s key to follow through with any decisions you and your partner make about handling the situation.

Rebuild your emotional connection

Effective communication is often at the heart of a successful relationship, and to move forward together, you and your partner may need to rebuild your emotional connection. 

Being ignored can leave you feeling alone and may lead to feelings of resentment, potentially increasing the emotional distance between yourself and your partner. Rather than focusing on the behavior that upsets you, try speaking to your partner about what you’d like to see and how he can meet your needs in a way that allows you to feel supported. 

Learn to communicate effectively

When talking to your partner, try asking open-ended questions that lend themselves to detailed answers, which can then lead to meaningful conversation. Actively listen when your partner speaks and ask questions that show you are paying attention. If what you’re doing isn’t working, try a new tactic. It may improve the quality of communication in your relationship.

Both you and your partner should generally express what you need from the relationship and have an honest conversation about how you can work together to reshape your connection to meet your needs. If you’ve been together for a while, you might check in with each other and reevaluate where your priorities lie. They may have shifted over time without either of you realizing it. 

Look for external stressors

If the lack of communication in your relationship is a recent development, consider that stressful situations can happen, with external stressors potentially influencing your partner’s behavior. If they feel extra pressure at work or are going through a conflict with a family member, they may be experiencing stress that causes them to unintentionally ignore you. As not everyone can effectively manage stress, they may not know how to express their emotions or what’s bothering them in healthy or productive ways. 

Find ways to revive the spark

At the beginning of a relationship, your bodies are usually flooded with endorphins and oxytocin, which can chemically draw you closer to each other both physically and emotionally. It can be beneficial to talk about your sex life and whether preferences have changed. While sex may not be the most critical part of a relationship, physical intimacy can be a crucial aspect of a strong emotional bond for many couples. 

Make yourself emotionally available

Part of a successful relationship can be making yourself emotionally available, which can also mean being emotionally vulnerable. Your partner likely can’t read your mind, so ensure you’re communicating your feelings and needs.

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What does healthy emotional intimacy look like?

While emotional intimacy can vary significantly from one couple to another, when you practice effective communication with a partner, you should usually support each other emotionally and show empathy while feeling loved, valued, understood, and safe in your relationship. You may both actively engage in meaningful conversations about everything from your past memories and daily experiences to your hopes, fears, and goals for the future. 

How therapy can help you reconnect with your partner

Most people might benefit from the support and guidance of a mental health professional to learn effective communication methods and coping skills. With professional help and an outside perspective on the relationship, you could learn how to manage various situations in ways that don’t put distance between yourself and your partner. In some cases, a therapist may be able to help identify any underlying problems, such as increased stress in your or your partner’s personal life or a lack of self-confidence. 

Benefits of online therapy 

Working with a licensed therapist through an online therapy platform can teach you effective methods to cope with your emotional reactions and communicate with your partner. Online therapy typically offers multiple appointment formats, allowing you to fit treatment into your busy schedule through phone, video call, or online chat. 

Effectiveness of online therapy

Online couples therapy can be an effective way to address any concerns or challenges you may be experiencing in your relationship. One study looking at the efficacy of online couples therapy found that “the results indicated improvements in relationship satisfaction, mental health, and all other outcome scores over time.”

Takeaway

Moving forward in a relationship can be hard when you feel ignored. Whether your partner uses the silent treatment as a punishment or is unaware of how their behavior affects you, it can be possible to move forward together if you’re both willing to commit and make an effort. For example, the two of you might look for ways to revive the spark, take time to rebuild your emotional communication, practice effective communication strategies, and make yourselves as emotionally available as possible. Couples therapy can also be helpful, especially if you feel that you cannot move forward on your own. You can attend couples therapy locally or through an online therapy platform.

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The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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