Why I Am Secretly Glad When He Ignores Me: The Emotions Of Being Ignored

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated May 11, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include abuse which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Being ignored by a partner can have a variety of emotional effects. You may feel insecure, confused, sad, lonely—or you may even feel glad or relieved, which could be confusing too. Below, we’ll explore some of the possible emotional effects of feeling like you simply don’t get the attention you need or expect from a partner, and then we’ll discuss how you might cope by setting boundaries, leaning on social support, meeting with a therapist, and other techniques.

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The potential emotional effects of being ignored

In general, most people expect that the person they’re dating or married to will be attentive and respectful toward them. That’s why it can cause emotional confusion and insecurity in the relationship and perhaps even in the self to feel like you’re being ignored by a significant other. Having your thoughts, needs, or even your presence overlooked by this person in particular could damage your self-esteem and contribute to feelings of anxiety, loneliness, resentment, and depression. In some cases, receiving silent treatment for periods of time can even be a potential indicator of emotional abuse in your relationship life.

However, in other cases, some people might actually feel content or relieved to be ignored by their partner instead of having a hard time with it. One potential reason for this is in a case of abuse or an otherwise unhealthy relationship. If you’re used to receiving negative attention from your partner, receiving none instead could come as a relief. You might also feel relief because you’ve realized you don’t want this person’s attention anymore and that you may want to exit the relationship. These are just a couple of examples of many possible sources of the varied emotions you may feel at being ignored by a partner. Typically, it’s important to get to the root and decide what next move might be best for you.

The power of communication when ignored by a partner

Research suggests that strong communication can enhance relationship satisfaction since it increases the likelihood that all parties feel heard and gives each a better chance of getting their needs met. When you feel you’re being ignored by your partner, withdrawing and avoiding communication with them yourself can be tempting in order to let them know how it’s making you feel or to try and protect yourself from further hurt. However, this approach may only exacerbate the problem. Whether they’re barely talking to you or seem to not hear what you’re really trying to say when you talk, it may be worth coming together to express yourself as clearly as possible.

First, you might set aside regular, dedicated time to sit down, make eye contact, and spend time checking in about your relationship and how you’re both feeling. That way, you and your partner can give each other the attention and focus needed to have meaningful conversations. If possible, express your feelings calmly and respectfully. You might avoid using language that could be perceived as blame or criticism. Instead, you may try to use "I" statements to express how you feel and what you need. For example, "I feel hurt when you don't listen to me" is often more productive than "You never listen to me."

It can also help to remain open to hearing your partner's perspective through actively listening to what they say. It can be okay to disagree, but respecting each other's opinions and finding common ground is normally ideal. They may not realize how you’ve been feeling and might be willing to make some changes to their behavior, or you could learn that they’ve been feeling ignored too and it caused them to pull away. Or, perhaps you’ll find that you have mismatched expectations on how much attention you each need, or that you simply aren’t compatible overall. Remember that in cases of abuse or where your safety is otherwise at risk, communication like this may not always be safe. You have the right to prioritize your safety in such a situation.

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse in any form, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for immediate support, advice, and assistance.

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Tips for coping with being ignored by a partner

Wondering "Why does he ignore me?" can be a difficult experience—even if it makes you feel relieved, which can be confusing. Whether you’ve just noticed this trend in your relationship or are actively in communication with your significant other in an attempt to address it, being ignored in your partnership can represent a challenging time. Here are a few tips that may help you as you work through it:

  • Lean on friends and family. Humans are social creatures, and loneliness can have a variety of negative mental and physical health effects over time. If you’re feeling isolated in your relationship, it can be helpful to seek social support in other places—such as by leaning on family and friends, since research suggests having strong social connections can improve health and stress resilience.
  • Practice self-care. Taking care of yourself when you're going through a confusing time can help keep your body and mind equipped to face challenges. Self-care is a highly individualized practice, but examples can include exercising, meditating, journaling, eating well, and engaging in activities that bring you joy. 
  • Set boundaries. Setting boundaries with your partner to help protect your well-being could be helpful during this time. Examples could include spending some time apart, placing limits on how or when you communicate, or even ending the relationship if it no longer feels right for you. 
  • Seek professional help. If you’re having trouble making sense of the emotions you feel at being ignored by your partner, it might be helpful to seek the support of a licensed mental health professional or relationship coach. They can provide a safe and non-judgmental space where you can process your feelings and find ways to move forward.

How therapy may help

Whether you’re feeling relieved, upset, or another emotion in response to being ignored by your partner, it can be troubling and hard to work through on your own. In cases like these, therapy can be a helpful tool. Some of the reasons people may meet with a trained therapist in this type of situation is that they can help you gain insight into your emotional experiences, develop effective strategies for communicating them, and make choices that are best for your well-being and happiness. 

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If you find regularly attending in-person therapy sessions to be inconvenient, you might prefer to look into online therapy instead. With a platform like BetterHelp, you can get matched with a licensed therapist who you can meet with via phone, video call, and/or in-app messaging from the comfort of home. Research suggests that online therapy may be “no less efficacious” than in-person sessions, so you can generally feel confident in exploring whichever format works best for you.

Takeaway

People ignore other people for a variety of reasons, but being ignored by a partner in particular can bring up a host of difficult feelings—from pain and loneliness to confusion to relief. Communicating how you feel with your partner and practicing self-care along the way are examples of strategies that could help you work through this uncertain situation. You might also meet with a therapist to gain clarity into your emotions and into how best to move forward for your own well-being.

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