What to do when someone doesn't want to speak to you - Tina Gilbertson, LPC (2023)

I'm trying to hear all this as a mother... and as a daughter. At 47, I'm really in the middle. I now understand that my mother's perceptions, actions, feelings, reactions and comments are... just... well... her perspective is very self-centered. Her world is full of things "she" likes. Sometimes she tells me something about ours that makes me want to scream, "That's a blatant lie!" but instead I listen to her and hear her story of how she WANTED HIM, not what he really was like .

Example: In my real life (my perception), I had just turned 18, a girl entrenched in an abusive relationship that I was desperate to escape. I obeyed my friend because I was afraid of him and what he would do. My mom seemed so mad at me for "spending all my time with him" but she didn't give me a choice. When I was a teenager, it also hurt me that she spent so much time with her boyfriend/fiancé and never did anything to me. It was August and we had an argument. I tried really hard to pick a university in Philadelphia and made several trips there to prepare for my application. I just needed help with the financing... or the paperwork to get it all together. We argued about it and she yelled at me "I'm not setting you up in Philly just so you can fuck your boyfriend!!" so cruel and vehement. I was so depressed and felt so hopeless. Moving to Philadelphia was the only way I could think of to get away from him, and now that wasn't even possible.

However, the reality for my mom was that she really didn't know how to fill out the financial aid forms and really didn't believe she could afford it the way her finances were going with her fiancé/stepdad. Maybe she really believed that I really liked my boyfriend and was enjoying being practically raped by him. I don't know. It wasn't something I discussed with her.

I enrolled full-time at a county college and found a 20-hour job as a bank teller. I thought I would get stronger and more powerful and I could plan another escape. I kept trying to break up with the boyfriend. On September 14th the abusive boyfriend came into our house in the middle of the night, he turned on my bedroom, I woke up with a start and saw him...he turned the light off again so he was on top of me, covering my mouth and telling me that I should shut up that I really needed to talk. He begged and begged me not to break up with him and threatened suicide and manslaughter. I calmed down and said it would be fine if we could go further just to sleep later and come up with a new plan. He wouldn't leave until he "sealed" the deal with sex. I appeased, I didn't spoil.

I kept trying to break the relationship and get involved with school and work. In mid-October I found out I was pregnant. I cried to my mother with such certainty that NOW she would pity me and help me. Her response was, "I'll wash my hands of that! You're on your own." and I was depressed.

(Video) 115. Before You Apologize

I decided, in my naive way, that I was going to show him... that I would succeed in life, despite all his horrible opinions of me. My perception was that she thought I was a whore whose promiscuity put me in that position.

Just today, 30 years later, he told me, "When you and Mike were dating, I tried so hard to get you to go to college in Philadelphia, but you loved him so much you didn't want to." let it. And I knew about the fights! And I even tried to get a restraining order to keep them apart."

This is pure fantasy. But I understand it's a fantasy about what she would have done to spare me the next 20 years of domestic violence, which I didn't tell her about until years after the divorce.

My mother and I are best friends now, and like any true friend, I allow for her mistakes because I love her. In this case, I'm the bigger person and I know better. She can tell these complete untruths about the past and I tried to correct her but she understandably got defensive and argued. After all... she contradicted her "reality". As she shared this new story today, I kept my mouth shut and then closed my eyes and imagined her fantasy. Even if it's not true, it shows how much you WANT it and that you love me so much and wish you had protected me.

Why can't we as daughters allow our mothers to be less than perfect human beings? Why do we hold them to such an unattainable expectation to be patient, kind, loving, always saying and doing the right thing?

(Video) 123. The Escalation Trap

Another example: my grandmother was a bad woman. Totally cruel. When we were little, he would tell me and my siblings that we should be "shamed" of behaviors like laughing or tickling...the kind of things that siblings do and our mother allows us to do. So we were confused by her. She has only gotten worse over the years.

At some point she told me this horrible story of her fourth pregnancy. I was excited and delighted about it. She went to the doctor and he said it was a tumor, not a pregnancy. He "removed" it and performed a complete hysterectomy. I found the story very unrealistic and went to see the doctor to be told that he had lost his license due to malpractice.

