Friendships are different from romantic relationships in one significant way: they can withstand distance and lack of contact far more easily. Your close friends are a part of your extended family – these kinds of relationships don’t follow the same progression as the one with your partner, so the expectations are different.
This doesn’t mean these relationships are unimportant, but there’s an understanding about your lives moving separately until they converge every so often and you have a chance to spend time together. Running into old friends can rekindle friendships and not hearing from your best friend for a week is rarely a reason for concern.
Still, when your friend fails to call you back more than a couple of times in a row and leaves your texts on read so often that you start to wonder, “Why is my friend ignoring me?” there might be problems in your friendship with this person.
It might be you, it might be them or it might be nothing at all. Let’s take a close look at all of these possibilities and figure out what to do in each case.
Why Is My Friend Ignoring Me? 20 Reasons And How To Deal With Them
When your best friend isn’t answering your phone calls or replying to your texts, you can’t help but wonder why. Your first reaction is probably to worry that something might have happened to them, but then you check and see that they’ve been online an hour ago, so you start to worry for entirely different reasons.
If you usually keep in touch with your friend regularly, it’s understandable if you’re confused and frustrated. You need to know what’s going on because you care for your friend and being kept in the dark by them is worse than being ghosted by someone you’ve been dating.
Instead of sitting around going crazy, thinking, “Why is my friend ignoring me?” your best choice is to think closely about what’s been going on with the two of you before they started ignoring you. The real reason will be obvious if you honestly and closely examine your relationship.
Here are some questions to ask yourself that might steer you towards the answer.
• Is it the first time this has happened or is there a pattern of behavior?
• Was there an argument or did it happen out of the blue?
• Has your friend been having problems – personal, relationship, work?
• Does your friend have mental health issues that might cause them to withdraw?
• Is your friend usually an outgoing person or an introvert who often needs time alone?
• Has your friend recently started seeing anyone?
• Have either of you done something that might hurt the other person?
• Is it always one of you who initiates contact or maintains the friendship?
• Has your friendship been rocky recently?
• Are both of you real and true friends to each other? This might be difficult to face, but you know the answer.
After you’ve thought about these questions and gone through the list below, you’ll have an idea of what’s going on and how to deal with it. Once you do, you can decide how to address the issue.
1. Your friend isn’t actually ignoring you
Most people are closer to their dearest friends than to most of their family members – after all, close friends are the family you’ve chosen. It’s not unusual to feel that your best friend is your sister by heart or your brother in every way that matters.
So, if you need your friend at the moment but they’re not available, you might feel like they’re ignoring you even when they’re not. When you’re feeling vulnerable and looking for the person you can trust and confide in, it’s easy to feel ignored if they don’t respond in the way you want them to.
Start by looking at the whole situation in context. How different is your friend’s behavior from the baseline? If you talk every day and you haven’t heard from them for two, is it a reason to worry?
What’s your mental and emotional state like? Consider if you might be overthinking things because you’re feeling needy. Before you confront your friend, ensure that they’re actually ignoring you and not simply unavailable because they have to attend to their own needs.
2. Your friend is busy
Adult friendships are different from those you had as a child or a high school student. During those periods of your life, you make friends with people who are close to you every day and whose daily lives are similar to yours.
When you grow up, you have to focus on your own life and your friendships change. They’re no longer based on the amount of time you spend together, but you realize that your true friends are people who stand by you when you need them.
If your friend seems to be ignoring you, they might just be busy with something in their own life and don’t have time to focus on you. This doesn’t mean that they don’t care about you, but that, at the moment, they’re simply too busy to give you time.
Even if you think that a true friend should never be too busy to at least send a “ttyl” text because that’s what you would do, take a moment and remember a time when you were swamped at work or too engrossed in a new job or a big project, or even just overwhelmed with daily life.
On days like those, time flies and it’s easy to forget about everything that isn’t the problem at hand. Give your friend the benefit of the doubt, but let them know that you’d like them to acknowledge you when you contact them next time you talk to each other.
Your friend might have problems that they don’t feel like they can talk to you about or that are too personal to share with anyone at all. This could include marriage problems that they need to work on with their spouse, health issues they’re facing or money problems.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to share your burdens, it might seem like your friend doesn’t trust you, but that’s not true. They simply prefer to keep certain things private or between those who are affected by them. You can be sure that your friend will come to you if or when they can.
Respect your friend’s boundaries. Don’t ask your mutual friends if they know what’s going on – let your friend come to you when they’re ready. Text them something that tells them that they can count on you and don’t push. Don’t try to make them feel guilty or like they have to talk to you.
4. They’re hiding because they’re going through something
Some people withdraw when problems arise and they don’t talk to others until they’re okay with what they’re going through. Usual problems that can make someone run from talking about them are things that challenge their beliefs and values or their self-image.
Not letting you in is not a sign your friend doesn’t care about you, but that they struggle with certain issues. It can be difficult to tell when this might be the reason why your friend is ignoring you, and your answer lies in their personality and history.
If your friend doesn’t like talking about certain issues or if they’re prone to depression and avoidant moods, they might be hiding until they’ve dealt with a problem, so pushing won’t give you the result you want.
