My Boyfriend Ignores Me: What Does It Mean?

Updated July 01, 2020

If you are asking that question, you are likely going through a painful, emotional time. No one wants to be ignored, and no one likes mind games. Being ignored can impact your mental health, and of course, it will impact your relationship. You may feel angry, depressed, or wonder if it’s all in your head. For any relationship to work long-term, your feelings must be addressed. Regardless of if your boyfriend is ignoring you or not, the emotions are real, and something is going on beneath them that’s damaging your relationship.

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That doesn’t mean that all hope is lost; there are a number of things that could cause you to think, “my boyfriend is ignoring me.” The most important thing here is that you don’t keep it to yourself. It’s essential to get to a place where you can talk about what’s going on and work through it with him, but understandably, you may feel that you’re at a loss if you haven’t been able to have that conversation yet.

If your guy is ignoring you, read on and find out why that might be. Use your discretion and understand that there’s no way to know why he’s ignoring you for sure unless you talk to him about it. We’re going to go through some of the possible reasons why your boyfriend is ignoring you, and then, we’ll cover what to do to solve the problem.

Look At The Nature Of The Situation

If your boyfriend ignores you, it is necessary to look at the nature of the situation. Does your boyfriend ignore you all of the time, or does he ignore you during specific events or circumstances? When you think, “my boyfriend ignores me,” what’s going on? For example, is he usually attentive, but ignores you when he is with his friends, playing video games, reading, or working from home? If so, he might not realize he’s ignoring you, and it may not be deliberate at all.

If someone ignores you, but it’s not all the time, nor is it due to an argument, it’s very different from stonewalling or giving you the silent treatment.

He Needs Time Alone

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If your boyfriend ignores you unintentionally, another possibility is that he simply needs alone time. Some people need more time alone than others, so if your guy tends to retreat or takes a while to text back, he may just be an introvert. Regardless, if you feel like your boyfriend ignores you, it is essential to address that. You don’t need to attack or accuse him of ignoring you, but you do need to express your need for closeness. Explain how you feel and, collectively, establish some days and times that you both have free to spend with one another. When you have time set aside to spend with each other, you’ll have a clear expectation and won’t feel like your boyfriend ignores you. The chances are that you both need to retreat from time to time, so give him some space. If he doesn’t pick up the phone when you call, give him time to call you back and be wary of overcompensating by calling or texting him repetitively when he doesn’t answer right away. If he’s with you, it’s because you enhance his life, and he wants to be around you. Trust him on that and know that introversion doesn’t mean that he doesn’t value the time you spend together.

Conflict Avoidance

Sometimes, when a person ignores you, it’s because they are actively trying to avoid conflict. If you are thinking to yourself, “my boyfriend ignores me, but I don’t know why,” Ask yourself if you’ve had any arguments lately. Were those arguments resolved? Alternatively, is there anything that he might be upset about?

Think about when “my boyfriend ignores me,” started going through your head. If it lines up with any conflict or disagreement, that might be what’s up. The best thing to do is to confront him about it. Even if there’s nothing you can think of, if you recently started realizing that your boyfriend ignores you and aren’t sure why it’s happening, it’s smart to ask him if there’s anything that’s upsetting him. Let him know that it is safe to come to you for anything that is bothering him and that you are willing to talk things out in a calm, mature way when problems arise. Be mindful of the fact that not everyone has had a good experience in expressing their feelings.

Some people come from past relationships or families that don’t communicate or shame shows of emotion. That may very well be why he is hiding his emotions if he is ignoring you for the purpose of conflict avoidance. It might take a conversation about it to make him feel like it’s okay to say what’s on his mind, and it’s up to both of you to make that conversation happen. If your boyfriend ignores you to avoid conflict, it’s not a free card for him to keep doing it, but it will give you both insight into how to solve the problem.

