A question came from a male reader: “Why do women ignore me? Why do people ignore me, disconnect, or blow me off?” I get asked this same question from women all the time, and I give them the same answer. I firmly believe that men and women have exactly the same needs, we are human after all. We are simply conditioned to express our needs and satisfy them via different culturally accepted methods. Much of my advice applies to both sexes, as we all seek to be understood, respected and valued.
There are people out there who are often ignored, especially by the opposite sex. I am sure they are all nice people, both the ignored and the ignorer are simply seeking something other than what is being offered. I don’t think that the ignored are victims of cold heartless people, I do see them as humans who often ignore themselves.
We all seek what we don’t have. The needy, seek to have their needs met by others. The insecure, seek security through others, and neglect to work on themselves to become more secure on the inside. The lonely, seek company from others when they fail to recognize the self as their source of true friendship.
You can’t ignore a person who isn’t ignoring themselves. It is impossible. So what is happening when a person is constantly being ignored? They are ignoring their Self. How?
I asked my reader, let’s call him Robert, to describe the most recent situation in which he was being ignored. He is a nurse who works in a big hospital and is very well liked by others. Though his friends and colleagues adore him, appreciate his kindness and endless positive energy, they often dismiss him, turn their backs, or decline offers to hang out after work. So this kind, nice guy often feels like he is constantly giving, and receiving nothing but cold shoulders in return. Recently, two pretty nurses joined his team and naturally Robert was eager to get to know them. He made them feel welcome by baking his special banana bread, bringing in coffee, and helping them out during their first week. That’s all very nice. Most of us would appreciate such gestures from our coworkers.
He then asked one of the nurses out on a date, she seemed very uncomfortable and changed the subject. A few hours later, he caught her when she was less busy, and asked her again. She said something polite, turned around and walked away. He then caught her at the end of her shift to tell her he didn’t mean anything by it, sorry if he offended her, and asked if they could hang out sometime. He got a “sorry I can’t” which didn’t quite satisfy him. The next day, he baked his grandmother’s zucchini bread, brought it to work, the nurses said Thank You, but this time they were less eager to chat with him. This continued for a couple of weeks, and he noticed that each time he tried to organize a lunch with the new nurses, invite them to a social gathering, his daughter’s soccer game, they grew colder and less interested in giving him any attention at all. What did Robert do to turn them off?
Before I explain how he is ignoring himself, it is more important to state that he ignored the nurse the very first time she turned away, changed the subject and walked out of the room. Though she may not have been blunt and said No to his face, her actions clearly implied No. When people are interested in engaging you, they don’t turn their backs to you, when they are interested in spending time, they don’t change the subject at the mere suggestion of going out, and they don’t walk away. Robert ignored her ‘No’ multiple times. The more she kept ignoring him, the more he started pursuing her with repeated invitations and gifts of baked goods. This is a guy who doesn’t believe what his eyes and ears see and hear: No. His brain processed none of this, so he continued to pursue. People who easily dismiss what their senses pick up, are willingly ignoring reality, and creating a delusion that the other person must want to be chased, that the ‘No’ is an invitation to play a cat and mouse game, or a con to get more gifts or baked goods out of them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Lack of interest is always lack of interest.
So, how is Robert ignoring himself? Let’s go back to that first moment, when he asked the nurse out on a date. Her first response was to change the subject, turn around and walk away. Stop! In this moment, most of us would have felt discomfort. It does not feel good to be dismissed, it does not feel good to be walked away from. Most healthy humans would at this point realize this is not a pleasant situation to be in, and our self-respect would restrain us from pursuing them more. Yes, healthy people have a very strong sense of self-respect and personal pride which prevent us from doing things that are demeaning, embarrassing, and make us look desperate. Healthy people accept the word No, the very first time they see and hear it. Healthy people respect No. Healthy people don’t run after what doesn’t want them. Unhealthy people will turn No into a delusion that makes them think: She didn’t mean that, she doesn’t know what she wants, let me go ask her again, she will change her mind if I keep asking. They lose sight of how this delusion makes them look: desperate. They don’t even care that by following someone who is seeking to disconnect, they are embarrassing themselves. Their pride, and self-respect switch is turned off.
In that first moment when Robert decided to ignore the nurse’s lack of interest, he ignored his self-respect, he ignored his pride, and started chasing a person who clearly did not want him. The more he continued to pursue her interest, approval, and a date, the more he dismissed his own pride and his self-worth. He felt bad being dismissed, so rather than acknowledge his own negative feelings, he ignored them. He thought he will feel better if he can just get her to say yes to something, anything at all. So, rather than tend to his own self-esteem, he ignored it and continued to show lack of self-worth by bringing gifts and asking for her time and attention over and over again. People with low self-esteem cannot accept evidence that the object of their desire is not interested. So when someone tells them No, they either label that person a villain or they dismiss them.