The only thing you can do is make sure that your friend knows that they can come to you if they need to – if that’s how you feel – and to be understanding if they can’t.
5. Your friend is newly in love and focused on their love interest
Lots of people become a little bit obsessed with their partner at the start of a new relationship. When you’re newly in love, the last thing on your mind is thinking about how anyone else is feeling and your whole focus is on your new girlfriend or boyfriend.
When it comes to choosing between your best friend vs. the person you’re dating to give your attention to, early in the relationship everyone hopes their friends can understand that they’re just a distraction at that moment.
If your friend has been mentioning someone they like a lot and then suddenly gone missing, chances are that they found out the other person feels the same and they’re too busy for anything except their new love.
It’s up to you how you approach this when you talk to your friend, but be sure not to argue with them about this or make them feel that they’ve done something bad. Let your friend know you miss them without making them choose.
6. Your friend thinks you’re mad at them
Does your friend have a reason to think you might be mad at them? If you argued before they went missing, they might think you’re angry and don’t know how to talk to you.
Facing your loved ones when you believe they’re mad at you can be extremely difficult if you don’t know how to deal with it. If there is unsolved conflict between you, your friend could simply be afraid.
If you’re not angry with your friend, make sure they know it. Text them something funny or plainly tell them that you’re good. In case you are angry, but you’d still like to talk to them, be honest about that as well.
7. They’ve had enough of your behavior
Maybe your friend is ignoring you because you’ve pushed them too far. If you repeatedly do things that your friend dislikes, it’s possible that they’ve had enough. You might not even know what it is, if you lack self-awareness or if you don’t communicate with each other effectively.
This can be a dangerous situation if you’re both stubborn and unwilling to back up. If your friend feels that your friendship isn’t worth it because they doubt that you’re willing to change and become a better friend, they might refuse to even try, so they’re ignoring you.
A conversation needs to happen to deal with this and you need to be willing to accept the possibility that your behavior has caused a rift. If your friendship is important to you, don’t be defensive if your friend points out something you do that they dislike.
Instead, think about how you should treat your best friends and nurture your friendship.
8. Your friendship is all about you
If your friend feels that you’re self-absorbed and that their only role is to be an audience to your monologues, they might have decided they’re not doing it anymore. Finding out if this is the case can be difficult because your friend might not think that they can tell you how they feel.
You must examine yourself, your behavior and your friendship closely and openly and honestly ask yourself, “Is it me?” If your friend feels like you’re not interested in them and what’s going on in their life, you might come to a point where they don’t want to be friends any longer.
When a friend starts to pull back because they’re unhappy in the friendship, you must figure out if this is true by being completely honest with yourself. You already know if you’ve been using them not to feel lonely or to have someone to go out with and not because you care for them.
If you want to fix this, you must learn how to be a good friend who pays attention and offers support. If you don’t particularly care, still consider changing it and deepening your friendship because you can experience things you can’t in a superficial one.
9. You’re holding them back
One of the reasons why your friend might be pulling away and ignoring you is if you’ve been unsupportive and they feel like you’re holding them back from what they want in life. This can often happen in friendships that begin early in life and continue for years.
When you’re used to your friend being in the same situation as you, you might hold them back when they try to move forward. For example, you might discourage them from moving when it would actually be good for them because you want to keep them close. Another example is if both of you live an unhealthy lifestyle, you might make them feel bad about trying to change.
Has your friend been trying to change and you’ve been trying to make them feel like they can’t because then it will only be you who’s not working on yourself?
Think about your relationship without pretense and be honest about what it is that you get from it. If it’s validation of your own negative behaviors, consider doing things that will improve your emotional state or your mental health.
Choose to be supportive and let your friend inspire you instead of holding them back.
10. You’re too demanding or clingy
Do you often demand attention, time or something else from your friend and you’re used to getting it? If you often depend on your friend and get frustrated when they prioritize their own life, it’s possible that they’re ignoring you because they can’t deal with you at the moment.
Learn how to meet your own needs and stop being clingy to stop making your friend feel like they’re not a good friend if they choose themselves. This can ruin friendships, so if you care about your friend, you must work on it.
If your friend ignores you instead of being able to tell you that they can’t help you at the moment, they feel like you won’t take it well so they’re not even trying.
11. Your friendship is different from what you believe
If you believe you found a soulmate friendship, but your friend rarely thinks about you outside of work, group get-togethers or another environment where you usually see each other, your expectations might be too high.
Sometimes when you meet someone you like and want to be friends with, you might start moving too fast and trying to quickly create a connection. If you and the other person aren’t in the same place, they might find it overwhelming.
Do you want to hang out with them more, but they always seem surprised when you contact them and rarely accept?
Think about how long you have known this person for and if their lack of contact is as meaningful for them as it is for you. If you think of them as a close friend and they think of you as an acquaintance, it might be time to accept the reality and either slow down or move on.
12. Your friend is jealous of you
If your friend doesn’t like who they are, they might be jealous of you and avoid you because you remind them of their own shortcomings. If they’re feeling insecure around you because you’re moving forward or because you’re doing things they can’t, they don’t want a reminder so they might be distancing themselves.
