It can be hard to tell whether someone is avoiding you. There’s a chance that your paths just haven’t crossed. There are telltale signs, however: maybe you’ve seen him/her around, but s/he hasn’t even looked at you. Maybe you left him/her a message on Facebook two weeks ago, but s/he hasn’t bothered to answer. Imagine yourself in this person’s shoes, and try to understand why he or she might be avoiding you.
Notice a sudden drop-off in communication.
Be aware when a person stops contacting you, even sporadically. The person may not even bother to speak with you in person: perhaps he/she only contacts you via email, text message, and social media. If you consider yourself friendly or romantically-linked with someone, but s/he suddenly stops talking to you, it could be a sign that s/he is avoiding you.
Consider that your friend may just be busy, and may legitimately want to see you. They might send a message like: “Sorry I haven’t returned your calls… I’m just so busy with school right now. Let’s get together next week when I have more time.” However, if you continue to get these messages week after week—or no message at all—then you can assume that they are trying to avoid you.
Identify when someone is making excuses not to spend time with you.
Perhaps they keep blaming their busy work schedule, or their hectic social life, or maybe something always seems to “come up”. If a person is consistently finding reasons to back out of plans, there’s a chance that they are avoiding you.
Don’t be too harsh. Things do “come up,” and this person might legitimately feel overwhelmed by their hectic schedule. Excuses indicate avoidance, but they do not necessarily mean that the person doesn’t want to spend time with you.
Try to make eye contact.
If you encounter this person face to face, try to look him/her in the eyes. If he/she is avoiding you, odds are that he/she won’t make eye contact with you. If s/he does, it may just be brief – or s/he may roll his eyes.
Send the person a few messages, and watch the response.
If you send a simple “Hey! What’s up?” message, and they haven’t responded by a few days later, they might not want to talk to you. Try again, if you don’t hear back, but don’t accuse them of anything; just try to strike up a normal conversation. If they don’t respond to this second message, don’t keep pushing the issue. Respect their reasons for avoiding you, and do not give them even more reason to avoid you.
Some messaging services show you when a recipient has read your message. Use this to gauge whether you’re being ignored. If s/he reads all of your messages, but never responds, this indicates at least that s/he isn’t interested in holding a message conversation. If your messages don’t show up as “read” or “seen”, you might be able to tell that s/he’s online from the “Chat” bar or the timing of her/his other posts.
Use your knowledge of the person’s technology habits. If you know that your friend doesn’t log on to Facebook very often, it might be completely in character for her/him to miss your message. However, if s/he’s constantly on Facebook, but s/he’s doesn’t respond to your messages, it seems likely that s/he’s avoiding you.
Listen for short, disengaged answers.
If you manage to start a conversation with the person, notice if they’re giving only short, monotone answers. They may just be trying to deflect your questions so that they can slip away.
For example: you say, “Hey, we haven’t talked in a while. How are you?” they say, “Fine,” and walk away. This could indicate that your friend is avoiding you.
Be aware of how the potentially avoidant person treats you in a group setting.
If the friend makes a point to talk to everyone except for you, they might be avoiding you. Avoidance doesn’t necessarily mean that someone won’t spend time with you – it may just mean that they don’t acknowledge your presence. Try to say something directly to the friend, and see how they respond. If the friend responds quickly and curtly, then turns away—or does not respond at all—there’s a good chance that your friend is avoiding you.
Compare this treatment to how the person acts one-on-one. Perhaps s/he only “avoids” you in group settings, or perhaps he quickly slips away as soon as it’s just the two of you. Try to figure out whether he does this with other people, or just with you.
Notice whether the person leaves the room when you enter. If this happens consistently, it may indicate that he/she doesn’t want to spend time with you.
Consider whether this person respects your opinion.
If this person doesn’t ask for your input in meetings or friendly discussions, it may indicate that he/she is trying to ignore you. Perhaps she doesn’t ask you how you feel about decisions; perhaps she doesn’t even react when you weigh in with your perspective.
Don’t put up with someone who’s stringing you along.
Consider whether you are a priority in his/her life. Someone might be avoiding you if he/she doesn’t make time for you. Perhaps this person is uncomfortable committing, and wants you to be content to “go with the flow”. Look for these indicators that you may not be a priority:
The relationship doesn’t progress: it sputters through dramatic skips and hops, or it stagnates, or it actually sets you back.
This person is only around when he/she wants something from you. This includes money, attention, sex, or just an ear to talk to. Consider whether you are being consistently used.
They only make plans at the last minute. He/she may just show up at your door or text you late at night without even trying to make plans,
Ask yourself why this person might be avoiding you.
