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Being ignored by your ex after a breakup is not all that special. I’ve been through it. My friends have been through it. Virtually everyone who broke up has been through it. We all got ignored by our exes at some point in our lives.
However, I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt. Being ignored by your ex does hurt. Not only that, but it also carries tangible and unrelenting consequences. It lowers self-esteem, makes you more prone to misery, anxiety, and depression, and obstructs or even prevents you from getting closure.
So I’m not surprised you’re feeling like shit.
Why is your ex ignoring you
Before we start, let’s be clear. There is nothing morally wrong with your ex ignoring you. Sure, it doesn’t feel nice, but let’s be real, they have a good reason why they do it.
For one, you’re probably acting needy and are chasing after them. Maybe you’re begging them to come back, and they feel suffocated. Maybe they moved on and want nothing to do with you anymore. Maybe they’re doing the whole no-contact thing. Maybe they’re pissed off.
Your ex could also just be protecting themselves from any unwanted emotions — perhaps they fear that if they respond, they’ll re-open their breakup wounds. Or they’re just playing games by ignoring you, which is a typical response from toxic exes.
But here’s the funny thing: your ex may not be ignoring you at all. Maybe your negative emotions and fear merely fooled you into believing they’re ignoring you.
The reality could be much different. Maybe your ex changed their number. Maybe they’re still writing their response or haven’t formed a coherent one yet. Maybe they’re on a trip and don’t have their phone with them. Or maybe they’re on a date with someone else.
Nonetheless, whether your ex is ignoring you for real or not, the pain endures. Ever wondered why?
Why does it Hurt When your Ex Ignores you
The reason you feel hurt when your ex ignores you is because through their effort to ignore you, they’re tapping into the internal wiring of your ancient need to connect and feel connected to others and scrambling the shit out of it.
See, humans are social animals. The closer we stay to our loved ones, the safer we feel. Staying connected was how we survived throughout the ages. Feeling connected is our inherent need and curse. (1)
When we lose a relationship, we also lose connection with someone important. And when they ignore us, they’re preventing us from ever repairing that connection. Thus, we subconsciously begin to feel unsafe in the world. And as a result, we consciously grow scared and anxious, usually even needy.
From a biological perspective, this reaction occurs because our brain releases certain chemicals that tell us, “Yo, fuckface, reconnect with your loved one, or you’re going to die.” Think of it as your brain’s ancient survival alarm.
Expanding on this phenomenon, think about relationships in general. The reason we form societies is to stay and feel safe. And when one rejects the norms of society, they get rejected and isolated by everybody else.
Thankfully this is not as common today as it was back in our caveman days.
At that time, if you were part of a tribe and did something that went against the rules of that tribe, the other tribesmen and women would label you a renegade and shun and reject you. They’d have all the power. And you’d probably die. Hence, your brain’s survival alarm would light up just as it lights up when your ex ignores you presently and makes you feel like you’re dying.
How To Get Your Ex To Stop Ignoring You
Counterintuitively, it’s not trying to make your ex stop ignoring you that gets them to stop. It’s letting them go and surrendering to the pain of being ignored that gets them to stop ignoring you.
So, here are four things you should do.
1. Cease Contact
No response is still a response. If your ex is ignoring you, it must be because you’re on some level bothering them. And I’d say the odds of you bothering them are pretty damn high. You’re probably chasing and pursuing them as I write this. Maybe even pleading or begging them to come back.
This imbalanced dynamic never works out. It gives all the power to your ex and none to you. It also drains them of any respect they have left for you, and it pulverizes their attraction.
The solution to changing this unhealthy dynamic and getting a chance to rekindle things is to stop trying to reconnect with your ex. In other words, go no contact.
It’s normal to feel hurt, lonely, and like you’ll die when your ex is ignoring you. But let them miss you, deal with their emotions, and come back into your orbit at their own pace. Let them go, otherwise, they’ll just ignore you longer, and you’ll eventually slaughter your chances of ever getting back with them.
Think of it this way: if you keep doing the same things you’re doing, you’ll keep getting the same results you’re getting.
2. Leverage Apatheia
When your ex keeps ignoring you, it’s okay to feel emotional. But, it’s best if you keep those emotions in check so they don’t make you perform sabotaging behaviors. Like when you call your ex ten times in a row or show up at their doorstep unannounced.
