Last Updated on July 7, 2022 by Alexander Burgemeester
At some point in life, you’re probably going to need to ignore someone.
Whether it’s an aggravating coworker who won’t leave you alone, a friend who keeps pushing your buttons, or an ex who keeps trying to talk to you, ignoring people helps you avoid situations where you continue feeling frustrated.
It also allows you to regroup and decide which boundaries you want to set moving forward. And as it turns out, there isn’t a single best way to navigate these awkward situations.
Instead, you’ll need to learn how to avoid (or limit) communication and redefine the relationship you share with that individual. Not sure how it all works? Afraid you’ll still feel bad?
Let’s get into everything you need to know about how to ignore someone.
How Do You Ignore Someone Without Being Rude or Hurting Them?
In some ways, ignoring someone sometimes takes practice.
What exactly does that mean? It means that you need to practice letting go of trying to control or protect other people’s feelings.
When you ignore someone, you’re setting that limit for yourself- not for the other person.
Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Accept That You Can’t Control How They Feel
It’s important to be aware that you can’t fix, change, or even create feelings. Everyone is entitled to their own reactions.
With that in mind, a person will probably not like that you’re ignoring them. It can be rejecting, and they may feel very frustrated, angry, afraid, or even confused.
These are typical reactions, and you should account for them in advance. But if you care more about their feelings than your own, there’s a good chance you will continue to feel stuck in this toxic cycle.
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So, as much as possible, try to stop focusing so much on how the other person feels. Think about how you feel and use this time to focus on prioritizing your own needs.
Don’t Expect Them to Understand Your Intentions
Even if you have a perfectly legitimate reason for ignoring someone, that doesn’t mean they will understand. Most people, in fact, will take it personally.
That doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong! Many people simply don’t realize how their actions affect others. They believe they can continue acting in the same way.
Don’t Let Them Know Why You’re Ignoring Them
You don’t necessarily have to provide extensive detail as to why you’re ignoring someone. This is especially true if you’re dealing with a particularly argumentative or difficult person.
Instead, just continue focusing on your personal life without getting wrapped up in their drama. If they ask what’s going on, be vague or neutral. You might even say something like, I’m just really focusing on my work right now.
Don’t Deny It
It’s okay to be vague. But if you ignore someone and they ask you about it, it isn’t helpful to totally lie about the situation. Gaslighting doesn’t feel good for anyone- and you probably know that!
Instead, you may want to consider being honest about your recent changes in behavior.
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Again, you can be non-confrontational with this. Yes, I know we haven’t talked much lately- I’ve just been so busy.
Remind Yourself Your Intentions
If you’re feeling guilty for ignoring someone, you may need to remind yourself of why you’ve chosen to take this action. Keeping that in mind can help you stay on track.
In addition, it’s a good idea to seek support during this time. People who love you and care about your well-being will praise your efforts.
9 Ways to Ignore Someone
You’ve tried accepting this person, but their behavior makes you feel frustrated and angry. Whether it was a particularly triggering situation or a gradual buildup of resentment, you feel tempted to ignore them altogether.
Maybe you find yourself frequently making excuses and pretending you’re busy to avoid hanging out.
Maybe you avoid eye contact when you’re together. Sometimes you take a long time to respond to their text message or call.
In other words, there is a good chance you’re already taking some steps to ignore this person. But you want to be assertive in how you communicate your boundaries- rather than passive-aggressive.
Here are some more healthy tips to keep in mind.
#1 Avoid Attending The Places They Frequent
This isn’t always possible, but you can start limiting contact by spending less time together. If, for example, you know they’re going to be a specific party, you might reconsider going. Or, if they tend to go to the same bar every weekend, maybe you choose a different one.
Keeping physical distance is one way to ignore someone without too much uncomfortable legwork. This applies in both your personal and professional life.
#2 Block Them
Let’s be real- it’s hard to fully ignore someone when you’re active on social media. After all, in some cases, it only takes a click to see what they’re doing.
Blocking them (even if it’s only temporary) removes the temptation of checking in on them repeatedly. It’s probably the best way to avoid getting swept back into their life.
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#3 Stop Hanging Out With Mutual Friends
This piece of advice can be challenging, especially if you’re fresh from a break-up and trying to ignore your ex.
