Radio silence –
Ignoring somebody on purpose
German relationship coach Emanuel Albert, known as Date Doctor Emanuel, helps you understand why being ignored hurts so much and how you can use radio silence to regain your ex’s respect.
Before the breakup you used to be in contact every single day but now you have absolutely no idea where your ex is, who he is spending time with, what he is doing and how he is feeling. Radio silence can be one of the most painful experiences following the end of a relationship. My team and I regularly help our coachees understand why they are being treated this way and help them endure the silent treatment, so that they have the best possible chance to eventually win back their ex.
Radio silence, meaning a period of time with a complete lack of communication, has a lot in common with the no contact rule. While the no contact rule has you actively changing your needy and clingy behavior, so that your ex can learn to miss you again, radio silence is more drastic.
Whether it is you who has decided to completely cut off any connection to your ex or your ex who is ignoring you on purpose, radio silence can be a painful experience to endure. A breakup brings immediate pain and the dreadful feeling of being rejected. Compared to a breakup, being ignored by someone you were once close to is a slower and potentially prolonged path to heart break. This sense of loss and desperation to want to be heard can lead to actions you will regret later on. Your ex is totally blanking you out, he isn’t posting any updates on his social media – or worse – you have been blocked from seeing them? Your fear that he is completely slipping away from you must not guide your actions now. Giving in to the panic and holding on to your ex, desperately trying to find out what he is doing, will drive him away for good.
With my help, try to understand why this is happening to you and how you can change your behavior in order to turn the tables and have your ex be curious about your life again and come back to you.
There are two layers to this question:
1. Why does your ex think he is ignoring you?
The first layer is important because ever so often an ex will believe that ignoring you is the right thing to do. It is relatively easy to grasp potential reasons for ignoring you, which are on the forefront of your ex’s mind:
2. What are the real, underlying reasons your ex is ignoring you?
You may not realize this yet, but your ex is not truly calling the shots. He is only reacting to a situation gone sour.
Subconsciously we all have two reactions we can chose when faced by stress or conflict: fight or flight. Your ex obviously chose to run away and stick his head in the sand like an ostrich – he chose flight. This is a weak but common reaction, which is then justified by claiming that they do not want to give you any false hope by staying in touch, or that is was simply the wisest choice at the time to take a break. This way an ex not only gets to be on top because they ended things. No, they also award themselves a prize for being a super thoughtful ex…
The question is: What is he reacting to? How have your actions caused his feelings to collapse?
Ask yourself the following:
Once your ex has entered a state of flight, all his further actions will only increase the distance between you. It is important to understand your own role in all of this. Even though you never wanted this outcome, you still played a part in causing his reaction. This can be painful and difficult to accept. My team and I often take a considerable time, sometimes 30 minutes, to help our coachees dig deeper and truly get to the bottom of why the ex saw no other option than to run and hide.
The problem is, as long as you don’t understand your ex’s true reasons for retreating, you have no way to repair the relationship. Plus without a deeper understanding you are more likely to succumb to your pain and are torn apart by the breakup. Your ex is almost forced to:
a.) think he is doing you a favor by cutting off all communication and
b.) actually knows exactly how you would respond, making it completely unattractive and uninteresting even, to check in on you.
So before we design the right actions and steps for your case, I urge you to really search for the true reasons behind your ex losing his feelings for you.
I remember a coachee who had to learn how to deal with an ex that was ignoring her particularly quickly – they were colleagues. The two of them worked together closely and even had to go on the odd business trip together. He pushed ignoring her to the absolute limit. He talked to her about the bare minimum that was necessary for them to complete their assignments but blocked her out as soon as it came to any other topic.
My advice to her before any other specific strategy: ignore him back!
Of course this was the complete opposite to what she felt like doing and she needed my help to last for more than a few days (sometimes hours). But after a few weeks of completely ignoring him, she saw first signs of success. He was trying to catch her attention and was no longer cold and dismissing. This motivated her to keep going, using our complete strategy, and eventually they got back into a relationship.
When your ex will simply not talk to you, the best route you can take is to give him a taste of his own medicine. As long as he is fighting you in this way and you continue pushing, he will simply be forced to pull back even further and continue ignoring you.