Keeping it all in or refusing to communicate will hurt the partnership long-term. Your boyfriend ignoring you isn’t okay, but there might be a deeper reason behind it. Both of your feelings are valid, and it’s achievable to be mindful of both of your backgrounds and tendencies while making an effort to grow. All partnerships have rough patches, and it is important to be able to communicate during those times.

His Attachment Style Is Activated

Have you heard of attachment styles? If not, it’s something to look into, especially if your boyfriend recently started ignoring you. The four attachment styles are:

  • Secure
  • Anxious
  • Avoidant
  • Anxious-avoidant

If your boyfriend ignores you and has an avoidant or anxious-avoidant attachment style, he’s likely pulling away because he feels himself getting closer to you and is afraid of that commitment. Think about this; before he started ignoring you, was the relationship progressing quickly? Had you just met a milestone in the relationship? Had you been spending a lot of time together, or did you have one particularly passionate day? Had he just expressed himself in a very vulnerable, romantic way, only to recoil? All of these scenarios may allude to an anxious-avoidant or avoidant attachment style.

To stop ignoring you, this is something that he needs to be willing to look at. The tricky part about it is that you can’t speculate or determine that someone’s attachment style is the reason they won’t stop ignoring others; they have to be willing to analyze it themselves, and they have to want to work toward becoming more securely attached. What you can do is talk to your boyfriend about how you feel and ask questions to get to the root of the issue such as, “do you know your attachment style?” or “I feel like you’re not as present lately and want to know if you need anything. Is our relationship moving at a pace that’s comfortable for you?” Your boyfriend ignoring you isn’t something that can continue; to prevent him from recoiling further, make sure that you ask these questions in a non-accusatory way.

He Is Stonewalling You

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The term “stonewalling” is used in a variety of contexts, but when it comes to relationships, it often looks like the silent treatment. Stonewalling is when someone withholds communication from you. They may ignore you during important conversations, refusing to reply. If your boyfriend is ignoring you on purpose, it is very different from a situation where he simply needs alone time or doesn’t realize that he’s doing it. Stonewalling is a manipulation tactic. If your boyfriend ignores you and is actively stonewalling you, it can have serious mental health consequences, and it is something that you need to have a conversation about.

However, if he is not receptive to that conversation, particularly if he gets extremely defensive or angry, it is time to consult a professional or call it off and get yourself out of this situation.

What Should You Do?

Here are three things to do if you’re thinking, “my boyfriend is ignoring me. How can we move forward?” Remember, if your boyfriend ignores you or you feel like he does, this is something that both of you need to be willing to talk about.

Express Your Needs

If this is a new boyfriend, you must tell him what you need upfront. Let him know that communication and emotional availability are important to you. Get even more specific if you can; go into depth about what communication and responsiveness look like to you. Let him know that you respect his needs and autonomy so that you can come to a conclusion about what will work for your relationship. Having this conversation with someone you’ve been with for a long time is a good move, too; the relationship doesn’t have to be new for you both to express your needs, and in a healthy relationship, you’ll know that you’ll always be able to express a need should it arise.

Make Regular Date Nights

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Making regular date nights is a great way to stop feeling like someone’s ignoring you and start feeling like they are present. As stated above, time together is a great way to ensure that both of your needs are met. It doesn’t need to be elaborate or fancy, and it doesn’t even necessarily need to be a date. You could just decide on specific times to play a game together, or, if you’re in a long-distance relationship, you can set aside time to video chat with each other or talk on the phone.

Ask For Help

If your boyfriend ignores you and nothing’s changing, or he won’t stop ignoring you, it might be beneficial to seek the help of a couple’s counselor. In couples counseling, you can both get all of your feelings out on the table and learn to express your emotions and needs to one another in a way that’s healthy and productive. Whether you see a counselor online or in your local area, it can help to have an objective third party to look at the situation and guide you from a place of professional knowledge. Search the network of online counselors to ReGain and find the best fit for you. The licensed mental health providers at ReGain work with individuals and couples and are here to give you a platform to talk about anything that’s on your mind.

References:

Attachment Theory

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