Why aren’t they texting me back?

Does it drive you crazy when someone ignores you?  I have heard that ignoring someone is the highest form of disrespect.  Respect is defined by holding someone in high regard.  When you ignore someone, you are disregarding them and saying they aren’t worth your time or energy.

This is usually what causes physical violence to occur.  When a couple is arguing and one person walks away it is infuriating because the person talking feels ignored.  It is a power play.  When you ignore someone you automatically take the power and put the other person in a one down position.  You are making a judgment that what this person is saying isn’t worth your time.  The person walking away could be just trying to go calm down, but the perception is that they don’t want to listen.  It is helpful to use words to communicate your actions so the other person knows what is going on.  If you are in an argument and need to get out before you say something you regret, tell the other person.  It may not always work, but it is much better to say, “I’m feeling too upset to listen or respond right now.  I need to take a walk or go in the other room to think before we continue talking about this.”  It is helpful to let the other person know you aren’t ending the discussion, just pausing it for a while.  If the person thinks you are ending the whole discussion by leaving they are going to be even more desperate to stop you and finish making their point before you go.  This usually ends very badly.

Another way people ignore each other is by not calling or texting back.  The phone has so much power in relationships.  Silence sends a huge message to the person that you don’t think they are worth the energy to respond.  Sometimes you are trying to send this message.  In some cases, you have let the person know you don’t want to talk to them anymore and have broken things off.  So when they continue to contact you it is good to ignore them to let them know you are serious about what you said.  The person knows where they stand and knows what the silence means.

However, some people are trying to send this message by purposefully ignoring texts or calls, but haven’t told the person what is going on.  This is when ignoring someone becomes disrespectful.  You may make the person feel rejected, which is your intention, but they don’t know why.  They are lacking information which usually makes people crazy and they try to contact you even more.  This may not be the effect you want.  If you want someone to go away, ignoring them without explanation usually backfires.  You haven’t been upfront about your intentions and are using a power play to make the other person feel bad.  However, they don’t know what they did or why you aren’t communicating.  They can speculate that you don’t want to talk to them, or they could speculate that your phone died and they should keep trying.  They may even know you are ignoring them for a reason but are so angry about being put in the one down position that they fight harder to get revenge.  If you don’t want to talk to someone, you should let them know why and then ignore them if they don’t listen.  People can still act crazy even when you break things off respectfully, but you can feel better that you did everything you could to handle it the best way possible.

Sometimes it is unintentional.  You may not have meant to ignore someone, but you got caught up doing other things or your phone really did die.  Expect that the other person may be hurt by your lack of response.  Most people are sensitive to rejection and may wonder why they didn’t hear from you.  Make sure you do explain what happened so they can understand it wasn’t about them.  If this is not your normal behavior then your explanation should smooth everything over.

If you are in the habit of ignoring others because you have so much going on in your life, be honest with your friends about your situation.  This may help avoid frustration or conflict in the future.  I sometimes meet with students back to back for a few hours a day.  I have my cell phone on silent and sometimes don’t check messages for hours.  All of my friends and family are aware of my work schedule and don’t expect to get a response right away if they try to reach me during the  day.  I stopped dating a guy in the past who wanted to constantly text all day.  I couldn’t do that and he felt ignored.  He was better off with someone who wanted to be in constant contact, because it wasn’t my intention to ignore him but it bothered him anyway.

The best you can do is be upfront and if your lifestyle doesn’t fit with some people, then it may mean you aren’t supposed to be in a relationship or close friends with them.  If you do want someone to leave you alone, don’t try ignoring them as your first option.  It usually causes more harm than good.  Try to be as respectful as possible and then use ignoring tactics to make your point.  If someone is harassing you even after you’ve tried to respectfully end the relationship, try to block them on your phone, Facebook or IM account.  If they are physically stalking you, seek out help from the police or get a restraining order to protect yourself.

One comment on “Why aren’t they texting me back?

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