Remember, he subconsciously chose the flight reaction and will continue to do so as long as you keep on behaving the way you did. Only if you start altering your behavior can he alter his reaction.
Okay, so this is where I need to stop you for a moment. The opposite of love is not hate. I completely understand that the pain you feel right now has left you desperate to understand how your ex can simply stop loving you. Your confusion and heartbreak is now leading you to go to the extreme: he must hate you. This is not true, and deep down you even know this.
You are not facing hate, you are the victim of a lack of respect and feelings.
Ignoring someone you respect is hard. Ignoring someone you have little respect for is easy.
After my ex girlfriend dumped me in a particularly cold and hurtful way, it took me a little while to understand that her feelings had vanished causing her to not respect me as a romantic partner at all anymore. After realizing this, I knew why all my begging and pleading to take me back had not worked. You will never win back your ex because he pities you.
So I decided to completely ignore her. Soon enough she started texting me. She started calling me. She left messages on my mailbox.
In the crucial period, I deleted text messages before I could read them. I never answered her calls. I made sure to delete her voice messages because I knew I would be tempted to listen to her voice over and over again. I had to stay strong and learn to become strong for months. I developed strong mantras and mind sets. It felt like an eternity to me at the time. I learned the hard way, that time was a price to pay for my ex regaining the respect she had lost for me. It was especially challenging, but also valuable, to learn how to fill the time with the right sequences of pull back phases and then some few short skillful contact-actions.
Sometimes you have to completely take yourself out of the equation in order for your ex to do the maths that they do not want to lose you.
Ghosting feels like an extreme version of being ignored. It is a result of our day and age that people, we thought we were close to, can simply erase us out of their lives. So many relationships (and also friendships) rely on being able to contact someone via phone or social media. The person ghosting you has the ability to cease all contact without even offering an explanation, since you are not in the same sports team, company, or class and will not keep on bumping into each other.
Following a tough break-up it is normal that your ex wants some distance and allowing some time to pass in which you have no contact can even improve your chances of getting back together. When you have been ghosted there is usually no explanation. The reasons behind are not obvious to you. I recall many cases in which it was obvious to me why the person ghosted my client but almost impossible for my client to see that without any help. And there is almost no opportunity to set things straight. Of course you want answers but understand that this person does not have the maturity to give them to you just like that. It is extremely difficult to find the right circumstances and use the right words to get through to the other person, seeing as he or she has already built up a high wall around them.
Studies have shown that a clean cut following being ghosted can at least help you heal faster than when the other person keeps stringing you along, sending out the odd flirty text message but never really being interested in more – as is the case with breadcrumbing.
Being ghosted sucks. But stick to these Dos and Don’ts to get through this upsetting experience as quickly as possible:
contact the person who ghosted you
try to get information about them via mutual friends
obsess about the reasons (especially about whether there is a possible new love interest)
get rid of all the photos and items that remind you of your “ghost”
delete their number
spend time with people who are worth it
consider taking help to understand the reasons behind the ghosting and maybe even overcome his or her wall
Being ignored hurts like hell. But it also gives you some information on where your ex is currently standing. By taking a page from his book you can adapt your behavior to his and erase the necessity to fight you. This is easier said than done and we are here to help you if you find yourself wavering. As long as someone is ignoring you, the best thing to do is ignore him right back. Remember: your self-worth and respect is crucial to winning back your ex.
Best of luck,
your Date Doctor Emanuel
LeFebvre, L. E., Rasner, R. D., & Allen, M. (2019). “I Guess I’ll Never Know…”: Non-Initiators Account-Making After Being Ghosted. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 1-21. https://doi.org/10.1080/15325024.2019.1694299
Molden, D. C., Lucas, G. M., Gardner, W. L., Dean, K., & Knowles, M. L. (2009). Motivations for prevention or promotion following social exclusion: Being rejected versus being ignored. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(2), 415–431. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0012958
Navarro, R.; Larrañaga, E.; Yubero, S.; Víllora, B. Psychological Correlates of Ghosting and Breadcrumbing Experiences: A Preliminary Study among Adults. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 1116. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17031116
I have been working as a dating and relationship coach for more than 20 years. Every day my team and I help clients reach more happiness in their relationships. Our vision is to turn relationship problems back into love! To achieve this goal I developed the successful Emanuel Albert Method.