How to react when your messages are ignored by a friend...
We've all been there... sent a text to a friend and not received a reply, those little message read ticks taunting you. Maybe you offended them without realising, maybe they can't be bothered to reply, maybe you just don't mean that much to them. It's easy to jump to these negative conclusions, but I reckon that a lot of the time it doesn't mean any of these things at all. I want us to consider what else it could mean and how we should react to being "ignored"...
Admittedly, they might just be ignoring you for no particular reason, there might be nothing to it and they might just be being a bit annoying! But on the other hand, many people neglect their social lives, friends and things they used to enjoy when feeling depressed, anxious, or just not themselves. They might become less sociable, reaching out to friends less and not taking part in things that they used to enjoy. In this busy and non stop world that we live in, it's easy to not realise, or to just assume that they must be okay - especially since many people project on social media that they're absolutely fine and life is just great, even when they're struggling. You could have the shiniest, happiest, most colourful Instagram feed, but still feel very down inside.
When feeling down, many people have low self-esteem and see themselves as worthless or as failing. A simple, "I haven't heard from you in a while, are you okay?" can remind someone that they're not worthless, that their feelings matter, and that there are people out there who care about them. If your friend decides to confide in you, just listen. You don't have to solve their problems or even try to provide advice or solutions, just listening and letting the other person be heard properly can make a huge difference to how they feel. And remember that it's not a competition either, if someone tells you "I'm just so snowed under at work", it can be tempting to respond with "oh gosh, me too..." but I think when doing this real listening, it's better to just let your friend say how they feel without input from you about your own issues. Of course, it's important that you get to talk about how you're feeling too, but talk to someone you know isn't feeling fragile. On the other hand, your friend might not want to open up and talk about how they're feeling...so don't force them, just let them know you're thinking of them and you're not going to abandon them or label them as a bad friend if they don't reply to your texts for a few days!
There's so much pressure in today's online world to live a perfect, Instagram-worthy life, and as a result, I think many people try to bury their negative thoughts and feelings and pretend that everything is hunky-dory when it's not. You've probably heard this before, but you never know what someone is going through in their personal life... lots of people disguise how they truly feel and put on a brave face, meaning their friends and family don't realise anything is wrong. If you have a gut feeling that a loved one isn't quite right, or hasn't replied to you for a longer time than usual, or is socialising less, reach out to them, ask how they are, and be prepared to really listen to what they have to say.