You may feel adamant about keeping all your friends, even if they’re closely connected.
But if you really want to move on, think about who really qualifies as a friend right now. Do you really need to stay close with people that remind you of your ex or your past relationship?
Probably not. Instead, it’s probably better to spend time with separate people who have no attachments to the person you’re ignoring.
#4 Create New Rituals
You may not be able to avoid all the places the person frequents (especially if you can’t totally avoid them altogether). However, you might be able to limit your interactions by changing your routine.
For example, if you want to ignore your coworker who always gets coffee in the breakroom first thing in the morning, consider bringing coffee from home.
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Or go into the breakroom a half-hour after you know she’s left. If you want to ignore your rude neighbor, walk your dog at a different time each morning.
#5 Disengage as Much as Possible
Unfortunately, you can’t always run in the other direction when confronted with a person you dislike. We all have to abide by various social norms.
You can, however, choose to be guarded and vague during your interactions. In other words, focus on preventing conflict by avoiding any sensitive topics.
Your goal is to stay as dull as you can. Don’t confront them on obnoxious behavior. Don’t divulge any complex emotion. Don’t even share your opinions on controversial issues.
If you do this repeatedly, the other person will move on to someone else who will give them the attention they desire.
#6 Consider Ghosting
Ghosting gets a bad rep, and for a good reason. It can be disrespectful and childish, especially when it comes to maintaining healthy relationships.
But even professionals agree that ghosting has its place. For example, let’s say this person is abusive or has significantly violated your boundaries. Let’s say they consistently manipulate or lie to you.
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If that’s the case, you don’t owe them any explanation for why you’re ignoring them. In fact, doing so might actually be more dangerous.
#7 Don’t Expect Them to Get It Right Away
Even if you make your intentions perfectly clear, that doesn’t mean the other person will necessarily understand what’s happening. Once they notice you pulling away, they may even be more desperate to get your attention!
Your goal is to avoid giving in too easily. If you genuinely want to ignore someone, you can’t let them call all the shots in your relationship. This simply gives them the power, and it makes it look as if you don’t really know what you’re doing.
#8 Figure Out Your End Game
How long do you intend to ignore this person? And more importantly, what needs to change for them to get back on your good side?
Knowing your end game makes ignoring someone much easier. That’s because you understand your motives and purpose behind your behavior. It isn’t just a random response to feeling a particular way.
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So try to spend time reflecting on your priorities. Is this a temporary situation, or do you plan on ignoring this person indefinitely? Knowing the situation will help you strategize appropriately.
#9 Focus On Yourself
Instead of stressing yourself out by worrying about what the other person is doing, try to use this time to really focus on your own needs.
This could mean honing in on self-care or deepening your other relationships.
It isn’t selfish to focus inwards. Building a solid relationship with yourself helps you understand what kind of relationship you value with others.
This, in turn, leads to healthier and happier dynamics with the people in your life.
How to Ignore Someone You Love?
It’s one thing to ignore someone you dislike or hate. But how do you ignore someone you care deeply about? Better yet, should you? Let’s dive in.
#1 Consider Communicating First
Yes, this is an article about ignoring someone, but that isn’t always the right answer. If it’s your go-to response anytime you’re upset, you need to reassess how you cope with stress.
If you really love someone, you should want to reach a resolution. You should also want to compromise and respect one another as equals.
With that said, if you feel tempted to ignore a loved one, ask yourself what’s going on within you. What painful feelings do you notice?
Are you interested in sharing them with your loved one? Can you talk about what’s going on without losing your cool?
Remember to hear each other out. Healthy communication is the foundation of any successful relationship, and if you can get this skill down, you won’t feel as tempted to ignore someone when you feel upset.
#2 Tell Them You Need Space
If communication isn’t working, aim to separate yourself from the situation.
This isn’t the same as engaging in silent treatment. That’s a more passive-aggressive approach designed to make other people feel guilty or ashamed. Extended silence often drives anxiety and can make your loved one feel gaslit.
Instead, this is you assertively telling your loved one that you need some time and space to process how you feel. Then, use that separation to ground yourself.