In Stoicism, there’s a word for this mentality: apatheia. Think of it as a sort of equanimity that comes with the absence of irrational or extreme emotions.
Apatheia means resisting harmful emotions by telling yourself things like, “My ex is ignoring me right now, and it hurts, but I can’t let myself panic, or else there’s gonna be hell to pay.”
Or, “I know I’m feeling sad because my ex is ignoring me, but this feeling, like all feelings, is fleeting and will dissipate in time. So don’t act. Stand your ground. This too shall pass.”
Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not asking nor encouraging you to avoid your feelings, pretend they don’t exist or lose them altogether. All I’m asking you is to try and let go of the harmful and unhelpful kind to avoid basing your actions on them.
3. Abandon All Control
You can’t control whether your ex ignores you or responds. Hell, you can hardly control anything. However, what you can control (at least for the most part), is yourself — mainly how you interpret your pain and respond to your ex ignoring you.
Years ago, I read a brilliant book by a retired pickup artist, Neil Strauss. Most of the first act detailed Neil’s life in an addiction rehab facility. A facility where people like love, sex, and drug addicts get sent off to get a grip on their life and recover from their vices.
The thing that really stuck with me from that book was a mantra the patients in the rehab facility chanted. They’ve coined it The Serenity Prayer.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Addicts cannot change the abuse suffered in childhood. You cannot change the fact that your ex broke up with you and is ignoring you.
They cannot change the choices they’ve made or the hurt they caused. You cannot change the choices you’ve made or the hurt you found yourself in.
They can, however, change their future —through the power they have in the present. You have that same power, that same opportunity. So use it.
The moment you’ll feel better and potentially change your ex’s mind about ignoring you is when you shift your focus from the things outside your control (your ex ignoring you) to the things within your control (how you respond to your ex ignoring you).
4. Stop Overthinking And Overreacting
Trying to figure out if your ex will stop ignoring you or if they’ll come back or not, and everything in between won’t help your sanity. And while your ex’s feelings toward you may change in the future, it’s best to let go of those expectations for now.
The more you make yourself believe that your ex will never cease their silence, the greater the odds of them reaching out and you recovering become.
And when you do recover, the intensity of your emotions decreases. Therefore, you make better decisions and display more non-needy, attractive responses if your ex reaches out, and thus, increase your chances of getting them back.
(An offshoot of this mentality would be finding something more meaningful than your ex ignoring you and wholly focusing on it.)
What To Never Do When Your Ex Ignores You
While researching this article, I’ve encountered a few other articles addressing the same topic: what to do when an ex ignores you.
Some gave pretty useful advice. Others not so much. But a handful of them contained downright toxic advice. I’m talking emotional manipulation and permutations of needy behavior repackaged as some “fancy re-attraction technique.”
So for your and your ex’s mental health sake, I’ll cover some of these tips below so you understand what you should never, ever do if you want your ex to stop ignoring you.
Make your ex jealous. A surprising number of articles encourage readers to post pictures of themselves hanging out with attractive people of the opposite sex with hopes that their ex sees the pictures and gets jealous. What can I say? Are you 12 or something? Don’t don’t it. Jealousy will not make your ex stop ignoring you.
Make your ex think you’re doing great. This tip encourages people to fake how great they’re doing and feeling in their social circles, hoping that the word eventually reaches their ex and makes them stop ignoring them. Again, what the fuck? First, you’re trying to get validation from your ex, and now your friends? Get some self-respect dammit.
Reach out to your ex. The frequency of this tip popping up across my research blew me away. How some writers recommend reaching out to someone who ignores you is beyond me. Just don’t do it. How will doing what you’ve already been doing give you any other result than the result you’re already getting?
Write a letter to your ex. Another tip to throw in the bin, pour gasoline over it, and light a match. I’ve actually been the dumbass who did this in the past. Yes, I wrote my ex a love/apology letter because they kept ignoring my texts. I figured that would spark their attraction. Spoiler alert: It didn’t. It just annoyed the shit out of them.
If your ex keeps ignoring you consider moving on
If days and weeks go by and your ex is still ignoring the living shit out of you, consider moving on. No, I don’t mean recovering. I mean, actually moving on — as in, moving on to someone new and forgetting all about your ex.
I doubt you’re ready to let go for good, but keep the option in mind. It’s a viable way to move forward, and most of the time, again, counterintuitively, it gets your ex to stop ignoring you and reach out.
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