How to Confront Friends Who Are Ignoring You

Two Parts:Assessing the SituationConfronting Your Friends

There may well be times in your life when your friends abruptly cease talking to you and pretend that you no longer exist. The feeling of being ignored can be worse than feeling rejected because it makes you feel like you don't matter at all.[1] However, there are a number of ways to help you effectively respond to being ignored.

Part 1
Assessing the Situation

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    Reflect on your recent mood and feelings. Figure out what's going on inside of you and how you are feeling.[2] It's important that you determine whether your friends are in fact actually ignoring you or whether you are thinking that they're ignoring you. It's possible that the situation may have more to do with you and how you've been feeling in recent days than with your friends.
    • Consider whether you've experienced any big changes in your life or stressful events, such as moving, starting a new school, breaking up with someone, or coping with an illness in your family, among other possible events. Stress in one area of your life can have an impact on other areas. For example, if you've recently changed schools, maybe you feel isolated from your friends because you don't know anyone at your new school and you're no longer seeing them every day, even if you've still been in touch through texting. Your feelings of isolation, thus, may be related and a reaction to other things going on in your life.
    • Make sure that the root of your feelings is the sense of being ignored. In other words, make sure the feeling of being ignored is at the root of the issue and is not a symptom of something else you might be dealing with.
    • To connect with yourself and tap into your emotions, try exercising, keeping a journal or talking to another person you trust like a friend or family member. The most important thing is that you move from your current physical position and do something else. Changing positions and spaces can bring about a shift in your mental state and give you fresh energy for some much-needed reflection.[3]
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    Evaluate your interactions with your friends. It's possible that your friends may be going through something else in their lives that is affecting their friendships. Thus, they may not be intentionally ignoring you, but instead are distracted by their own issues and unable to focus on you or give you a lot of their time.
    • Compare how much you and your friend used to interact with how much you've been interacting lately. Is it a drastic change? In addition, compare how much you and your friend interact with how much she interacts with mutual friends or her own friends. Is she frequently hanging out with others but not able to make plans with or talk to you?
    • Consider whether your friend has recently experienced a life-changing event (e.g., the divorce of her parents, a death in the family, depression, etc.) that may be impacting her ability to stay connected to friends.
    • Reflect on your previous interactions and see if any situations come to mind in which there may have been tension between you and your friend. Is it possible that your friend may be feeling offended or hurt by something you said or did? Did you say something behind her back that you knew you shouldn't? Did you make an insensitive joke or comment? It's possible that you may have offended your friend or hurt her feelings and that she is distancing herself from you for a while.
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    Remember that you can't control the behavior of others. You only have control over yourself and your own actions.[4] You can't force anyone to hang out with or talk to you; you can control, however, how you react to the situation with your friends and how you decide to respond to it.[5]
    • No man is an island, and everyone needs social support and engaging friendships to stay healthy and happy. However, all too often people rely on others to affirm their own sense of self-worth. Instead, try to let your feelings of self worth come from within, from your own assessments of your behavior. What matters at the end of the day is how you feel about the things you have done. You're the one who has to live with yourself.[6]

