I am in an odd situation. Someone I know, who was my friend, now seems to have developped feelings towards me. I wish to give her space, but we are in contact electronically and text. She is extremely distraught by this situation. I cannot help but feel angry when she messages me, for various reasons. I feel that sometimes, the best answer for me is to remain silent. But in doing so, she feels ignored, and suffers.

What is the best course of action in a situation like this? Is ignoring someone wrong speech in this case?

4 Answers 4


As a Buddhist, your boundaries & conduct in relationship should be clearly communicated. Just be honest with her.


There;s a sutta called "Insult" or "Abuse" i.e. SN 7.2.

I read that as the Buddha not being involved and not becoming involved in wrong speech. In the sutta the "wrong speech" was abuse (hostility) -- but I suppose that might be true of desire (attachment) or something too.

I note though that the Buddha was willing to talk to the Brahman -- and so, not exactly giving him what might be colloquially called the silent treatment. Incidentally I read a novel once with what I though was a memorable phrase -- "Silence is a text that's easy to misread" (it's not easy to understand silence and people add their own interpretations).

But not communicating when you're angry might be a good idea -- the same sutta says:

For one free of anger, tamed, living in balance,
freed by right knowledge,
at peace, poised:
where would anger come from?

When you get angry at an angry person
you just make things worse for yourself.
When you don’t get angry at an angry person
you win a battle hard to win.

When you know that the other is angry,
you act for the good of both
yourself and the other
if you’re mindful and stay calm.

People unfamiliar with the teaching
consider one who heals both
oneself and the other
to be a fool.

There's maybe a similar message in the Dhammapada:

  1. One should give up anger, renounce pride, and overcome all fetters. Suffering never befalls him who clings not to mind and body and is detached.
  2. He who checks rising anger as a charioteer checks a rolling chariot, him I call a true charioteer. Others only hold the reins.
  3. Overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome the wicked by goodness; overcome the miser by generosity; overcome the liar by truth.
  4. Speak the truth; yield not to anger; when asked, give even if you only have a little. By these three means can one reach the presence of the gods.
  5. Those sages who are inoffensive and ever restrained in body, go to the Deathless State, where, having gone, they grieve no more.

You say she was a friend, was there any virtue in that relationship? Might it be possible to re-establish, to agree on, a virtuous relationship?

One of the things I noted from this answer was,

Find wise people who cause no fear or worry

Maybe that's something to aspire to, with friends as well as (or instead of) with a marriage partner -- i.e. try to "cause no fear or worry" (and ask that from your friends).

I think that Buddhism has more-or-less four levels of behaviour, from worse to better:

  1. Harming yourself and others
  2. Benefiting others and harming yourself
  3. Benefiting yourself and not benefiting others
  4. Benefiting yourself and others

I'd think that typically silence isn't wrong speech -- and is, presumably, better than wrong speech would be -- I'm not sure whether it benefits "self and others" in this case.

One other thing is that you wrote, "she feels ignored". Relationship counselling is difficult for anyone (including me) especially at such a remote distance as this and with so little information (input) from both people involved. I think you might be right that "she feels ignored", or you not might be -- perhaps you're guessing (inaccurately), or even if she said that herself maybe it's not the most accurate or useful description. Perhaps instead, she feels misunderstood ... or deprived (of a virtuous relationship) ... or insulted somehow, I don't know

Anyway people do or can become entangled in personal relationships and it's probably a good idea to chose your friends wisely. Still if you are or were a friend then perhaps an ideal is to be the same in happiness and sorrow.

Finally I once heard that a relationship counsellor (not Buddhist, and I'm not sure he was even effective either) said, "You're not responsible for the feelings of others". I guess a Buddhist view might be that a person's feelings are their inheriting a fruit of their own karma, which is related to a doctrine of "equanimity" in a social relationship (where "equanimity" is one of the four brahmaviharas which I think are meant to guide or motivate social relationships).

I interpret that i.e, "you're not responsible", as meaning, "don't let anyone guilt-trip you into doing things" (e.g. "if you don't give me everything I ask for then you're hurting me").

There's Buddhist doctrine about "shame" -- i.e. that the ability to feel shame is beneficial, because people avoid doing shameful things (things which they should and ought to feel ashamed of) in order to avoid the feeling of shame.

I'm not sure that's the same as "guilt" though, which I think of as "I accuse you". I don't think that "I accuse you" is a skilful part of a relationship, whether she's doing that to you or whether you're doing that to her.

It reminds me, my mum and my wife were both preschool teachers, in preschools, classes for young children. Anyway I think that they tended to "guide" children's behaviour by telling them what behaviours the teachers expected, reminding them, maybe pointing out children who were behaving well (e.g. if Jane or Michael is being helpful then, "Jane, thank you for doing X" instead of "Henry you shouldn't be doing Y" or "Henry why aren't you doing X"). Apparently children are a bit, I don't know, I'd call it "random" in their behaviour -- they try different things, don't know what's what, don't even understand themselves very well, but maybe it's inconvenient to have a relationship that's based n "negative" feedback.


I think this may not related to unwholesome speech. Just be careful and be mindful in dealing with things that trigger your anger. In few cases silent is best option. Most cases it's better to tell openly with minimum effect to the other side. But if this is not done wisely, not in proper time and place it might create mental or physical harm. Raga, Lobha, Māna, Dosa and Moha are main root cause of all being suffering. So it's hard to deal these things without Pañña. You don't like her so you clearly don't want her . From her side it's the opposite. She'll try her best to have you because she like you so much. Who knows how many times this had happened to both of you in Samara cycle. Clearly know/understand LIKE and DISLIKE. See the drawbacks and danger in them. You will slowly losing interest in them. After that you go beyond. Then you can break the cycle.


One might ignore this answers message, so be careful here!

Another try in Alice in wonderland, feeling disturbed by Alice, to excuse by asking others to confirm the votes of defilements?

Even your question here might be wrong speech, Humpty Dumpty. A good name by the way. Caught by the tricks of defilements.

If someone sends you advertising, saying "come, make a trade for it", and one knows that it would no trade for long term happiness, would he take the offer?

It's of course wrong speech (giving signs) to simply keep "others warm" thinking: " I might lose an opportunity to gain", fearing "If I show signs not going into this certain deal, he/she might stop offer at all and he/she could posssible offer this or that later on if thinking I am interested in trade."

That is why honesty comes before keeping up relations, Silas are not lower as pleasant dwelling like sheep .

On the other hand, one needs to be careful that defilement do not misuse this understanding as well. Thought of the Uposatha of the wolf. Difficult. And easy if honest to oneself first, but that is the difficult part.

See him falling from his wall?

How may good did you already tried to "kill" by ignoring it (them)? Many "Buddhists" are using abstain from giving signs as signs and as one is able to "kill trolls" one might "kill sages" by same means. Now this is not really breaking the silas (as outwardly rules) but much heavier, kamma by mind and even very deceitful.

Best wishes by an karuna, defilement's Jabberwocky

{Note: not given for trade, exchange, stackes... but only for liberation and bounds toward only this}

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