This doesn’t mean that your friend means to hurt you, but it’s a sign that they’re unhappy with themselves. If you know how to tell who your real friends are, you’ll be able to decide if this friendship is worth fighting for.
Help your friend if you believe that they’re going through a rough patch, but if you know that they’re just toxic, it’s best to let them ignore you and go about your own life.
13. They’ve been a fake friend all along
People can always tell when they’re involved in relationships that aren’t good for them, but there are reasons why we stay in those relationships. If you’ve been ignoring your intuition and accepted a one-sided friendship, this might be your chance to change things.
There are lots of signs of a fake friend that can tell you if someone you care for doesn’t have your best interests in mind. If this person has never been a friend to you in the first place, their distance might be just what you needed to choose yourself and move on.
14. Your friend is toxic
Does hanging out with your friend often leave you exhausted? Do they use manipulation techniques such as the silent treatment or guilt tripping to get what they want from you? Do they give you backhanded compliments?
If the answers to these questions are ‘yes’, you’re dealing with a toxic friend. If this kind of person is ignoring you, it might be a power play and an attempt to get something.
Use this chance and turn things around – distance yourself from someone who isn’t good for you and decide to let go of this friendship because it’s only hurting you. If you’ve stuck with them because you feel lonely, now you’ll have the motivation and the emotional space to connect with someone else.
15. You are toxic
You might think that you’re besties, but are you really as good of a friend as you think?
Are you critical, dismissive or controlling? Do you only contact them when you need something or when you’re bored? Do you think of them as competition? If so, you might be the toxic friend in this relationship.
They’re ignoring you because they’re tired of playing along and need space.
Most people don’t decide to be toxic in relationships, but it happens because of insecurities and self-esteem problems. Work on yourself and try to develop the qualities of a best friend you wish in another person and realize that relationships are two-sided.
16. You’ve done something to hurt them
Maybe you said something without thinking or you did something that you knew would cause your friend pain, but if you’ve hurt your friend, they might not want to talk to you for a while or at all.
Of course, intent matters, but even if you didn’t mean to hurt them, it still happened and your friend is either done with you or needs time to deal with it.
Apologize face-to-face and mean it. ‘I’m sorry’ without genuine honesty and regret is nothing. Take responsibility for your actions and be determined not to repeat them if you want to save your friendship.
17. They’ve done something that would hurt you if you found out
Perhaps your friend feels guilty about something they’ve done, so they’re avoiding you. If they did something that they know would cause you pain if you knew, it might be the reason why they’re ignoring you – your friend is afraid of you finding out.
For example, if your friend started dating your ex whom you used to love, they know that this would make you sad, or something similar they knew would hurt you. Once you find out what it is, you need to closely consider your feelings and their actions.
Think about whether they did it despite knowing it would hurt you and did they have a choice not to, and how you feel about it.
18. They’ve replaced you
Your friend stopped replying to your texts, so you’re worried and you check their social media to see if they’re around, only to find out that they’re having a blast with new friends doing something you talked about doing together.
Some people are flaky and easily change without consideration of other people’s feelings. For people like that, others are nothing but entertainment and not really important to them.
If your friend doesn’t respect you enough to let you know when they change their mind and leave you hanging, you’re better off without them. It’s important not to accept their excuses if they offer any because this is a sign of not being able to rely on them.
19. They don’t want to be friends any more
They used to be your best friend, but recently it feels like they’re never around. When you contact them, they’re curt and eager to get away.
They might not be rude to you, but you feel like they’d rather do anything but spend time with you.
It might be something related to your actions, something connected with what’s going on in their lives or something completely different – whatever the reason, they want to end your friendship.
You can’t force anyone to like you and if someone is not interested in being your friend any longer, let them go. Approach it the same way you’d approach a breakup of a romantic relationship and protect your feelings.
20. You’re drifting apart
Sometimes there comes a time when differences in lifestyles, change in priorities or simply becoming different people causes friendships to end.
When both of you are slowly drifting apart, you might be trying to preserve what you’ve had, but it’s not working. Trying to force things to stay the same can end in bitterness and resentment.
If you’ve been friends for a long time, it might be difficult to accept that you’re not the way you used to be, but instead of thinking in all-or-nothing terms, think of it as a change.
You don’t have to explicitly end things or forget about this person, but stop thinking of them as your best friend and someone who’ll be there when you need them and vice versa. Take a step back in friendship development, accept that you’re less close and let things go.
It’s natural to miss your friend when they’re not talking to you and to be hurt and if you don’t know why it’s happening. The easiest way to figure out the answer to the question “Why is my friend ignoring me?” would be to ask them, but even if they’ve locked you out completely, there’s still a way to pinpoint the reason.
You need to be self-aware and honest with yourself and think about your friendship. Usually, if there’s a problem, all the signs are already there. In some cases, you’ll have to accept that your relationship has come to an end and that the best thing you can do for yourself is to move on.
If it was your behavior that caused your friend to distance themselves, this could be the motivation you need to think about it and decide how it should change. If your friend is going through something, let them know that they can rely on you and come to you when they’re ready.