Her pettiness was unbearable, but I always clung to this image of her…images of her pregnant and my mother lovingly hugging her belly. I still feel pain from her! Physically and emotionally. It's written in my genes.

Wouldn't it be unfair to call her a "slut" for her behavior now that I know her better? Perhaps she was a prostitute, but imagine the cruelty, lies and deceit she endured. How could he expect more from her?

Why can't we as daughters allow our mothers to be less than perfect human beings? Why do we hold them to such an unattainable expectation to be patient, kind, loving, always saying and doing the right thing?

(Video) 130. Reconciliation Fatigue

And now my daughter turns 29 today and she hasn't spoken to me in months.

A few months ago, I attended a conference in Newark, which was demographically far from me. I was scared to go there. While driving, I arranged to meet her after work, which was half an hour away and closer to New York City. I got even more scared! I wasn't the nicest person on the phone, too frantic and too self-centered ("all on me") because my instincts went into survival mode. I got a call on the street. Then, at the conference, a male moderator had to be told to stop talking about sexual issues (AT A BUSINESS CONFERENCE!!!). Yes, yes, "ALL ABOUT ME", I hear all hurt daughters say. I drove to my daughter's work, totally unfamiliar territory for me, I even got a ticket from the EZPASS for making a driving error I'm unaware of. I waited at my daughter's work and watched her work, so full of love and admiration for her! Every time she tried to say something about striving for higher achievement, higher pay, and more recognition in her career, he scared the shit out of her. I should have told her, "You're perfect just the way you are," but I thought she needed to know that every time she woke up and looked beautiful in the mirror.

The truth is, I would be so in love with her even if she was a cleaner in a diner. He would be so in love with her even if he was in prison. Being a super strong, highly paid career woman doesn't make me love her any more. And I don't know why she shouldn't know this, but I suspect maybe she doesn't. And I'm not perfect or wonderful and I always know the right thing to say at the right time and I can't even acknowledge the pain my son may have felt or possibly equate that with not caring about him because I've walked away from discussions about his success career.

Over dinner and a bottle of wine together, the conversation turned from running to rape. He told me about two rapes he suffered. One I knew because, as she said, "You saved me when you went into that public restroom and yelled at me to get out, you saved me, he raped me"... and I thought to myself that we were finally going to do this. to a healing point and I could be the one to help her heal. And she told me about the other rape that I didn't know about. And we were silenced in a restaurant and our tears were wiped away and I was so in love with this brave survivor! My hands were spread out on the table and I whispered softly, okay, okay.

But it wasn't like that. She kept saying things like "Don't you remember?" and "Do you remember what you said?" and "Do you remember what you did?" and recreated as much as I could, from my point of view of course. And then he went on to tell me that I owed him an apology and that I had to apologize. And I didn't know why.

(Video) 253: Family Estrangement with Tina Gilbertson

I thought maybe she just wanted that listening ear and empathy, so I said I'm sorry these things happened...happened to her...happened to me...happened to so many. It's so terrible and so wonderful that such powerful and incredible women are changing the world right now and I'm so proud that she has the opportunity to be part of the change in this new world.

But that wasn't the excuse he was looking for. I was confused. Especially when he got up and left the restaurant, leaving me to spend the night in an unfamiliar location with no car and in a suit and high heels somewhere near New York.

She later texted me saying, "You told me I deserved to be raped." She wrote, "Beautiful," and then, "You lost a daughter tonight."

Later I researched everything about rape victims and how to advise, help or support them. And I thought a lot about how hard I was on her in her pre-teens for wearing provocative clothing and the message it sends. I sent a lengthy apology for this, explaining that I didn't want it to sound like "girls are to blame for rape culture".

...and that's where it ended. ...and now it's your 29th birthday. I wrote a text to send you using this article as a guide, but I still can't help thinking that we should be kinder to our mothers and not expect such perfection from them. I'm doing the best I can and I'm sure many others are doing the same.

(Video) 54. Why Do They Cut Off Contact Instead of Talking About It?

