Ask Jono: Why Guys Suddenly Ignore You
I once read that girls brains are like spaghetti, with all the thoughts mixing together at the same time, and that boy brains are like waffles, with boys only being able to focus on one square at a time. But I've always wondered why a guy will pay attention to a girl one day, then the next act like she's not even there. Since girls are obviously the most attention-drawing thing in the room for boys, why does it take them so long to switch from whatever square they were in to their "there is a female here" squares? Why do they treat a girl like the apple of their eye one day, then ignore them the next?!! Please explain!!
-One who is possibly going to pass into a coma from banging my head on the wall
This question is fun, but also tricky. I will do my best.
First of all, I like your analogy, and I think there's some truth to it. In this case, though, I think it's the wrong diagnosis. When guys suddenly act like they can't tell if you are a girl or a chair, it's not because they're having a Brain Attack; it's because of Jerk Disorder, or Congenital Awkwardness Pants. Dudes decide to ignore you, or they are so derpy that they get confused about how to act; they are not literally blind to you. I'll come back to this in a bit, but first I want to make a very general observation:
Guys ignore girls because it usually works.
I've quoted this study before. When women looked at pictures of guys in different poses—swaggering, aloof, and smiling—they looked at the swaggering guys and though "OMG, I must kiss him until I have mouth failure." Then they looked at the dude who was smiling and actually looking right at the camera, and they thought "Ha ha, look at that ugly dingus! I hope he dies from sharks." These were the same guys. Even when the dude looked all emo or asleep, he fared better than if he was smiling. Being pleasant and attentive turned these gentlemen into girl poison.
OkCupid took this a step further and analyzed 7,000 profile photos for attitude, pose, and hopelessly unnecessary nudity. By roughly one million sexiness points, women preferred guys who were looking away from the camera and not smiling. In fact, the only things worse for a dude than looking at the camera and smiling were looking at the camera and not smiling, like a serial killer, and looking away from the camera while doing a "flirty face," and I literally have no idea what a male flirty face even is. Is it this? Because that looks less like flirting than it does consuming algae because you are a fish. Anyway, I'm only even bringing these studies up because they confirm what I already know: eagerness does not work, for dudes. I know this because every time a girl winks at me, I start bouncing around going OH OH HOORAY A GIRL until eventually she pelts me with tomatoes.
All of our makey-outey urges are build around an exchange. Girls have some stuff, and guys want it, so guys have to compete for it. If a dude (who is attractive) decides to be all "Oh man, I am just too sexy for all you chumps, I am gonna go be rad somewhere else," he expects women to go "NO NO PICK ME PICK ME" and fling their underpants at him, which is, often enough, what they do. A writer who is not me, and who is in fact a girl, said that women are attracted to emotionally unavailable "bad boy" types because it's the pursuit of them that's fulfilling.
So the short answer is that dudes often ignore you because it makes you go after them harder. There are, of course, other possibilities. I would wager that any guy ignoring you is thinking one of these four things:
1.) "Oh nooo, I am a shy goofball! What do I do with this girl now??"
2.) "I have decided that I am not into this girl after all. OOPS."
3.) "Okay, she's into me. Check. I can pick that particular plum whenever I want."
4.) "I am in high school and have literally no idea what I am ever doing. Where am I."
If I ever straight-up ignored some girl after leading her on, which I don't think I ever did, it would have been due to a combination of 4 and 1. I definitely met some 3s, when they weren't busy playing a guitar, on a motorcycle, followed by a flock of shrieking girls.
If it makes you feel any better, almost everyone except the 3s will grow out of this behavior by the end of college. Sure, everyone still plays it cool at first, but after that, they will not act like the freaking Riddler over whether or not they are into you, and if they do, they are bad news. File that away as advice for the future. A dude should say something like "It was great meeting you; we should have coffee sometime." If he instead says "Riddle me this, nyah ha ha!" and prances around in a leotard, you should probably not waste your time.
Do you tend to ignore the person you like?
Related post: How Not To Get Someone To Like You