My Friend Suddenly Stopped Talking to Me

Why Friends Ignore You

Pay attention to how you act.
Pay attention to how you act. Alberto Guglielmi/Getty Images

Question:

I’ve been friends with Judy for five years. I thought we got along just fine, but suddenly, she’s stopped talking to me. I asked what was wrong in an email and she won’t even return my messages. I don’t know what to do.

Answer:

It can be maddening when a friend suddenly cuts you off, seemingly with no reason. You’re probably driving yourself crazy trying to figure out why, but you might never know.

Here’s some common reasons why a friend might stop talking to you, and what you can do.

There Is Something Wrong That Your Friend Feels You Should Already Know About

Chances are, there has been an issue in the past that your friend feels was never resolved. Maybe something new yet related to this old issue popped up and rather than discuss it with you again, she pulled away for good.

In situations like this, reflect honestly on your behavior and how it might come off to your friend. If you’re really confused as to what you did wrong, you might need some lessons in self-awareness. Even if you’re surprised that a friend is reacting badly to something, you should be able to identify what it is that could have offended your friend. Then, send an email that says something like:

“I haven’t heard from you and I’m trying to figure out why. Could it be because of the fact that I teased you in front of your work friends? If that’s it, I’m so sorry. I know we’ve talked about it in the past. I want to make it right and move forward, so if you’re willing please let me know.”

You could be wrong in what you assume might be the problem, and if that’s the case this email will likely get a response that corrects you. If you are right about what might have happened, your friend may feel like you two have already hashed it out a bunch of times and won’t respond. However, your friend could also feel encouraged by this type of email and reach out so you can discuss things.

Your Friend Is Going Through Something Big and Just Doesn’t Want to Talk to Anyone

Not everyone responds the same way when there’s a problem. Sometimes a friend will go through a life event that causes them to pull back from people, or to cut themselves off from everyone but a few very close friends.

If you suspect this is the reason, send your friend a card or email with a message that lets them know you’ll be there for them. Don’t speculate about why they aren’t talking to you in the note (even if you’re pretty sure what’s bothering them) because if you’re wrong you could make your friend feel worse. Instead, say something like:

“I haven’t heard from you and want you to know whatever happened that I’m your friend and if you need me to listen, just let me know.”

With this note you’ll leave the ball in their court about how to proceed. You can’t force someone to respond to you, so all you can do is leave things open for them to come to you when they’re ready.

You Messed Up In Such a Big Way That There is No Reason for Your Friend Speak With You Again

If you gossiped about your friend, betrayed them, failed to support them, or did any other major friendship mistake, your pal may decide not to talk to you anymore without explanation.

Sometimes you can make amends and move forward after a mistake, but not always. Your actions have consequences and one of the things that happens when a big error is made is that the friendship ends.

The Person Wasn’t as Good a Friend as You Thought

Still another possibly is that the person you thought was a good friend really isn’t. Perhaps you’ve been trying to get closer to them and they have decided that they aren’t interested. In this case, the person will pull away from you and just try and avoid you.

It’s easy to get upset when this happens, but try not to take it personally. The other person is probably trying to be as kind to you as possible by not telling you straight out that they aren’t interested in being your friend. Maybe they have enough people in their life already or perhaps they just don’t feel like you two would have anything in common.

Rather than tell you this directly, they ignore you. (Not everyone is great at communication.)

What to Do When a Person Won’t Speak With You

If you’re the type of person who obsesses about why someone has suddenly stopped talking to you, take heart. You’re not the only one! But at the same time, you can’t live your life based on what other people do. Sending an email or handwritten note to tell the other person that you’re still interested in being a friend is one option, but even then, you have to leave it with them and not push it.

Accept the fact that you might never find the real reason, or when you do find out, you won’t like it. Sometimes it’s a gift when people walk away from you, even when you feel the grief of a friendship lost. Look at it this way, not everyone is meant to be in your life forever, so forgive them for choosing to communicate with silence, and move on to other people who want to be in your life. 

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