(I haven't edited, corrected, or read my emotional expressions here. I've just spilled them. I apologize in advance for how insensitive or flawed it seems in any way.)



What to do when family member stops talking to you? ›

Accept their decision.

Let them know that you accept their decision, that you genuinely wish them well, and that the door is always open if they change their mind. Acknowledge to yourself the loss of the relationship, and allow yourself to mourn. Practice constructive wallowing.

How do I reconnect with an estranged family member? ›

Before expecting another party to make amends, consider where you need to heal from the events that occurred.
  1. Reflect on the source of conflict. Recount the events that led to the estrangement—it's rarely only one party's fault.
  2. Ask for help. ...
  3. Make use of the tools available to you. ...
  4. Avoid showing up unannounced.
Mar 22, 2019

How do you accept estrangement? ›

Three Tips: Moving on From Estranged Family
  1. Commit to Changing Your Daily Routine. You may be recently estranged and still in the throes of early grieving. ...
  2. Be Mindful and do Self-Talk. Being mindful is paying attention to what you are thinking and feeling. ...
  3. Get Support.
Apr 12, 2022

How long do estrangements last? ›

Karl Pillemer, author of Fractured Families and How To Mend Them, researched about 1300 people and found on average, family estrangement can last 54 months or 4.5 years. Of those interviewed, 85% were estranged for a year or more. Half of the respondents had no contact for four or more years.

What is it called when a family member stops talking to you? ›

Family estrangement is the loss of a previously existing relationship between family members, through physical and/or emotional distancing, often to the extent that there is negligible or no communication between the individuals involved for a prolonged period.

What to say when someone won t talk to you? ›

Empathise. Put yourself in their shoes and show that you understand this is difficult for them. You might say, “I get that you don't want to have this conversation” or “I know this is difficult to talk about…” Outline the next steps.

Is estrangement worse than death? ›

Estrangement for some is worse than losing someone to death. Complicated grief is ongoing, unrelenting mourning that stalls you from healing. It exacerbates stress to epic proportions. There is no shame in getting help.

How do you reconcile with someone who doesn't want to? ›

Ask for and/or accept forgiveness.
  1. Forgiveness is a choice. ...
  2. Do not accept or ask for forgiveness if it is not genuine. ...
  3. If the other person is not willing to forgive you, you do not have to beg for them to forgive you. ...
  4. Forgiveness makes reconciliation easier, but it is not a requirement.

Is family estrangement a trauma? ›

Family estrangement in general, and alienation between siblings in particular, can be the result of trauma within the family (especially trauma that only one child experienced), divorce, ongoing unresolved conflict between siblings, bullying by siblings, scapegoating of one child by the parents or siblings, ...

Does estrangement mean no contact? ›

Family estrangement happens when contact is cut off between family members. It can last for long periods of time or go through cycles where there is intermittent communication and reconciliation.

What mental illness causes estrangement? ›

The family member can physically hurt or endanger others (antisocial personality disorder), or mentally and emotionally abuse them (narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder).

What is proof of estrangement? ›

You must provide a letter or statement from an independent person with good standing in the community, such as a professional person, which confirms you are irreconcilably estranged from your parents.

What does estrangement do to a person? ›

The Effects of Estrangement

⁷ Some psychologists treat estrangement as a form of ambiguous loss, because the other person is still living. Estranged individuals may experience stigma from other family members due to the estrangement. The loss of social, financial, and emotional support can be great as well.

How do you reunite after estrangement? ›

Here are some ways you might start the conversation:
  1. “I know we haven't had any contact for a long time. But I'd like to change that.”
  2. “I am sure hearing from me is a bit of a surprise, but I'm hoping we can have a conversation.”
  3. “I've missed having you in my life. I'm hoping we can get together for coffee and talk.”
Dec 20, 2021

What should I do after estrangement? ›

Five Tips When Estranged and Cut Off From Your Child
  1. Get Support. Being cut off by your child, with no ability to understand, communicate and resolve things, is difficult enough. ...
  2. Don't Cut off in Response. ...
  3. Don't Feed the Anger. ...
  4. Listen to Your Child Without Defending Yourself. ...
  5. Focus on Yourself, Not Your Child.