After taking that break for yourself, check in with each other. Do you still feel hurt? Is there still more talking that needs to be done?
#3 Don’t Start Bad Mouthing
Even if it’s tempting, bad-mouthing a loved one will only make you look insecure or jealous. It can also cause other people to feel uncomfortable in your presence.
Instead, try to keep the conversation neutral when talking about the person you’re ignoring. Don’t criticize or complain about them.
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Don’t make baseless assumptions. Just try to be as respectful as possible- this shows that you’re the bigger person in the situation.
#4 Stop Annoying Them
Some people will ignore someone only to act out in different ways. For example, they might not talk to their loved ones, but they slam doors or stomp around the house.
They post passive-aggressive statuses on Facebook or otherwise make it known that they’re upset.
This may all be tempting (especially if you’re angry), but it’s highly unproductive. Instead of trying to resolve the issue, you only perpetuate frustration.
#5 Silence Their Calls and Messages
Even if you don’t want to block them right now, you can stop taking their calls and messages. Let it all go straight to voicemail.
If it’s that important, they’ll let you know.
Temporarily ignoring them can help you regroup your thoughts and decide how you want to move forward.
#6 Stop Being Overly Available
If you want to ignore someone, it’s best to keep yourself busy and avoid responding to messages right away. Basically, you don’t want to come across as too eager or available.
Instead, you should focus on playing it cool. Take a while to get back to them.
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If you run into them at an event, greet others before talking to them first. These behaviors show that you have other important priorities and relationships in your life.
#7 Show Some Interest
If you’re ignoring someone you love, it’s helpful to still convey that you care about them. This can be a helpful reminder that your core values haven’t completely changed.
You can achieve this by staying busy while also touching base with them to see how they’re doing. Likewise, you can communicate in other ways, such as by sending them a photo without any caption or text or by giving them flowers without a real explanation.
These small gestures show that you still feel connected- even if you’re temporarily taking some space for yourself.
How to Ignore Someone Who Hurt You?
How should I respond when someone really hurt me? Should I start ignoring them right now? How should I act in a way that protects my well-being without making this a huge, drawn-out affair?
It can be challenging to ignore someone who hurt you. Part of you may hope that you two can talk things out. Another part of you may feel invested in protecting the relationship.
At the same time, you may also just feel done. You’re tired of being mistreated, and you just want to forget about this other person altogether.
#1 Set Your Boundaries
If you want to try to improve your relationship, it might be worth discussing your expectations.
If someone has hurt you, you could try explaining exactly how their behavior impacted you. With this, you will also need to set reasonable boundaries for behavior moving forward.
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Remember that boundaries should accurately reflect the needs you have in your relationships. For instance, maybe you don’t want this person cursing in your presence. Perhaps you don’t want them criticizing your parenting.
Boundaries should be explicit. Others should know what is and isn’t tolerable. And in order for them to be effective, you must be willing to implement them consistently.
#2 Go No-Contact
If you’re dealing with someone who really hurt you, you might not be interested in maintaining any kind of relationship with them. That’s okay! You’re always allowed to honor and listen to what you need to feel safe.
The no-contact method provides a black-and-white option for cutting communication. With this approach, you aren’t setting limits or navigating ongoing conversations. You aren’t even trying to resolve the conflict together.
You’re simply removing yourself from their life. It’s a bold approach, and it will only work if you can remain consistent with it. Therefore, it isn’t effective if you must work, live, or otherwise correspond with one another.
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#3 Go Low-Contact
Low-contact is more of a middle ground approach for ignoring someone. It’s a reasonable and practical strategy when you can’t avoid contact entirely.
With low-contact, you’re going to be as minimal and neutral as possible. You don’t give out any additional information. You remain cordial but guarded. You limit all contact to the bare essentials.
If you choose this approach, you should consider the limits you intend to set for yourself. Maybe that means only agreeing to spend time with that person under certain circumstances.
Maybe it also means avoiding discussing specific, contentious topics altogether.
#4 Seek Outside Support
If you need to ignore someone to keep yourself safe, you may need external reinforcements.
For example, if someone is harassing or stalking you, you may need to escalate the situation to local law enforcement. Restraining orders and other legal requirements can support your efforts for protection.