To be clear, women do this too. Many women will become fixated only on that man who is ignoring them, and pursue a relationship even if there isn’t one, even if the logical side of her brain tells her that he is not the kind of man she wants, even if deep down she knows she doesn’t want him at all. What sickens me is that the dating industry encourages this behavior. We are all sold this idea that the disinterested could become interested if just the right technique is applied, we all believe that perseverance against the word No will win us that object of our desire, and that chasing and persistence will eventually pay off with a big reward. No, you will come off as a stalker and completely turn off the person who never valued you to begin with.
Self-respect is the most attractive characteristic any human can have. It shows that we are healthy, that we like ourselves, that we have pride. It prevents us from doing things which dishonor ourselves. It helps us stand up straight, look people in the eye, demonstrate confidence, but most of all, it shows that I do not grovel, I do not submit, I do not demean myself for your approval.
When we don’t cultivate the Self, when we don’t know our Self, make friends with it, respect or honor it, we are ignoring the most important aspect of who we are. If there is no Self, the person is just an empty shell seeking an identity, approval, or worth from other people. They don’t just ignore what is missing within them, they break people’s boundaries, do demeaning stuff like chase those who do not want to be pursued, and persist in maintaining their own delusions.
At the very core of this is a human who refuses to hear the word No. When you tell a dog No, if it is well trained, it will back off and sit down. That is what is expected the first time we hear No. If the dog is rabid, it will attack and pursue anything that moves, regardless of whether it is appropriate to chase. That rabid dog is a threat to our health. Often rabid animals are put down. Most experts will tell you that rabid dog is better off dead. It sounds cruel, but it is true. A person who ignores the word No, is a threat to our personal safety. Everyone (not just women) will seek to separate in that situation.
Think about that. Of what value is a human who cannot honor the boundaries of others? Of what value is a lover who exists solely to consume you? Of what value is a partner who doesn’t respect him or herself? Of what value are people who consistently ignore their pride, their honor and their own self-respect? Do you see why healthy humans seek to avoid them?
When I pointed out to Robert how he is ignoring himself, he became uncomfortably silent. He really didn’t see that he was broadcasting to the whole world that he did not value himself. No one will value you unless you find within yourself that which is most valuable. You must first satisfy yourself with your own company, your own self-love, build your pride and your dignity to such high levels that chasing others feels undignified. Only then will your attention be welcomed by others, and only then will you qualify for healthy relationships.
So what should you do if people are ignoring you, dismissing you, and blowing you off? The first thing to do is to stop yourself from pursuing, seeking their attention, or asking for more of their time. Understand that in those very first moments that you are being rejected, your mind and body are telling you something that you have been ignoring for a very long time. Rejection hurts, but groveling, begging for time and attention, and chasing those who do not want us is demeaning. You have been ignoring your self-worth for a very long time, so you are probably used to seeking justice for yourself, or seeking the approval of others to mask this pain. You falsely believe that once you get them to like you, the pain will stop. It won’t.
No one’s love nor attention can cure your missing self-esteem. That is your own work. If you find yourself in this situation, now is not a good time to be in relationships with anyone. People are nice, and they may try to compensate, even overlook your missing self, but sooner or later they will realize that there is nothing they can do for you, and that as a half-person, there is nothing you can do for them. You will continue to be dismissed and disregarded as a mere nuisance until you develop your own self. Without a self, there is nothing for anyone to regard. Don’t blame other people for that, fix you.
If you don’t believe me that all of this work is on you, take a look at other people around you who are also missing their self-esteem. Sometimes, it is easier to see flaws in other people. Have you noticed that people who have no self-respect will often do desperate things to catch other people. Others often refer to them as “desperate”, as they act without any thought of how their actions make them look. Sometimes they are ridiculed, but most often people seek to get away from them.
Often, these are very nice people. Robert is the epitome of the nice guy. He is bursting with positive energy, he gives encouragement to all his friends, he is supportive, he listens, he bakes banana bread for his co-workers. Being nice is not enough to earn respect from people, and it never will be. Robert is broadcasting “I have no self-respect. I don’t care that you don’t want me, I don’t care that you don’t need me, I will continue to follow you, asking for your time and approval, until you give it to me”. Don’t be a Robert.
When people are dismissing or ignoring you, they are showing you how you are treating yourself. You may be over-focused on others, paying no attention to your Self. You may view their attention and their approval as medicine for whatever ails you. It’s true, you may get a temporary high from the attention of others, but then you need more, and more, and more, and it’s not their job to feed you. At a certain point, your needs will drain them, and they will blow you off.
There are countless articles out there about the toxic prevalence of ghosting, but none of them point out to the victim, “hey, maybe it’s your fault that you are consistently being ghosted”. Maybe you have an off-putting habit that other people seek to get away from. Maybe you feed off other people’s attention, maybe you seek justice for yourself by chasing their approval. Maybe you feel like you are not enough, so you drain people by expecting them to fulfill you. Maybe you can’t accept No for an answer. Just maybe, the problem is you.
I am a big fan of self-responsibility and seeking answers within ourselves rather than demanding that other people be what we need them to be. Life is all about learning about ourselves, learning from our own mistakes, and shaping ourselves into the kind of people others can find value in. If you are consistently being dismissed, the solution is entirely within you.