Why do people go no contact with family? ›

Going no-contact or “NC” is exactly what it sounds like. To go no-contact means to cut off contact with someone completely, usually due to the abusive or toxic nature of the relationship. Most people choose NC as a last resort, after repeated requests for respect have gone ignored.

Why do family members become distant? ›

The causes of estrangement can include abuse, neglect, betrayal, bullying, unaddressed mental illness, not being supportive, destructive behavior, substance abuse. Oftentimes, parents do not square with a child's sexual orientation, choice of spouse, gender identity, religion, and or political views.

What causes disconnection in family? ›

While parents reported their primary reason for becoming estranged stemmed from their own divorce, their children's objectionable relationships, or their children's sense of entitlement, adult children most frequently attributed their estrangement to their parents' toxic behavior, maltreatment, child abuse, neglect, or ...

How do you deal with someone who refuses to communicate? ›

Try being patient about his lack of communication and give him space when he does not want to communicate. You can also try being supportive and understanding. Ask to schedule a better time to talk. Finding a time both of you are comfortable could be the answer to how to communicate with a man that won't communicate.

What to do if someone gives you the silent treatment? ›

How to respond
  1. Name the situation. Acknowledge that someone is using the silent treatment. ...
  2. Use 'I' statements. ...
  3. Acknowledge the other person's feelings. ...
  4. Apologize for words or actions. ...
  5. Cool off and arrange a time to resolve the issue. ...
  6. Avoid unhelpful responses.
Jun 8, 2020

How do you deal with someone who doesn't respond to you? ›

Give Them Time To Reply To Your Text

If your initial message to them wasn't an urgent one, it's important to give them some time to reply. There are plenty of reasons they might not get back to you right away — they could be busy at work, not in the mental space to chat, or dealing with bad cell service.

What is the root of estrangement? ›

Estrangement happens when something — or someone — makes you feel like a stranger. It can describe a couple that's split up or the alienation of a former friend. The meaning hasn't changed much from its Latin root, extraneare, "treat as a stranger."

Is estrangement always the parents fault? ›

Is estrangement always the parent's fault? The truth is estrangement is so complex that there is no simple absolute answer to guilt. The answer is yes when estrangement comes from a parent's toxic or abusive behavior. There are so many variables and influences judging parents always guilty is unreasonable.

Should I attend a funeral for an estranged family? ›

Funerals are emotional events and if there is family conflict, estranged relationships, or other reasons that can make the occasion uncomfortable, then the better personal choice may be to not attend.

How do you accept someone doesn't want to be with you anymore? ›

  1. #2. Admit To Your Feelings. ...
  2. #3. Give Your Wounds Time To Recuperate. ...
  3. #4. Never Blame Yourself. ...
  4. #5. Share Your Feelings With Someone. ...
  5. #6. Cut-off All Ties With This Person. ...
  6. #7. Fall In Love With Yourself And Look After Yourself. ...
  7. #8. Try Some Physical Exercises. ...
  8. #9. Think Of The Positive Aspects.
Jan 30, 2021

How do you stop thinking about someone who doesn't want you back? ›

Here are 14 tips for how to stop thinking about someone:
  1. Don't Make Contact. Many times, people want to “remain friends” after a breakup. ...
  2. Stop Looking at Their Social Media. ...
  3. Turn to Your Support System. ...
  4. Focus on Self-Acceptance. ...
  5. Love Yourself. ...
  6. Allow Yourself to the Pain You Feel. ...
  7. Be Yourself. ...
  8. Practice Mindfulness.
Mar 18, 2022

Why do we want someone who doesn't want us back? ›

According to Helen Fisher and her colleagues, the reason romantic rejection gets us hooked is that this sort of rejection stimulates parts of the brain associated with motivation, reward, addiction, and cravings.

What is considered a broken family? ›

"A broken family is one that includes unhealthy or severed relationships within the family unit," explains Anderson. "They are often associated with divorce but certainly can occur in an intact family where various members are in conflict with or estranged from each other."