Furthermore, you may need emotional support during this time. Therapy can be a valuable resource for managing your emotions and optimizing how you cope.
Most people benefit from attending therapy at some point in their lives.
How to Ignore Someone You Live With?
Is it possible to start ignoring you live with? How do you stay strong when you live under the same roof? Should you speak to the other person at all-or should you just focus on keeping more of an emotional distance from them?
Ignoring someone you live with isn’t easy. In most cases, you’ll have to maintain some level of civility with one another.
You can’t just rely on giving them silent treatment forever! Consider the following tips for ignoring someone in your home.
Determine Viable Solutions (If Possible)
You may feel frustrated with one another over a specific conflict. For example, maybe you’re annoyed your roommate makes too much noise at night.
Or, you’re angry that your mother keeps making snide remarks about what you eat at dinner.
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If that’s the case, it might be worth speaking to one another to decide if you can compromise. You’ll need to assert how you feel and set reasonable boundaries for future conversations.
While these conversations may feel awkward, they tend to be beneficial in making a healthier living environment. If you can resolve the issues and acknowledge the ways you can both change, you’ll feel better about the dynamic moving forward.
Know Their Schedule
In shared living environments, you probably can’t avoid someone altogether. You can, however, minimize contact.
The best way to do this is by understanding their work and life schedule. For instance, do they always leave the house around 7:30 am?
Do they come home at 5:00 pm and promptly cook dinner? Do they speak on the phone to their mother on Tuesday nights?
Knowing their basic routine allows you to modify your routine at home. You can make yourself less available and reduce the amount of time you must interact.
Of course, you shouldn’t feel like you can’t enjoy the comfort of your own home. But if it protects your sanity to keep some distance, it’ll be worth the extra bit of effort.
Give Every Conversation An Exit Strategy
If things won’t improve (and you’ve already minimized contact as much as possible), it’s time to shift your process. First, you’ll need to focus on neutralizing your relationship and avoiding emotional conversations.
You know what, I’m actually right on my way out the door right now.
I wish we could talk about that, but I have to go clean.
I’m doing well- I have plans with friends in a few minutes.
Keep conversations brief with an end goal in mind when you must talk. Insightful people will get the hint that you’re upset or ignoring them. But even if someone is oblivious, you still benefit from limiting your contact with them.
Get out of the house!
One of the best ways to ignore someone is simply by occupying your time. The less available you are, the less energy you have to devote to them.
This strategy also helps prevent conflict. If you aren’t home, they can’t bother you as much. They have fewer opportunities to argue with you if you aren’t always in the same room.
When you do come home, continue acting unavailable. Put headphones in. Use time at home to catch up on phone calls or TV. In other words, your goal is to make yourself seem and look busy (even if you aren’t).
Mind Your Nonverbal Cues
Ignoring someone doesn’t mean treating them disrespectfully. Even if you’re angry with someone, you should still be civil. That’s just basic human decency.
With that in mind, your body language may speak more than your words do. So much of how we genuinely communicate is nonverbal.
This means that, if you choose to limit contact, you shouldn’t act as if you hate the other person. Avoiding eye contact, muttering mean words under your breath, slamming doors, stomping your feet- these are all ways to gain attention.
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Instead, don’t let the other person get under your skin. Aim to remain calm and neutral. Think about how your body language may convey your emotions.
If you find yourself getting frustrated, walk away or focus on creating an immediate plan of action for calming down. This can save you from future arguments.
Stop Sharing The Same Space
If possible, you may need to leave altogether if the person’s behavior continues impacting your well-being.
Even if you can’t move out right away, it can be helpful to start brainstorming some potential steps.
Your living space should feel safe and comfortable. If it doesn’t, it’s probably time to take the initiative to move out.
Even if there’s a lot of logistical work involved in doing so, you’ll feel immense relief in the long run.
Whether you’re ignoring someone for a few hours or indefinitely, it’s important to be mindful of your intentions.
What do you hope to achieve? Once you stop ignoring them, what do you want to be different?
Remember that you have every right to set boundaries in your relationships. This is your life, and you deserve to honor your needs.
If someone can’t respect that- or if they continue to hurt you- ignoring them may be your best bet.