Part 2
Confronting Your Friends

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    Arrange to meet with your friends.[7] It's important to plan your confrontation ahead of time. Get in touch with your friends and ask them to meet you in a safe, private, and quiet environment that is good for talking, such as a cafe or classroom. Try to find a neutral space for the people you are confronting; don't invite them to your home, for example.[8]
    • Think ahead of how you will approach your friends and what you will ask or say to them. Try also to anticipate how they may respond. You know your friends, so you can probably make a pretty good guess as to how they might react. The goal is to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the confrontation; don't dwell over each and every single possible reaction your friends might have.[9]
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    Ask questions and listen. Stop and allow your friends to explain the situation. Seek first to understand first, and then be understood. Be specific in your phrasing and give precise examples of the behavior you want to discuss. For example, you could try asking them, "I noticed you all went out on Friday. You said you were going to text me about the plans. Why didn't you?"
    • Actively Listen as the other people explain.[10] Maintain steady eye contact, keep your body turned towards them, and keep your arms and legs open, rather than crossed.
    • Your friends' responses may surprise you -- and they may also help relieve your stress! For instance, you may discover that they simply forgot to text you and that nothing hurtful or malicious was intended. Or perhaps they got kept at work and thought it was too late to get in touch with you.
    • It's also possible that your friends' responses may be less straightforward. For example, maybe they let you know about the difficulties going on in their own lives. Or, in the worst case scenario, perhaps they simply have no excuses and have been deliberately ignoring you. This is hard to hear, but in the long term, you'll be glad you confronted them and heard the truth.
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    Explain the situation from your point of view. State facts as facts and interpretation as your point of view and perception of the situation.[11] Let your friends know how the situation made you feel and how you interpreted their actions. Be straightforward and use "I"-language to avoid the blame game. Examples of "I"-statements include: "I feel", "I am upset by" and "I am confused about".[12]
    • For example, try saying "When I didn't get a text on Friday night, it made me feel like you didn't want me to come and were deliberating leaving me out."
    • Be honest about your feelings. But keep in mind that being clear about the issues at hand does not mean you have to be hard on the person. Focus on the issues, not the person specifically.[13]
    • Keep calm and don't let your emotions overtake you. If you feel like you are getting angry, upset, and unable to think clearly, then consider leaving the discussion and returning to it at another point. You don't want to say anything you'll regret later because you lose your cool. In addition, if your friend begins to get angry or aggressive, it's best that you leave the situation before it escalates.
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    Apologize if you're in the wrong. If you're being ignored because you hurt someone's feelings, then include a genuine apology when it's your turn to speak. Make sure to explain precisely what are you are apologizing for and avoid apologizing for how they interpreted your action, rather than the action itself.
    • For example, if you had stated that your friend's job was stupid and that you'd never work there in a million years, don't just say "I'm sorry that you were offended by my comments about your work." This is considered a "non-apology apology" because it does not admit anything wrong with the comments themselves and also suggests that the person may have been too thin-skinned in taking offense in the first place. Instead, say, "I'm sorry I made those comments about your job. Those were offensive and hurtful. I know you're working really hard to pay for school, so that was insensitive of me."[14]
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    Work on a solution. Coming to a resolution together is usually the best option because sometimes what works well for one person may not work for another. [15] It may be as simple as making a promise with your friends to schedule more get-togethers or write down reminders so no one gets left out or forgotten. Be sure to tailor the solution to the particular situation and the reason for the isolation. For example:
    • If your friend has been isolating you because of a particular situation in her life, give her time and space to work through her own emotional issues. Be sure to let her know (via email, text, or a phone call) that you're available whenever she feels ready to talk. Do not put added pressure on your friend by insisting on hanging out; rather, reach out to her by letting her know that you miss her and value your friendship. As the saying goes, 90% of life is just showing up, or, in this case, making yourself available when your friend needs you.[16]
    • If you've been feeling ignored because of something you're going through, as determined in Part I, then let your friend know what you're going through and discuss ways in which you can maintain the friendship while you deal with this particular moment in your life. For example, if you've been really busy helping your mom due to her illness and haven't been able to see your friends recently, ask if they'd like to come over one day so that you can both be at home with your mom and fit some needed time with friends into your schedule.
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    Continue with the friendship or move on. It is possible that the solution may be a difficult one. In some cases, friends outgrow one another.[17] Thus, if your friends confirm that they've been ignoring you because you just don't have as much in common together, it may be time to let those friendships go. If your friends don't validate your feelings or try to work out a way to improve the situation or the friendship, chances are that it's because they don't want to. Though it's a hard lesson to face in life, our friendship groups do change over time.[18] The good thing is that there is a whole world out there where you can make new friends!


  • If the ignoring turns to bullying, then inform your teacher, counselor, parents or any other trusted person who can help you. Constant threats, taunts, teasing, stalking are not okay ways for people to behave towards you - these are forms of emotional abuse.[19]

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Friendship Problems