Is it OK to cut off family members? ›

It could be time to cut the person off if you or your child start to dread visiting that family member, especially if they only interact in negative ways with those around them. "Recognize that spending time apart from them is important to one's own mental health," adds Dr. Halpern.

What is Gaslighting in dysfunctional families? ›

Gaslighting. Gaslighting is a psychological tactic where one member of the family manipulates another by questioning that person's sanity or grasp of reality. They might do this by leading the person into believing that the way they remember events is inaccurate.

Is estrangement a trauma? ›

Estrangement is never just an isolated incident. Its trauma spreads both deep and wide, potentially creating a psychological landmine that fundamentally affects every other emotional connection. Many estrangers view a cutoff as a matter of survival: the only avenue to health, happiness, and personal growth.

What does no contact do to a person? ›

Going no contact is a tool that helps you heal a broken heart without continuously preventing the reparation of wounds caused by involvement with the other person. It helps you grieve a loss and break your addiction to a person.

How long of no contact is too long? ›

While 30 days is a good rule of thumb, everybody is different. Some people move on really fast after a breakup, while other people take a long time. If 30 days pass and you still aren't ready, it's totally okay to extend your period of no contact.

What is narcissistic estrangement? ›

Narcissistic Abuse/Tactics. 01 Apr, 2022. ONE OF THE MOST DEVASTATING aspects of narcissistic abuse in families is that it often leads to estrangement between the recipient of the abuse and their children. To orchestrate parent-child estrangement, narcissists use a manipulation tactic called triangulation.

What mental illness makes you not care about others? ›

If you have schizoid personality disorder, you may be seen as a loner or dismissive of others, and you may lack the desire or skill to form close personal relationships. Because you don't tend to show emotion, you may appear as though you don't care about others or what's going on around you.

What type of mental illness causes someone to not recognize reality? ›

Delusional disorder is a type of mental health condition in which a person can't tell what's real from what's imagined. There are many types, including persecutory, jealous and grandiose types. It's treatable with psychotherapy and medication.

How much money do estranged students get? ›

You could be eligible for financial support of up to £2000. In order to receive this, your application will need to be done in collaboration with a support worker/social worker etc.

What is emotional estrangement? ›

Estrangement is the relatively recent term to describe when family members experience physical and emotional distancing resulting from one member's choice to do so. When this happens, the recipient or recipients experience a range of emotional responses. The initiator also endures the stress of a detached relationship.

Who can write a letter of estrangement? ›

A letter from your doctor explaining that you have consistently and historically reported difficulties associated with your estrangement. A letter from a social worker or local authority that shows they were aware of your difficult situation and/or they allocated you a child protection order.

When should you let go of a family member? ›

When the relationship creates so much stress that it affects the important areas of your life at work, home or both. When your emotions are totally caught up in defending yourself and wanting to explain yourself and the chaos of your relationships with these people is all you talk about, it is time to let go. 4.

What are signs of a toxic family member? ›

9 signs of a toxic family member or household:
  • They're abusive.
  • You feel depressed or anxious around them.
  • They're always criticizing or blaming you.
  • They're manipulative.
  • Punishment is unwarrantedly harsh.
  • The household or family member can be unpredictable.
  • They're dismissive of your needs.
Aug 14, 2022

When should you disconnect from a family member? ›

Research shows the most common reasons people cut ties with family include:
  1. Sexual, physical, or emotional abuse or neglect.
  2. Poor parenting.
  3. Betrayal.
  4. Drug abuse.
  5. Disagreements (often related to romantic relationships, politics, homophobia, and issues related to money, inheritance, or business)
Nov 10, 2021


1. 71. Three Ways Rejected Parents Give Away Their Power
(Reconnection Club)
2. Estrangement: What To Do When Your Kids Won’t Talk to You
(Kenny Weiss)
3. 47. How to Win Back Your Estranged Adult Child
(Reconnection Club)
4. 79. How Do Adult Children View Estrangement?
(Reconnection Club)
5. 126: When You are Estranged from Your Adult Child: How Did This Happen and How Do We Heal?
(Lourdes Viado)
6. 75. What Caused Your Adult Child's Estrangement?
(Reconnection Club)
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