Why Does My Girlfriend Ignore Me?

We have all been there. Your girlfriend won't return your calls or sits in icy silence, leaving you in the cold.

Sometimes we have done something to offend or haven't been paying her feelings as much attention as we should. Other times, you might find it a complete mystery why your girlfriend is suddenly giving you the cold shoulder.


Your girlfriend may ignore you to avoid conflict or because she is struggling to express her feelings. Silence may be a normal reaction to her and is a normal part of human behavior. However, your girlfriend may be using silence as a means of control, which may be a form of abuse.

Your girlfriend's emotional withdrawal by ignoring you may be a regular part of processing her feelings and something you can solve quickly by clear communication.

Unfortunately, women might also use their silence to control you and cause you emotional pain. If you would like to understand why your girlfriend is ignoring you, here are some reasons and possible solutions.

Why Does My Girlfriend Ignore Me?

Your girlfriend may ignore you for many reasons, some of which are a normal reaction and others that are far less innocent.

The key is to ascertain whether your girlfriend needs time to process her feelings or using her silence as a means of control. The key to distinguishing her behavior is determining the frequency of the silent episodes and their overall context.

It is important to remember that silence may not always be a means of control but may indicate that your girlfriend is struggling to express herself. The three main reasons why your girlfriend is giving you the cold shoulder are as follows:

Your Girlfriend May Be Avoiding Conflict

Many people will tend to emotionally withdraw as a means of self-protection if their feelings are hurt or have difficulty communicating their emotional state. Silence may be a reaction to a perceived hurt that you may not realize that you committed.

For example, your girlfriend may stay silent to avoid conflict or when she doesn't know how to respond to you.

Quick Note

The sad reality may be that your girlfriend is no longer interested in you, but she is afraid to tell you face to face.

Some people especially are prone to being fickle when it comes to relationships, and some people find it hard to let someone know that they are no longer interested in them and face their hurt or anger.

Your Girlfriend May be Struggling to Communicate her Feelings

Sometimes a person will become quiet if they feel conflicted and struggle to communicate their feelings to you but wish to let you know that they are upset.

Unfortunately, it's not always easy to express your inner feelings to a loved one, and it may take time for your girlfriend to express herself, especially if she feels vulnerable.

Some women feel that you should know what upsets her and when you are oblivious to her offence, she may feel that you don't value her enough to understand her thoughts and feelings. She withdraws into silence as a means to draw your attention to her feelings which you may have been neglecting or overlooked.

Your Girlfriend is Ignoring You as a Form of Control or Punishment

Unfortunately, not all silences are golden. Some people will ignore you to control you or as an emotional form of punishment or abuse.

When a woman shuts you out emotionally and physically, she is enacting a form of social rejection. We are social creatures, and even an act of social rejection from a stranger can affect our social esteem.

These feelings of hurt increase when the rejection comes from someone you care for and hold a high value for their opinion.

Being ignored affects our self-esteem and our self-value and may even lead to depression, according to researchers. Ignoring is a form of rejection that may lead to feelings of hurt, shame, and loneliness.

How Do I Know When Ignoring is Abuse?

It may be hard to tell if you are the victim of manipulation when people often experience guilt when their close partners ignore them. One sign is the duration and frequency of the silent episodes, which occur regularly and often without definite provocation.

There are some signs that your girlfriend is using silence as a form of abuse; these include:

  • She intends to hurt you by her silence and not because she is processing her own emotions
  • The silence continues for extended periods, even when you have attempted to communicate in an open and positive manner
  • The silence only ends when your girlfriend decides, and not due to your efforts and tries to end the impasse
  • Your partner still communicates openly with other people and not you
  • Your girlfriend may seek to involve other people in the situation
  • Your girlfriend may use silence as a means to blame you or make you feel guilty
  • They may use silence to manipulate your behavior or pressure you to 'improve your behavior to their liking.

Is Ignoring Someone a Form Of Abuse?

Neuroscientific research has shown that social rejection is mediated through the part of the brain named the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and anterior insula (dACC).

Among other functions, neuroscientists associate these brain areas with physical pain, which explains the intense emotions we experience when those close to us devalue or reject us.

Quick Note

Essentially, when people use rejection to manipulate or control us, it may be seen as a form of abuse, much like the pain, we may experience in a physically abusive relationship.

Likewise, when a person retreats into silence after behaving negatively towards them, they are justified in their silence. However, when a person withdraws from communication to control or hurt us, it becomes a form of emotional abuse.

Why Does the Silent Treatment Make Me Feel Hurt?

Human beings are ultimately social creatures. We have evolved to be socially responsive and aware through our genetic evolution, where socially responsive individuals were more likely to survive and produce offspring.

Theorists believe that emotions are evolutionary adaptations that led to the promulgation of genes of individuals who experienced emotions in response to rejection.

In our early origins, survival and propagation rested heavily on our ability to live in groups that offered protection from predators, provided resources, and cared for the group's offspring.

Thus a need for acceptance and social belonging evolved as an essential part of human behavior. That is why we are hardwired to feel emotional pain when we experience rejection from other people.

What Should I Do If My Girlfriend Ignores Me?

  • Acknowledge your girlfriend's withdrawn behavior in a non-threatening manner. You could start the communication by telling your girlfriend that you have noticed that she is not responding to your attempt to communicate.
  • Explain to your girlfriend that her behavior is making you feel unhappy and hurt, and draw attention to how her behavior is making you feel
  • Acknowledge your partners' feelings, ask how they feel, and provide a listening ear and avoid 'problem-solving or defensive behavior. By validating her emotions, you may open the way to effective communication.
  • Apologize if your behavior has caused her to become silent if there is a valid reason for your girlfriend's silence.
  • Avoid confrontational behavior if she doe not wishes to speak; consider a cool off time. If she uses silence to force your hand or control your behavior, wait until she approaches you.
  • If your girlfriend's silence is a form of control, stand your ground and explain your boundaries calmly and clearly. If her behavior is abusive, you should calmly explain how you expect her to treat you. 

What Not to Do

  • Although your girlfriend's silence may hurt your feelings, do not give into aggression. Aggression only makes communication more difficult and may cause damage to the relationship
  • Don't beg and plead for attention, as this behavior may reward your girlfriend's withdrawal tactics
  • Never apologize if you feel you did nothing wrong, as a means to end her silence
  • Do not repeatedly ask for your girlfriend's attention after you have adequately tried to solve the impasse and she still won't communicate
  • Don't threaten to end the relationship if you are not properly committed to doing so.


If your girlfriend is giving you the cold shoulder, the most important thing to remember is not to take it as a reflection of your worth. You can't change how people behave towards you, and in this life, not everyone has the best intentions.

Life is too short to spend with a partner who is not open to communication and uses rejection as a form of punishment and control. If she is not ignoring you for valid reasons, it may be a sign you would be better off without her.

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