What Does It Mean When A Man Ignores You?

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated May 2, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

In the 21st century, many dating norms have undergone a significant transformation. Technology has changed how many communicate, allowing more people to connect with partners from a distance. However, increased reachability may also bring about challenges in navigating relationships. Online messaging or texting can lead to ignoring others or inconsistent conversation. When having a face-to-face conversation, communication is often more linear. However, with an online conversation, people can leave and return when convenient, with fewer social norms.  

Reading between the lines or interpreting subtle signals may feel like a maze of guesswork. However, if someone ignores you or no longer initiates contact, there might be an explanation. Whether you're in a new relationship or have been together for years, consider whether their behavior might fall into one of these categories, or consider having a serious face-to-face conversation if the pattern is long-term and persistent.

Does it feel like you're being ignored or neglected?

Why is he ignoring me? Potential causes 

It can be normal to have periods of business or overwhelm. Despite their best efforts, a man may unintentionally appear unresponsive or aloof. Clinical studies show that neural circuits are vulnerable to stress. As a result, one's conscious capacity for empathy can be overridden by a sense of self-defense or fear, making it difficult to tend to others when stressed. 

To understand why someone is ignoring you, ask yourself whether this is an isolated incident or a pattern. The difference between a one-time absence and a pattern of detachment may help you gain greater insight into the underlying message. Below are additional reasons someone might not respond to a message. 

They are busy 

Work and personal commitments may take up a man's time and attention. Many Americans work 40 hours or more per week and juggle bills, time with family, friendships, relationships, and leisure. If you notice someone is too busy to reply or constantly postponing plans, try taking a step back. You may also ask them if there are ideal times to reach them during their work week. 

They're unsure how they feel 

When someone isn't sure about how they feel about your connection, they might try to take time to process their emotions. While it doesn't necessarily mean the relationship is doomed, it may be a sign that they need time before they respond. Pressuring them or sending many messages might cause them to pull away more. 

They're afraid of commitment 

Fear of commitment or rejection can be a source of anxiety for a man. If you're in a relationship and your partner has been pulling back, they might struggle to attach or feel comfortable showing vulnerability. If you are nervous and send many messages or ask for reassurance, it might put further pressure on them.  

Many people with an insecure-avoidant attachment style might pull away from connections due to childhood experiences and potential trauma. If you notice them pulling away after moments of love or connection, it could be a sign of attachment difficulties. Consider speaking to them about your concerns. Couples therapy may also be valuable if you both have insecure attachment styles.

If you are experiencing trauma, support is available. Please see our Get Help Now page for more resources.

They want space  

You might notice yourself assuming the worst when someone ignores you. However, this behavior could be a sign that someone is craving time alone or doesn't want to be pressured into discussing something they're not ready to address yet. Giving them space might help you both process your emotions and come back to a conversation with a clear mind. 

Ilona Titova/EyeEm

They're playing games 

If someone consistently pulls away from you or sends mixed messages, it could be their attempt to gain control over the relationship by testing your patience or deliberately confusing you. In these cases, this behavior might be a form of emotional abuse or unhealthy relationship patterns

If you or a loved one is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Support is available 24/7.

They have a different communication style 

Each person may have a unique way of expressing themselves. Ask your partner what works best for them or if they'd prefer a more hands-off approach. Some people prefer to communicate face-to-face or send short and sweet messages online. If a person doesn't enjoy texting, they might prefer video or phone calls. 

They're not trying to ignore you 

At times, people may not respond due to outside factors. They may not have seen the message, they could be busy, or they might be out of service due to a camping trip. There are many possibilities of why someone might not have time to respond. Many people don't bring their phones during work or run out of battery at the end of the day. They might unintentionally miss your message if they're not thinking about responding. 

Observing contextual clues to understanding "ghosting" 

To understand why someone might ignore you, assess your relationship history and previous interactions. Do you have a history of meaningful conversations, or has the connection been primarily based on surface-level topics? The nature of your connection might affect how much or how often a person chooses to engage with you.

You can also evaluate their behavior with you and others. For example, ask yourself whether he acts differently when you're alone versus around a group of friends. Is he more open or withdrawn in one-on-one settings? These patterns might show you whether he is only ignoring you or often takes breaks from other social situations, as well. 

If there is inconsistency or changes in their behavior, it could be a sign of conflict. Consider whether they appear more distant or less interested than before. If they struggle to enjoy previously enjoyed activities or pull away from social connections, they might be living with a mental health challenge. In these cases, you might check in face-to-face and ask if you can offer support or if they'd like space. 

How to communicate with your partner about their behavior 

Feeling ignored or disconnected can be overwhelming and discouraging. However, once you've identified the potential reasons behind your partner's behavior, you can try to address it with them to open communication if they are receptive. 

Approach them calmly in a neutral environment 

When you're ready to start the conversation, approach your partner calmly and openly. Maintaining a neutral disposition may eliminate the risk of unnecessary conflict or arguments. Choosing an opportune time and neutral location might also significantly affect how the conversation goes. If your partner feels cornered or you're bringing up the topic while they're trying to impart their feelings about another conflict, it might cause them to further distance themselves from you. 

Use non-confrontational language 

Once you have his attention, try using non-confrontational language with your partner. Try not to start the conversation on a negative note or accuse them of unhealthy behavior. Instead, focus on expressing your feelings and concerns honestly and vulnerably without placing blame. Using "I feel" statements may help you communicate your needs respectfully and empathetically. 

Allow your partner to impart his feelings 

Allowing your partner the space to impart his perspective could also be valuable. Communication goes both ways and often requires practice to be successful. Active listening involves using body language, eye contact, and appropriate responses to show your engagement in the conversation.

You might feel more open to resolution when you remain open-minded and seek to understand their actions rather than focusing on the outcome. Taking the time to listen and acknowledge their perspective could also improve your connection and love. 

Evaluate your expectations 

Moving forward, evaluate how the conversation fits your expectations or goals for the relationship. If a person can be honest and open with you about their feelings, it can help you gauge their interest and how compatible you are. However, if the conversation ends in an argument or further emotional neglect from your partner, you might consider whether the relationship is healthy for you. 

As you reflect on the experience, note that many interactions can be opportunities for growth and learning. Recognizing potential warning signs of unhealthy behavior may help you choose healthier future relationships while providing valuable insight into yourself and your interaction style. 

Does it feel like you're being ignored or neglected?

Consider therapy 

Many couples go through periods where they struggle to communicate effectively. Reaching out for professional support might help facilitate conversation. In addition, if you enjoy online communication, you might find online therapy preferable to a face-to-face session.  

Online counseling through platforms like BetterHelp for individuals or Regain for couples can help you and your partner recognize behavior patterns and develop communication strategies to ensure healthier relationships. Through therapy, you can attend sessions over the phone, via video chat, or through messaging, and you and your partner can attend from separate locations if you're in a long-distance relationship or struggling to talk face-to-face. 

In addition, a study by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine indicates that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may improve communication barriers. Online CBT may increase insight, reduce unwanted thought patterns, and shift attitudes toward constructive frames of mind. Incorporating these techniques into your relationship may enhance your ability to communicate meaningfully with others. 


Effective communication is often a value of many individuals in relationships. Learning how your partner's communication style differs from yours is one way to understand their online behaviors. However, if these behaviors become a pattern, you might consider talking to a professional to discuss your expectations for communication in the relationship.
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