Perhaps you had an argument or a falling-out; maybe you said something to offend the person without realizing it; or you may have been making him or her feel uncomfortable in some way. Think carefully about your behavior, and try to identify a reason.
Look for patterns.
Examine the circumstances whenever you feel “avoided”, and notice whether any common threads run between each instance. Maybe this person avoids you at certain times, or with certain people; maybe it has to do with you, or maybe it has to do with them. Put the pieces together and try to understand why.
Does this person seem to avoid you at certain times, or when you are doing certain things? For instance, maybe you’ve recently begun to experiment with drugs, and your friend doesn’t like to see you in an altered state.
Does this person avoid you when you are with certain people? Perhaps you aren’t the one they’re avoiding – or maybe they don’t like how you act around a particular group. Maybe your friend is shy or introverted: s/he is always down for a one-on-one conversation, but disappears quickly when you show up with a large group.
Does this person avoid you when he/she is trying to work or study? Maybe your friend loves to spend time with you in a relaxed social setting, but finds it hard to get any work done when you’re around.
Think about how you are trying to contact the person.
If your friend or significant other is present and engaging in person, but never responds to your texts, he/she might just not like communicating over text. This may especially be the case if your friend leads a very busy or disciplined life – it can be hard to take the time for a deep, involved text conversation when you’re constantly working, studying, or practicing.
Consider that people grow apart.
Gauge whether the person has changed since s/he started avoiding you – and if so, how much he has changed. Perhaps he’s begun hanging out with a new group of friends; maybe he’s gotten wrapped up in a new love interest; maybe he’s busy with a new sport or hobby that isn’t really your thing. It is a beautiful thing to be close to someone, but people change, and things fall apart. If you can tell that someone is moving on, it might be time for you to move on, too.
Also consider how you have changed. Maybe this person acts the same as he always has, but you have begun to act differently. Perhaps you’ve started running with a new crowd of friends, or you’ve picked up a habit that bothers your friend, or you simply haven’t been as available.
Growing apart does not mean that you can’t grow back together. If you can feel yourself growing away from someone, it’s your choice whether you let them go or try to keep the relationship alive. Keep in mind, however, that this process must be mutual.
Confront the person.
If you’re feeling certain that someone is avoiding you, consider tactfully bringing up the issue. Perhaps you want to right any wrongs that you’ve committed; perhaps you suspect that your friend is avoiding you because she’s going through a hard time. Be respectful and direct, and explain exactly what’s bothering you.
If you aren’t sure why someone is avoiding you, say, “I’ve been meaning to bring this up – I feel like you’ve been avoiding me lately. Did I do something to upset you?”
If you know why someone is avoiding you, don’t beat around the bush. Apologize for anything that you’ve done, and try to reconcile the situation. Say, for example, “I’ve feel like things have been awkward between us ever since we had that fight last week. I value our friendship a lot, and I want to talk about this so that we can move past it. This argument isn’t worth ruining our friendship.”
You can confront the person by getting them one-on-one, or you can ask a guidance counselor to moderate the conversation. Consider your comfort level, and choose the situation that you think will best resolve the problem.
Ask mutual friends for insight, but don’t talk behind the person’s back.
If you have mutual friends with the person who is avoiding you, ask someone trustworthy to weigh in on the situation. Say, “Do you have any idea why X would be upset with me? I feel like she’s been avoiding me lately.”
Do not spread rumors or gossip about the avoidant person. If you value your relationship with this person, be very careful about what you say. If you say negative things behind the person’s back, there’s a decent chance that your words will find your way to his/her ears – which will only further inflame the situation.
Give the person space.
Sometimes, people need to go through their own personal journey before they are ready to reconnect with others. In many cases, forcing this connection will only push the avoidant person further away. Be patient, be open, and move on with your life. If the person decides that he or she wants to be in your life, you will know.
Make your intention clear. Say, “It seems like you need your own space to grow right now, so I’m going to leave you alone. If you ever want to talk, my door’s always open.”
Keep your heart open. It can be very difficult to move on with your life and still remain open to letting this person back in. Take a step back from the relationship, remember the good times, and try to let go of any anger.
It can be very hard to give up on someone, especially if you’ve invested a lot of time and energy. At some point, though, you may need to accept that things are not going to return to the way they used to be. It’s a matter of growth and emotional well-being: if you spend your hours living in the past, lingering on what once was and could have been, it will be immeasurably more difficult for you to learn and bloom in the present. Let go.
Letting go does not mean forever. It does not mean that you can’t rekindle a friendship with this person. It simply means that you aren’t spending your precious emotional energy on someone who isn’t receptive to it right now.